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FBI takes to skies in NY serial killer probe

/ Source: The Associated Press

The FBI on Thursday deployed an airplane equipped with sophisticated aerial photography equipment to join the search for possible victims of a suspected serial killer on New York's Long Island.

The plane, along with a helicopter starting Friday, will scour more than 15 miles of the Ocean Parkway along a remote barrier island south of Long Island after 10 sets of remains were found in recent days and weeks.

The parkway is surrounded by a tangle of underbrush and evergreens that have proved difficult to maneuver on foot for cadaver dogs and officers. Volunteer firefighters with aerial ladders and even mounted police units have been brought in to assist with the search. On Wednesday, police divers searched the waters north of the parkway for possible victims.

It was in that thicket that police found the first four sets of remains in December. At least some of the remains were dumped just feet from the highway; others were found 90 feet or more into the underbrush. Six more sets of remains have been found in recent weeks, including two on Monday.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said investigators have tentatively ruled out any ties between the Long Island case and the 2006 killing of four women who worked as prostitutes in Atlantic City, N.J.

"The indications we have right now is that there is no connection," Dormer said at a briefing Wednesday, where he declined to offer specific details about the ongoing investigation. He said he was awaiting the results of forensic testing, including that of anthropological experts from the New York City Medical Examiner's office, before discussing the identities or cause of deaths of the most recent sets of remains.

While authorities have identified only four of those found — all women in their 20s who worked as escorts booking clients on the Internet — the remaining six also were found on the north side of the highway within several miles of each other. Detectives said it appears some had been dead for a long time.

Dormer said investigators were not ruling out the possibility that more than one person may be responsible for leaving the remains along the highway, which features long stretches with no street lights.

Police happened upon the first set of four remains while searching for a missing New Jersey prostitute last seen in a nearby community nearly a year ago. She has yet to be found.

State police, who assisted a local police search near Jones Beach on Monday, said troopers and crime scene investigators would return to the Ocean Parkway on Thursday to again search for more possible remains.