Who is the Long Island Serial Killer?
The Long Island Serial Killer (LISK) a.k.a. the Gilgo Beach Killer or the Craigslist Ripper, is still unidentified. He is responsible for the murders of 10 – 17 people over a period of about 20 years. The bodies of his victims were found along the Ocean Parkway in Suffolk Co. and the Jones Beach State Park in Nassau Co.
The bodies of the LISK’s victims were found when police were searching for missing 24-year-old Shannan Gilbert. A police officer and his dog were on a routine training exercise when he discovered the first body.
The killer has access to burlap sacks and may have a detailed knowledge of law enforcement techniques and perhaps ties to law enforcement.
The 4 victims discovered in 2010 all had advertised prostitution services on Craigslist:
- Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, of Norwich, CT went to Long Island to spend the day in the city and was never seen again. She was a struggling mother who escorted to pay her mortgage. She had successfully left prostitution, but returned to it when she received an eviction notice. She was last seen on July 9, 2007.
- Melissa Barthelemy, 24, of Erie Co., NY went missing on July 10, 2009. She was living in the Bronx and working as an escort on Craigslist. She met with a client, deposited some money in her bank account, and attempted to call an ex-boyfriend the night she went missing. Beginning 1 week after her disappearance and lasting for 5 weeks, her teenage sister received a series of “vulgar, mocking” calls from someone who may have been the LISK. He was using her sister’s cell phone.
- Megan Waterman, 22, of South Portland, ME went missing on June 6, 2010 after placing an escort ad on Craigslist. At the time of her disappearance, she was staying at a motel in Hauppauge, NY, 15 mi. NE of Gilgo Beach.
- Amber Lynn Costello, 27, of North Babylon, NY, 10 miles from Gilgo Beach. She was suffering from drug addiction and used prostitution to buy heroin. She went missing on Sept. 2, 2010. The night she disappeared, she went to meet a stranger who offered her $1,500.
The 4 victims discovered in 2011 were found within 2 – 5 miles of the first set of victims.
- Jessica Taylor, 20, of Manhattan, NY, went missing in July of 2003. On July 26, 2003, some of her dismembered body was found 45 miles east of Gilgo Beach (Manville, NY). Remains of her skull were found with the other victims of the LISK. Taylor worked as a prostitute in Washington D.C. and Manhattan. In a similar fashion, dismembered remains of Jane Doe #6 were found in both of the same places.
- Jane Doe #6 was disposed of in a similar manner and in the same places as Jessica Taylor. JD #6 was 5′ 2″, 18 – 35 years old.
- John Doe was a young Asian male who died of blunt force trauma. He was wearing women’s clothing at the time of his death. He was 5′ 6″, 17 to 23 years old.
- Baby Doe was found 250 ft. from the partial remains of Jane Doe No. 6. She was a female toddler between 16 and 24 months old. She was wrapped in a blanket and had no signs of trauma. DNA tests determined she was the daughter of Jane Doe No. 3. JD #3 was found 10 miles east near Jones Beach State Park. Baby Doe was non-Caucasian and found wearing earrings and a necklace.
- Jane Doe # 3, the mother of Baby Doe, was found inside a plastic bag. She was found wearing similar jewelry as Baby Doe.
- Jane Doe # 7 was found at nearby Tobay Beach. She was linked by DNA to dismembered body parts found in a garbage bag on Fire Island on April 20, 1996.
The following are additional cases that may be linked to the LISK:
- “Peaches” — On June 28, 1997, the dismembered torso of an unidentified African American woman was found in Hempstead Lake State Park. Investigators reported that the victim 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.
- “Cherries” — On March 3, 2007, a suitcase containing the dismembered torso of an unidentified Hispanic or light-skinned African American woman washed up on Harbor Island Park. The victim had a tattoo of two cherries on her left breast. She was determined to have been stabbed to death. Other parts of her remains have washed up on Cold Spring Harbor and Oyster Bay. Both “Peaches” and “Cherries” were dismembered in a similar fashion as Jessica Taylor and Jane Doe #6.
- On May 17, 2011, it was reported that the Long Island police began to reinvestigate the case of Tanya Rush, 39, a mother of 3, whose dismembered body was found in a suitcase in 2008 on the shoulder of the Southern State Parkway.
- Shannan Gilbert was working as an escort the night she disappeared. She left a client’s residence after midnight in Oak Beach. She called 911 dispatchers a few hours later in a panicked state reporting that “they” were trying to kill her. She was last seen a short time later attempting to get help from a nearby residence. Over a year and a half later, her remains were found 0.5 mile from where she disappeared. Her family believes she is a victim of the LISK, but police have ruled that her death was “by misadventure”. Police believe that Gilbert, in a panicked state, ran into the marsh, getting stuck, exhausting her, causing her death.
- On Jan. 23, 2013, a woman walking her dog found the remains of a woman near Oyster Bay, in a brushy, sandy area. The woman was between 20 and 30 years old, possibly Asian. She was wearing a 22 karat gold pig pendant, which may be a reference to The Year of the Pig. She had suffered unspecified trauma. Her body was buried before Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
- On March 16, 2013, Natasha Jugo, 31, a Yugoslavian-American, was last seen at her home in Queens. Her car was found along Ocean Parkway. Some of her clothing and belongings were found near Gilgo Beach. Jugo was 5′ 7″, 120 lbs., with brown eyes and blonde hair. She was last seen wearing a black robe, pink PJs, a gray hooded sweatshirt, black coat, and black boots. Her body washed up on Gilgo Beach on June 24, 2013.