There will be a few things different about beach season on Long Island this year. The top of the Jones Beach water tower, for one, has been restored, and the recognizable green tarnished point at the traffic circle is now a shiny copper.
The Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular, canceled due to budget concerns, will return this summer, and cadaver dogs will be walking along the bay, as digital police signs ask visitors for information on the potential 10 bodies found decomposing just off this oceanfront road, now a 15-mile-long crime scene.
Ten orange, blue and yellow arrows are now painted on the pavement of Ocean Parkway, pointing to thick brush that stretches to the bay, four of them now faded since the bodies of Megan Waterman, 22, Melissa Barthelemy, 24, Amber Lynn Costello, 27, and Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, were found near Gilgo Beach in December.
These four women are so far the only victims of a possible serial killer to be identified. As four more victims were uncovered in Suffolk County in the past two weeks, the search continued into Nassau this week and new details have come to light: Waterman, Brainard-Barnes, Costello and Barthelemy were strangled or smothered and reportedly wrapped in burlap. A pair of partial skeletal remains found this week in Nassau County are incomplete, showing signs of mutilation and dismemberment. What appear to be legs were found near a construction site across from the future Trump on the Ocean property. A skull was found alone near Tobay Beach and the skeletal remains were found stuffed in plastic garbage bags. One of the four bodies found last week is reportedly that of a child—although police have declined to discuss much of these details.
Meanwhile, Suffolk County police have been scanning the credit card records and appointment books of the identified victims, as well as area cameras, clamming licenses and traffic violations for would-be suspects in hopes of catching a glimpse of a killer.
Over the past week different scenarios, which Suffolk police will only publicly address as “speculation,” have been tossed around by the media and the public. The killer could be an ex-cop because of the way he covered his tracks. He could be a fisherman who had access to burlap. He could be a boater or a park employee with knowledge of the area. He could be a neighbor—or a neighbor’s guest. He could be a local doctor, a former police surgeon. He could be a they.
These possibilities, combined with newly emerging details by the day, only raise more questions. Could these murders be tied to the 2006 murders of four women in Atlantic City? Or even dismembered remains previously found in the Manorville Pine Barrens and Hempstead Lake State Park years ago? Could the disappearance of 24-year-old Shannan Gilbert—the New Jersey woman for whom police were searching when they found these other bodies—be just a coincidence? How could something so horrible happen here, in such a beautiful place?
Or perhaps more simply: Just how many more victims are out there?