Halsey Manor Road stretches north and south, cutting straight through the western edge of Long Island’s Central Pine Barrens—more than 100,000 acres of protected wilderness running through the cozy hamlet of Manorville.
There are a handful of houses, some farmhouses, others palatial three-story colonials carved out in tiny pockets along the road, with backyards stretching into acres of thick woods. For someone lost at night—and according to locals, it happens frequently—the road can be daunting. Just a short walk into the woods on either side, and the road is no longer visible. Neither are you.
Everything is quiet, aside from the rustling of wildlife, the occasional school bus and a barrage of bullets firing in a shooting range that can’t be seen from here, only heard. You can see the Long Island Expressway from an overpass a few miles down the road, but from here, how to get down there is a mystery.
The only turns lead to dead ends, or will take you deeper into the acres of trees. Going straight will land you alongside miles of abandoned train tracks that haven’t been used since 1968, a line of train cars covered in graffiti, a weather-worn wooden sign of an old Long Island Rail Road station creaking back and forth, and the sound of gun shots getting increasingly louder. The road ends in another landscape of pine trees. But for someone who knows where they’re going, or planned ahead, it takes just two turns off the Expressway to get into the middle of nowhere.
Four bodies—two beheaded and cut into pieces—were found in these woods. Only one has been identified. None of their deaths, believed to be murders, have been solved and it’s been years since the whispers of a possible serial killer circulating around this quiet town and the rest of Long Island turned into newspaper headlines. That is, until this past December, when the bodies of four murdered women were found 50 miles away from here in the brush of Gilgo Beach.
Over the past decade, nearly a dozen women—many mutilated and dismembered, and many still without names—have been found dumped off Long Island roadways. And whether any of these murders are related, or the work of a single killer, is a question police cannot yet answer.