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Bone fragment found in probe of N.Y. beach deaths turns out not human

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A bone fragment found by divers is not human, but rather came from an animal
  • Police have discovered at least eight bodies on Long Island since December
  • Investigators have identified four bodies; six additional sets of remains are unidentified

New York (CNN) -- A bone fragment found by divers during an investigation into the discovery of at least eight bodies on Long Island is not from a human, police said Tuesday.

Suffolk County Police said the fragment, uncovered in the shallow waters of Hemlock Cove near Oak Beach on Friday, has been shown through forensic testing to be from an animal.

Divers are not expected to resume their search until later this week.

Meanwhile, investigators are still trying to identify six sets of remains and determine if they may be from victims of a suspected serial killer or killers.

Police have said they previously identified four victims whose remains were found on Oak Beach in December 2010 as women who advertised prostitution services on websites such as Craigslist.

The six unidentified sets of remains include a skull and bones found as recently as last week in Nassau County, police said.

New York City's medical examiner's office -- the largest non-profit DNA lab in the United States -- is doing the analysis, and will turn over the information to investigators in Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island and to the New York State Police.

Experts will extract DNA from the remains to create a profile that can be used by investigators.

"We're going back to some of the unidentified people in our system to try to see if we can identify them, so we can notify loved ones if we have their remains," said Ellen Borakove of the medical examiner's office. "Hopefully ... we'll find out who these people are."

This week FBI agents flew a Black Hawk helicopter over beaches using high-tech equipment to photograph areas that had been previously examined from the ground. The flyovers were finished by Monday evening.

New York State troopers and some 30 police officers from Nassau and Suffolk counties hacked their way through the area's thick brush and bramble last week using guidance from overhead helicopters and, in some cases, using chainsaws to cut through the thick foliage.

CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.