James Carbone / AP
Crime Scene investigators use metal detectors to search a marsh for the remains of Shannan Gilbert on Monday in Oak Beach, New York. Gilbert was last seen in 2010 running hysterically from a client's home in Oak Beach, where 10 slain victims were found during a search for her remains.
OAK BEACH, N.Y. - A set of skeletal remains was found Tuesday in the oceanfront Long Island marsh where police believe Shannan Gilbert got lost and drowned in the middle of the night in May 2010.
Her disappearance led to a search that uncovered the bodies of 10 people, most of them sex workers, thought to be the victims of a single serial killer.
The remains were found on the sixth day that police have been searching the isolated area for the missing prostitute.
Anonymous / Suffolk County Police Department
Shannan Gilbert disappeared in May 2010, and remains believed to be hers were found Tuesday.
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Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said the remains were discovered about one-fourth of a mile from where several of Gilbert's belongings were located last week, a landscape thick with mud, brambles and tangled underbrush where police believe Gilbert drowned after fleeing a client's house and running into the dark night.
He said the location of her belongings and the remains indicate she may have been trying to run toward the lights of a nearby roadway, but couldn't navigate her way out of the marsh.
"It would be very easy to get exhausted and fall down and not be able to move any further," Dormer said.
Dormer said police believe the remains are Gilbert's, but will require forensic confirmation.
"It's certainly a sad day for the Gilbert family," Dormer said.
Authorities had combed the area before, but resumed the search last week with amphibious vehicles better capable of trolling the rough terrain, where police officers have occasionally become stuck in waist-deep quicksand-like mud.
Police have also said that much of the marshy area was previously underwater, but those levels have receded enough to allow them to make these discoveries.
Police were searching for Gilbert exactly one year ago when they began finding the bodies of several other sex workers. The friends and family of those victims were preparing to hold a candlelight vigil to mark the anniversary of the search Tuesday night.
Police have said they believe a single serial killer is responsible for the 10 victims, but have theorized that Gilbert drowned and was not slain by that person.
That theory remained unchanged Tuesday, Dormer said, but the area where the remains were found is being treated as a crime scene just in case. The client Gilbert was seeing, Joseph Brewer, has never been named a suspect in her disappearance.
The remains of the 10 others -- a toddler, a man and eight women -- were discovered along Ocean Parkway last year. Police have not discussed any suspects.
"As soon as it gets dark, we'll light the candles," said Lorraine Ela, the mother of another slain woman, Megan Waterman. Ela drove from Montville, Maine for the vigil. "I wanted to be here for all of them."
"My sister didn't deserve that," said Melissa Cann, whose sister Maureen Barnes was another one of the remains identified.
Police believe the adults were working in the sex trade and that they fell victim to a single serial killer.
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