A Closer Look at the Long Island Serial Killer and John Bittrolff

Map of Long Island, depicting locations of murder victims

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at the timelines and potential victims of the serial killer(s) that have been plaguing the Long Island and Manorville areas over the past few decades and I wanted to get it all down in writing and plot the locations on a map. In one of my recent posts, I promised to do this. I am a visual learner and really wanted to see everything plotted out in entirety. Please note, all locations on the map are approximate and by grouping them together here, I am not insinuating that one killer is responsible for all these murders. I am just looking for a pattern and think it is important to view all these cases as a whole for now before you can begin to group certain ones together and make assumptions.


You can click on the items in the map above or open the entire interactive map in another screen by clicking here. I’ve tried to list everything in chronological order (by the date remains were found). This way you can click through the items on the right side of the map and follow along with my post below.

Photo collage of Rita Tangredi, Sandra Costilla, and Colleen McNameeLet’s start with the three victims police believe John Bittrolff is connected to.

(1.) 11/3/1993 – Rita Tangredi (age 31) is discovered in a wooded area off of Esplanada Drive in East Patchogue. She was last seen the day before she was found, hitchhiking on Montauk Highway, in East Patchague.

(2.) 11/20/1993 – Sandra Costilla (age 28) is discovered in a wooded area in North Sea. Her body was discovered between 1-2 days after she was murdered.

(3.) 1/30/1994 – Colleen McNamee (age 20) is discovered in a wooded area south of the Long Island Expressway in North Shirley. She was last seen on January 5, getting into a small blue car in front of the Blue Dawn Diner in Islandia. According to police, McNamee was an outpatient of the South Shore Treatment Center in Islandia and had once been arrested on loitering for the purpose of prostitution charges.

Photo of John BittrolffJohn Bittrolff, a Manorville carpenter, was arrested in 2014 and has been charged with the murders of Tangredi and McNamee (DNA positively links him to both victims) and remains a suspect in Costilla’s murder. At the time of the crimes, Bittrolff was 27 years old and grew up in Mastic Beach. He moved to Manorville in 2003, but knew the area well before moving there. I’ve plotted three residential locations he has been known to have lived on the map–his childhood home in Mastic Beach, his father’s home in Shirley, and the Manorville residence he was living in at the time of his arrest. He is now 50 years old. According to police, all three women were found “uniquely posed,” and the same article of clothing was missing from each of the victims (though they have declined to elaborate on what article of clothing that might be). Additionally, wood chips or wood shavings (reports vary on this) were found on or near all three of the bodies, connecting the cases. All women were strangled and badly beaten, so badly that Tangredi and McNamee’s brains were exposed. Suffolk DA Thomas Spota has said that the way Costilla was killed and the positioning of her body is similar to the other two cases. However, unlike the other two women, her body was found mutilated. This fact alone makes me think Bittrolff should, at the very least, be looked into when discussing other murders that have taken place in Long Island over the last 20 years, especially those that involved mutilation and dismemberment. I should mention that when police were asked if they thought Bittrolff could be connected to the Gilgo Beach murders, they issued a statement saying, “there is no evidence that these crimes or this defendant is connected to any of the remains found in the vicinity of Gilgo Beach. The investigation into those murders is continuing.” Spota has reiterated this, saying, “There is no evidentiary or investigative link between these two murders and any of the Gilgo victims. The evidence recovered from Tangredi and McNamee, the manner in which their bodies were found, and the crime scenes are unique to them and distinctly different from the Gilgo crime scenes.” Note that nowhere in there did they say that Bittrolff has been ruled out as a suspect, and until they do, I will continue to wonder about him. All they have said is that there is currently no evidence tying him to these crimes and the crime scenes are different from the ones he allegedly created. These are both extremely valid points. It is quite possible that he is not involved with the LISK case at all. Bittrolff’s trial is due to start later this month and I’ll make sure to cover it here.

Now let’s move onto the Manorville Butcher/LISK victims. They are listed in the order they were found.

