UNITED STATES NEWS

A timeline of the investigation of the Gilgo Beach killings

Jan 16, 2024, 8:42 AM

Starting in 2010, police searching for a missing woman found 10 sets of human remains in the scrub along a barrier island parkway, not far from the sands of New York’s remote Gilgo Beach. Police almost immediately feared some were left by a serial killer.

Over the years, investigators used DNA analysis and other clues to identify the victims. In some cases, they were able to connect them to remains found elsewhere on Long Island years earlier. Investigators concluded that an 11th woman found dead — the initial subject of their missing persons search — accidentally drowned.

Prosecutors have charged a Long Island architect, Rex Heuermann in four slayings, but a majority of the killings remain unsolved.

Here is a timeline of the investigation:

April 20, 1996: The partial remains of Karen Vergata are discovered on Fire Island, a barrier beach off Long Island’s southern coast. Her name remains unknown to investigators until 2022, when new DNA analysis helps them make an identification. Vergata, 34, was last in contact with her family on Feb. 14, 1996. She was involved in sex work when she vanished.

June 28, 1997: The partial remains of a woman, nicknamed “Peaches” by investigators after a tattoo on her body, are discovered stuffed inside a plastic tub in a state park in West Hempstead, New York. Her identity remains unknown.

September, 2000: The partial skeletal remains of Valerie Mack, who had been working as an escort in Philadelphia, are found in a wooded area in Manorville, New York. Mack, 24, was last seen by her family in the spring or summer of that year in Port Republic, New Jersey.

July 26, 2003: The partial skeletal remains of Jessica Taylor are discovered in a wooded area of Manorville. She was 20 when she vanished and had been an escort working in New York City.

July 9, 2007: Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, who had traveled to New York City from her home in Norwich, Connecticut, for sex work, is last heard from by a friend. She says she is leaving her hotel to meet a client. Investigators later say cellphone records showed her phone was last used on Long Island.

July 10, 2009: Melissa Barthelemy, a 24-year-old sex worker, is last seen at her apartment in the Bronx. She tells a friend she is going to see a man and would be back in the morning. Cellphone location data puts her phone’s last known location on Long Island.

July 17, 2009: A man begins using Barthelemy’s mobile phone to make taunting phone calls to her relatives. There are additional calls on July 23, Aug. 5, Aug. 19 and Aug. 26. In one, a man says he killed her.

May 1, 2010: Shannan Gilbert, a sex worker, disappears in the barrier island community of Oak Beach, New York, after fleeing the house of a client and banging on a neighbor’s door. In a recorded 911 call, she tells a dispatcher people are after her, but she can also be heard refusing offers of help. Her pimp, the client and his neighbor all tell police she appeared disoriented and ran into the night on her own.

June 6, 2010: Megan Waterman, 22, who had traveled to Long Island from Maine for sex work, is last seen at a motel in Hauppauge, New York.

Sept. 2, 2010: Amber Lynn Costello, 27, is last seen leaving her home in West Babylon to meet with a sex work client. A male friend later tells investigators he noticed a Chevrolet Avalanche, presumably driven by the client.

December 11, 2010: A police officer and his dog discover Barthelemy’s remains while conducting a training exercise along Ocean Parkway.

Dec. 13, 2010: Police find the bodies of Costello, Brainard-Barnes and Waterman on the same quarter-mile stretch of Ocean Parkway where Barthelemy’s remains were located.

Dec. 14, 2010: Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer publicly announces the discovery of the bodies and says a serial killer might be to blame. Police expand the search, looking for additional remains or for any sign of Gilbert.

March 29, 2011: Some of Taylor’s remains are discovered along Ocean Parkway.

April 4, 2011: Additional remains of Valerie Mack are found along Ocean Parkway. Near those remains, investigators also find the remains of an unidentified female toddler, later identified through DNA as the daughter of “Peaches.” Elsewhere on the parkway, investigators discover the remains of an Asian male. Investigators estimate he died 5-10 years earlier and was in his late teens or early 20s. He still has not been identified.

April 11, 2011: Additional remains of Vergata are discovered along Ocean Parkway, several miles west of Gilgo Beach. Police also find remains belonging to “Peaches” along the beach parkway.

Dec. 13, 2011: Gilbert’s skeletal remains are discovered in a tidal marsh near Oak Beach. After an autopsy and further investigation, Suffolk Police say she most likely accidentally drowned. Her family still suspects she was murdered. One expert hired by the family said it was possible her death was a homicide.

January, 2022: The Suffolk County district attorney convenes a new task force to investigate the Gilgo Beach slayings.

July 13, 2023: Investigators arrest Heuermann and charge him with murdering Costello, Waterman and Barthelemy. They say they also believe he killed Brainard-Barnes, but do not initially charge him with her slaying.

Jan. 16, 2024: Heuermann is charged in the death of Brainard-Barnes. Prosecutors say a hair found with her corpse is genetically similar to a DNA sample from Heuermann’s wife.

United States News

Associated Press

Ford recalls over 550,000 pickup trucks because transmissions can suddenly downshift to 1st gear

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 550,000 pickup trucks in the U.S. because the transmissions can unexpectedly downshift to first gear no matter how fast the trucks are going. The recall covers certain F-150 pickups from the 2014 model year. Ford’s F-Series pickups are the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. Ford says in […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Wildfire prompts evacuation orders for rural community in northern California

PALERMO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities in rural northern California have ordered evacuations due to a fast-moving fire threatening the community of Palermo, which is near where the state’s deadliest wildfire struck six years ago. The fire covered about 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers) in the initial hours Monday after the flames were first reported, […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Former pro surfer known for riding huge Pipeline waves dies in shark attack while surfing off Oahu

A well-known Hawaii lifeguard who was killed in a shark attack while surfing off Oahu’s North Shore was a former professional surfer with acting credits to his name, including a role in one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Tamayo Perry, 49, was killed Sunday near Goat Island, Shayne Enright of the Honolulu Emergency […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

More rain possible in deluged Midwest as flooding kills 2, causes water to surge around dam

NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. (AP) — More storms are possible in parts of the deluged Midwest, where flooding after days of heavy rains has killed at least two people, sent a river surging around a dam and forced evacuations and rescues. Severe storms were forecast for Tuesday afternoon and evening with large hail, damaging winds […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Lawsuit challenges new Louisiana law requiring classrooms to display the Ten Commandments

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit Monday to block Louisiana’s new law that requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed in every public school classroom, a measure they contend is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs in the suit include parents of Louisiana public school children with various religious backgrounds, who are represented by […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

A look at Julian Assange and how the long-jailed WikiLeaks founder is now on the verge of freedom

WASHINGTON (AP) — News that the U.S. Justice Department has reached a plea deal that will lead to freedom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brings a stunning culmination to a long-running saga of international intrigue that spanned multiple continents. Its central character is a quixotic internet publisher with a profound disdain for government secrets. A […]

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

A timeline of the investigation of the Gilgo Beach killings