Shannan Gilbert's Family Lawyer Says Former Police Chief Should be Suspect in Gilgo Beach Killings
A Long Island escort has come forward with startling claims about Suffolk County’s disgraced former police chief who investigated the infamous Long Island Serial Killer case in which at least 10 bodies were discovered on Gilgo Beach.
The escort, identified only as Leanne, alleged at a Thursday press conference that former chief James Burke enlisted her services several times in 2011.
Leanne alleged she and Burke had a “mini tryst” between April and August of 2011. She described for reporters her alleged interactions with Burke, saying “he seemed to like to choke me” and that he was very “aggressive” with her.
A former confidential informant, Leanne alleged she once also witnessed Burke grab a woman by her hair and drop her to the ground. She also offered to take a lie detector test to prove her claims, and noted she has several Suffolk County cops as clients.
“It is the first time that a direct connection between Burke, prostitution, and Oak Beach has been made,” attorney John Ray, who represents the family of Long Island Serial Killer victim Shannan Gilbert, alleges in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“This is a significant connection in this surreal, salty, American saga,” Ray added.
Joseph Conway, one of Burke’s lawyers, dismissed the escort’s claims his client had any involvement in the Gilgo Beach murders as “completely outrageous.”
Conway insists “there is absolutely not one shred of evidence linking him to the Gilgo beach case” and said “to think otherwise is preposterous.”
Burke’s attorney adds: “It is our hopes that anyone with credible information will come forward to the proper Law enforcement officials and that their investigation will lead to the apprehension and conviction of the person or person’s responsible and for once and for all end all the slanderous allegations being made against Mr. Burke.”
Six years ago, Gilbert’s body was discovered — along with the remains of at least 10 other people — around Long Island’s Gilgo Beach in New York.
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The 24-year-old escort disappeared in May 2010 after meeting a client through Craigslist in the gated community of nearby Oak Beach. To this day, the cases of Gilbert and the other victims (almost all women) remain unsolved, and the mysteries surrounding their deaths endure.
Police spent over a year looking for Gilbert, who had disappeared after running from a client’s home.
Burke was recently sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for attempting to conceal the beating of a suspect who’d stolen sex toys and other items from his personal car.
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Burke, Ray alleged during Thursday’s press conference, “is willing to pay for sex in Oak Beach” and was seen by the escort attending parties where illicit drugs like cocaine were prevalent. Ray alleged this is the first “direct connection between Burke and those poor, dead victims.”
A spokesperson for the Suffolk County Police Department did not respond to PEOPLE’s questions about Burke and whether he’s ever been considered a suspect in the Long Island Serial Killer investigation.
This week, new DNA evidence linked a woman’s torso found in 1997 in Nassau County, New York, and the body parts of a woman whose remains were found years later on Gilgo Beach in neighboring Suffolk County, New York.
Scientists have determined the torso belonged to an unidentified female victim known as “Peaches.”