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New York police search of Long Island forest could be linked to Gilgo Beach murders

Law enforcement sources say a search conducted in the eastern Long Island community of Manorville, New York, where partial remains of two of the 11 Gilgo Beach victims were discovered, is connected to the ongoing investigation in the case.

Suffolk County police deferred comment to the district attorney’s office. District Attorney Ray Tierney’s office declined to confirm a connection to the Gilgo victims but acknowledged a search was underway in the area this week.

“The Suffolk County Police Department, the New York Police Department and the New York State Police are working with the District Attorney’s Office on an ongoing investigation,” his office said in a statement. “We do not comment on investigative steps while they are underway. We will make further statements when appropriate.”


Suffolk police found 11 sets of remains along a remote stretch of Ocean Parkway in 2010 and 2011 after a woman named Shannan Gilbert called 911 for help and vanished from the gated community of Oak Beach.

Among them were the Gilgo Four, Melissa Barthelemy, 24; Megan Waterman, 22; Amber Costello, 27; and Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25. 

It could be the first time ever we’ve had two serial killers use the same dump site, but I doubt it.

— John Kelly, criminal profiler

Police arrested New York City architect Rex Heurmann in connection with those slayings in July. He lived a 20-minute drive from Gilgo Beach in Massapequa Park.

After Heuermann’s arraignment, Tierney vowed to continue using the grand jury process to investigate the other deaths.

“It could be [grand jury related[, but I don’t think it is,” Joseph Giacalone, a former NYPD sergeant and cold case expert who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said of the new Manorville search effort. “I think it comes in as a tip that must’ve had some corroboration.”

Alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann appears in Judge Tim Mazzei’s courtroom next to his attorney Michael Brown


He praised the county’s handling of the investigation and willingness to consider whether there may be additional victims.

Gilbert’s remains were the last ones found, and police years later said she had died accidentally, although her official cause of death was ruled undetermined.

However, they still have six unsolved cases, and two of those victims, Jessica Taylor and Valerie Mack, were dismembered and dumped in separate locations. Police first discovered their partial remains in Manorville in 2000 and 2003. Additional remains of both victims were uncovered in the search for Gilbert in 2011.

Closeup portrait Photos of Jessica Taylor and Valerie Mack.


Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the Gilgo Four murders and has not been named a suspect in the other deaths.

Tierney, the district attorney who is also the lead prosecutor against Heuermann, has vowed that a grand jury investigation will continue to dig into the other cases.

“John Bittrolff lived not far,” Giacalone said, referring to another Long Island serial killer who prowled the area in the 1990s. “Jessica Taylor and Valerie Mack were found not far from there, and the rest in Gilgo.”

Portraits of the Gilgo Four victims inset over a wide shot of the marsh behind Gilgo Beach where they were found


John Bittrolff, another Long Island serial killer, is currently serving two consecutive 25-year to life sentences in prison for the murders of Rita Tangredi, 31 and and Colleen McNamee, 20, whose remains were found stripped naked in Manorville in 1993 and 1994. Both had been strangled and showed signs of severe head trauma.

His victims were last seen in nearby communities – but he also lived in Manorville and was at one point considered a suspect in the Gilgo murders.

Former Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla, who prosecuted Bittrolff for the Tangredi and McNamee murders, said after sentencing that the killer may have been involved in at least one of the Gilgo cases.

John Bittrolff listens to his attorney William Keahon during his arraignment on murder charges i

Bittrolff’s attorney, Jonathan Manley, denied the claim and said it was a “laughable” attempt to get media attention on the unsolved cases.

However, John Kelly, a criminal profiler who has been following the case for more than a decade, said there may be something to Biancavilla’s prediction.

“I think body parts is really not something we can connect right now to Rex,” he said, noting Hueurmann’s alleged victims were found intact and concealed in camouflaged burlap used by duck hunters.

Gilgo beach sign on Ocean Parkway NY

“Bittrolff was a poser and a cutter,” Kelly told Fox News Digital. “He wanted his last victims, that we know of, to be found.”

He believes the convicted killer likely has additional victims and that investigators likely would know if the case is connected if they do find additional remains in Manorville.

Although both men were accused of killing prostitutes, Kelly said Bittrolff differed from Heuermann in two key ways. Bittrolff met his victims in person rather than online, and both Mack and Taylor vanished when internet use was not as widespread as when police alleged Hueurmann was meeting victims on Craigslist and dating apps.

Alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann appears in Judge Tim Mazzei’s courtroom next to his attorney Michael Brown

Additionally, the Gilgo Four were concealed in brush and camouflaged burlap, while Bittrolff’s victims were left to be found.

“He liked to pose them as a way of shock value for investigators,” Kelly said.

The former carpenter was also a hunter who allegedly ate a deer’s heart raw in a bizarre ritual. 

Bittrolff has also been suspected but not charged in another homicide, the murder of Sandra Costilla.

“He knew those woods like the back of his hand in Manorville,” Kelly said. “He was always out there hunting.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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