Updates on the Long Island Serial Killer Case

The Long Island serial killer (also referred to as LISK, the Gilgo Beach Killer or the Craigslist Ripper) is an unidentified suspected serial killer who is believed to have murdered 10 to 16 people over a period of nearly 20 years, mostly women who were associated with being sex workers, and left their bodies in areas on the South Shore of Long Island, New York.

The victims were found along the Ocean Parkway, near the remote beach towns of Gilgo and Oak Beach in Suffolk County, and the area of Jones Beach State Park in Nassau County. The remains of four victims were found in December 2010, while six more sets of remains were found in March and April 2011.

On November 29, 2011, the police stated their belief that one person is responsible for all 10 deaths although previously they said it might be the work of multiple suspects.

The attention to the area began when Shannon Gilbert went missing in May 2020 but as of now, despite all efforts by her family, the police claims that she isn’t the victim of the same murderer, rather she just ran into the marshlands.

Table of content

May 2020,
Identifying Jane Doe #6 – Valerie Mack

Jane Doe #6’s remains were found in two areas of Long Island, more than 40 miles and a decade apart. In 2000 in Manorville they found parts of her body, and in 2011 near Gilgo Beach where they found her head, right foot and hands. The police haven’t released the identity of the victim yet but expected to do so soon.

Her remains aren’t the only ones which were found in two locations – Manorville and Gilgo Beach. Police found the skull of Jessica Taylor, a 20-year-old who disappeared in 2003, near Gilgo Beach and most of the rest of her body in a wooded area of Manorville.

Last year the FBI started to run familiar DNA analysis which led to identifying Jane Doe #6 and also released photographs of a monogrammed belt which can lead to identifying the suspect using the same technic, just as it happened in the case of the Golden State Killer.

The police kept the identity a secret after the announcement, but it’s been revealed that the victim’s name is Valerie Mack. (Pictured below.)

Mack was 24 when she was last seen; she was working as an escort in the Philadelphia area at the time of her disappearance. Family members last saw her in the spring/summer of 2000 near Port Republic, New Jersey. Mack, who also used the name Melissa Taylor, was never reported missing.

Identified Victims of the Long Island Serial Killer

There are 5 identified and 5 unidentified victims in this case, including a man and a baby. There are 6 more victimswho can possibly linked to the same suspect, but the police aren’t officially treating them as part of the same case.

Jessica Taylor

Last seen: July 2003.

On July 26, 2003, her naked and dismembered torso, missing its head and hands, was discovered 45 miles east of Gilgo Beach in Manorville, New York. A tattoo on her body had been cut and she was identified through DNA later in 2003.

On March 29, 2011 on Gilgo beach a skull, a pair of hands and a forearm was found and matched to Taylor.

Maureen Brainard-Barnes

Last seen: July 9, 2007.

Maureen was a struggling mother who worked as a paid escort via Craigslist to pay the mortgage on her house. She had been out of the sex industry for seven months, but she returned to the work in order to pay her bills after receiving an eviction notice. Her body was found in December 2010.

Melissa Barthélemy

Last seen: July 10, 2009.

She had been living in the Bronx and working as an escort through Craigslist. On the night she went missing, she met with a client, deposited $900 in her bank account, and attempted to call an old boyfriend, but did not get through.

A week later, and lasting for five weeks, her teenage sister, Amanda, received a series of “vulgar, mocking and insulting” calls from a man, who may have been the killer using Melissa’s cell phone. The calls became increasingly disturbing, and eventually culminated in the caller telling Amanda that Melissa was dead, and that he was going to “watch her rot.”

Police traced some of the calls to Madison Square Garden, midtown Manhattan, and Massapequa, but were unable to determine who was making the calls. Melissa’s mother noted that there were “a lot of calls to Manorville” from Melissa’s phone around the time of her disappearance.

Megan Waterman

Last seen: June 6, 2010

Megan also placed advertisements on Craiglist. The day before she went missing she had told her 20-year-old boyfriend that she was going out and would call him later. At the time of her disappearance, she was staying at a motel in Hauppauge, New York, 15 miles northeast of Gilgo Beach. Her body was recovered in December 2010.

Amber Lynn Costello

Last seen: Sept 2, 2010

Amber went missing from North Babylon, New York, a town ten miles north of Gilgo Beach. She was a sex worker and heroin user. She reportedly went to meet a stranger who had called her several times and offered $1,500 for her services.

Unidentified Victims of the Long Island Serial Killer

‘Jane Doe No.6’

Jane Doe was recently identified by the police through familiar DNA. Her identity isn’t released to the public yet.

Her body was found in two location – cloe to Manorville and Gilgo beach. Her foothave been cut – probably to conceal a tattoo. Her case is very similay to Jessica Taylor’s who was found nearby.

‘John Doe’

John Doe was also discovered on April 4, 2011 at Gilgo Beach. The body appeared to be a young Asian male who died from blunt-force trauma. The police stated that he had likely been working as a sex workerand was wearing women’s clothing at the time of his death.[18] He was between 17 and 23 years of age, 5′ 6″ in height, and missing four teeth; he had been dead for between 5 and 10 years. He had some kind of musculoskeletal disorder which would have affected his gait.

