A serial killer is blamed for at least four deaths in Suffolk county, district attorney Thomas Spota has confirmed.
Three victims were identified Monday. Their remains had been found at Gilgo Beach back in December, along with those of Megan Waterman, 22, whose body was identified last week. All four victims were prostitutes who, according to Spota, advertised their services on Craig's List and other internet sites.
"The deaths have been certified as homicides," Spota said.
"They were killed in substantially similar ways by the same person or persons. It all fits within the known definition of what a serial killer would be."
Each of the victims had been reported missing. Melissa Barthelemy, 24 of the Bronx, was last seen in July, 2009. Amber Lynn Costello, 27, of North Babylon, had been missing since September, 2010. Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, of Norwich, Connecticut was last seen in Manhattan in July, 2007.
Waterman, of Maine had been missing since June of last year. Each had met a client or clients just prior to their deaths, according to investigators
"Their deaths are the direct result of their business as prostitutes," added Spota.
The exact cause of the four deaths was not revealed by investigators; but, it appeared each woman was killed at an unknown location, then dumped at the beach.
A police task force is working the four homicide cases. The general public should not be concerned, investigators said; but those in the prostitution business were warned to be on guard and urged to call police with any pertinent information that might help catch the person or persons responsible.
The possibility that more may have been killed was not ruled out by police.
"We will return to the beach and continue our search in the spring," said Suffolk police commissioner Richard Dormer. "We still have to account for Shannon Gilbert," he added, referring to the missing Jersey City woman who has not been seen since last May. It remains unclear if Gilbert's disappearance is linked to this serial killer case.