Five years ago Sunday, Suffolk County police found the bodies of three women in Gilgo Beach days after finding another there, with six more sets of human remains found nearby months later.
The anniversary comes as the police department is undergoing a change in leadership that recently announced plans to work more closely with the FBI on the so-called Long Island Serial Killer case. The announcement came a month after the re-arrest of a man who authorities described as a pimp for one of the first four women found—all online escorts in their 20s.
“It’s often times that cases get solved when you combine the knowledge and expertise of the local police department with our federal law enforcement partners,” Timothy Sini, a former federal prosecutor recently appointed as deputy Suffolk police commissioner, told reporters Thursday during a news conference at police headquarters in Yaphank. “The FBI…has resources that they can bring to the table. They have expertise in serial murder cases.”
Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota has said that three or more killers may be responsible for separately dumping the 10 sets of remains—half of whom remain unidentified—along Ocean Parkway between Cedar Beach and Jones Beach State Park. Ex-Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer publicly theorized that one killer is responsible for all 10 bodies. But Sini declined to discuss theories, investigative techniques or whether there are any suspects in the case.
The deputy commissioner was recently nominated by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to replace outgoing Suffolk Police Commissioner Edward Webber, who announced his retirement last month and just weeks after ex-Chief of Department James Burke resigned shortly before Burke was arrested on federal charges of beating a suspect and covering it up.
During the Burke-Webber regime, Suffolk police had removed three detectives from the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, raising questions about the level of cooperation between the department and federal investigators. Asked if the department also had wavered in working with the FBI on the Gilgo case—beyond federal investigators helping in 2011 with a massive sweep of the barrier island where the bodies were found—Sini again declined to comment.
“They will be playing a more active and prominent role,” he said of the FBI moving forward.
John Ray of the Miller Place-based law firm of Ray, Mitev & Associates, the lawyer for the family of Shannan Gilbert, a sex worker who police were looking for when they found the other remains, reiterated that he has evidence he wants to share with investigators.
“I renew my ardent request that the U.S. Attorney and the FBI take over this investigation immediately,” Ray wrote in a letter to authorities. “I do so now because the indictment of…Burke appears to have removed any impediment to an open investigation.”
Police have said they believe Gilbert drowned in a marsh in Oak Beach while fleeing a client’s home, but her mother and Ray suspect that she was murdered.
And on Saturday, the New York Post cited an anonymous FBI source as saying that Burke refused to keep federal investigators in the loop on the Gilgo probe because he knew that he was under investigation by the feds.
Although there have been no arrests for the murders, 26-year-old Akeem Cruz, who was convicted of pimping Megan Waterman of Maine—one of the four women found in Gilgo in December 2010—was arrested in Maine last month on a charge of driving with a suspended license, according to the Portland Press Herald. The newspaper also reported that Cruz has a warrant for his arrest for failure to appear in court in New York for an alleged probation violation. He is not suspected of being involved in Waterman’s death.
Will deputy commissioner Sini’s promises to take a “fresh look” at the case and bring in federal reinforcements lead to an arrest in the case? Stay tuned.