Saturday, May 28, 2022
The Long Island serial killer (also referred to as LISK, the Gilgo Beach Killer, and the Craigslist Ripper) is an unidentified suspected serial killer who is believed to have murdered between 10 and 16 people over a period of nearly 20 years, and to have disposed of their bodies in areas on the South Shore of Long Island, New York. Most of the known victims were sex workers who advertised on Craigslist. The victims' remains were found over a period of months in 2010 and 2011, after the disappearance of Shannan Gilbert resulted in a police search of the area along the Ocean Parkway, near the remote beach towns of Gilgo and Oak Beach in Suffolk County. The remains of four victims, "The Gilgo Four," were found within a quarter of a mile of each other near Gilgo Beach in December 2010. Six more sets of remains were found in March and April 2011 in Suffolk County and Nassau County. Police believe the latter sets of remains predate the four bodies found in December 2010. Gilbert's remains were found a year after the remains of the "Gilgo Four" were discovered. Her cause of death remains contested, with police claiming accidental drowning while an independent autopsy determined possible strangulation. Police investigations: The first discovery of human remains was made by the side of Ocean Parkway in Oak Beach on December 11, 2010. The investigation was prompted by the search for Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old sex worker who had disappeared in the area in May that year after fleeing from a client's home and making an emergency 911 call saying that someone was trying to kill her. A month after her disappearance, the Suffolk County Police Department's missing persons bureau asked Officer John Mallia to search for Gilbert with his trained cadaver dog, a German Shepherd named Blue. Over the course of summer 2010, Mallia unsuccessfully searched the gated beach community where Gilbert had last been seen. He made a new attempt at a search on December 11, staying close to the shoulder of the parkway. Mallia based his choice of search area on FBI data indicating that dumped bodies are frequently found close to roadways. Despite thick vegetation and a light layer of snow, the cadaver dog alerted to a scent which the pair tracked to a skeleton in a disintegrating burlap bag. The remains were later identified as Melissa Barthelemy's. Police discovered three additional bodies while searching the scene for further evidence. The bodies of the four victims – Maureen Brainard, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello – were found approximately 500 feet (150 m) from each other. In March 2011, the partial remains of Jessica Taylor were found along Ocean Parkway. Eight years earlier, in 2003, Taylor's partial remains had been found in Manorville, New York in Suffolk County. The next month, in April 2011, police discovered three additional sets of remains; an unidentified female toddler, an unidentified Asian person, and Valerie Mack, whose partial remains – like those of Jessica Taylor – had been previously found in Manorville years earlier in November 2000. Two more bodies were found in Nassau County; an unidentified woman whose partial remains had previously been found on Fire Island in 1996, and an unidentified woman with a distinctive tattoo of peaches who was later found to be the mother of the unidentified toddler found in Suffolk. On May 9, 2011, police speculated that because of similarities in the cases, Valerie Mack (who at the time was unidentified) and Jessica Taylor may have been murdered by a second, separate killer. On November 29, 2011, however, police announced that they believed one person to be responsible for all ten murders, and that the perpetrator is almost certainly from Long Island. The single killer theory stems from common characteristics between the condition of the remains and forensic evidence related to the bodies. In June 2011, Suffolk County police announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the Long Island murders. Shannan Gilbert's remains were finally located in Oak Beach in December 2011, 19 months after her disappearance. The cause of her death is contested. All of the murders remain unsolved. FBI involvement: On December 10, 2015, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini announced that the FBI had officially joined the investigation. The announcement came one day after former Police Chief James Burke was indicted for civil rights violations and conspiracy. Burke, who resigned from the department in October 2015, was said to have blocked FBI involvement in the LISK cases for years. The FBI had previously assisted in the search for victims but had never officially been a part of the investigation. In November 2016, Burke was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for assault and conspiracy. Bittrolff named as suspect: On September 12, 2017, Suffolk County prosecutor Robert Biancavilla from the county District Attorney's office announced that John Bittrolff, a carpenter from Manorville, Long Island, was a suspect in at least one of the LISK murders. Bittroff had been convicted in May of that year of the murders of two sex workers in 1993 and 1994. 2020 Release of evidence to the public: On January 16, 2020, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart released images of a belt found at the crime scene with the letters "HM" or "WH" (depending on the orientation of the belt) embossed in black leather. The belt had been found during the initial investigation near Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach. Police believe that the belt was handled by the perpetrator and that it had not belonged to any of the victims. The police revealed few details about the belt's evidentiary value and would not comment on exactly where it had been found. It was also announced that new scientific evidence was being used in the investigation and that they had launched gilgonews.com, a website enabling the department to share news and receive tips regarding the investigation. Identification of Valerie Mack through genetic genealogy: In June 2019, a proposal was made to use genetic genealogy to identify the unidentified victims and possibly the killer in the LISK case. On May 28, 2020, "Jane Doe No. 6" was identified as Valerie Mack, who also went by the name of Melissa Taylor. Victims discovered in December 2010: -The Gilgo Four Maureen Brainard-Barnes: Brainard-Barnes of Norwich, Connecticut, was 25 when she disappeared. She was last seen on July 9, 2007, saying that she planned "to spend the day in New York City." She was never seen again. Brainard-Barnes, a mother of two, worked as a paid escort via Craigslist to pay the mortgage on her house. She had been out of the sex industry for seven months but she returned to the work in order to pay her bills after receiving an eviction notice. Her body was found in December 2010. Shortly after her disappearance, a friend of Brainard-Barnes's, Sara Karnes, received a phone call from a man on an unfamiliar number. The man claimed that he had just seen Brainard-Barnes and that she was alive and staying at a "whorehouse in Queens". He refused to identify himself and could not tell Karnes the location of the house. He told Karnes he would call back and give her the address, but never called again. Karnes said that the man had no discernible New York or Boston accent. Like many of the victims, Brainard-Barnes was very petite, at 4 ft 11 in (1.50 m) tall and 105 pounds (48 kg). She had been strangled. Melissa Barthelemy: Barthelemy, 24, of Erie County, New York, went missing on July 10, 2009. She had been living in the Bronx in New York and working as an escort through Craigslist. On the night she went missing, she met with a client, deposited $900 in her bank account, and attempted to call an old boyfriend, but did not get through. Beginning one week later, and lasting for five weeks, her teenage sister, Amanda, received a series of "vulgar, mocking and insulting" calls from a man, who may have been the killer using Melissa Barthelemy's cell phone. The caller asked if Amanda, "was a whore like her sister." The calls became increasingly disturbing, and eventually culminated in the caller telling Amanda that her sister was dead, and that he was going to "watch her rot." Police traced some of the calls to Madison Square Garden, midtown Manhattan, and Massapequa, but were unable to determine who was making the calls. Barthelemy's mother noted that there were, "a lot of calls to Manorville" from her daughter's phone around the time of her