THE Long Island Serial Killer carefully chose his victims for personal gratification, targeting a vulnerable population of women, two forensic psychologists have said.
The victims have been referred to as The Gilgo Four, named after the beach they were discovered near on the south shore of Long Island.
Suffolk County police became aware of the bodies during a search for 23-year-old Shannan Gilbert from Ellenville, New York, who left a panicked 911 call on the night she disappeared from a client’s house.
She was an out-of-town escort like the other four victims.
The search for Gilbert among the bramble along Ocean Parkway led to the discovery of Megan Waterman, 22, Amber Lynn Costello, 27, from Wilmington, North Carolina, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, from Groton, Connecticut, and Melissa Barthelemy, 24, from Buffalo, New York.
Gilbert’s body was later found, though there was debate over whether she was actually murdered.
Police claimed her death was an accident while her family’s lawyer called it a cold-blooded killing.
Forensic psychologist Dr. John Delatorre agreed when asked if the serial killer cherry-picked his victims.
“They’re picked for a specific purpose,” he exclusively told The U.S. Sun.
Delatorre said that while the killer may have frequented places where prostitutes advertise or may have even purchased sex before, it wasn’t someone who was just trying to get rid of them because they were escorts.
“I think this individual has a specific target in mind,” the expert said.
Delatorre explained that the killer may have been trying to find someone that closely matched another person that they weren’t able to harm.
“They are an easy target, but I highly doubt that that’s the only reason why [the killer] is choosing sex workers,” the expert said.
“Now it’s possible that whoever’s doing this has a specific victim in mind but for whatever reason, they can’t get to that victim, so they use a proxy.
“And the easiest proxy to use, that most people would never really think twice about, would be a sex worker,” Delatorre said.
Forensic psychologist Dr. Joni Johnston explained why prostitutes are an easy target.
“You think about the ’70s and ’80s and you would have people hitchhiking, you would have people letting their kids go out in the morning and stay out until dark.
“People are much more safety conscious than they used to be,” she exclusively told The U.S. Sun.
Johnston went on: “And I think because of that, you’ve seen some of the narrowings of opportunity for serial killers, and sex work, kind of by its nature, puts people in a vulnerable position.”
The expert pointed out other dangers that come with sex work.
“When somebody is engaging in activity that is still illegal, they are much less likely to go to police if there’s a problem.
“And sometimes you have sex workers who move around and they are harder to keep track of.”
Johnston concluded: “So, I think they have just become, unfortunately, convenient victims.”
KILLER ON THE LOOSE
The deaths of the Gilgo Four, Shannan Gilbert, and multiple other victims found in Long Island authorities’ search remain unsolved with the serial killer yet to be caught.
According to the official Gilgo Case website, 10 bodies have been “officially linked” to the Long Island serial killer case:
- Maureen Brainard-Barnes was last seen on July 9, 2007. Her body was found on December 13, 2010.
- Melissa Barthelemy was last seen on July 12, 2009. Her body was discovered on December 11, 2010.
- Megan Waterman was last seen on June 6, 2010. Her body was discovered on December 13, 2010.
- Amber Lynn Costello was last seen on September 2, 2010. Her body was discovered on December 13, 2010.
- Jessica Taylor was last seen in July 2003. Parts of her body were discovered on March 29, 2011.
- Valerie Mack was last seen in the Spring/Summer of 2000. Parts of her body were discovered on April 4, 2011.
- “Asian Doe” was discovered on April 4, 2011.
- “Baby Doe” was discovered on April 4, 2011.
- “Peaches'” body parts were discovered on April 11, 2011. She is believed to be the mother of “Baby Doe.”
- Parts of “Fire Island Jane Doe” were first found on April 20, 1996. Her skull was discovered on April 11, 2011.
Seven other cases are also listed on the site with a note saying that the victims “may be connected to the LISK case.”
In one of the most recent developments, police from Mobile, Alabama, asked the public for help with a possible lead.
“His relative may be able to assist in the case of a woman and child found in another state,” cops said.
The post included a picture of a tattoo of peaches with police asking: “Does this tattoo look familiar?”
The tattoo belongs to a woman whose torso was found in Hempstead Lake State Park on Long Island in 1997.
DNA evidence revealed that “Peaches,” as she has been referred to, was the mother of a toddler whose remains were found along Ocean Parkway in 2011.
While the search for the Long Island Serial Killer continues, a petition was launched to create a memorial for the victims.
“No other case validates the phrase ‘Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied’ more than what has afflicted Long Island for the better part of the last 26 years,” organizers wrote in May 2022.