The suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer was ultimately taken into custody based on his wife’s hair and a discarded pizza box.
The 59-year-old suspect, who remained unidentified for more than a decade, was arrested last week for the murder of three women whose bodies were found on Gilgo Beach in Long Island, New York, in 2010. The Daily Wire is not naming the suspect in keeping with a company policy that seeks to deprive mass killers of the notoriety they often crave.
All four bodies were found within days of each other. The body of Melissa Barthelemy was found on December 11, 2010, during a police training exercise with a K9, according to a bail application obtained by the Daily Beast. Two days later, police searched the area and discovered the bodies of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello. So far, the suspect has not been charged for Brainard-Barnes’ death, but is the prime suspect.
All four women are believed to have been sex workers, and each was lured out to Long Island by someone using a burner phone. After their deaths, the cell phones of Brainard-Barnes and Barthelemy were used by the killer.
In January 2022, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office created a task force to look into the cold case at the behest of new County Commissioner Rodney Harrison. This task force reviewed every piece of evidence gathered in the original investigation, and about two months after reopening the case identified a first-generation Chevrolet Avalanche that belonged to the suspect. At the time of Costello’s murders, a witness identified an Avalanche at the scene.
Connecting the Avalanche to the suspect was only the first step. When police looked deeper into his personal life, they discovered links to the burner phones used to lure two of the victims, as well as taunting calls that had been made to Barthelemy’s younger sister after her disappearance. Cell phone records also showed that the suspect had checked Brainard-Barnes’ cellphone voicemail after her disappearance. He also lived in Massapequa Park, where the victims are alleged to have disappeared from, and he worked in Midtown Manhattan, where the taunting calls to Barthelemy’s sister were made.
Travel records show that the suspect’s wife was out of the country when Barthelemy, Waterman, and Costello disappeared.
At one point in 2009, the phone activity for Barthelemy’s phone, which had been used after her disappearance, stopped, coinciding with the suspect being in Iceland. When he returned to the United States, the cell phone activity resumed.
Police also identified additional burner phones and online accounts associated with the suspect that linked him to the crimes. Investigators discovered that he had a profile on the dating app Tinder using the alias Andrew Roberts. The account linked to a burner phone through an AOL email address which used the name John Springfield. Several selfie photographs of the suspect were sent to other people using this account. Cell phone records show that he used his own cell phone on December 11, 2022, to access the fictitious AOL account. Records also showed that the associated burner number was used to access that account.
The additional burner phones were used extensively for hiring prostitutes between 2021 and 2023, investigators found. And another email account associated with the suspect was used to conduct searches for terms related to sex workers, torture porn, and child pornography. This email account also conducted more than 200 searches related to the Gilgo Beach killings, as well as the task force investigating them.
While investigating the bodies of Brainard-Barnes, Costello, and Waterman, the Suffolk County Crime Lab found unidentified female hair. The hair was sent to a forensic laboratory that was able to determine that the hairs all came from the same woman who was not one of the victims. On July 21, 2022, an undercover Suffolk County Police Department detective collected 11 bottles from the suspect’s trash. The DNA from those bottles was linked to the hair found on the victims, and is believed to be from the suspect’s wife, who is not suspected of being involved in the murders.
A male hair was also found on Waterman’s remains and was used by the forensic lab to develop a DNA profile. Investigators retrieved a pizza box from the suspect’s garbage can and linked DNA from the box to the male hair strand found on the victim. The DNA profile excluded 99.96% of the North American population from being the source – but the suspect could not be excluded.
He was arrested on July 13. If convicted, he faces multiple life sentences without parole.