The Gilgo Beach Serial Killer

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From the 1990’s – 2011 someone in Long Island was preying on women, possibly 16+ women lost their lives. This killer definitely had a type, he liked them young, petite, and those targeted were sex workers. It’s really a scary case, and there’s no telling how long this would’ve continued had it not been for a victim named Shannan Gilbert.


After midnight on May 1st of 2010 a driver named Michael Pac was asked to take 23 year old Shannan out to a remote gated community in Oak Beach, Long Island for a date; it’s said that the driver merely waited outside while she went into an apartment. A few hours later, Shannan’s john asked Michael to come inside, escort the young lady out, and to drive her back home. For whatever reason Shannan refused to go with the driver; instead, she chose to run screaming out into the night.

You can see where several of the corpses were discovered

At 5:30 in the morning a terrified Shannan placed a 22 minute long call to 911; she was obviously distraught, and she told the operator that “They’re trying to kill me”. Shannan never did elaborate on this, she couldn’t identify who “they” were; she couldn’t even tell the dispatcher where she was – the hysterical woman hadn’t known. At one point Shannan was seen hiding beneath the boat in one man’s yard. From here she ran off again, still petrified of something; the young woman beat on random doors but she never did stay put long enough for anyone to retrieve any helpful information. It took the authorities an hour to arrive on scene, and by then it was too late; Shannan was gone, she’d simply disappeared.


As you can imagine, this ordeal really upset the residents of this seemingly quiet neighborhood, and this is what lead to a search of the area. Police had been looking for Shannan when they stumbled upon a serial killer’s dumping grounds.

Some of these murders are beyond terrifying. For instance, after 24 year old Melissa Barthelamy had disappeared in July of 2009, the killer began to contact her 15 year old little sister, Amanda, while using Melissa’s cell phone. This man called Amanda 8 times within the next month, and he took delight in relaying every gory detail of what he’d done to Melissa – the sexual abuse, the torture, and finally, the murder. The man explained that he’d killed because of his contempt for “whores”, and that Melissa had been nothing but a whore. He threatened this grieving girl, claimed to know exactly where Amanda lived, and said that he was coming for her. Can you imagine – your sister’s murderer promising to kill you in great detail?

Melissa Barthelemy

Police were quickly made aware of the situation; they tapped Amanda’s phone, but this killer is smart. Each call came from a very crowded area, such as Times Square or the Empire State Building, and the man never stayed on the line any longer than 3 minutes. It was noted that he sounded young – 20’s or 30’s, well educated, and that he always spoke calmly. Some people believe this killer may be a police office due to his understanding of procedure, but with the internet today this information is available to all of us.

The victims had been asphyxiated, often wrapped in burlap or plastic bags, and ditched within feet of one another along the highway. It appeared that the dumping grounds had been separated by era; when he’d first began to kill, the man had needed to actually go out into the world to find his victims. When the internet, particularly Craigslist, came along, he could woo these women from the comfort of his own home. With his earlier victims, the killer had gone above and beyond to ensure that the corpses could never be positively identified. Not only had many been dismembered, but he’d even taken the time to slice off their tattoos with a razor. With the later victims, he’d grown more comfortable. At least half of his victims have yet to be identified.

Unidentified victims #6 & #8

As far as the victims, the head and hands which had belonged to a Jessica Taylor were identified. Near her the remains of a young trans girl was found, and this is the only known victim to have been beaten to death. It is thought that the killer must’ve become very angry when he discovered this particular victim’s secret, and he’d lost his cool. Sometimes the entire body had not been placed in the same spot; in one strange twist, police found a skull that matched legs which had washed ashore on the beach back in the 90’s! Sadly even the remains of a young mother and her 16 – 32 month old daughter were found.

Amber Costello

This killer was extra manipulative, and he knew very well how to put his victims at ease; some of these women had been very street wise, yet for whatever reason they had completely dropped their guard for him. It’s believed he’d often promised a large cash sum for a date, and he targeted victims from out of town who’d have to travel an hour or so to meet with him. One of the known victims, 27 year old Amber Costello, was a seasoned sex worker who had a rule that the gentleman caller come to her – the date would take place in her comfort zone. The killer not only convinced her to come to him, but to leave her purse and cell phone at home! Before she left her Babylon, New York home on September 2nd of 2010 Amber told her roommate that she was going to meet a man who would pay her $1,500 for that one night; in December of 2010 her corpse discovered wrapped in burlap.

Searching for Shannan

On December 6th of 2011, Shannan’s clothing, her purse, shoes, and ID were all discovered in a marshy area near Oak Beach. Investigators amped up the search, and a quarter mile away from her belongings Shannan’s remains were finally recovered.

Shannan is found

Oddly enough, many don’t believe she was killed at all. Some think that Shannan had suffered some sort of a mental health breakdown that night, possibly brought on by drugs. The first autopsy determined that she’d drowned; the family, not believing a word of this, demanded a second autopsy. From this it was determined that she’d likely been asphyxiated, just as the others had been.

Jewelry from the mother and daughter victims
Several of the photos available here are from The Long Island Press

Shannan’s driver, who has since been cleared, claims that the crazy acting was just that – he believes that this had been Shannan’s way of getting out of paying him for his services. As far as her family, they believe a Doctor Charles Peter Hackett to be responsible; the doctor had phoned them multiple times in the days following Shannan’s disappearance, he’d claimed to have run a home for wayward girls and stated u that he’d had contact with Shannan on the day of her disappearance. The problem is, there had been no home for troubled women, and the doctor had no good reason to have been in any contact with the victims. At first Dr. Hackett, who’d been in charge of the area’s emergency response team therefore had worked half in hand with police, denied ever placing any calls. Still, Shannan’s mother was adamant, and eventually Hackett admitted to having placed the calls. He continued to deny having played any part in the murder, and amazingly this doctor was eventually cleared.

Known victims

It appears that these killings ceased after the dump sites were found, but this absolutely does not mean that this man quit killing. It is most probable that he became super paranoid again; I’m willing to bet that he found a much different way of disposing of his victims, probably even moved to another area. Some investigators believe that there could be more than one killer at play here, or perhaps even a group of murderers. There is no telling how many more bodies are just waiting to be found; we do know that it is very rare for a serial killers to stop killing on their own. If he’s (or they’re) not too old and decrepit, incarcerated, or dead, it’s a good bet that this killer will cycle again.

This could be literally anyone. If you’re from Long Island and you have an extra friendly middle-aged white male neighbor (this is the description) be leery! Hell, he could be anywhere now – he’s probably moved to Florida, it seems they all move to Florida.

These are interesting. After the murders, someone left these dolls at the scene of the crime. Some believe this may have been done by the killer, but who knows.
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