Long Island serial killer case: after 11 years, could answers be coming? | New York

Shannan Gilbert’s grave in Amityville cemetery lies eight miles from the place she went lacking in Could 2011 after visiting a consumer at Oak Seaside, a spit of sand dotted with vacation houses on New York’s Long Island, three miles wanting Gilgo Seaside, the place her stays had been discovered eight months later.

Gilbert’s ultimate resting place, with a easy gravestone in the back of the cemetery inscribed together with her dates – 24 October 1986 – 13 December 2011 – speaks to a permanent thriller of how she, together with 10 or extra different ladies, largely intercourse staff who marketed on Craigslist, ended up lifeless alongside the identical stretch of scrubby barrier marshes greater than a decade in the past.

13 December is just not the date Gilbert went lacking. A 12 months and 7 months earlier – 1 Could 2010 – she’d made a frantic 22-minute name to 911 from the world and reportedly mentioned: “They’re making an attempt to kill me.” She knocked on two neighbor’s doorways, earlier than disappearing again into the evening. Three different 911 calls had been made that evening. One name was from Gilbert’s consumer Joseph Brewer and two had been from the neighbors.

Through the seek for Gilbert, police discovered 4 extra units of stays later recognized as Melissa Barthelemy, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Megan Waterman, and Amber Lynn Costello. The Gilgo 4, as they turned recognized, had been discarded similarly, 500ft aside, every swathed or lined in burlap sack material.


Six extra our bodies had been present in the identical space at about the identical time. Their dates of dying, too, converse to the uncertainty that pervades the case of the Long Island serial killer. Police initially mentioned they believed Gilbert drowned accidentally, which few believed, and a health worker’s post-mortem proved inconclusive.

police handout photos show Maureen Brainard-Barnes and Megan Waterman

Within the 11 years since, Gilgo Seaside has grow to be synonymous with violent dying and regulation enforcement failures rooted in incompetence or, worse, institutional disregard. However now, it appears, concrete steps are lastly being taken to attempt to resolve the thriller as soon as extra.

Final week Rodney Harrison, the brand new police commissioner of Suffolk county, inherited the case – which has grow to be one of the infamous unsolved crimes within the US. It goes again to 1996, when physique elements of the earliest-known victims had been discovered on the shores of Hearth Island, a vacation vacation spot.

It was Harrison who mentioned he would launch Gilbert’s 911 name “so long as it doesn’t impede the investigation”. Final week, Harrison went additional, saying a hoop of individuals could be probably related to the murders. “I’m feeling assured that we’re getting nearer to creating an arrest,” he informed a local news outlet.

If that’s appropriate, it’s going to have taken Harrison about two weeks to maneuver a case forwards that hadn’t superior a lot in 11 years. And that raises a number of questions, not least why would it not require a police commissioner from New York Metropolis to get issues going.

Among the many theories which have circulated was that police didn’t name within the FBI as a result of they’d parts of their very own to cover. However Harrison mentioned that linking the Gilgo homicide investigation to native police misconduct was a disservice to the investigation. “I can reassure everyone that there’s no coverup on this case,” he mentioned.

In accordance with the Suffolk district legal professional, Ray Tierney, who labored with Harrison in Brooklyn, the case is now a agency precedence. Tierney has known as in FBI investigators in addition to operating a workforce of detectives of his personal.

Rodney Harrison at podium
Rodney Harrison seen in April, earlier than he turned the police commissioner of Suffolk county. {Photograph}: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/REX/Shutterstock

“I am going into it with no expectations, however there’s a voluminous quantity of proof that’s been collected. We’re going to overview and go the place it leads us,” Tierney informed the Guardian. “It issues to the victims’ households and the folks of Suffolk county. They need to see it solved.”

However Gilgo Seaside residents final week professed a putting degree of indifference. “Unhealthy issues occur throughout, however some make the headlines. Apart from gosh, who’d have thought that might occur right here, all of the discuss appears to be coming from individuals who don’t come from right here,” famous one man parked in a pick-up.

The sense that the case has gone chilly, and of official indifference during the last 11 years, vexes John Ray, the Gilbert household’s lawyer. Ray has been a constant advocate for the household’s efforts to search out justice for Gilbert, together with the opposite ladies who had been discovered alongside the shoreline.

“Police incompetence, together with sure willful conduct by members of the police division, was a foul combine that destroyed the power to resolve this case,” Ray informed the Guardian.

Ray has pursued, by way of civil litigation and by making use of strain to investigators, a neighborhood resident of Oak Seaside whom he believes is a chief suspect in Gilbert’s homicide and people of the opposite ladies discovered alongside the seashore. The person, a former senior official within the native emergency medical providers, made a number of calls to Gilbert’s mom within the days following Gilbert’s disappearance in addition to calls to regional police, her boyfriend, her driver and the consumer “to study what he could about Shannan”, Ray has alleged in a civil swimsuit.


Police mentioned initially mentioned Gilbert had in all probability died by chance within the marsh behind the person’s home, however that was earlier than they’d a physique. Later they mentioned she was calm on the 911 name. Whereas Ray is sure by the courtroom to not talk about what he heard on the decision, he permits that what police reported “seems to be a deliberate misrepresentation of what occurred”.

“It begins to offer you pause about what the police’s view of all this was,” he added.

The person later denied his involvement in Gilbert’s disappearance and denied he’d made the calls. “So he did all of these items to attempt to get critical data. He had no motive to do this if he wasn’t concerned,” Ray mentioned.

(*11*)Suffolk county Police and police recruits search an area of beach near where police had recently found human remains in 2011 in Babylon, New York.
Suffolk county Police and police recruits search an space of seashore close to the place police had lately discovered human stays in 2011 in Babylon, New York. {Photograph}: Spencer Platt/Getty Photos

However different suspects are additionally within the body, in accordance with Ray. In essence, homicide on this scale takes place in a context of native corruption, Ray mentioned, and that context is what police have been unwilling or unable to reveal.

“All of that provides to the issue of defining the circle of guilt. The corruption concerned intercourse and medicines, and these persons are concerned in both or each of these behaviors. That’s what unites them, however it’s additionally what makes it so tough to pin the perpetrator down as a result of there are such a lot of folks with completely different liabilities.”

Phil Boyle, state senator for Long Island’s fourth district, has requested the New York state legal professional normal, Letitia James, for an out of doors investigation of the investigation, believing that figures within the native police power hampered the inquiry and prevented investigators, together with the FBI, from cellphone information. “No one of their proper thoughts would take away the FBI from a serial killer investigation.”

The place this will likely lead it’s too quickly to know.

Melissa Cann, sister of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, informed the New York Post on Monday she felt hopeful. Lorraine Ela, mom of Megan Waterman, mentioned she had been “sort of skeptical” previous to Harrison’s press convention, however that she now felt the police chief would “work this case with dignity”.

“I’m uninterested in listening to the identical crap come out of everybody’s mouth,” she informed the outlet by way of electronic mail. “[But] I used to be more than happy with the phrases from Mr Harrison. He appears to take care of the victims.”

Many individuals concerned, on a deep private degree or on knowledgeable degree that has grow to be deeply private, anticipate {that a} new police chief and district legal professional from exterior the area, along with FBI, can convey some hope for a decision to a sequence of profoundly bleak crimes.

John Ray believes that in the end the police will identification a suspect and convey fees. However, he cautions, no matter a conviction, “no person will imagine they’re the one killer. The police bungled this case so badly and for therefore a few years, we’ve received a Jack the Ripper scenario. It would by no means be solved even whether it is.”

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