Also known as LISK, the Craigslist Ripper, and the Gilgo Beach Killer, the Long Island serial killer is believed to have murdered at least 10 and up to 16 people spanning two decades. He was first identified in 2010 during the search for Shannan Gilbert, who had called 911 claiming that someone was trying to kill her.
During that search, police also discovered the remains of four other women who were found within five hundred feet of each other. These first four women were dubbed the The Gilgo Four. Over the next few years, the total number of victims who were discovered in the same area grew to a total of 16. Many of these women posted ads on Craigslist for escort services. It is believed this is how LISK found his victims. Many of the victims haven’t been identified to this day and the case remains unsolved.
In 2010 emergency responders in Long Island received a frantic call from Shannan Gilbert, a 24 year old who was working as an escort. She had been with a client in the area near Gilgo Beach. The call wasn’t coherent and Shanann’s words were slurred. Sometimes there was silence, sometimes she was screaming. She kept repeating, “Somebody’s after me.” The call disconnected after 22 minutes.
Discovery of More Victims
This phone call and the search for Shanann started the investigation that led to the gruesome discovery of more than a dozen other victims. Most of the victims who were identified had been working as escorts and sex workers and had advertised on Craigslist. The first four victims were dubbed The Gilgo Four, but by the end of 2011, many more victims were discovered,
Police quickly determined what the victims had in common. Most of the victims advertised escort services on Craigslist. Their bodies were found in burlap sacks and they died from strangulation. Because of these similarities cops concluded there was only one killer who had been at it for twenty years. Profilers believe the killer must be from Long Island.
A suspect was identified in 2017. John Bittrolff was a carpenter from and living in the area who had been convicted of the murder of two other sex workers in the 1990s.
Evidence Against John Bittrolff
- He lived in Manorville, where two victims were found only three miles from his home.
- A DNA sample from his brother in an unrelated matter connect him two of the victims from the 90s. Police eventually made a full DNA match to Bittrolff.
- He reportedly ate the heart of a deer raw after killing it.
- The daughter of one of the victims whose murder Bittrolff was convicted for was the best friend of one of the first LISK victims discovered.
- This same victim’s mother said that her daughter had been receiving phone calls from Manorville.
Cold Case status
Even with all of this suspicion, the fact remains that Bittrolff has never been arrested for any of the LISK murders. The case went cold but investigators have released evidence over the years like Shannan Gilbert’s 911 call and the last known video of Shannan.
“Fire Island Jane Doe’s” partial remains found.
Partial remains of “Jane Doe No. 3” (called “Peaches for a tattoo on her chest) found in Hempstead Lake State Park.
Valerie Mack last seen in the summer of 2000. Her partial remains were found in November of that year in Manorville.
Jessica Taylor is last seen and her partial remains were found in Manorville.
Maureen Brainard-Barnes was last seen and her sister received a phone call from a man who said he had seen her at a “whorehouse” in Queens.
Melissa Barthelemy was last seen and her sister received several vulgar phone calls from a man using Melissa’s cell phone. This man later tells her that Melissa is dead.
May-Shannan Gilbert makes the panicked 911 call.
Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello are last seen
December-the remains of Megan, Amber and Maureen are found.
Remains found of Jessica Taylor, Valerie Mack, “John Doe” and “Baby Doe,” are found.
April-Further remains of “Fire Island Jane Doe” and “Peaches” are found.
December-Shannan Gilbert’s body found in marshlands at Oak Beach.
John Bittrolff is named as a suspect.
The remains of Valerie Mack are identified.