Suffolk County authorities have identified the remaining three bodies found off Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach in December. Police say all four women, including Megan Waterman, who was identified last week, advertised as escorts on the Internet and were murdered by a serial killer who dumped their bodies by the seaside roadway.
“What activities these victims may have been engaged in prior to their murders does not matter,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer on Monday. “They were young women whose lives were cut tragically short.”
The three women have been identified as: 25-year-old Maureen Brainard-Barnes of Norwich, Conn., last seen in July 9, 2007 in Manhattan; 24-year-old Melissa Barthelemy last seen in July 12, 2009 in the Bronx; and 27-year-old Amber Lynn Costello last seen in North Babylon in Sept. 2, 2010.
“Their deaths have been certified by the medical examiners office as homicides,” said District Attorney Thomas Spota, who would not specify how the women were killed.
On Wednesday, authorities first identified one of the four women as Megan Waterman, a missing Craigslist escort from Maine. Waterman was last seen at a Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge.
She disappeared after traveling to New York on Memorial Day weekend with Akeem Cruz, a 21-year-old Brooklyn man described as her boyfriend. Cruz is now serving a 20-month sentence at the Maine Correctional Center for drug trafficking.
Police found the first body Dec. 11 just steps from Ocean Parkway, which leads to the popular Jones Beach State Park. The other three bodies, including that of Waterman were found two days later during a follow-up investigation.
Police were looking for another missing Craigslist escort, Shannan Gilbert of New Jersey, when they happened upon the bodies near the beach. They have since said that the person they were originally looking for, was not among the dead.
Authorities said Monday that case is still under investigation and there are plans to return to the area along Ocean Parkway to resume the search for Gilbert when the weather subsides. Police had backed off of early speculation that the discovery could be the work of one suspect but returned to that theory once forensics experts identified the women as murdered prostitutes.
“I believe [the homicides] fit into the known definition of what a serial killer would be,” Spota said. “The actual cause of their deaths appear to be substantially similar… We believe each of the four victims met their prearranged client or clients shortly before their deaths and their deaths are a direct result of their business as prostitutes.”
In the mean time, officials say a task force is working the case around the clock and is urging anyone to come forward with information.
“I sincerely hope that people who are engaged in a similar business as these four young women will come forward,” said Spota. “They certainly must have some information…something they deem to be insignificant may be significant to us.”
Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the Suffolk County Police Department anonymously: By Telephone: 1-800-220-TIPS; By Text: Text SCPD and your message to CRIMES (274637); By Email: www.tipsubmit.com.