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Human teeth found in serial killer search in New York

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Police in Long Island turned up two human teeth while scouring the suspected dumping grounds of a serial killer on Friday, while authorities said a missing prostitute’s body found in Maine was not connected to the case.

Maureen Brainard-Barnes (top L), Melissa Barthelemy (top R), Megan Waterman (bottom L) and Amber Lynn Costello (bottom R) are seen in a combination of handouts released to Reuters by Suffolk County Police Department April 6, 2011. REUTERS/Suffolk County Police Department/Handout

Hacking through thick brush with machetes and chainsaws, police searched the area where they recently discovered the ninth and tenth set of human remains in their effort to catch a suspected serial killer who preyed on prostitutes advertising on Craigslist.

In December 2010, the first four bodies were found and identified as Craigslist escorts, including Megan Waterman, who lived in Maine.

This week authorities reported finding the skeletal remains of Elena Lozada, 24, of Portland, Maine, a missing Craigslist escort, in a remote wooded area of Maine. Police investigated possible links between the deaths of Lozada and Waterman but determined they were not connected.

“We were well aware of the cases in New York but we investigated it and there doesn’t appear to be any connection,” said Portland Police Lieutenant Gary Rogers. “Megan Waterman’s remains were found in New York and Elena Lozada’s were found here in Maine.”

On Long Island, police returned for another day to the area subjected to land, water and air searches by the FBI and New York authorities from Suffolk and Nassau Counties. Their most recent discovery earlier this month was two sets of human remains, including a skull.

Nassau Detective Vincent Garcia said police hacked through brush with machetes and chainsaws and used shovels to dig through sand to look for clues.

“When we found the skull, we were hoping if we went back in we’d find a little bit more,” Garcia said.

Nassau officer James Imperiale said police found two human teeth about a foot from the skull. It appears the teeth are related to the skull but authorities will run tests to confirm that, he said.

Imperiale said police also found a shoe but were unsure if it was relevant to their search.

“We’re not sure if it has anything to do with the investigation but we did take it away as well,” he said.

In Maine, Lozada’s mother Carrie Cronkite told Reuters that finding her remains “brings me closure but not the type of closure I was looking for” after Lozada went missing in July.

“Elena had a good heart,” Cronkite said. “She had to fight the demons with drugs, unfortunately. But she loved to laugh and she loved to smile. She always told me ‘Mommy, I’m going to get my life back together.’”

Cronkite said her daughter battled with depression and often turned to drugs to cope. But Cronkite said Lozada always kept in touch with her and would always promise to clean her life up. It wasn’t until after Lozada went missing that Cronkite learned her daughter was using Craigslist to work as a prostitute.

“I was totally shocked when I found that out,” she said. “She used to tell me a lot of the things she did but she never told me that because she probably knew I would have a hard time dealing with that.”

Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Peter Bohan