The family of a Scarborough woman who has been missing since June is holding out hope that she is not one of the four people found dead on a remote stretch of beach on New York’s Long Island.

The decomposed bodies appeared to have been dumped beside the Ocean Parkway in the town of Babylon over an 18-month period, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer told Newsday on Tuesday.

“We could have a serial killer,” he said.

The first body was discovered Saturday, and three more were found Monday, all within a few hundred feet of each other. Dormer said the people apparently were killed elsewhere and their bodies were brought to the site.

One of the bodies has been identified as female, and two have been tentatively identified as female. The gender of the fourth body has yet to be determined.

Scarborough police have been investigating the disappearance of Megan Waterman, 22, who was last seen on the weekend of June 5 at the Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge, N.Y.

Waterman went to the Long Island area with her boyfriend, Akeem Cruz, 21, who is now in the Maine Correctional Center in Windham. In November, he was sentenced to 20 months in prison for drug trafficking, said Denise Lord, Maine’s associate corrections commissioner.

Scarborough Police Chief Robert Moulton said Suffolk County police haven’t indicated whether they think one of the bodies might be Waterman, but authorities have not ruled it out.

Scarborough Detective Don Blatchford has been leading the investigation into Waterman’s disappearance, and has been in regular contact with Suffolk County authorities. He told Newsday on Tuesday that the area where the bodies were found is close enough to where Waterman was last seen “to be of interest.”

Blatchford said he hasn’t received any indication from Suffolk County police that Waterman may be among the victims.

Waterman’s friends and family fear she may be a victim of human trafficking. Waterman advertised as an escort on Craigslist.

Her aunt, Elizabeth Meserve of Portland, said her family is praying that she is still alive — although no one has heard from her for more than six months. That’s unusual, since Waterman used to call her 4-year-old daughter, Lily, two or three times a day, Meserve said.

Meserve and her mother, Muriel Benner, now care for Lily.

It has been hard trying to explain the situation to a preschooler. “She says, ‘I wish my mom wasn’t lost,’” Meserve said.

Waterman’s family has turned to any source it can think of to get the word out about her disappearance. In June, the family held a prayer vigil that attracted more than 100 people to Congress Square in Portland.

Family members also established a page on Facebook, called “Help Find Megan Waterman,” and created a website with photos of her and her daughter:

The website offers a $2,500 reward for viable information leading to her safe return or an arrest.

Waterman’s mother, Lorraine Ela, appeared briefly on the “Nancy Grace” cable television show Tuesday night.

The show’s producers displayed photographs of Waterman. Grace devoted an hour to examining the circumstances behind the discovery of the bodies.

Newsday reported that it could take several weeks for the identities of the four bodies to be determined. Two of the bodies were found wrapped in burlap.

The local police are working with a forensic anthropologist from the New York City medical examiner’s office to determine the victims’ gender, age range and height.

But making a positive identification could take a while. Forensic experts will gather DNA from the skeletal remains and compare them with DNA swabs from family members.

Authorities in New York said they were focusing on two missing women: Waterman and Shannon Gilbert, 24, of Jersey City, N.J. Police said Gilbert is a prostitute who also advertised on Craigslist.

Meserve, Waterman’s aunt, said she was told that it could be as long as six weeks before a positive identification can be made.

Meserve prays that her niece will turn up, alive and unharmed, before her 23rd birthday on Jan. 23.


Staff Writers Dennis Hoey, Ann S. Kim and David Hench contributed to this report.