Doe network file: http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/2864umny.html

‘Baby Doe’

The third body found on April 4, 2011, about 250 feet away from the partial remains of “Jane Doe No. 6,” was that of a female toddler between 16 and 24 months of age. The body was wrapped in a blanket and showed no visible signs of trauma. DNA tests determined that the child’s mother was “Jane Doe No. 3”, whose body was found 10 miles east, near Jones Beach State Park. The toddler was reported to be a person of color and was wearing gold earrings and a gold necklace.

Doe network file: http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/1323ufny.html

‘Peaches/Jane Doe No. 3’

On June 28, 1997, the dismembered torso of an unidentified young African-American female was found at Hempstead Lake State Park, in the town of Lakeview, New York. She had a tattoo of a heart-shaped peach with a bite out of it and two drips falling from its core on her left breast.

On April 11, 2011, police in Nassau County discovered dismembered skeletal human remains belonging to Jane Doe No.3 near Jones Beach State Park. DNA analysis identified this victim as the mother of “Baby Doe.” She was found wearing gold jewelry similar to that of “Baby Doe.”

Doe network file: http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/151ufny.html

‘Jane Doe No. 7.-Fire Island Jane Dow’

Also on April 11, 2011, at nearby Tobay Beach, a separate human skull and several teeth were recovered. These remains were linked by DNA testing to a set of severed legs found in a garbage bag on Fire Island on April 20, 1996. The victim had a surgical scar on her left leg.

Doe network file: http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/1019ufny.html

Suspects in the Long Island Serial Killer Case

James Burke

On December 15, 2016, the attorney for Gilbert’s family said that an escort who had conducted business with former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke claimed he was connected to the Long Island murders.

In November 2016, Burke had been sentenced to 46 months in federal prison, along with three years of supervised release, for beating a man who stole a duffel bag filled with sex toys and pornography from his vehicle. Gilbert’s attorney said in December that one escort claimed that she had had “rough sex” with Burke during an Oak Beach party and previously saw him dragging someone on the ground during a party.

Burke was reported to have blocked an FBI probe of the LISK case during his time as police chief.

John Bittrolff

On September 12, 2017, Suffolk County prosecutor Robert Biancavilla said that John Bittrolff, a Suffolk county resident, was a suspect in at least one of the LISK murders. Biancavilla stated that Bittrolff was likely responsible for the deaths of other women, and that there were similarities between the Gilgo Beach crime scenes and Bittrolff’s known murders, for which he was convicted in May 2017 and was sentenced to 25 years for both murders.

Bittrolff was arrested in 2014, linked by DNA found on two prostitute homicide victims, Rita Tangredi and Colleen McNamee, whose bodies were found in 1993 and 1994, respectively.

The Suffolk County police did not comment on the prosecutor’s statement, due to the active homicide investigation of the LISK murders.

Bittrolff was married and had lived in Manorville, three miles from where the torsos of LISK victims Jessica Taylor and “Jane Doe No. 6” were recovered.

The grown daughter of Rita Tangredi, one of Bittrolff’s known victims, was reported to be “best friends” with Melissa Barthelemy, one of the Gilgo Beach victims.Barthelemy’s mother said that her daughter Melissa “had a lot of calls to Manorville from her phone” before her death

Joseph Brewer

Joseph Brewer, an Oak Beach resident, was one of the last people known to have seen Shannan Gilbert alive. He hired her as an escort from Craigslist on the night of her disappearance. Brewer said that shortly after Gilbert arrived at his residence, she began acting erratically and fled into the night. Gilbert was reportedly seen running through Oak Beach, pounding on the doors of homes in Brewer’s neighborhood. Around this time, Gilbert called 9-1-1, saying that “they were trying to kill her”. However, police did not find any evidence of wrongdoing, and Brewer was quickly cleared as a suspect.

Dr. Peter Hackett

Two days after Gilbert’s disappearance, Dr. Peter Hackett, an Oak Beach resident and neighbor of Brewer, called the woman’s mother, Mari Gilbert. He said he was taking care of Gilbert, and that he “ran a home for wayward girls.” Three days later, he called the mother again, denying the phone call or ever being in contact with Gilbert.

The phone calls were confirmed later by the investigators and Gilbert’s remains were found in the marshy area near Hackett’s backyard. Later police revealed that Hackett had a history of inserting himself into, or exaggerating his role in, certain major events. According to records Hackett’s wife and two children were home on the night of Gilbert’s disappearance.

Police later ruled out Hackett as a suspect in the deaths of Gilbert and the LISK victims.

James Bissett

Two days after Shannan Gilbert’s remains were found James Bissett took his own life while in his car at Mattituck park. He ran a nursery which was the main supplier of burlap in the region (some of the victims were found wrapped in burlap)

Joseph James DeAngelo, The Golden State Killer Case Updates

I was listening to an old My Favourite Murder episode (Episode 111 – Figure It Out Kevin) where they were discussing the Golden State Killer It’s Not Over documentary and the book “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark” by Michelle McNamara.

