Valerie Mack

Suffolk County police released Thursday the name of a woman whose remains were found 20 years ago in Manorville and nine years ago 50 miles away near Gilgo Beach.

The woman was identified as Valerie Mack, aka Melissa Taylor, 24, who was working as an escort in Philadelphia at the time of her disappearance in 2000. She had until now been known as Manorville Jane Doe, or Jane Doe No. 6.

“For two decades, Valerie Mack’s family and friends were left searching for answers and while this is not the outcome they wanted, we hope this brings some sense of peace and closure,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said.

Hart thanked the FBI for its partnership in the Gilgo Beach homicide investigation and for the agency’s assistance utilizing a scientific technique known as genetic genealogy that aided in identifying Mack. This is believed to be the first time a law enforcement agency in New York State has used genetic genealogy to identify an individual as part of a police investigation, police said.

Mack’s family members last saw her in the spring or summer of 2000 in the area of Port Republic, New Jersey. According to Suffolk County police reports, Mack was discovered nude on November 19, 2000 at 11 a.m. by hunters in the woods. She is believed to have been left there in September of 2000. 

The body had been cut into pieces and left in multiple plastic bags. The woman’s head, hands and leg were also reportedly in a plastic bag when police found them on April 4, 2011 on Ocean Parkway. Police released a sketch of her in September of 2011.

Police were searching for Shannan Gilbert, a New Jersey woman reported missing in May 2010 from Oak Beach, when they discovered 10 sets of human remains—half of whom were also identified as escorts—along Ocean Parkway between December 2010 and April 2011. Only five of those had been identified before the latest update in the case.

One of those five, Jessica Taylor, was also found dead in Manorville in 2003 with partial remains off Ocean Parkway in 2011. 

Mack’s identification is one of the first two major updates in the case police have announced this year. In January, police released a photo of a belt they found near one of the dump sites.

“We will continue to use every investigative tool available to aggressively investigate these murders,” Hart said.

Additional details and photos can be found at gilgonews.com

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.