The investigation into the Gilgo Beach murders, dubbed the "Long Island Serial Killer" case, began in December 2010

By Christine Pelisek
March 01, 2021 12:50 PM
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It's been more than a decade since the bodies of various young women started to pile up around Long Island's Gilgo Beach in New York. 

Since then, little has been discovered about the person responsible for the 10-plus slayings, and suspects have never been identified.

In some cases, the killer taunted the victim's family and friends, but remained elusive. Recently, photographs were released of a black leather belt found at one of the dump locations -- police say this item likely belonged to the murderer. The belt is imprinted with the letters "WH" or "HM" — possibly the suspect's initials.

Long Island Serial Killer victims
The remains were discovered around Long Island’s Gilgo Beach in New York
| Credit: Suffolk County Police Department

There have been books, movies and documentaries made about the case.

On March 9, Discovery+ will begin streaming a two-hour special, Unraveled: The Long Island Serial Killer, exploring why the case remains unsolved. (An exclusive clip is above.)

The hosts, investigative journalists Alexis Linkletter and Billy Jensen -- both Long Island natives -- shed light on the tight-knit community, as well as alleged corruption in the county where the bodies were found.

Linkletter and Jensen also interview witnesses who have never spoken out publicly before. 

The investigation into the Gilgo Beach murders, dubbed the "Long Island Serial Killer" case, began December 2010 when authorities began unearthing women's remains. Authorities eventually discovered 10 sets of remains (or partial remains) oat Gilgo Beach. So far, they have identified the remains of six victims: Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Costello, Megan Waterman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Jessica Taylor and Valerie Mack.

Long Island Serial Killer
Gilgo Beach
| Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty

Mack's remains were the latest to be identified, in May. Dubbed "Jane Doe #6," the 24-year-old escort went missing in 2000. Partial remains were found in Manorville in 2000 and again in 2011 along Ocean Parkway on Gilgo Beach.

Police believe the deaths of Barthelemy, Costello, Waterman and Brainard-Barnes — all of whom used Craigslist as sex workers— are linked, raising the specter of one or more serial killers using the area as a dumping ground.

The women's remains were uncovered accidentally as police searched for 24-year-old escort Shannan Gilbert, who went missing after visiting a client from Craigslist in the gated community of Oak Beach, before fleeing the man's home.

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Her remains were discovered in December 2011.

Though it was the search for Gilbert's body that led to the discovery of the others, police don't believe her case was linked. They suspect she got lost in the inhospitable marshland and either died of exposure or accidentally drowned.

Unraveled: The Long Island Serial Killer begins streaming on Discovery+ on March 9.