Police are offering up to $25,000 for information leading to an arrest of the killer or killers who dumped bodies along Ocean Parkway—a reward five times larger than usually offered, making it the largest in county history.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers announced the increased reward Thursday morning while investigators continue their probe into the discovery of 10 sets of remains on Jones Beach Island—eight on the Suffolk half of the barrier beach, two on the Nassau half. Authorities have already received more than 1,000 tips on the case.
“We believe there is information out there that could aid the police department in solving this case,” said Nick Amarr, president of the Suffolk Crime Stoppers board, which funded what they have dubbed the Major Case Special Situation Award through private donations. “We are hoping this will give someone incentive to come forward.”
The massive investigation began after officers discovered the remains of four dead women in the roadside brush along the desolate parkway near Gilgo Beach in December. When searchers returned to the area in the spring they uncovered four more sets of remains between Gilgo and Oak beaches. Shortly after that, Nassau police found two partial sets of skeletal remains between Tobay Beach and Jones Beach State Park.
Police believe the first four women—escorts who disappeared after meeting clients that responded to their online advertisements—to be victims of a possible serial killer. They were identified as 22-year-old Megan Waterman of Maine, 25-year-old Maureen Brainard-Barnes of Connecticut, 24-year-old Melissa Barthelemy of the Bronx and Amber Lynn Costello, 27, of North Babylon.
Costello went missing three months before her body was found. Barthelemy was last seen in July 2009. Brainard-Barnes disappeared from Manhattan in July 2007. Waterman was reported missing from a Hauppauge hotel a year ago last Monday.
Among the four sets of remains Suffolk police later found in the area was the head of Jessica Taylor, a prostitute whose decapitated body was found in Manorville in 2003. Also found on the beach this spring was the head of an unidentified woman whose mutilated body was found in Manorville in 2000, but authorities have said they do not believe the murder of the two women is connected to the Gilgo victims.
Medical examiners are still working to identify the remains of a girl about 24-months old who was found along the parkway wrapped in a blanket and a man in his late teens or early 20s believed to be of Asian descent.
Nassau County police said there were no new updates on the two sets of remains found on their half of the barrier island.
Police made the initial discoveries while searching for Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old New Jersey woman and online prostitute who disappeared last May after meeting client in Oak Beach. Authorities are still searching for Gilbert.
“The combined efforts of the Crime Stoppers board and public support have brought successful conclusions to hundreds of Suffolk County cases,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer. “I am hopeful that the increased reward will provide critical information to help bring those responsible to justice.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220 TIPS or text “SCPD” and your message to CRIMES (274637) or visit tipsubmit.com. All calls will be kept confidential.