One day I found myself on a well known true crime website stuck in a “basement” thread. From what I can gather it is a private board that only registered users could read and participate in. How silly I was to think that I could easily ascertain the finer points of this case by reading about it for just a short while. By the time I had posted my thoughts on the case I had been laughed off the board with members insisting I was not informed about the deeper nuances of it all. Admittedly I was not as versed in the case as many of the locals and online sleuths, but much of their theories had been based on local rumor and allegations which is not worth delving too far into in my opinion lest one becomes misdirected. So I decided to read up and do my homework.
The long island serial killer case is a case fraught with speculation. Many believe it indirectly lead to the former police chief of the 4th precinct of Suffolk County’s downfall and eventual incarceration. Some even believe the serial killer and this corrupt police chief could be one in the same. Many also wonder why the Suffolk County Police Department had such an aversion to working with the FBI to solve the case. Could it have been the prospect of taking credit for solving the case that caused the SCPD to decline FBI participation in their investigation or was there a deeper reason why the SCPD did not want the aid of the FBI? Then there was the local businessman who committed suicide after the serial killer’s victims were found which lead many to suppose that he possibly was the long island serial killer even though it was documented that he likely committed suicide from business related pressures during the Christmas holiday. Other’s have pointed their finger at a retired and physically disabled Doctor. I tend to believe he had nothing to do with it and think people need to get a life, but that’s just me. Everyone has their own theory as to who the murderer is and each person is equally convinced of his or her theory as being the gospel truth as the next person. I have my ideas, but I’m not committed to any one of them 100%. After all we can’t know the truth until we know the entire story.
It all began with a series of taunting and horrific phone calls from a serial killer claiming to be a member of the NYPD. A young girl named Amanda picked up her cellphone expecting to hear her sister Melissa’s voice on the other end, but instead she found herself talking to a man who she described as sounding “like a white guy” who’s voice seemed to belong to a middle aged male in his 30’s to 40’s. Unfortunately this does not narrow down much in terms of suspects because most serial killers fall within the demographic of being white males with an average age of 33 years old.
This monster on the other end of the line told Amanda Barthelemy he had her sister Melissa Barthelemy captive and detailed what he was doing to torture her. He said sexually sadistic things. He called Amanda, who is multiracial, a “halfbreed” insinuating he might take issue with interracial relations between black and white individuals. During this time Amanda hoped there would be some way her sister Melissa could free herself from this monster. Melissa’s mother Lynn, who often times tried to confront the killer on Amanda’s phone, would find the killer hung up on her every time he heard her voice. The calls continued for weeks with law enforcement monitoring each one until finally the monster stopped making contact. Everyone feared for Melissa and what became of her.
The killer made sure to keep all of the calls under 3 minutes in an effort to prevent their tracing. He also ensured that all of the calls were made from public places in manhattan like outside of the Port Authority and in Times Square. It is assumed he used what is referred to as a burner phone. He also is able to anonymously contact these sex workers online without anything being tracked back to him. All these things help to solidify that this killer is average to high IQ and is organized.
A chilling detail about this killer is that he asked Amanda Barthelemy if her family had filed a missing persons report yet. This along with the killer’s taunting admission of being a member of the NYPD causes one to pause. Could this serial killer really be a member of a police department who has gone against his oath to protect and serve his community or is he just trying to throw us all off?
This monster seems to delight in humiliating and torturing individuals to feel more superior. His choice of victims has been to hand pick white women in their early to mid 20’s involved in sex work online although early on in his murderous career he took the opportunity when it presented itself by picking up more at risk sex workers (possibly of a slightly different victim profile than he prefers) on the street. Theoretically his first victims likely consisted of more at risk individuals he met on the streets in other states/cities until he graduated to finding the women in the NY area on websites like craigslist and backpage beginning likely sometime around 2007. He prefers to murder in the summer months which might indicate something about his personal lifestyle. Since it has been theorized by professionals that he likely is a local killer I’m thinking that either he has a summer home in the area and lives in the city or he actually works and lives out of Long Island and for some reason has the time to murder in the summer months. Regardless it is believed he knows the area of the crime scene well and likely spent time there growing up.
Back to Melissa Barthelemy. Melissa had seen her fair share of tough times in the sex industry and possibly felt a false sense of security when she decided to post her services online rather than trick on a street or at a club in Manhattan. I believe wholeheartedly that the killer knew how to play off of this false sense of security as he was successful in convincing some of the victims to not bring their phones on the date which is something not many working girls are willing to do. That phone is their safety net. So who OR what could make these girls feel so secure that they would sneak off to meet a john without their phones? Either they had met the john before and felt comfortable with him or the money he offered was too good to pass up… or both! Maybe the john was even a cop who offered to make sure the girls wouldn’t get arrested for prostitution in the future if they performed their services for him. We just don’t know for sure who this monster is, but there are many clues. However, Melissa was careful enough to bring her phone with her when she met the john and she just so happened to be the only victim who’s cellphone the killer used to taunt her family. I think her decision to bring the phone made him extremely angry.
Melissa’s pimp Johnny Terry insists she was going to meet a man who had a house in long island the day she disappeared. He claims this same man, who he believes is likely Melissa’s murderer and the long island serial killer, made taunting phone calls to him as well talking about the tattoos on Terry’s back and claiming he knew intimate things Melissa and Terry did in the bedroom. Terry went to the police about the man, but the police never followed up to his knowledge. No one really knows why there was no follow up. Perhaps the police at this point thought Terry did something to the girlfriend he pimped, but no one knows for sure why the ball was dropped. At any rate, would it have damaged the case to check out Terry’s lead on the john with a home on Long Island that Melissa went to the day she disappeared? I don’t think it would have.
Melissa’s family would sit for nearly a year fearing the worst happened to her. Then, on a cold December day in 2010, their worst fears would come to life. Melissa’s mother caught a news report on the television that bodies had been found along a parkway in Long Island and she knew instantly that one of those bodies would be her beloved daughter Melissa. Her instinct was confirmed when Melissa was found to be one of the set of remains. One body became two, two became three, and soon enough 10 bodies were recovered with a necklace and earring clad toddler wrapped in a blanket and an asian male dressed in women’s clothing among them.
It took the disappearance of another young woman in May of 2010 to find Melissa and the other murdered victims along the causeway a few months later. That woman was named Shannan Gilbert. Though she was also a working girl like Melissa it is not clear whether or not she met the same fate as the other victims with the long island serial killer. What is clear is that if Shannan had not ran out toward the causeway from a known john’s house screaming “They’re trying to kill me!” and disappeared into the bramble of the Oak Beach Community that May evening, the victims of the Long Island Serial Killer wouldn’t have been recovered. Her disappearance initiated the search of the area along the causeway where the bodies were found.
Shannan’s body would be discovered last with some of her belongings strewn about. She was on her back and there was evidence of possible foul play by way of strangulation that renowned medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden found on her neckbones. The suffolk county police department had claimed it “lost” the portions of Shannan’s neck that would determine whether or not she had been strangled, but Baden found enough evidence with what he was given to suggest Shannan had been strangled and was indeed the victim of foul play (contrary to many beliefs that she possibly died by way of a drug induced hysteria). So what gives with the SCPD being so careless to not save the portion of Shannan’s neck that proved she was a victim of foul play considering that when they finally found her body they knew they were dealing with a serial killer’s dumping ground? Why would they insist that she was not a victim of foul play for so long until another professional from an outside agency proved otherwise? Sure some believe Dr. Baden will rule in favor of whoever is paying him, but I’m not so sure that is what happened in this specific case.
(to be continued…)