disappearance. In September 2017, John Bittrolff, a carpenter from that town convicted of two other murders, was named as a suspect in the LISK cases. Barthelmy was 4 ft 10 in (1.47 m) tall and 95 pounds (43 kg). She had been strangled. Megan Waterman: Waterman, 22, of South Portland, Maine, went missing on June 6, 2010, after placing advertisements on Craigslist as an escort. The previous day she had told her 20-year-old boyfriend that she was going out and would call him later. At the time of her disappearance, she was staying at a motel in Hauppauge, New York, 15 miles northeast of Gilgo Beach. Her body was recovered in December 2010. Waterman was a mother of one and had become a victim of sex trafficking. Waterman was 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m) tall. She had been strangled. Amber Lynn Costello: Costello, 27, of West Babylon, New York, a town ten miles north of Gilgo Beach, was a sex worker and heroin user who went missing on September 2, 2010. That night she reportedly went to meet a stranger who had called her several times and offered $1,500 for her services. Born in Charlotte and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina, Costello was living in West Babylon, New York when she disappeared. Her family believed that she was in a residential drug rehabilitation center and so she was not immediately reported missing when she stopped responding to messages and phone calls. Prior to moving to West Babylon, Costello had been living with her second husband in Clearwater, Florida, and was working as a waitress. A strong student, Costello's drug addiction began when she was a teenager. She had been sexually assaulted by a neighbor when she was 6 years old. Costello was 4 ft 11 in (1.50 m) and weighed approximately 100 pounds (50 kg). She had been strangled. Victims discovered in March and April 2011: Four more sets of remains were discovered on March 29 and April 4, 2011. All of the remains were found in another area off the parkway, near Oak Beach and Gilgo Beach, within two miles and to the east of those found in December 2010. The newly-discovered victims were Jessica Taylor, Valerie Mack, an unidentified woman dubbed "Jane Doe No. 3" or "Peaches," and an unidentified toddler who was the daughter of "Peaches." Suffolk Police subsequently expanded the search area up to the Nassau County border, looking for more victims. Two further sets of remains were discovered on April 11, 2011, after the search expanded into Nassau County. They were found about one mile apart, approximately five miles west of those found in December. One set of remains belonged to a victim now thought to be a trans woman. Dubbed "Asian Male," police said the victim had been dead for between five and ten years. The other remains were those of "Jane Doe No. 7," whose partial remains had been discovered on Fire Island in 1996. Identified- Jessica Taylor: Taylor was 20 years old and living in Manhattan when she went missing on July 21, 2003. On July 26, 2003, her naked and dismembered torso, missing its head and hands, was discovered 45 miles (72 km) east of Gilgo Beach in Manorville, New York; these remains were identified by DNA analysis later that year. Taylor's torso was found atop a pile of scrap wood at the end of a paved access road off Halsey Manor Road, just north of where it crosses the Long Island Expressway. Plastic sheeting was found underneath the torso, and a tattoo on her body had been mutilated with a sharp instrument. Further remains found on March 29, 2011, at Gilgo, including the remains of a skull, a pair of hands, and a forearm were matched to Taylor. She had worked in Washington, D.C., and Manhattan as a sex worker. Valerie Mack / Melissa Taylor / "Manorville Jane Doe" / "Jane Doe No. 6": Mack, 24, also known as Melissa Taylor, was living in Philadelphia and working as an escort when she went missing in 2000. Like many of the victims, she was small in stature at approximately 5 feet (1.5 m) and weighing approximately 100 pounds (50 kg). Mack's partial remains were discovered in Manorville on November 19, 2000, but were not identified until 2020. Her torso was found wrapped in garbage bags and dumped in the woods near the intersection of Halsey Manor Road and Mill Road, adjacent to a set of power lines and a nearby power line access road. A head, right foot, and hands, found on April 4, 2011, were at first determined to have belonged to an unidentified victim, dubbed "Jane Doe No. 6"; it was later determined that they belonged to the same woman whose torso had been found in 2000. Her right foot had been cut off high above the ankle, possibly to conceal an identifying mark or tattoo. On May 28, 2020, police announced that the remains had been identified as Valerie Mack, who had last been seen by family members in the spring or summer of 2000 in the area of Port Republic, New Jersey. The dismembered remains of Valerie Mack and Jessica Taylor were both disposed of in a similar manner, and in the same part of Manorville, suggesting a link. Unidentified: On September 20, 2011, police released composite sketches of two of the unidentified victims (dubbed "Asian male" and "Jane Doe No. 6") whose remains had been found in March and April 2011, as well as photos of jewelry found on the remains of a female toddler and her mother, "Jane Doe No. 3," found on April 4 and 11, respectively. One of the sets of remains found in Nassau County on April 11 was later identified as the mother of the toddler. "Peaches" / "Jane Doe No. 3": On April 11, 2011, police in Nassau County discovered dismembered skeletal human remains inside a plastic bag near Jones Beach State Park. The victim was dubbed "Jane Doe No. 3." DNA analysis later positively indicated that the remains belonged to a woman whose torso had been found in Hempstead Lake State Park fourteen years earlier. On June 28, 1997, the dismembered torso of an unidentified young African-American woman was found at Hempstead Lake State Park, in the town of Lakeview, New York. The torso was found in a green plastic Rubbermaid container, which was dumped next to a road along the west side of the lake. Investigators reported that the victim had a tattoo on her left breast of a heart-shaped peach with a bite out of it and two drips falling from its core. In December 2016, "Peaches" and "Jane Doe No. 3" were positively identified as being the same person. DNA analysis also identified "Peaches" as the mother of "Baby Doe;" she was found wearing gold jewelry similar to that of her daughter. "Baby Doe": A third set of remains – the skeleton of a female toddler between 16 and 24 months of age (or, by another account, 1 to 4 years of age) – was found on April 4, 2011, about 250 feet (80 m) away from the partial remains of Valerie Mack. The body was wrapped in a blanket and showed no visible signs of trauma. DNA tests determined that the child's mother was "Jane Doe No. 3," whose body was found 10 miles (16 km) east, near Jones Beach State Park. The toddler was reported to be African-American and was wearing gold earrings and a gold necklace. "John Doe" / "Asian male": The body of a young Asian person who had died from blunt-force trauma was also discovered on April 4, 2011, at Gilgo Beach, very close to where the first four sets of remains had been discovered in December 2010. The victim was determined to be biologically male but was found wearing women's clothing, suggesting that they may have identified as female. The unidentified victim was between 17 and 23 years of age, 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) in height, missing four teeth, and may have had a musculoskeletal disorder which would have affected their gait. They had been dead for between five and 10 years. In September 2011, police released a composite sketch of the victim. "Jane Doe No. 7" / "Fire Island Jane Doe": A human skull and several teeth were recovered on April 11, 2011, at Tobay Beach. These remains were linked through DNA testing to a set of severed legs found in a garbage bag on Fire Island 15 years earlier, on April 20, 1996. Jane Doe No. 7's remains were the second set to be discovered in Nassau County on April 11, 2011. Jane Doe No. 7 had a surgical scar on her left leg. Discovery of Shannan Gilbert's body: On December 13, 2011, police announced that the remains of Shannan Gilbert had been found in a marsh about half a mile from where she had disappeared. A week earlier, some of her clothing and belongings had been discovered in the same vicinity. Gilbert was last seen banging on a resident's door and screaming for help before running off into the night. Gilbert made an emergency 9-1-1 call that night, saying that she feared for her life. Police have stated that the death of Gilbert, an escort whose disappearance triggered the search during which the first set of bodies was found, is not related to the Long Island serial killer case. Gilbert's now-deceased mother Mari Gilbert, however, strongly advocated for the theory that Shannan Gilbert had been murdered by a serial killer. Timeline: 1996- -April 20, 1996: “Fire Island Jane Doe” / “Jane Doe No. 7”’s partial remains found on Fire Island 1997- -June 28, 1997: “Peaches”/ “Jane Doe No.3”’s partial remains found at Hempstead Lake State Park 2000- -Spring/summer 2000: Valerie Mack last seen by family members -November 19, 2000: Valerie Mack’s partial remains found in Manorville 2003- -July 2003: Jessica Taylor last seen -July 26, 2003: Jessica Taylor’s partial remains are found in Manorville 2007- -July 9, 2007: Maureen Brainard-Barnes last seen -July 2007: A friend of Brainard-Barnes's, Sara Karnes, receives a phone call from a man claiming that he had just seen Brainard-Barnes and that she was alive and staying at a "whorehouse in Queens.” 