The latest news from Jones Beach State Park, in Long Island, is that two or even three killers may have been responsible for the 10 sets of remains found there so far. Yesterday, police said there could be two killers at work — that four sets of remains were from one and six from another. But another report said police believed that two or three sets of the remains could be from never-found victims of Joel Rifkin. Police have expanded their search, and may uncover more bodies in the coming days.
There's a lot of information out there, and it's getting hard to get a clear picture of what's actually happening, so let's take a look at the major points from the news so far:
The Bodies: In total, 10 sets of remains have been found along the coastline in Jones Beach State Park. That includes Gilgo Beach and Ocean Parkway, which you've probably heard mentioned. In December, police searching for Shannon Gilbert, a missing, 24-year-old prostitute from Jersey City, found four sets of remains near the roadway on Ocean Parkway, just east of Jones Beach. As the area thawed out during March and early April, police found four more bodies in the area, including one at Oak Beach and three on Gilgo Beach. Finally, on Monday, police found two more bodies along the highway. Shannon Gilbert has still not been found.
Another set of four bodies discovered near Atlantic City was initially thought to be linked to the Long Island bodies, but police have ruled that out. The New Jersey victims "were barefoot, their bodies arranged facedown in a line with their heads pointing toward Atlantic City. The four slain hookers found near Gilgo Beach onLong Island were wrapped in burlap sacks and dumped amid brush-covered dunes. [Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard] Dormer said the different methods used to dispose of the bodies is not the only factor that sets the cases apart."
The Victims: The four victims that were identified belonged to women were working as prostitutes through Craigslist. At least one was shown to have been asphyxiated. Photos of the women can be seen here. At least one other victim was a man, and one was a child.
The Beaches: Gilgo Beach, Oak Beach, and Jones Beach all face south on the Atlantic coast of a barrier island off Long Island. They are all accessible by Jones Beach Parkway, and are all remote and hard to search.
The Search: Police have searched the beaches in the area on foot and with cadaver dogs for weeks. Now they're expanding the search. Divers have begun exploring the floor of Hemlock Bay and could move closer to Oak Beach and the Fire Island inlet. Meanwhile, searchers are making their way to hard-to-reach spots identified earlier by a police helicopter.
The Suspect: No suspect has been named, but back in December police paid a visit to an Oak Beach man named Joseph Brewer. He was one of the last people to see Gilbert alive before she disappeared on May 1, when she came to a party at his house after he invited her via Craigslist. She ran out in hysterics, Brewer said, and stopped by the house of a neighbor, Gustav Coletti, before running out, never to be seen again.
The Theories (There's Several):
- Pure evil: Police have been reluctant to give a concrete, unifying theory to the press, perhaps because they don't have one or perhaps because they don't want to tip their hand. Criminologist Casey Jordan said on the Early Show that the perpetrator was likely a "power control killer" or "hedonistic lust killer."
- Multiple killers: Another theory from an unnamed law enforcment source posits that one person killed the initial four victims and another one or more killed the other six victims later found.
- A known killer: Elsewhere, cops have said some of the remains may belong to victims of Joel Rifkin, New York's most prolific serial killer, who is thought to have slain many more than the nine people he was convicted of killing.
- A cop: It has been suggested that the killer of the initial four victims is a former police officer or other law enforcement professional, because of the expert way he or she covered his or her tracks. "Police say evidence suggests that whoever dumped the women -- all in their 20s and found wrapped in burlap bags -- is knowledgeable of police investigative tactics and familiar with the area of Long Island where the bodies were found, according to multiple press reports.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.