Composite sketch of "Fire Island Jane Doe"(4.) 4/20/1996 – “Fire Island Jane Doe”/Jane Doe #7 (still unidentified) is discovered at Blue Point Beach, near Davis Park on Fire Island. Her legs were found wrapped in plastic near the beach. Her skull was discovered in 2011, off Ocean Parkway, west of Tobay Beach (see #4 below).

(5.) 6/28/1997 – “Peaches”/Jane Doe #3 (still unidentified) is discovered in Hempstead Lake State Park. Her torso (with the head and hands removed) was found wrapped in a black garbage bag and stuffed into a Rubbermaid container with a floral pillow sham and frayed red towel. She was dubbed “Peaches” because of a heart-shaped peach that was tattooed onto her left breast. Additional remains of Peaches were discovered in 2011 on Jones Beach State Park. We now know that Peaches/Jane Doe #3 is the mother of “Baby Doe,” who was also found along Gilgo Beach in 2011 (see #5 below). Both mother and daughter probably died around the same time, in June of 1997.

(6.) 11/19/2000 – Jane Doe #6 is discovered in pieces in Manorville about a half-mile west of Halsey Manor Road, north of the Long Island Expressway. The body parts are wrapped in plastic and her head, hands, and right foot are missing. Those parts are later discovered along Ocean Parkway in April of 2011 (see #6 below). Jane Doe #6 is determined to be a white female, about 5’5”, 125 pounds, and in her thirties. She likely died in early November 2000.

Photo of Jessica Taylor(7.) 7/26/2003 – The torso (missing the head and hands) of Jessica Taylor (age 20) is discovered just off Halsey-Manor Road, in Manorville, not far from where Jane Doe #6’s torso was found in 2000. She was last seen earlier that month. Her skull, hands, and forearm are discovered in March 2011, on Gilgo Beach, along with 9 other bodies (see #7 below). It is estimated she died mid-July, 2003.

(8.) 3/3/2007 – The torso of “Cherries” (still unidentified) is discovered in a suitcase that washed ashore at Harbor Island Park on Mamaroneck Beach. She was stabbed in the torso and dismembered in a similar fashion to Peaches, Jane Doe #6, and Jessica Taylor. In late March, one of her legs washed up on the shore of Cold Spring Harbor and the other washed up on the shore of a man’s home in Oyster Bay, in Cove Neck. She is described as Hispanic, weighing just under 200 pounds, around 5’10”. She had a tattoo of two cherries on her right breast and was estimated to have died approximately two weeks earlier.

Photo of Tanya Rush(9.) 6/27/2008 – The dismembered body of Tanya Rush (age 39) is discovered in a dark-colored suitcase on Southern State Parkway, in Bellmore. In May of 2011, the New York Post reported that Long Island police were investigating the possibility of the connection of this case to other similar cases. While it hasn’t been officially confirmed, I am going to keep Tanya on this list for now.

(10.) 12/11/2010 – The body of Melissa Barthelemy (age 24) was discovered on Gilgo Beach. She’d been missing since July 10, 2009.

(11.) 12/13/2010 – The body of Amber Lynn Costello (age 27) was discovered on Gilgo Beach. She’d been missing since September 2, 2010.

(12.) 12/13/2010 – The body of Maureen Brainard-Barnes (age 25) was discovered on Gilgo Beach. She’d been missing since July 9, 2007.

(13.) 12/13/2010 – The body of Megan Waterman (age 22) was discovered on Gilgo Beach. She’d been missing since June 6, 2010.

Photo collage. From left to right: Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Lynn Costello, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, and Megan Waterman

Collectively, Barthelemy, Costello, Brainard-Barnes, and Waterman are referred to as the “Gilgo Beach Four” or the GB4. All four had been strangled and their bodies were wrapped in burlap sacks before dumped within close proximity of each other on Gilgo Beach. All four women were also escorts who used Craigslist to advertise their services. Many people believe that the killer of these four women is not the same killer as the “Torso Killer” or the “Manorville Butcher,” the killer who has been dismembering women for the last twenty years in the Manorville and Long Island areas.