2009- -July 10, 2009: Melissa Barthelemy last seen -July - August 2009: Amanda Barthelemy, sister of Melissa Barthelemy, receives a series of "vulgar, mocking and insulting" calls from a man using Melissa Barthelemy's cell phone. The caller eventually tells Amanda that her sister is dead. 2010- -May 2, 2010: Shannan Gilbert makes a panicked phone call to 911 at 4:51am after fleeing a client’s house in Oak Beach. She bangs on the doors of several neighboring houses and disappears -June 6, 2010: Megan Waterman last seen -September 2, 2010: Amber Lynn Costello last seen -December 11, 2010: Melissa Barthelemy’s remains are found. -December 13, 2010: Megan Waterman, Amber Lynn Costello and Maureen Brainard-Barnes’s remains are found. 2011- -March 29, 2011: Jessica Taylor’s further partial remains found at Gilgo -April 4, 2011: Valerie Mack’s further partial remains found -April 4, 2011: “Baby Doe,” the 16-24-month-old daughter of “Peaches,” found -April 4, 2011: "John Doe" / "Asian male" found -April 11, 2011: "Peaches" / "Jane Doe No. 3"'s further partial remains found near Jones Beach State Park -April 11, 2011: “Fire Island Jane Doe / Jane Doe No. 7”’s further partial remains found at Tobay Beach -December 13, 2011: Shannan Gilbert’s remains are found in a marsh at Oak Beach 2016- -December 2016: "Peaches" and "Jane Doe No. 3" are positively identified as being the same person 2017- -September 2017: John Bittrolff, a carpenter from Manorville convicted of the murders of two other sex workers, is named as a suspect in the LISK cases. Biltroff had been convicted of murdering Rita Tangredi and Colleen McNamee, whose bodies were found in 1993 and 1994 respectively. 2020- -May 28, 2020: Confirmation announced of forensic identification of formerly unidentified remains of Valerie Mack. Other possible victims- Identified: Tina Elizabeth Foglia: 19-year-old Tina Foglia was last seen alive in the early morning hours of February 1, 1982, at the Hammerheads rock music venue on Sunrise Highway, West Islip. She had hitchhiked from her home to the venue to see a friend performing with a Queens-based band, Equinox. Her remains were discovered by Department of Transportation workers on February 3 on a shoulder of the Sagtikos State Parkway in Suffolk County. Her dismembered body, which had been placed in three separate plastic garbage bags, was found a few miles north of the Robert Moses Causeway, which leads to Gilgo Beach and Oak Beach. A diamond ring that Foglia was known to wear was missing, and the DNA of an unknown male was found on the garbage bags. Police have not ruled out the possibility that Tina Foglia was an early victim of the Long Island Serial Killer but have stated that a connection is, "not an active avenue of the investigation." Shannan Maria Gilbert: Shannan Maria Gilbert was an escort who may have been a victim of the Long Island serial killer. She left for a client's residence in Oak Beach after midnight on May 1, 2010. At 4:51 in the morning, 911 dispatchers received a panicked phone call from Gilbert who can be heard saying that there was someone "after her" and that "they" were trying to kill her. She was last seen a short time later banging on the front door of a nearby Oak Beach residence and screaming for help before running off into the night. After nineteen months of searching, police found Gilbert's remains in a marsh, half a mile from where she was last seen. In May 2012, the Suffolk County medical examiners ruled that Gilbert accidentally drowned after entering the marsh. They believe that she was in a drug induced panic, and have concluded that hers was "death by misadventure" or "inconclusive." Her family believes she was murdered. On November 15, 2012, a lawsuit was filed by her mother, Mari Gilbert, against the Suffolk County Police Department in the hopes of getting more answers about what happened to her daughter the night she went missing. Due to the controversy about Gilbert's death, in September 2014, famed forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden agreed to conduct an independent autopsy of Gilbert's remains in hopes of determining a clear cause of death. Upon examination of Gilbert's remains, Baden found damage to her hyoid bone, suggesting that strangulation may have occurred. Baden also noted that her body was found face-up, which is not common for drowning victims. Despite this, her death is still officially listed by police as an accident. On July 23, 2016, Mari Gilbert was murdered in her home in Ellenville, New York. Later that day, her younger daughter, Sarra Elizabeth Gilbert, was arrested and charged with the stabbing death of her mother. On May 6, 2020, the New York State Supreme Court ordered Suffolk County Police to release Gilbert's 911 call recording, denying their request to withhold it after more than 10 years. The tapes were released to Gilbert's estate attorney, John Ray a short time later. Under the court order, Ray is barred from discussing the specifics of the call. He did, however, comment that the nature of the calls contradict what Suffolk Police Detective Vincent Stephan had described in earlier reports about the calls from that morning. Specifically, Gilbert's tone had been described by Detective Stephan as calm, and indicated no desperation. After reviewing the tapes, Ray claimed that this was not true. Andre Isaac: Andre Isaac was a professional drag queen known by his stage name, Sugar Bear. He was 6'5" inches tall and was 25-years-old when he disappeared from East New York in November 2002. Isaac's torso was found close to the boardwalk on Beach 63 Street in Arverne, Queens on December 17, 2002. On January 25, 2003, his head was discovered by ice skaters in East Millpond in Moriches, New York in Suffolk County, with a single bullet wound to a temple. His arms and legs were later found several miles away in plastic bags. Isaac's case was added to the Suffolk County Police Department Gilgo News website on May 29, 2020. Tanya Rush: On June 23, 2008, Tanya Rush, 39, was last seen around 3 a.m. walking towards a subway station in Brooklyn. Her dismembered body was found by a state road-cleaning crew inside a black canvas suitcase on June 27, 2008, in plain sight on the Newbridge Road ramp leading to the westbound Southern State Parkway in Bellmore, New York. Rush was a mother of three who had been a Salvation Army volunteer and had worked in telemarketing. She took up sex work to support a drug addiction. Rush was African-American and lived in the Van Dyke Houses, a Brownsville public housing complex in Brooklyn, New York. Unidentified- Unidentified woman, Lattingtown: On January 23, 2013, a woman walking her dog found human remains in a small patch of brush in a sandy area along the shore at the end of Sheep Lane in Lattingtown, near Oyster Bay. The skeletal remains showed signs of trauma and were wrapped in a particular type of material that police have not disclosed. The remains are believed to be those of a woman between the ages of 20 and 30 who was possibly Asian. She was wearing a 22-karat solid gold pig pendant which may be related to the Chinese zodiac "Year of the Pig." The relevant birth years are 1971, 1983 and 1995, possibly suggesting that the woman died at the age of 29. Investigators believe that her body had been dumped before Hurricane Sandy in late 2012. Her case may be connected to the other 10 bodies found 32 miles (51 km) away in and around Gilgo Beach, though unlike the