MINEOLA, N.Y. – For years, the thicket alongside a seashore freeway on Long Island held a horrible secret. Hidden from passing drivers have been the skeletal stays of 10 individuals, largely younger girls who had labored as prostitutes. Who killed them, and why, is a thriller that has vexed a slew of seasoned murder detectives.
The case took an intriguing flip when a veteran county prosecutor turned the primary authority to publicly title a suspect in a minimum of one of many deaths: John Bittrolff, a Long Island carpenter who was sentenced to consecutive 25 years-to-life phrases in jail this week for beating two prostitutes to loss of life in 1993 and 1994.
Robert Biancavilla, an assistant district lawyer in Suffolk County, stated after the sentencing that a number of the stays discovered close to Gilgo Beach “could also be attributed to the handiwork of Mr. Bittrolff.”
If authorities have proof to again up their suspicions, although, they are not saying.
Biancavilla declined to elaborate. Suffolk County police officers declined to remark. They final spoke publicly in regards to the case practically two years in the past once they introduced detectives have been working with FBI profilers on growing leads.
Any suggestion that Bittrolff had something to do with the lifeless girls is “laughable,” stated his lawyer, Jonathan Manley.
Even a lawyer for the household of a kind of linked to the case expressed skepticism.
“To stir this pot when there is not any proof is seeking to simply blame a convicted killer and never must carry out the investigation that’s required,” stated John Ray, an lawyer for the household of Shannan Gilbert, whose disappearance in 2010 a number of miles from Gilgo Beach triggered the hunt that uncovered the bigger thriller.
Gilbert, a 24-year-old intercourse employee, vanished in spring 2010 after leaving a shopper’s home on foot and disappearing into the marsh.
Months later, a police officer and his cadaver canine have been in search of her physique in the thicket alongside Ocean Parkway once they occurred upon the stays of a unique girl. Within days, three different our bodies have been discovered, all inside a brief stroll of each other.
By spring 2011, that quantity had climbed to 10 units of human stays — these of eight girls, one man and one toddler — all discovered alongside a number of miles of parkway. Some stays have been later linked to dismembered physique elements discovered elsewhere on Long Island, making for a puzzling crime scene that stretched from a park close to the New York City limits to a resort neighborhood on Fire Island and out to far japanese Long Island.
Police discovered the cranium of a prostitute named Jessica Taylor, who was 20 when a lot of the remainder of her physique was discovered in a wooded space of Manorville shortly after she disappeared in 2003. Body elements discovered on Gilgo Beach have been additionally linked to a different corpse discovered in Manorville in 2000. That feminine sufferer has by no means been recognized.
Gilbert’s physique was discovered in the marsh in the neighborhood of Oak Beach in December 2011, about three miles east of the place the opposite 10 units have been found.
Police have lengthy maintained that Gilbert’s loss of life was unintended. They say she drowned in a drug-induced haze after wandering into the wetland, however her relations have lengthy disputed that willpower. In one of many extra uncommon twists in the saga, Gilbert’s mom, Mari, was murdered final 12 months by one other daughter in her upstate New York dwelling.
Bittrolff was arrested in 2014 in an unrelated investigation involving the deaths of two prostitutes left in wooded areas of japanese Long Island twenty years in the past. The nude our bodies of Rita Tangredi, 31, and Colleen McNamee, 20, have been discovered 9 miles (14 kilometers) aside in late 1993 and early 1994. Both girls had been strangled and suffered extreme head accidents.
Bittrolff, 51, was convicted after investigators linked his DNA to substances discovered on the ladies’s our bodies. He denies killing the ladies and intends to enchantment.
Before he was jailed, Bittrolff lived in Manorville, a part of the huge Long Island pine barrens area and the identical hamlet the place Taylor’s corpse and the physique of 1 different girl have been discovered.
John Ray, the Gilbert household lawyer, discounted any significance to the truth that Bittrolff lived there.
“Manorville is a large, forested space; I do not assume that makes it a lot of a connection. Manorville simply occurs to be an amazing place to depart our bodies,” he stated, agreeing that the identical might be stated for Ocean Parkway.
In speaking in regards to the our bodies close to Gilgo Beach, investigators have stated a number of occasions through the years it’s unlikely one individual killed all of the victims.
Joseph Pollini, a retired New York City police detective who investigated chilly case homicides and now teaches on the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, stated he discovered it exhausting to consider a prosecutor would publicly join Bittrolff to the Gilgo Beach investigation on mere hypothesis.
“It’s extremely unlikely a district lawyer would put his neck out on a limb like that if he did not have one thing to again it up,” he stated.