Police are not ruling out a possible connection between skeletal remains found in the sand Tuesday by a Nassau County woman walking her dog and the ongoing investigation into bodies dumped near Gilgo Beach, but they say it's too early to tell if the cases are linked.
The skeletal remains were discovered in the sand by a woman walking her dog along the beach in Lattingtown at about 3 p.m., according to John Azzata, commanding officer of the Nassau County homicide division. Azzata said the woman told officers her dog veered off the walking path and started digging in the sand. She went over to see what the dog was digging at, saw bones and called police.
Police responded to the scene and unearthed the remains, which Azzata described as being a nearly complete skeleton. Authorities had said they believed the remains belonged to a woman between the ages of 20 and 30, but a forensic anthropologist from the medical examiner's office would be brought in to make the final determination and evaluate the evidence for additional details.
At a news briefing Wednesday, Azzata said detectives had classified the investigation as a homicide due to trauma that was evident on the remains. He would not say where the trauma was on the remains, nor would he say if the remains had been placed in any bag or sack before being buried in the sand.
A gold necklace with a pig charm was recovered near the remains, and detectives hope its unique style will make it more likely someone comes forward to identify it. Azzata said women's clothing, including pants and undergarments, were also discovered near the skeletal remains, which he estimated had been buried in the sand prior to Sandy.
Cadaver dogs were brought in to look for any other remains in the area, but Azzata said nothing turned up and no other searches have been planned at this time.
Azzata said he notified Suffolk County detectives about the discovery. Suffolk County police have been conducting an ongoing investigation into the discovery of 10 sets of remains found along a remote section of beach near Ocean Parkway, about 30 miles from where Tuesday's remains were found.
Four of the Suffolk victims have been identified as strangled prostitutes discovered during the search for Shannan Gilbert, a prostitute from Jersey City, N.J., who had gone missing in May 2010 and whose remains were discovered in a marsh in December 2011. Her cause of death was inconclusive.
Anyone who recognizes the gold necklace found in Lattingtown or has any information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS. All calls will remain anonymous.