other victims, her body was buried rather than left above ground. "Cherries" / Unidentified woman, Mamaroneck: On March 3, 2007, a suitcase containing the dismembered torso of an unidentified Hispanic or light-skinned African-American woman washed up on a beach at Harbor Island Park, in the town of Mamaroneck. The victim had a tattoo of two cherries on her left breast, similar in appearance to the tattoo found on "Peaches." She was determined to have been stabbed to death. Never identified, the victim is referred to as "Cherries" by investigators. One of her dismembered legs washed up at Cold Spring Harbor on March 21, 2007, and the other at Oyster Bay in the village of Cove Neck the following day. "Cherries" was dismembered in a fashion similar to three other victims (Jessica Taylor, Valerie Mack, and "Peaches") meaning she may be linked to the other official victims. Identity of the killer: The media has speculated about a profile of the killer, referred to by police as "Joe C" (unknown subject). According to the New York Times, it is most likely a white male in his mid twenties to mid forties who is very familiar with the South Shore of Long Island and has access to burlap sacks, which he uses to hold the bodies for disposal. He may have a detailed knowledge of law enforcement techniques, and perhaps ties to law enforcement, which have thus far helped him avoid detection. Newsday reporters speculated that serial killer Joel Rifkin, a former resident on Long Island, may have been responsible for some of the older remains found in March and April 2011. Four of the victims' complete bodies have never been found. In an April 2011 prison interview with Newsday, Rifkin denied having anything to do with recently discovered remains. Suspects and persons of interest- John Bittrolff: On September 12, 2017, Suffolk County prosecutor Robert Biancavilla said that John Bittrolff, a Suffolk county resident convicted of murdering two sex workers and suspected in the murder of a third, was a suspect in at least one of the LISK murders. Biancavilla stated that Bittrolff was likely responsible for the deaths of other women, and that there were similarities between the Gilgo Beach crime scenes and Bittrolff's known murders, for which he was convicted in May 2017 and sentenced in September. Bittrolff was arrested in 2014 after his DNA was found on two murdered women, Rita Tangredi and Colleen McNamee, whose bodies were found in 1993 and 1994, respectively. (The match had been made through DNA submitted by his brother, who was convicted in 2013 in an unrelated case.) Bittrolff was convicted in May 2017 of these murders, and in September sentenced to consecutive terms of 25 years for each murder. The Suffolk County police did not comment on the prosecutor's statement, due to the active homicide investigation of the LISK murders. Bittrolff's attorney rejected the prosecutor's assertion. Bittrolff lived in Manorville, three miles from where the torsos of LISK victims Jessica Taylor and Valerie Mack were recovered. Bittrolff was a hunter who was said to enjoy killing animals. He was a carpenter by trade with access to hacksaws and electric saws. Because many of the bodies were found precisely dismembered, his access to and proficiency with these tools is of note. The grown daughter of Rita Tangredi, who was murdered by Bittrolff, was also the best friend of Melissa Barthelemy, who was one of the Gilgo Beach victims. Barthelemy's mother said that her daughter Melissa "had a lot of calls to Manorville from her phone" before her death. Joseph Brewer: Joseph Brewer, an Oak Beach resident, was one of the last people known to have seen Shannan Gilbert alive. He hired her as an escort from Craigslist on the night of her disappearance. Brewer said that shortly after Gilbert arrived at his residence, she began acting erratically and fled his home. Gilbert was reportedly seen running through Oak Beach, pounding on the doors of homes in Brewer's neighborhood. Around this time, Gilbert called 9-1-1, saying that "they were trying to kill her". Police, however, did not find any evidence of wrongdoing, and Brewer was quickly cleared as a suspect. James Burke: Former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke was reported to have blocked an FBI probe of the LISK case during his time as police chief. In November 2016, Burke was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for assault and conspiracy. Burke violently assaulted a man in custody who had stolen a duffel bag from his police vehicle. The duffel bag contained sex toys, a pornographic DVD and Viagra. Burke pleaded guilty in February 2016 to charges of a civil rights violation and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Thomas Spota, the then-district attorney in Suffolk County, was convicted in December 2019 of conspiracy to cover up Burke's violent assault. Christopher McPartland, who had been Suffolk County’s top anticorruption prosecutor, was also convicted in the conspiracy. In December 2016, an attorney for Shannan Gilbert's family reported that an escort had stated that she suspected that Burke might be connected to the LISK cases. The escort, who identified herself as "Leanne," stated that at one party she had attended in April 2011 in Oak Beach she had seen Burke drag a woman of Asian appearance by the hair to the ground. Leanne said that when she saw Burke at a later party in August 2011, she decided to engage in sexual activity with him. She described an experience in which Burke violently yanked her head during oral sex to the point where she began to tear up. Burke was unable to reach orgasm and proceeded to throw $300–400 at her afterwards. At the time she was not a professional sex worker and she states that this was the first time she was paid for sex. Peter Hackett: Two days after Gilbert's disappearance, Peter Hackett, a neighbor of Joseph Brewer who was a former physician and who had worked for Suffolk County as a police surgeon, phoned Shannan Gilbert's mother, Mari Gilbert. Mari Gilbert later recounted that Hackett said that he was taking care of Shannan, that he "ran a home for wayward girls," and that he had given her medication because she was distressed. Three days later, Hackett called Mari Gilbert again, denying that he had had any contact with her daughter and that he had previously phoned her. Investigators later confirmed through phone records that Hackett had indeed called Mari Gilbert twice following her daughter's disappearance. The marshy area where Gilbert's remains were found was near Hackett's backyard, and her personal items and clothing were found directly behind his property in the marsh. Gilbert's family filed a wrongful death suit against Hackett in November 2012, claiming that he took Gilbert into his home that morning and administered drugs to her, facilitating her death. The lawsuit was dismissed because it could not be proven that Hackett had administered drugs or treatment to Gilbert. Later police revealed that Hackett had a history of inserting himself into, or exaggerating his role in, certain major events. Police later ruled out Hackett as a suspect in the deaths of Gilbert and the LISK victims. Hackett left Oak Beach and moved to Florida with his family not long after Gilbert's disappearance. James Bissett: Two days after Shannan Gilbert's remains were found, businessman James Bissett committed suicide in his car at Mattituck park. One of Bissett's businesses was a plant nursery which was the main supplier of burlap in the region. Many of the victims' remains were found wrapped in burlap. In popular culture: Numerous films, television programs, and podcasts have covered the case. These include: -48 Hours: "Long Island Serial Killer" (1-hr documentary airdate July 12, 2011) -The Long Island Serial Killer (2013), also known as The Gilgo Beach Murders, an independent feature directed by Joseph DiPietro -People Magazine Investigates: "The Long Island Serial Killer: The Lost Girls" (2016): season 1, episodes 1–2 -The Killing Season (American TV series): "The Most Dangerous Game" (airdate November 12, 2016): season 1, episode 2 -Crime Junkie, episode 21: "SERIAL KILLER: L.I.S.K" (Released: April 16, 2018) -Lost Girls, Netflix film (2020) -60 Minutes Australia: "Who is the Long Island serial killer?" (2020) -The Long Island Serial Killer: A Mother's Hunt for Justice, Lifetime television film (2021) -The Criminal Lawyer by Thomas Benigno -Grim Tide, (2021) a five part series on Fox Nation. -Unraveled: The Long Island Serial Killer (2021), a seven-part podcast series released by Investigation Discovery.
