New Jersey

New Suffolk Police Department Leadership Asks FBI to Take Prominent Role in Fresh Look at Gilgo Beach Bodies Investigation

Nearly five years to the day the first of 10 sets of human remains believed to be linked to at least one serial killer were unearthed in the dunes along the Long Island shore, local authorities say they have asked federal investigators to take an increased role in the probe.

The decision to take a fresh look at the investigation comes amid administrative upheaval at the Suffolk County Police Department, which has been the lead agency in the case for five years.

The 10 sets of remains were discovered while police were combing the beaches for Shannan Gilbert, a New Jersey escort who went missing while on a call in May 2010. No arrests have been made and authorities have never identified any potential suspects.

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A top-to-bottom assessment followed the introduction of new police department leadership, Suffolk authorities said, and that included evaluating the unsolved Gilgo murders. Police said Thursday they believed it was time to take a fresh look at the complex investigation, and they asked the FBI to take a more prominent role.

Suffolk officials did not comment on any new potential developments in the case, nor did they comment on any specific resources or steps the FBI or local authorities would take in the investigation. Authorities reiterated federal and local authorities would be collaborating.

Police were combing Gilgo Beach on Dec. 11, 2010, in connection with the search for Gilbert when they found the first set of remains, those of Melissa Barthelemy, a call girl who had vanished in 2007.

Over the next several weeks, they discovered the remains of Megan Waterman, Amber Lynn Costello, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Jessica Taylor, an unidentified Asian man, three unidentified women and an unidentified toddler. No arrests have been made in any of the slayings.

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Remains belonging to Gilbert -- who was last seen screaming and running away from a home in the Oak Beach complex where she met a client -- were found in December 2011.

Authorities have said that Gilbert likely drowned in the salt marsh where her body was later found; her family says they believe she is the victim of a serial killer.

The Suffolk County Police Department has been turned on its head over the last several months. Longtime Police Chief James Burke resigned his post in October and was indicted earlier this week on civil rights and conspiracy charges after he allegedly handcuffed and beat a man who broke into his department -issued SUV. Burke is likely to be succeeded by Timothy Sini, a former federal prosecutor who specialized in cold case killings, according to Newsday.

Police Commissioner Edward Webber has announced his retirement effective Jan. 23, and Chief of Detectives William Madigan also announced he'll be retiring.

At a news briefing Thursday, Suffolk authorities said they were committed to solving the Gilgo case and pledged to the victims' families they were doing everything possible to solve the murders.

The FBI has previously provided technical and other support in the investigation, but the case has been cold for some time.

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