Investigators gathered DNA samples Wednesday from Megan Waterman’s family members to help determine whether one of four female bodies discovered in Babylon, N.Y., might be the Scarborough woman who disappeared in June.

DNA tests using samples from family members could take longer than using a sample from Waterman herself — something recovered from her belongings, for example — but police in New York’s Suffolk County say family samples are their best option, said Scarborough Police Chief Robert Moulton.

“As soon as we get any confirmation one way or the other we will get that out there,” Moulton said.

Waterman’s family members and close friends are wrestling with conflicting emotions after the discovery.

They hope that none of the DNA matches, and that Waterman, 22, is not the victim of what police say could be a serial killer preying on women who advertise as escorts. But that means returning to the painful unknown — the possibility that Waterman is being held against her will, perhaps as part of a sex trafficking operation, and being kept from contacting anyone, including her 4-year-old daughter.

“It’s really a hard mix,” said Waterman’s sister, Allie Pertel of Brunswick. “You obviously don’t want to assume the worst, but it’s really difficult not knowing. You need the closure.”

An aunt, Elizabeth Meserve of Portland, is trying to focus on the reasons her niece could still be alive. The bodies were found in a seaside park, 15 miles from where Waterman was last seen at a city hotel right off a major highway.

The woman police were searching for when the bodies were discovered was last seen with a man in the Babylon area, Meserve said.

Some of the bodies have been there for as long as 18 months, while Waterman has been missing for just six months, she said.

Waterman’s mother, Lorraine Ela of South Portland, told The Associated Press that a Scarborough detective told her he was “leaning toward one of the four victims being Megan, but he’s not 100 percent guaranteed.”

Waterman disappeared in June after traveling to Long Island to work as an escort. Police say she was working at the behest of her boyfriend, Akeem Cruz, 21, who is now serving 20 months in the Maine Correctional Center for drug trafficking. She had known Cruz for slightly less than a year.

Waterman’s best friend, Nicci Haycock, said Wednesday that she talked to Waterman two days before she disappeared.

“She was very happy and excited that her boyfriend said he loved her,” she said. “They both wanted to stop doing what they were doing. They just wanted to get money for an apartment for Megan and her daughter.”

Haycock is dating Waterman’s brother Greg. When Cruz called Waterman’s family to report her missing, Greg Waterman and Haycock sold some of their belongings and drove to Hauppauge to search for her and put up “missing” posters.

Waterman was last seen leaving the hotel room where she and Cruz had been staying, at 1:30 a.m.

She walked to a nearby store, and workers there remembered seeing her, Haycock said. Haycock asked about the security cameras outside, which might have recorded the direction Waterman headed in, but was told the cameras are fake.

Wednesday on Long Island, police continued to scour the beach with cadaver dogs, looking for more remains. The bodies of the four women were found about 500 feet apart just off the road in an undeveloped stretch of parkland.

Police Commissioner Richard Dormer met Wednesday with the FBI and said the agencies are working together to find the killer.

Police say that in DNA testing, a match can be made in 24 to 48 hours if they have good samples, but confirming whether Waterman is one of the four women likely will take weeks.

Haycock does not believe Waterman is being held against her will, even though it would be comforting to believe she is alive.

“There’s no way she would be alive for long. Nobody is going to keep her around, because she’s a fighter,” Haycock said. “She would fight to the death.”

Elizabeth Meserve said as painful as the talk of serial killers and bodies can be, it has rekindled public interest in her niece’s disappearance, and for that she’s grateful.

“There’s a lot of negative press that comes with it, too. I don’t like to read that stuff, but her name gets out there,” she said. “In some other missing cases, they’re forgotten six months later.”

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]