A contractor from Manorville was convicted Wednesday of killing two women who were sex workers more than two decades ago on eastern Long Island in a case that hinged on DNA evidence.
A Suffolk County jury found John Bittrolff, 51, guilty of two counts of second-degree murder following a two-month-long trial and seven days of deliberations at county court in Riverhead.
Prosecutors have said Bittrolff killed 31-year-old Rita Tangredi-Beinlich, whose body was found in a wooded area off of Esplanada Drive in her hometown of East Patchogue on Nov. 3, 1993. Authorities have said he also killed 20-year-old Colleen McNamee of Holbrook, who was found in a wooded area south of the Long Island Expressway in North Shirley on Jan. 30, 1994.
Both women frequented the areas and had prior arrests for prostitution, police had said at the time. They were strangled to death, were found nude and their bodies were similarly posed, authorities have said.
The cases went cold for 20 years until Suffolk County police got an unexpected break in September 2013, when Bittrolff’s brother, Timothy, was convicted of violating an order of protection, according to investigators. A DNA sample submitted to the state databank upon Timothy’s conviction matched samples collected in the murders, but the DNA was not his, prosecutors have said. The sample indicated that the killer was a relative of Timothy’s.
That’s when investigators focused their attention on John. Prosecutors said they for a direct DNA match from a glass of water Bittrolff drank while in police custody and samples preserved from the crime scenes. He was 27 and lived in the Mastic-Shirley area at the time of the crimes.
Bittrolff has been held without bail since his arrest in 2014. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 12 by Judge Richard Ambro. His attorney reportedly plans to appeal the conviction.