New York City authorities have now discovered nine bodies in the same coastal area in Long Island since December 2010. Police believe the killings are the work of a new “Craiglist Killer” targeting prostitutes who advertise on the online classifieds website.
The police had been searching for a missing woman, Shannan Gilbert from Jersey City, in December when they discovered the bodies of four prostitutes buried close together, all wrapped in burlap.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner, Richard Dormer who was born in County Laois, said they suspect a body they found last week is that of Shannan Gilbert. They have her DNA on file and should be able to identify her quickly. Her body was found 1.5 kilometers east of the first four.
The discovery of a fifth body last Tuesday prompted the police to resume a 10 kilometers search on the north side of the road. This search revealed another three bodies.
Dormer said that investigators have resumed a full search recruiting police academy cadets, volunteer firefighters and canine teams. The area is covered in sea grass and pine trees. Dormer said at least 20 police officers have come into contact with poison ivy and deer ticks.
New York City medical examiner’s office is assisting Suffolk County in identifying the four next bodies found.
Gilbert was last seen on May 1, 2010. She had just seen a client that she met through Craigslist. She met her client at Oak Beach, a gated seaside community. A resident of the enclave said that at 4.45am that morning Gilbert had come to their door crying for help. When the resident tried to call the police, the woman fled.
A few moments later a man in a sport utility vehicle drove past the house looking for the woman. He then took off. The neighbor did not see the woman or the man again. Gilbert’s client was investigated but was cleared by the police.
The first four victims discovered by the police at Gilgo Beach have been identified as Amber Lynn Costello (27) originally of Wilmington, North Carolina; Megan Waterman (22) of Scarborough, Maine; Maureen Brainard-Barnes (28) of Norwich, Connecticut; and Melissa Barthelemy (24) of Buffalo, New York.
The police do not have any suspects. The community in the quiet seaside community is shocked by what is being uncovered. Speaking to the New York Times Melanie Englert, a local who was driving through the area while the bodies were being transported said “I saw them unloading big cardboard boxes and going into the brush and I said, ‘Oh boy,’…It’s super shocking. I can’t believe it.”
Brendan Byrne who lives close by the dump site said the police had being searching in their backyards over the last few days. He said “My fiancée sent me a text that said: ‘They’re in our backyard. Literally.’”