I remembered to something reading on him being caught a few years back but my true crime obsession didn’t reach the current levels yet so I thought it is time I do my research and check up on the case. You could imagine my surprise when I read that there were significant developments in the case of Joseph DeAngelo.

Aug 21, 2020
DeAngelo Sentenced to Life in Prison

The life sentence came after 3 days of hearings where the survivors and family members of the victims were subjected to relive the horrific crimes committed between 1975 and 1986 by DeAngelo.

“When a person commits monstrous acts, they need to be locked away so they can never harm an innocent person,”

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman

DeAngelo also admitted to dozens more sexual assaults for which the statute of limitations had expired. Prosecutors called the scale of the violence “simply staggering,” encompassing 87 victims at 53 crime scenes spanning 11 California counties.

Before sentencing, DeAngelo rose from a wheelchair, took off his mask and said to the court: “I listened to all your statements, each one of them, and I’m truly sorry for everyone I’ve hurt.”

Applause erupted when DeAngelo was remanded to the custody of sheriff’s officials for transfer to the state prison system.

“The defendant deserves no mercy,” the judge said.

June 29, 2020
DeAngelo Pleads Guilty in Court

The Golden State Killer admitted to his crimes and in unusual fashion 87 of his living victims will be speaking on his sentencing.

DeAngelo pleaded guilty in Sacramento County Superior Court last week to the 26 crimes he was formally charged with. He also admitted to 161 offenses he was never formally accused of because the deadline to prosecute them had long since passed, Temple said. 

Including the admissions, the guilty pleas guarantee the 87 people have the opportunity to give a victim impact statement at the August sentencing hearing, she said. This includes Jennifer Carole, the daughter of prominent Ventura attorney Lyman Smith. 

Katharine Tinto, a clinical law professor at UC Irvine School of Law, said typically there’s no incentive for defendants to plead to additional crimes because it tends to carry a longer sentence. DeAngelo was already facing the harshest punishment in the criminal justice system. In his case, his defense attorneys were likely trying to spare DeAngelo’s life.

There were other practical considerations to agree to DeAngelo’s guilty plea. The crimes occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, an era when DNA forensic evidence did not yet exist. DNA testing done years later in the case offered investigators a major break. However, by the time an arrest was made in 2018, many of the witnesses were older, and some had died.

The case could have taken 10 years to get to trial, and the remaining witnesses are in their 90s. Plus, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly stalled the courts. 

June 16, 2020
DeAngelo to Plead Guilty to 88 Charges to Avoid the Death Penalty

In court, DeAngelo currently faces 26 counts in Sacramento Superior Court, including 13 murder counts, with one tied to Tulare County.

A new expected plea deal which would help DeAngelo avoid the death penalty requires him to admit responsibility for another 62 crimes attributed over the years to assailants variously known in California as the Visalia Ransacker, Original Nightstalker and Diamond Knot Killer, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Details of the agreement, which has not been formalized in court documents filed in the case, still are being worked out, as is the final decision on where the hearing will take place on the 29th June.

But with hundreds of spectators expected officials are looking for a setting large enough to allow for social distancing because of COVID-19 concerns.

April 22, 2020
Preliminary Hearing for Suspected Golden State Killer Delayed by Coronavirus

According to an article on Noozhawk the Coronavirus has delayed a preliminary hearing for the prime suspect in the Golden State Killer case.

The probable cause hearing for Joseph DeAngelo, 74, has still not occurred nearly two years after he was arrested on April 24, 2018. DeAngelo was scheduled to appear in Sacramento County Superior Court to argue about several motions filed by the defense team.

Joseph Deangelo is facing is facing 26 felony charges— 13 of which include murder— for crimes allegedly committed in Ventura, Santa Barbara, Orange, Sacramento, Contra Costa and Tulare counties.

The charges stem from crimes reported in the 1970s and 80s by suspects known at the time as the East Area Rapist, Original Nightstalker, Visalia Ransacker and Golden State Killer. Authorities have decided to seek the death penalty.

The case will contunue on June 29.

April 24, 2018
72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo is arrested and charged in relation to the unsolved Golden State Killer cases

Of course after that episode I had to go and listen to the MFM Episode 118 – Golden State Serial Killer Caught to catch the excitement of when this was happening live.

James DeAngelo was arrested after months of investigation based on DNA evidence. Detectives got a hit when they uploaded an udentified sample to a genomics website and they found relating matches to it. From then on they worked on the family to trace back the matches to DeAngelo. On April 18, a DNA sample was surreptitiously collected from the door handle of a car DeAngelo had been driving at the Roseville Hobby Lobby. Soon after, a sample was collected from a tissue found in DeAngelo’s curbside garbage can. Both samples were consistent with the Orange and Ventura County suspect profiles.

The 72-year-old U.S. Navy veteran and former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo was charged with eight counts of murder with special circumstancesin Sacramento County and with four counts of first degree murder in Santa Barbara. He is also facing 13 counts of kidnapping and abduction attempts.

Books about the Golden State Killer:

Films about the Golden State Killer