A New York State Senator held a press conference on Monday, calling for a special prosecutor to look into the early stages of a serial killer investigation on Long Island.
State Sen. Phil Boyle spoke to reporters from Oak Beach, where Shannan Gilbert disappeared in May 2010 and was found dead a year and a half later. The search for Gilbert led to the initial discovery of four victims dumped along Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach. Those women, known as the Gilgo Four, are believed to be victims of the so-called Long Island Serial Killer. An expanded search of the area led to the discovery of more human remains. The killer or killers are believed to have murdered at least ten people, possibly more. Police have not named any suspects in the investigation.
Boyle said at the news conference that he had sent a letter to Attorney General Letitia James asking her to assign a special prosecutor to “investigate the investigation” of the unsolved killings. Boyle also contacted Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to ask why former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke was allowed to stay in his position after denying assistance from the FBI in the early months of the murder investigation. Finally, Boyle has asked current chief and acting SCPD Commissioner Stuart Cameron to say whether Burke, who served prison time for assaulting a suspect, has been officially cleared as a suspect in the Gilgo Beach killings.
“Tell us that because right now we’re waiting for the Suffolk County Police Department to give us information, and I have the utmost respect for the men and women of the Suffolk County law enforcement, without a doubt. But they waited 10 years to show us part of a belt, and we’re not going to sit here and wait another 10 years for them to show us the buckle that goes with the belt. We want answers now,” Boyle said at the press conference, according to News 12.
In January 2020, the Suffolk County Police Department released a photo of a belt that was found near human remains, and that police said they believed was “handled’ by the suspect and did not belong to a victim. Later that year, SCPD identified another likely victim of the Long Island Serial Killer: Valerie Mack, who was 24 years old when she vanished from Philadelphia in 2000. Her dismembered remains were found in two different locations in Long Island; one near the discovery of the Gilgo Four.
Former Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said at at a press conference in January 2020 that the department would likely reveal more evidence and/or information about the investigation during the months following the release of the belt images. No further evidence was released, and Hart resigned from the position in May 2021.
According to the report, the Suffolk County Police Department responded to Boyle’s request with the following statement:
“The Gilgo Beach homicide investigation continues to be a top priority for the Suffolk County Police Department. The department has detectives who are solely dedicated to this investigation and our department is working closely with both the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and with the FBI. The Suffolk County Police Department does not comment on suspects in any criminal investigation.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone also responded to Boyle’s call for transparency with a brief statement.
“This remains an ongoing criminal investigation of the highest priority. We’re not going to respond to what is nothing more than a political charade.”
The Attorney General has not yet publicly responded to Boyle’s request.
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[Feature image: An officer from the Suffolk County Police Department’s K-9 Unit uses a dog to search through the brush along the median of Ocean Parkway, near Oak Beach in Long Island, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kevin P. Coughlin, File)]