Police search for Gilgo Beach serial killer

January 24, 2011 8:33:00 PM PST
Suffolk County police and the district attorney say three remaining bodies have been identified in the investigation into four women's bodies that were found near a parkway leading to Jones Beach on Long Island.

All are women in their 20s and all are prostitutes, officials said. They were identified as 25-year-old Maureen Brainard-Barnes, from Norwich, Connecticut; 24-year-old Melissa Barthelemy, from the Bronx; and 27-year-old Amber Lynn Costello, of North Babylon.

Each posted ads online for escort services prior to their deaths.

District Attorney Thomas Spota said the deaths may be the work of a serial killer. Initially Suffolk County police thought so, but then had backed away from the theory. Officials say the women were believed to be killed elsewhere and dumped along the stretch.

The bodies "were probably were in that location for some period of time," he said.

Spota said he would reach out to women who work in the escort business, appealing to them to come forward if they have details about the slain women.

"These victims were engaged in a high risk busness and these homicides appear to be directly related to that business," he said. "People who are engaged in the same business should be on very, very high alert."

Police Commissioner Richard Dormer agreed with Spota.

"These were very young women whose lives were cut tragically short," Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said.

Brainard-Barnes was 25 when last seen July 9, 2007; Barthelemey was 24 when she disappeared July 12, 2009; and Costello was 27 when last seen Sept. 2, 2010.

Last week, authorities identified the fourth body as that of a missing Craigslist escort from Maine.

Megan Waterman, who advertised her escort services on the online classifieds site Craigslist, was last seen in early June at a Hauppauge, N.Y., hotel where she went with her boyfriend. The hotel is about 15 miles from where the four bodies were found in December.

Police were looking for another missing Craigslist escort when they happened upon the bodies near the beach. They have since said that the person they were originally looking for, a woman from New Jersey, was not among the dead. Authorities said Monday that case is still under investigation.

The highway sits on a narrow strip of land that divides the Great South Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. The four-lane parkway runs through the middle, connecting Jones Beach with several state- and town-run beaches to its east.

A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest in this case. Detectives are asking anyone with information to contact the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Some information from The Associated Press.