Police have increased the reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible for the murders of four prostitutes discovered wrapped in burlap sacks along Long Island's Ocean Parkway since December.
The reward was upped to $25,000, making it the largest reward offered in Suffolk County Crime Stoppers’ history. Ten separate remains have been discovered along the remote stretch of highway over the last few months, two of which have been in Nassau County.
Police have found only a definitive link between the first four sets of remains – sex workers who advertised their services on Craigslist – and believe their deaths may be the work of a serial killer.
Those victims were found less than a mile apart.
“We believe there is information out there that could aid the police department in solving this case,” said Crime Stoppers Board President Nick Amarr. “We are hoping this will give someone incentive to come forward.”
In December, Suffolk Police discovered the remains of four women, identified as Megan Waterman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, and Amber Lynn Costello.
A further search of the area in the spring led to the discovery of the remains of four additional people. One set of remains has been identified as that of Jessica Taylor. Partial remains of Taylor‘s body were discovered in Manorville in 2003. The other three sets of remains have yet to be identified.
The first four bodies, in various stages of decomposition, were discovered in the initial search for Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old sex worker from Jersey City who vanished from Oak Beach on May 1, 2010 after a rendezvous with a client. She has yet to be found.
After suspending searches for some time, police returned to Captree State Park in recent weeks to search 10 specific locations highlighted in high-tech FBI aerial imaging. That search yielded no additional evidence.
"The Crime Stoppers program is an important tool for police in furthering their investigations,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer. “The combined efforts of the Crime Stoppers board and public support have brought successful conclusions to hundreds of Suffolk County cases. I am hopeful that the increased reward will provide critical information to help bring those responsible to justice."
Private donations are funding this reward, known as the Crime Stoppers Major Case Special Situation Award.
Anyone with information is asked to call Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220 TIPS or text “SCPD” and your message to CRIMES (274637) or visit tipsubmit.com. All calls are confidential.