A serial killer is responsible for the deaths of four young women found on Gilgo Beach in December, said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota at a press conference today, during which police provided the identities of the last three victims.
“I believe it [the murders] is the work of a serial killer,” said Spota, noting that the four cases were similar but declining to release any specific details on how the women were murdered, except to say they were killed elsewhere and dumped at the Gilgo Beach location.
One identified is Amber Lynn Costello, a 27-year-old North Babylon woman last seen in early September. Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, of Norwich, Connecticut, and Melissa Barthelemy, 24, of Erie County, New York, were also identified. Last week the first female remains were identified as Megan Waterman, a missing 24-year-old Maine woman who was last seen in Hauppauge.
All four women were prostitutes who used online services, such as Craiglists, for business, said Spota.
Police are now offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the Gilgo Beach serial killer and asking the public's help in solving the crimes.
“We are asking anyone involved in this [prostitution] business, the business these women were in, to come forward and provide information,” said Spota. “We hope people come forward as they must have some information, no matter how insignificant they might think it is, that can help solve these cases.”
Costello, a 5’0 blonde with hazel eyes, was last seen in North Babylon on September 2, say police, and no official missing persons report had been filed about her disappearance. Brainard-Barnes was last seen in New York City in July, 2007. Barthelemy was last seen in July, 2009 in the Bronx.
“All these girls are victims of a homicide and they worked in a high-risk business,” said Spota.
Police say the women were killed at different times and disposed of at different times, but refused to provide any further details. They declined to state if there are any suspects or persons of interest at this point.
Shortly after the first remains were found on December 13 police talked to a West Islip man who authorities said had used the services of another Craiglist escort, Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old New Jersey woman who was reported missing in May.
Police say Gilbert was last seen after being driven by a man to meet a client in Oak Beach. However, Gilbert was quickly ruled out as one of the bodies by the Suffolk County Medical Examiner. There is no update on that case, Dormer said on Monday.
Dormer said the final three identifications had been made Friday by the New York Medical Examiner’s office and families had been notified over the weekend.
The commissioner said police will resume searching the Ocean Beach Parkway area this spring even though it did a thorough search back in December.
“Our heart-felt condolences go out to the families,” said Dormer, who asked anyone with information to contact the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.