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Kelly was the first name of a 23-year-old American woman and identity thief who was murdered on July 10, 1991 in El Dorado, Arkansas in Room 121 of the now-demolished Whitehall Motel. She used multiple names while alive, including Mercedes (which is how her friends knew her), Cheryl Ann Wick (which was the name on the identification card found with her body), Kelly Lee Carr, Kelly Karr, Shannon Wiley, Cheryl Kaufman and Sharon Wiley; none of which were found to be her real name. As an unidentified victim, she was known to have lived in various states prior to her death, including Texas and Louisiana, and was alleged to have engaged in sex work. While alive, this woman shared varying accounts of her past, suggesting that she had been arrested at one point, had one or two children and had possibly been involved in a bank robbery on the East Coast. Her murderer was identified as her ex-boyfriend and alleged pimp James McAlphin; McAlphin was quickly convicted, but her true identity remained unknown until 2022. On May 24, 2022, her first name was revealed via an article by forensic specialist Yolanda McClary. Prior to her partial 2022 identification, Kelly was known as El Dorado Jane Doe. Early life: Kelly was born in 1968 in Virginia to a woman named Brenda who was living with Kelly's stepfather at the time. Kelly never knew her biological father and it's likely her father was unaware of her existence. She grew up with a younger sister. Her early life was described as normal and stable, until her parents separated in 1971. They divorced the following year. Four months later Brenda remarried to a man who was abusive to all of them. The marriage lasted 7 years during which Brenda had a child with this man, however she gave the baby away to nearby farmers. After that marriage collapsed, Brenda remarried again, however it tragically ended when her husband killed himself in December of 1979. For the next 2 years, Kelly lived with her family in Charlottesville, Virginia. She and her sister stayed with an aunt while their mother, Brenda, resided in Virginia Beach. Kelly and her sister stayed with this aunt for about 1.5 years until Brenda requested that she move in with her. Kelly dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and got a job on the beach at a kiosk selling jewelry. Her mother at one point stole the merchandise and the profits from her daughter's job. Kelly had to painstakingly return the merchandise in order for her mother to avoid jail. She and her mother had to move 3 or 4 times after the summer of 1983, because Brenda had trouble paying rent. Sometime between 1984 and 1985, Kelly (who was then living in Florida) called the aunt she stayed with previously asking to move in with her because she couldn't handle her mother's cocaine addiction. However, this living arrangement didn't last long because Kelly herself was addicted to cocaine having been introduced to it by her own mother. She returned to Florida where she underwent drug rehabilitation in 1986. During this time, she also helped her mother regain her health after multiple abortions. However, Kelly also had to endure her mother's troubled lifestyle which included jail stints for drugs, bad checks, credit card theft, grand larceny, and even car theft from a car rental dealership. After completing rehab, Kelly moved back in with the same aunt this time in Texas as the aunt's husband was in the military and was stationed there. Kelly's aunt noticed "sexy clothing" in her suitcase suggesting that she worked as a topless dancer back home in Florida. Kelly explained to her aunt that she was a dancer to get access to drugs and because it made her a lot of money. She then lived with a boyfriend, however she left him and relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas where she stayed from 1986 until 1989. Kelly then returned to her mother's house in Florida only this time her younger sister stayed with them. The sister left just a few months later after a humiliating stay during which their mother entered her into a bikini contest for money. Kelly left her mother in 1990 and moved to Norfolk, Virginia. In 1991, she decided to go to Dallas, Texas. Activities prior to death- Residence: Kelly's earliest verified location is Dallas where she was arrested for prostitution. She also worked at a KFC there. After leaving Dallas, she traveled to Shreveport, Louisiana, before going to El Dorado in early 1991. She also worked as a topless dancer in Little Rock, Arkansas prior to her death and was found to have lived with a family in Irving, Texas. Arrest record: -December 31, 1990 – arrested (as Cheryl Ann Wick) for prostitution at La Casita Motel in Dallas, Texas -January 26, 1991 – arrested in Dallas -February 8, 1991 – arrested (as Cheryl Ann Wick) for public lewdness at the Carousel Motel in Garland, Texas -May 1991 – arrested (as Cheryl Ann Wick) for writing bad checks in El Dorado, Arkansas James McAlphin: Kelly met James McAlphin while in Dallas. They eventually began a relationship, during which Kelly would often find herself in the emergency room due to injuries suffered at the hands of McAlphin. Before McAlphin, Kelly had been involved with other men known as Tyronne and J.D. In June 1991, Kelly left McAlphin and moved in with a friend named Andrea Cooksey. McAlphin continued to contact Kelly with threatening messages after she left him. On July 10, he managed to get Kelly to come to his room at the Whitehall Motel with an offer of money. A neighbor, Roy Charles Menon, witnessed part of the interaction between Kelly and McAlphin that night when he stopped by to ask for the return of some cassette tapes he had lent out. Kelly had indicated to Menon that he should talk to McAlphin and attempted to leave, going out into the parking lot before McAlphin stopped her and hit her. Yelling "get back in the room, bitch," he dragged her back into the room as Menon left. From next door, Menon heard the two arguing back and forth before a gunshot ended the dispute. Witnesses then saw McAlphin flee, getting into his vehicle and speeding off. Investigation: McAlphin was soon arrested and charged with first degree murder and second degree battery. He denied killing Kelly, claiming she had shot herself in a suicide attempt, and that he had only hit her. The police dismissed his claim. McAlphin further refused to identify the decedent unless the police agreed to do something for him. With McAlphin uncooperative, the police looked in Kelly's possessions to glean her identity. They found a social security card and an identification card with her photo that identified her as Cheryl Ann Wick. The police traced Wick to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and contacted her family to inform them of their loss. The Wick family responded by putting the police in touch with the real Cheryl Ann Wick who was still alive and claimed her identity had been stolen. Wick theorized her social security and identification information had been stolen while she was working as a dancer for a Minneapolis company called Party Time and denied ever having known Kelly. It has since been revealed that Kelly began to pose under this stolen identity during her stay in Florida around 1984 or 1985. Her motive for this was because the clubs she worked in only employed dancers who were 18 and over. The police were left dumbfounded with no clue as to the true identity of the then unidentified Kelly. Accounts of her past from Kelly: Kelly had told differing stories about her past, making it hard to separate fact from fiction. She told her friend Andrea Cooksey that she used to be a stripper, was from out of town, and had two kids raised by her mother with whom she did not get along. To others, she had said she was in the witness protection program and that her father was in the mafia. Some had heard that she was wanted for bank robberies on the East Coast. Police investigating her identity could not discover any bank robberies to which she could be definitively tied, nor any connection to a witness protection program or the mafia. Kelly also mentioned accompanying an African American male at truck stops, where she had been tasked with luring truck drivers in order to rob them. She claimed that one of these interactions had ended with the death of the truck driver; this led police to suspect that Kelly had been involved in the November 12, 1988 unsolved murder of truck driver Dwayne McCorkendale. A white female had been seen with a white male and a black male near the crime scene in a brown Ford Pinto. However, no definitive ties have been established. To a volunteer at the Salvation Army in El Dorado, Kelly had shared a story about living on 1100 Cadiz Street in Dallas, the location of a local homeless shelter. She said that a daughter had been taken from her while there and that she had been unable to get the child back because she was using another name. This information could not be verified because records from the shelter for this period had been destroyed by the time this story was investigated. Account of her past from McAlphin: McAlphin claimed to know Kelly's identity and offered to reveal it in exchange for $4,000. To bolster his claim, he shared select information he claimed relates to her past. McAlphin has claimed that Kelly had been on the streets since she was 16 when an African American man she fell in love with forced her into prostitution in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. According to McAlphin, by the time she was an adult, she began prostituting of her own will. He further shared that Kelly had avoided being trafficked to Mexico by developing a relationship with a pimp named Jeffrey "JJ" Davis of Dallas before running away with another pimp named Tyronne. Police have dismissed McAlphin as unreliable. 