Police comb New York marsh after missing prostitute's bag found

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 12, 2011 6:43 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Police on Monday combed through marshes on Long Island where they recently found the purse of a missing prostitute whose disappearance led them to discover 10 bodies now believed to be victims of a single serial killer.

Armed with rakes, Suffolk County Police dug through the muck and planned to return on Tuesday in their search for Shannan Gilbert, who went missing in May 2010. Police said Gilbert, 23, of New Jersey was a prostitute advertising on Craigslist.

Last week, the search turned up Gilbert's purse, containing her ID, cell phone and lip gloss, as well as her jeans and shoes. Her body has yet to be found.

Gilbert's disappearance prompted the investigation which led to five bodies found in burlap sacks on Gilgo Beach last December. The bodies have been positively identified as prostitutes advertising on Craigslist.

Since then, five more bodies have been found.

Police said they think Gilbert's disappearance is unrelated to the other bodies but a single killer may be responsible for the 10 dead.

Relatives of Megan Waterman and Maureen Brainard-Barnes, whose bodies were among the 10 found, visited the scene on the first anniversary of the grisly discovery.

"It's been a living hell," Waterman's mother Loraine Ela told reporters on Monday. "It really is. Not a day doesn't go back where I don't think of Megan."

The families of the victims planned to organize a candlelight vigil on Tuesday to remember their loved ones.

(Reporting by Aman Ali; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)