Nassau Police are stepping up search efforts in the TOBAY and Jones Beach areas along Ocean Parkway Thursday with aerial surveillance using high-resolution photography technology to further investigate what was revealed during helicopter fly-overs earlier this week.
During an early morning press conference at Jones Beach Thursday, police said the helicopter search by the county's aviation bureau had identified “items that are not natural to the environment."
“The aviation bureau identified a significant number of items that aren’t natural to the area,” said Nassau County Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter. “There are a significant number of items that have been identified.”
“It is unknown at this time what they are and that is what we are doing here today,” said Krumpter. “We’re going to clarify what those items are.”
Krumpter said the areas are not accessible by foot and encompasses about 40 acres between TOBAY Beach in Massapequa and the Jones Beach water tower in Wantagh on the north side of Ocean Parkway.
Nassau County Police said they will be assisted in its search by the FBI, who will perform a flyover procedure using high technology aerial search equipment.
This is the latest development in what Long Island police believe is a serial killing spree given the discovery of 10 sets of human remains along the parkway between Robert Moses Causeway and Jones Beach.
On Monday Nassau Police discovered two sets of remains near the Jones Beach water tower and the bones are undergoing forensic testing for identification.
Suffolk police had discovered eight sets, four in two different locations, along the thick underbrush on the north side of the parkway between December and last week.
During a press briefing earlier this week New York State Police Captain James W. Dewar mentioned that search results had turned up potential evidence.
“There is debris and there are certain things that have been found that we’re going to investigate and determine what they are and how they may or may not affect the ongoing investigation in Suffolk County," he said.
Yesterday Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer announced his department will be using the same technology and approach in beach searches this week and that the low-flying planes may require police to shutdown parkway lanes.
Nassau’s ongoing search for bodies came after an intensive search by Suffolk Police last week. Both lanes of the parkway, from Robert Moses to the Nassau line were shut down until 5 p.m. for the search effort.
Both police departments have had divers searching waterways near where remains have been found.
Police have said the killings are the work of a serial killer and that some remains have been in the area for six months while others have been in the area for as long as four years.
Nassau and Suffolk Police have dismissed media reports claiming a person of interest is under scrutiny in the serial killer investigation, and that the suspect is a current or former law enforcement official.
“To make such speculation [about developments] is unfair," said Det. Lt. Kevin Smith, commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Information Office.
“We are working together and we are going to be as systematic and careful as we can and we’re not going to be done until we’re assured there are no bodies,” Smith said during a press conference.
Nassau’s effort, kicked off Monday, was a four-mile search effort manned by 50 New York State troopers, 50 state park police and 50 Nassau County officers from various units, including the mounted division, emergency services and the canine search division.
Nassau police used a variety of equipment and police teams, including fire truck ladders for aerial searching and canine units. The search area included Guggenheim Pond located within a 40-acre bird sanctuary.
The Suffolk portion of the investigation began on Dec. 11, 2010, with the missing persons case of Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old New Jersey woman last seen in Oak Beach on May 1, 2010. Gilbert has not been found during the 125-day investigation.
The first four women discovered in Gilgo Beach were killed elsewhere and dumped in the thick underbrush along Ocean Parkway at various times over a span of several years, according to police. The first four identified were young, white females who police said worked as Craigslist escort.
Yesterday Dormer said his department, with support from the FBI, will use two types of aircraft to gain high-resolution video and surveillance photos of the beach area between Robert Moses Causeway and the Nassau County line.
“We will be using sophisticated technology [aerial search photography] and good old fashioned detective work as we continue to investigate this case,” Dormer told a room packed with media outlets, some representing overseas broadcast operations.
“We enlisted the FBI’s help at the start and have had ongoing communication with them and we want to acknowledge them for their help and support,” he added.
“The FBI has provided assistance and we want to publicly thank them,” he added.
Dormer said Suffolk is working closely with Nassau police on the investigations and that both police teams plan to conduct more on-foot and canine searches.
In relation to media reports regarding conditions of remains, location, description of evidence and even an unconfirmed report that the serial killer may be a law enforcement professional, Dormer said such speculation is not helpful.
“A visual look at bodies by untrained persons is not useful,” he said.
“We deal with facts and with forensics,” he said.
Police said all potential avenues of possible scenarios, from the killings being the work of one person or two different killers, are being examined.
“We are keeping a very open mind,” he added.