(7.) 3/9/2011 – Jessica Taylor’s skull, hands, and forearm are found on Gilgo beach, less than a mile from the GB4. (If you recall from earlier, her torso was discovered in Manorville, back in 2003.)

Composite sketch of John Doe (Asian male)(14.) 4/4/2011 – John Doe, an Asian male is discovered. He is estimated to be between the ages of 17 and 23, and approximately 5’6″. He is known to have had poor dental health and had been missing several teeth for quite a while before he was killed. He was found wearing women’s clothing and police estimate at the time he was found, he’d already been dead for at least 5 to 10 years.

(6.) 4/4/2011 – Additional remains (head, hands, and right foot) from Jane Doe #6 (originally discovered in Manorville, in 2000) are found along Ocean Parkway.

(15.) 4/4/2011 – “Baby Doe”, who we now know is the daughter of Peaches/Jane Doe #3, is discovered about 250 feet from the remains of Jane Doe #6. Baby Doe was approximately two years old when she was killed, wrapped in a blanket, and discarded along Ocean Parkway.

(5.) 4/11/2011 – More remains from “Peaches”/Jane Doe #3 are found inside a plastic bag near Jones Beach State Park. She was found wearing jewelry similar to that of her daughter, Baby Doe, who was found about 10 miles west.

(4.) 4/12/2011 – Additional remains (a skull) of Fire Island Jane Doe are found along Ocean Parkway, about two miles away from Peaches.

Photo of Shannan Gilbert(16.) 12/13/2011 – The body of Shannan Gilbert is finally found. She disappeared on May 1, 2010, after running away from the house of a man (Joseph Brewer) who’d hired her for the night as an escort. Police do not believe she was murdered, but died from drowning in the swampy marshes the night she disappeared. Her family believes she was strangled and murdered by the same killer who left the bodies along Gilgo Beach. They believe Dr. Peter Hackett, a man who called Shannan’s mother several times shortly after her disappearance is involved. Shannan’s body was discovered much farther away from the other Gilgo Beach victims, but only about 1500 feet from Peter Hackett’s home (I’ve plotted both Brewer’s and Hackett’s houses on the map).


So, what does this all mean? Like I said, I’m a visual learner, so I think it’s helpful to look at this all plotted on a map in front of me. Are you seeing the same patterns I see? Look how close the location of Jane Doe #6 was to Baby Doe on Ocean Parkway. Since Jane Doe #6 is also connected to Jessica Taylor (remains for both were found in Manorville and Gilgo Beach) and we now know that Baby Doe is Peaches’s daughter, I think it’s pretty safe to say that these four victims were killed by the same person. I’d also like to connect Fire Island Jane Doe, Tanya Rush, and Cherries to those four, since they were dismembered too. And if Baby Doe was not dismembered, does that mean John Doe could also be a victim of the same killer? That’s potentially 8 victims killed by the same perpetrator with connections to Manorville, Gilgo Beach, and Cold Spring Harbor.

I do agree with others who say that the Gilgo Beach Four seem like they could have been murdered by a different killer. Instead of dismembering those girls and scattering their remains all over Long Island, they were wrapped in burlap and all placed in the same vicinity. But couldn’t it also be possible the Manorville Butcher (or whatever you want to call him) grew tired of dismembering and scattering his victims’ body parts around Long Island? After all, the GB4 appear to be the most recent murders. Perhaps he decided he didn’t need to go through the effort since he’d been killing for over two decades and still hadn’t been caught? Remember Joel Rifkin, the serial killer arrested in 1993 for the murders of over a dozen women? He started out dismembering his victims but soon moved to dumping whole bodies. It’s not unheard of for a killer to evolve as he learns how to skillfully dispose of his victims and change his MO. While the crime scenes are different, I think it could be possible we’re dealing with one killer.

In an upcoming post, I want to dive into the behavior of the killer(s) a little more. What is the difference between a killer’s modus operandi and his signature? How does mutilation, dismemberment, staging, and posing factor into that? Can a killer really evolve this drastically? And could it really be possible that we’re looking at one killer here? What do you think? Does the interactive map help put things into perspective for you? Do you see something I don’t? Let me know in the comments.

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