Half of the 10 victims found along Ocean Parkway over the past 10 months remain unidentified in the massive homicide investigation, but Suffolk County police hoping the public might help to solve the complex case have released composite sketches of two of them and shared new details in the probe.
Forensic experts recreated what they believe two of the unidentified victims—a young Asian man and a woman whose remains were found scattered at the beach and in Manorville—may have looked like. Investigators also released images of jewelry found on a little girl discovered near Cedar Beach and said DNA revealed she was related to a woman found about 10 miles west, near Jones Beach State Park.
Another set of partial remains found near Tobay Beach has been linked to a pair of severed legs wrapped in plastic that washed ashore about 30 miles east near the Davis Park section of Fire Island 15 years prior—on April 20, 1996. The five unidentified victims were all found during police sweeps of the barrier island in March and April, but the new details only sparked more questions.
“It’s still an open investigation and we’re looking at all aspects,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said Tuesday at police headquarters in Yaphank. There are still no suspects named in the case.
“There could be one or there could be more killers. I can’t give you a definitive answer on that,” he said in response to a reporter’s question on whether police believe all of the bodies to be the work of the same serial killer suspected of slaying the first four prostitutes found near Gilgo Beach in December.
Tuesday marked the first press briefing in the case since May, when authorities identified a fifth set of partial remains as those of Jessica Taylor, a 20-year-old prostitute whose mutilated torso was also found in Manorville in 2003.
“Despite our best efforts, we still have been unable to identify Jane Doe No. 6,” Dormer said, referring to the woman whose sketch he released first. Her head, hands and foot were found at the beach a decade after her torso was found 45 miles away off the Long Island Expressway—a nearly identical method of dumping as Taylor’s case.
Dormer said Jane Doe No. 6 is also believed to have been a prostitute who may have been last seen working the streets of New York City in the fall of 2000. She also had a tattoo on her right ankle, although her killer mutilated the remains so that the design was unrecognizable.
Along with the second sketch, there were telling new details for the only man found on the beach, an Asian male between 17 and 23 years old missing several teeth, including one in the top front. Dormer said the victim was wearing women’s clothing, but declined to describe them.
He is believed to have been missing the teeth before he was killed between five and 10 years ago. His attire opened investigators to speculate that the victim also may have been an escort, Dormer said.
Police also released photos of jewelry found on the toddler and the partial remains of a woman believed to be her relative, who was one of the two sets of remains found on the Nassau County half of the barrier island. The toddler was described as “non-caucasian.”
The little girl was wearing hoop earrings and a rope-style necklace and the woman was wearing two bracelets: one resembling snakeskin and the other made up of X and O links with stones “resembling diamonds,” Dormer said.
He noted that the jewelry is widely available at stores in the metropolitan area and is not distinct, but hoped that someone might recognize them. The woman and the girl are believed to have been dumped along the bay between one and five years ago.
The first four victims—Amber Costello, Megan Waterman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes and Melissa Barthelem—were discovered while police were searching for Shannan Gilbert of New Jersey, who went missing after meeting a client in Oak Beach, several miles east of the dumping grounds.
All five had posted ads advertising themselves as prostitutes on Craigslist. Investigators are still searching for Gilbert.
Dormer reiterated his call for the public to add to the more than 1,200 tips that have been called in. He specifically asked for those in the escort business to come forward and not fear prosecution.
“The investigation hasn’t stalled,” Dormer said. “We’re making progress. It’s a slow, methodical process. This is not a television show where everything is solved in an hour.”
Those with information can call Homicide Squad detectives at 631-852-6396, call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-8477, text tips anonymously by texting “SCPD” to “CRIMES” (274637) or email information via www.tipsubmit.com
There is a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, the highest sum ever offered in Suffolk County history.