It has been nearly 8 years since the skeletal remains of four women were found on Gilgo Beach in Long Island in December 2010. Each set of remains were found contained inside of burlap sacks. All four of the females had been in their 20s when they were killed. Additionally, all of the women were known prostitutes who met clients through Craigslist. To this day, the cause of death for each woman is unknown, but all four have been identified. The victims include Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, Melissa Barthelemy, 24, Megan Waterman, 22, and Amber Lynn Costello, 27.
After the Suffolk County Police Department professed that the remains may be the work of a serial killer, they held a search of Gilgo Beach on March 29th, 2011, and another on April 4th, 2011. During those searches, the skeletal remains of four more individuals were found contained in burlap sacks. This time, the remains included two women in their 20s, a male in his late-teens or early 20s, and a female toddler between the ages of 1 and 2 years old. Unlike the first set of victims, three of these victims’ remains showed evidence of violence. Of the two women, one was identified as 20-year-old prostitute, Jessica Taylor, who died in 2003. The other woman remains unidentified, but police have said that she was likely a prostitute. Both women had been dismembered with sharp objects before disposal. The male remains are unidentified, but police revealed that he was wearing women’s clothing at the time of his death; implying that he was working as a prostitute. He was between 17 and 23 years old, he was Asian, he died of blunt force trauma to the head, and he is believed to have been dead for five to ten years. The remains of the child were intact, found wrapped in a blanket, and did not show any signs of trauma.
After the first eight sets of remains were found, the search crossed the border from Suffolk County into Nassau County. On this side, at Jones Beach, a search was held on April 11, 2011 by the Nassau County Police Department. Two more sets of remains were found on Jones Beach. These remains were also dismembered, but in contrast to past remains, these victims matched human remains that had been found over a decade earlier. The first set was identified as the mother of the toddler whose remains were found on April 4th. Investigators determined that her bones matched the DNA of a dismembered female torso that had been found in a Rubbermaid container in 1997. The container was found dumped on the side of the road in Lakeview, New York; 20 miles away from Jones Beach. The other set of remains was found on Tobay Beach; a recreational beach located in Jones Beach State Park. The bones were of a female victim and were matched by DNA to two legs that had been severed off and found in a garbage bag in 1996 on Fire Island. The identities of both sets of remains are still unknown.
The Long Island Serial Killer is believed to be responsible for the deaths of four more victims. One of those victims was 19-year-old, Tina Foglia, whose dismembered body was found in three garbage bags on February 3rd, 1982. Although her death occurred much earlier than the other victims, her remains were found on the shoulder of the Robert Moses Causeway, the parkway connecting Long Island to Gilgo Beach, Jones Beach, and Fire Island. The dismembered torso of another suspected victim was found in a suitcase on March 3, 2007 at a beach on Harbor Island Park; 50 miles Northwest of Gilgo Beach. She was a Hispanic or African American female who had been stabbed to death. Another victim was announced in May 2011, when the Long Island Police proclaimed that there was a possible link between the Long Island Serial Killer and Tanya Rush. She was a 39-year-old prostitute whose dismembered body was found in a suitcase in June 2008. In December 2011, the remains of another possible victim were found in the marsh on Gilgo Beach. They were identified as the remains of Shannen Gilbert, a 24-year-old prostitute who had been missing for nearly two years. Despite officials saying that she died of natural causes, an independent autopsy showed damage to her Hyoid bone; a characteristic commonly found among victims who were choked to death.
Two more possible victims were added to the case in 2013. The first set of remains was of a female, and was found on January 23rd, 2013, buried in the brush near Oyster Bay; 20 miles from Gilgo Beach. Investigators have not identified her, but have determined that she probably died at the age of 29. Analysis of her remains revealed that there were signs of trauma to her bones, indicating that her death was a homicide. The other victim was determined to be 31-year-old, Natasha Jugo. Her car, clothes, and belongings were found on Gilgo Beach on March 17th, 2013. Her body washed ashore on Gilgo Beach on June 24th, 2013.
In 2015, the FBI joined the investigation, but since then, the case has gone cold. The police have identified several persons of interest, but have no evidence to link any of them directly to the remains that have been found. Officials speculate that the Long Island Serial Killer is a white male in his mid-20s to mid-40s. The culprit is suspected to be familiar with Long Island’s South Shore and is suspected to have access to burlap sacks. He is presumed to have knowledge of law enforcement procedures, which is believed to have aided him in avoiding detection for so long. Additionally, it is believed that the Long Island Serial Killer meets the majority of his victims through Craigslist. In the cases of both Maureen Brainard-Barnes and Melissa Barthelemy, friends and family began receiving disturbing calls from a man after the women disappeared. The calls were described as taunting. Brainard-Barnes’ friend Sarah Karnes claimed to receive a call two weeks after Maureen disappeared. Karnes said that the man did not have a New York accent and that he claimed to have seen Maureen at a “whorehouse in Queens.” Despite initially claiming he’d help find Maureen, he never called Sarah again. In Barthelemy’s case, phone calls were made by an unknown man to her sister Amanda. The calls were made over a five week period. Amanda claimed that the man told her that her sister was a “whore.” On the final call he made, the man asked Amanda if she thought she would ever see her sister again, before saying, “You won’t. I killed her,” and hanging up. Some of the calls were traced to Midtown in Manhattan, New York.
As of 2018, the Long Island Serial Killer is responsible for ten homicides and may be linked to six more. Officials find it probable that the killer is responsible for the deaths of more victims whose remains have yet to be found. It is possible that the serial killer started killing as early as the 1980s and as recent as the late 2000s. Despite speculation of activity over a period of possibly three decades, the murderer has managed to kill without leaving any evidence behind.
Until strong evidence is found by investigators, the Long Island Serial Killer will remain at large and the cases of 16 murders in New York will remain unsolved.