2019 developments: A second cousin of Kelly living in Alabama was identified by a genealogist using genetic genealogy after uploading her autosomal DNA to the GEDmatch database. The cousin did not recognize Kelly but stated she resembled members of the family. Identification: On May 24, 2022, forensic specialist Yolanda McClary released an article on her website revealing that Kelly and El Dorado Jane Doe were the same person. She was 23 at the time of her death. Kelly's mother, Brenda, never seemed to have attempted to contact or look for Kelly. Brenda moved in with Kelly's aunt in Jacksonville, Florida in 1992. However, she stole from this aunt and moved back to Virginia where she died in 2008, having never making contact with her family again. McClary's article noted that everything Kelly did as a teenager and young adult was, in Kelly's opinion, trying to help her mother.
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
I've been getting taller as I've been correcting my scoliosis. While I'm still smaller than my siblings I'm getting a couple inches taller. Unfortunately, I've also gotten as painful before getting half an inch taller so 2-3 inches probably won't go away for years. I'm half Chinese American descent so I'm still kinda small. Even before I got my spine corrected I was the shortest of my siblings and was often teased over it.
I've been in a LOT of pain recently. While I've been taking pain killers it still hurts. I've been getting my height fixed as well. That COULD be why I'm in so much pain but its unconfirmed. There's TONS of reasons why I could be injured and in pain as I had 2 accidents on my scoliosis a few years back. Retworking my back isn't exactly fun. it just means I'm getting my scoliosis hurt like crazy. Least I'm close to what I should have been without scoliosis, although I'll never be as tall as my brothers.
Sunday, May 15, 2022
so a few weeks ago i was sitting in church and a kid came up to me with his hand out like he wanted a high 5. i gave him the high 5. i then looked to where the parents were and i was like "nice" with a thumbs up. a lady i was sitting near was giggling and i started laughing too. Often the little kids in the LDS church (at least where i'm from), the little kids would occasionally wander away from their parents. last week during a mother's day thing i was helping a little kid "help clean up." it was very cute as the kid was staring at me. he also likes helping despite being so young, which is kinda cute and very funny. he looked up and i picked up the chair and he was like, "who is that?"
i usually bring a new bag into church today. it's my "church bag." usually i wear nicer outfits and i'm like ok use this as my church bag. while my friends like it they're usually not noticing the bag. i'd bought that bag thinking i'd be using it more often. my friends like the bag. it's heavy at first but now it's ok
Monday, May 9, 2022
The Storyville Slayer is the nickname given to an American serial killer who murdered at least 24 sex workers and drug addicts, most of whom were women, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Through the course of the investigation, two separate suspects were considered, one of whom was convicted of one murder, leading investigators to believe that multiple killers are responsible. Modus operandi: The perpetrator(s) mainly targeted girls and women of African American descent, aged between 17 and 42, as victims. Most of them were strangled to death, while a number of others were beaten and drowned in canals and rivers, and then dumped in swamps, rivers or canals near highways bordering the western shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Due to the isolated locations of the dumping sites, the victims' bodies were left in water spanning from several weeks to several years, resulting in extreme decomposition and destruction of incriminating evidence. Some of the victims have never been identified. Timeline: According to investigators, the crimes began in the summer of 1991, after a young black woman informed police about an attempt on her life. According to her testimony, she had boarded the car of an unknown man in Algiers sometime in July, and after having a conversation with him, the man strangled her into unconsciousness and dropped her off on the streets. Her name has never been disclosed, and she is referred to as "Brenda" in case files. During her testimony, "Brenda" gave a description of her attacker, from which an identikit was created. She described him as a muscular, well-dressed, middle-aged black male who drove a dark-colored vehicle, possibly a Buick Regal or Chevrolet Monte Carlo. On August 4, 1991, the body of 17-year-old Danielle Britton was found in a ditch not far from where "Brenda" had been abducted. Her body had been covered with garbage, and an autopsy determined that she had been beaten and strangled. Britton had dropped out of school shortly before her death, and was last seen in a New Orleans bar next to an unknown man. It is unclear where she was employed, but nothing indicated that she engaged in prostitution or used drugs. On September 3, the body of 21-year-old Tyra Tassin was found. A mother of three, she had a criminal record for drug possession. Eighteen days later, the body of 28-year-old Charlene Price was found in a New Orleans park, just one mile from where Britton was found. An autopsy determined that she had been beaten and strangled. Price was a drug addict, but had no history of prostitution. On November 21, the body of 37-year-old Regina Oko was discovered. A mother of three, she had multiple arrests for prostitution during her lifetime. An autopsy deduced that she had been strangled, and prior to her death, had taken a large dose of cocaine, which could have caused an overdose. On December 14, skeletal remains were found in a ditch near a highway. The autopsy established the remains belonged to a young black girl, who at the time was in her early twenties and approximately 1,57 cm tall. Despite having a defining characteristic - namely strongly protruding front teeth - she was not identified. The victim is referred to as "Jane Doe No. 1", was presumably strangled and found not far from Britton's body. On January 4, 1992, the body of 29-year-old Lydia Madison, who had several arrests on charges of prostitution and drug possession, was found in a ditch under a highway overpass. The cause of her death was also declared as strangulation. On June 2, 25-year-old George Williams' body was found in the LaBranche Wetlands area of St. Charles Parish. An autopsy determined that she had been strangled. Investigators determined that she was a transsexual, had feminine features and worked as an exotic dancer at a New Orleans nightclub. Like the previous victims, Williams was a drug addict and had been arrested for robbery and drug possession. On July 25, the body of 33-year-old Noah Filson was found in the waters of a canal near I-55. Like Williams, Filson was transsexual and worked at a nightclub under the name 'Brenda Bewitch'. On September 21, the remains of 29-year-old Regiter Martin were discovered in the waters of another canal near a highway. She was an impoverished mother of three who engaged in prostitution and had several previous arrests. On February 20, 1993, the skeletal remains of 30-year-old Cheryl Lewis were discovered in the waters of a canal near Hahnville. Like the previous victims, Lewis was an impoverished mother of four and known prostitutes with several arrests who had been strangled to death. However, while investigating her death, authorities learned that she was last seen alive on February 2, getting into the car of an unidentified white male. On the next day, the body of 42-year-old Delores Mack was found in the waters of a canal near a highway, not far from the Lewis crime scene. She too had been strangled, but was had no known history with either drugs or prostitution. During this period, according to investigators, the killer(s) committed several other murders, but due to various circumstances, the bodies of the victims were found only in early 1994. On February 5, 1994, skeletal remains were found in St. John the Baptist Parish, later determined to be a young woman between the ages of 25 and 35. She had been strangled. She remains unidentified, as is referred to as "Jane Doe No. 2". Five days later, more skeletal remains were found, this time to a girl whose age is estimated to be around 15 to 17. Due to extreme decompisition, she too remains unidentified, and is named "Jane Doe No. 3". On February 13, 25-year-old Stephanie Murray's body was found in a small pond near the Bonnet Carré Spillway. Two days later, the skeletal remains of another young girl were found, whose identity was never ascertained. On April 2, two sets of skeletal remains were found in the canals, later determined to be of a young woman and a young man. Due to extreme decomposition, neither could be identified, and are referred to as "Jane Doe No. 5" and "John Doe No. 1". On July 3, the body of 32-year-old Michelle Foster, who had gone missing in New Orleans just days prior, was found. On October 19, the skeletal remains of a woman were found in a wooded area near a highway within the limits of Bridge City. She was later identified as 28-year-old Stephanie Brown, who had no prior criminal record. On January 22, 1995, the body of 29-year-old impoverished mother of three Wanda Ford was found in a swamp near the I-55. During her lifetime, she had been arrested multiple times for theft and was a known drug addict. On the following day, the body of 39-year-old Sandra Warner was found in St. John the Baptist Parish. On January 25, the remains of 25-year-old Henry Calvin, who had gone missing months earlier from New Orleans, were found. On March 24, police found more skeletal remains under an overpass in Tangipahoa Parish. While the remains were determined to be female, authorities were unable to identify the victim, and she is listed as "Jane Doe No. 6". Her estimated age was between 25 and 35. On April 30, the bodies of two women were found in a swampy area near the I-55. The victims were later identified as Karen Ivester and Sharon Robinson, 30 and 28, respectively. Autopsies determined that Ivester had been strangled, while Robinson had been beaten and strangled, but the presence of water in her lungs indicated that the cause of death had been drowning. On May 6, the body of 39-year-old Sandra Williams, who had been strangled, was found on a boulevard in New Orleans. According to the official investigation, the murders ceased following her death. Eleven months after the final body was found, police discovered additional skeletal remains on April 8, 1996. She was later identified as 39-year-old Lola Porter, who had gone missing from New Orleans in 1992. Policemen later interviewed her friends and acquaintances, who stated that she had been cohabiting with a white male who vanished shortly after Porter went missing. Investigation: In May 1995, a task force was established by the New Orleans Police Department, in conjunction with surrounding parishes and the FBI, in order to solve the killings. During a press conference in August, Chief Richard Pennington announced to the media that the current prime suspect was 33-year-old Victor Gant, a police officer working in New Orleans. During the investigations, it was established that Gant had an intimate relationship with one of the victims, Sharon Robinson. As a young man, he was a boxer and regularly went to the gym and did weightlifting, and closely matched the 1991 suspect sketch based on "Brenda"'s testimony. FBI agent Neil Gallagher later clarified that Gant was a suspect only in Robinson and Ivester's murders, and at present, they had no evidence tying him to any of the other killings. In response, Gant's attorney John Reed said that his client was innocent and the evidence was purely circumstantial. Victor Gant: A native of New Orleans, Gant spent his childhood and youth in Algiers, where a number of the victims lived and were abducted from. He became a police officer in February 1980, and while on patrol, Gant would spend a lot of time in red-light districts, where in later years he acquired many acquaintances among pimps, prostitutes and street informants. In the early 1990s, Gant gained a reputation for being corrupt after a number of informants reported that he, along with a few others, were running racketeering operations against pimps and other criminals. It was revealed that during this time, he met Sharon Robinson, who soon became his roommate. On December 9, 1994, Robinson went to the police to report him for beating her, and according to her statement, Gant punched her in the face and broke her nose. Gant denied the accusation, stating that he had pushed her during an argument, with Robinson hitting her nose on a chair - this was contradicted by her children, who said that they had witnessed him beating their mother. This was backed up by the emergency room doctor, who testified that the woman's injuries were the result of a beating. In early 1995, a disciplinary panel and hearing to determine Gant's punishment began. During the hearing, members of the disciplinary committee reviewed the testimony of the prosecution's witnesses. The key witness was supposed to be Robinson, but she was found dead on May 1, 1995. According to the investigators, Gant had killed both her and her friend, Karen Ivester, in order to get rid of them. According to friends and acquaintances of the victims, Gant held a personal grudge against Ivester and had spoken negatively about her on multiple occasions. In order to determine whether he was guilty or not, Gant was ordered to submit DNA for testing to see whether they could match it to the perpetrator's saliva, which was found on a piece of chewing tobacco found near Ivester's body. The results were inconclusive and no charges were filed against Gant, who was dismissed from the force in August 1996. Russell Ellwood: On August 13, 1997, The Howard Stern Show received a call from a man who identified himself as "Clay". During the conversation with host Howard Stern, which was broadcast live, "Clay" described details for more than 12 murders and gave some details about his background, indicating that he was a white resident of New Orleans. The interview with the potential serial killer caused a massive media publicity, thanks to which FBI agents allegedly went to the studio and seized audio recordings of the call to establish the caller's location and possible identity. In the following years, the credibility of this incident was questioned, as the program regularly received numerous call from people who claimed to have done terrible things, with some alleging that Stern himself faked the call to boost his ratings. In addition to Gant, another resident of New Orleans, Russell Ellwood, soon came under police suspicion. A native of Massillon, Ohio, Ellwood moved to New Orleans in 1968 after graduating high school. For the next 30 years, Ellwood lived in squalor because of his drug addiction, had no permanent residence, never married and changed professions often, mostly sticking to photography and cab driving. Owing to his addiction, Ellwood was arrested several times from 1968 to 1998. When not imprisoned, he spent most of his time among fellow vagrants, with acquaintances describing him as an outsider who constantly sought to make get-rich-quick schemes, but consistently failed in his endeavors. Ellwood first came under police scrutiny in 1994, after he was allegedly found masturbating in his car by police, which had been parked by the road, near where Cheryl Lewis and Delores Mack's bodies were found. A partially undressed Ellwood was forced out of his car and told to show his driver's license. His explanation for stopping was to apparently change the oil and repair the brake pads of his car, and willingly allowed his vehicle to be searched. Officers found none of the items required for the fixes, not even a flashlight, which would be necessary to perform such repairs in an unlit area at night. Ellwood was questioned regarding the murders and later booked as a suspect. After the task force was formed, Col. Walter T. Gorman of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and other task force members travelled to Sebring, Florida on July 23, 1997, so they could question Ellwood, who was living with his elderly father. Once located, Ellwood was informed of his rights, and within three days gave several statements recorded on tape. During the interrogations, he admitted to frequenting black prostitutes throughout his life, claiming that he knew more than 100 girls, in addition to frequently taking drugs such as heroin, crack cocaine and LSD over the years. The investigators became increasingly suspicious when Ellwood started speaking about having a dream in which he was being questioned about a series of murders and later admitting to frequenting the locations where the bodies were found, but continued to reaffirm his innocence. On August 4, 1997, just days after the interrogations were completed, Ellwood was arrested for buying cocaine from an undercover police officer at his home in Sebring. As a result, he was convicted and sentenced to spend 85 days in the county jail. According to his cellmates, Ellwood implicated himself in the prostitute killings back in New Orleans and its various suburbs. One of them, Stan Hill, contacted the county prosecutor's office and claimed that Ellwood had described to him in detail how he had driven the women to outlying areas of the city, offering them large quantities of drugs that caused overdoses, then strangled and dumped their bodies. A number of other inmates witnessed a fight between Ellwood and another inmate, during which he allegedly said "Yeah, I killed that nigger bitch. I'll kill you too." Another inmate, Stephen Michael Busser, also told police that Ellwood had boasted of being wanted for more than 60 murders within the state of Louisiana, and had even described to him in detail one of them. After his release, Ellwood returned to Canton to live with his brother, who offered him a high-paying job. Based on Hill's testimony, the task force tracked him down and re-interviewed in the presence of Ron Camden, a 27-year veteran of the Cincinnati Police Department's Homicide Unit. During interrogation, Ellwood initially denied making any such statements to the inmates, but after an audio tape of Hill's testimony was played, he admitted that he had indeed boasted to Hill. Camden later testified that Ellwood also confessed to him that he had killed a black girl, whose corpse he had dumped in the canal. No recording of this confession was taken, and Ellwood later denied ever confessing to such a murder to Camden. Ellwood later claimed that a mental illness had caused him to boast, demanding that the interrogations cease and he be allowed to return to New Orleans to see his attorney and be provided with treatment. This request was denied, whereupon Ellwood confessed to killing Lewis and Mack, but refused to be audiotaped and soon after began denying that he had confessed. Eventually, Ellwood was released again, and in January 1998, he returned to New Orleans. On January 16, he was stopped by traffic cops for speeding and was scheduled to appear in court, but failed to appear on time and was subsequently arrested for contempt of court. Ellwood was eventually convicted and ordered to spend 120 days behind bars. While incarcerated, authorities charged him with the murders of Lewis and Mack on March 4, 1998. Ellwood's trial: The trial began on June 8, 1999, in Lafayette. During the proceedings, a number of Ellwood's former cellmates and prostitutes testified as prosecution witnesses, with the former claiming that he had confessed to the killings while the latter claimed that he had assaulted them. Diane Gilliam, a former prostitute, told the court that she had known Ellwood since the early 1990s and had dated him periodically. She testified that in 1992, during a date, Ellwood, while under the influence of drugs, assaulted, beat and strangled her into unconsciousness. Gilliam stated that she woke up to find herself in a pool of blood in an unfamiliar, wooded area, where a passing motorist found her by chance and sheltered her at the motel he was staying at. She said that she did not report the incident, due to being a prostitute with a criminal record. Another girl, Navassa Richmond, a former stripper and prostitute, in turn testified that she had also been beaten and assaulted twice by a drug-crazed Ellwood, during which he also attempted to strangle her. Janie Stokes, a former prostitute, told the court that she first met him in either 1992 or 1993 at Snell's gas station in Marrero, when he was working as a cab driver. Stokes stated Ellwood bought her lunch and treated her nicely before driving her to his home, where he suggested that they use cocaine. After doing drugs together, Ellwood beat her, but she managed to flee. The witness, like Gilliam, did not report the incident because she was a drug addict. Antoinette Rainey, who worked as a drug dealer in New Orleans, also appeared as a witness for the prosecution, testifying that Ellwood was a regular customer. She recounted an incident in which Ellwood forced her into his car at gunpoint, then drove her to an underpass where he beat, raped and robbed, threatening to kill her during the ordeal. Rainey was able to escape, but did not report the attack due to her criminal lifestyle. Three witnesses testified that they had seen the defendant with Cheryl Lewis shortly before her disappearance. According to the testimony of Denise Sanders, who was Lewis' best friend, she had seen her with Ellwood three days prior, who was out driving his cab. Sanders also admitted to withholding this information, because she was a drug dealer. The second witness, Antoinette Holmes, who lived near Lewis, testified to seeing her at the Time Saver restaurant in Bridge City two weeks before she was reported missing, standing between two parked cars and talking to a cab driver. She then identified Ellwood as the driver. Weinweir Henry, Lewis' cousin, stated that she last saw her at a hotel in Avondale with a man, whom she identified as Ellwood. According to her, Lewis had told Henry that she and Ellwood were on their way to a suburb of New Orleans, where her body was later found. Henry testified that she had not given the police this information, as she was wanted for petty offenses at the time. Ellwood himself denied knowing any of the victims or committing any murders, although he could not provide an alibi. Cheryl Lewis' mother, in turn, admitted that her daughter was a drug addict and a prostitute, but said that she had never seen Ellwood with her daughter before. His attorneys argued that Ellwood was not in New Orleans at the time of the murders, claiming that he had been in Ohio with some relatives. Ellwood was known for keeping extensive amounts of documents that indicate his whereabouts, but the receipts regarding his supposed presence in Ohio for February 1993 had mysteriously disappeared. Ellwood's attorneys then filed a motion for a polygraph test to be performed on Sue Rushing, then-head of the task force, which was granted. During the test, Rushing was unable to answer a series of questions regarding the missing receipts, but the result was inconclusive, casting doubt on Ellwood's guilt. Ultimately, the murder charge for Delores Mack was dropped, but on the basis of very circumstantial evidence and unreliable testimony, Ellwood was found guilty of killing Cheryl Lewis and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on August 17, 1999. A deputy who worked in the department later attempted to sue them for allegedly firing him for revealing that Rushing had destroyed crucial evidence, but his appeal was rejected due to lack of evidence. Aftermath: As of November 2021, all of the murders, aside from that of Cheryl Lewis, remain unsolved. Ellwood remains a suspect in several of the killings, but no charges have been filed against him. Gant left New Orleans after his discharge from law enforcement and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he presumably still lives today. In a 2016 interview with HuffPost, Major C.J. Destor of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office confirmed that Gant is still on the suspect list.