I’ve been pretty quiet the past few months. I haven’t been writing or blogging at all. But I’ve been paying close attention to the news. In May, a Suffolk county jury found John Bittrolff guilty of the decades-old murders of Rita Tangredi and Colleen McNamee. If you’ve ever kept up with my blog, you know Bittrolff caught my attention when he was arrested for those murders in 2014. I’ve been blogging about him for several years now, wondering if he could be responsible for some of the remains found on Gilgo Beach in 2010, the handiwork of what many call the Long Island Serial Killer, or LISK. You can read my past blog posts about this here, here, and here. His situation just seemed so odd—that this man could violently murder two young women in the 90s, beat them to death, mutilate their bodies, leave them on display for someone to find in the woods, and then just quietly get away with it, never murdering again. But, at the time, he was only charged with these two murders, not convicted, so it was a hard case to make. The connections seemed to be there, but investigators were not saying a word about Bittrolff and the possibility of him being responsible for any of the murders related to the Gilgo Beach bodies. In fact, they once famously said there was “no evidentiary or investigative link” between Bittrolff and LISK. I took that to mean they just hadn’t found anything to link him yet. Others took it quite literally and claimed it meant they’d cleared him of any involvement, which is clearly not the case. Well, all that changed yesterday when Bittrolff was sentenced to 50 years-to-life in prison for the murders of Rita Tangredi and Colleen McNamee. After the sentencing, Suffolk County Assistant DA Robert Biancavilla shocked the media by stating, “There are remains of the victims at Gilgo that may be attributed to the handiwork of Mr. Bittrolff and that investigation is continuing.”
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office has NEVER publicly named a suspect in these murders, so pardon me for nearly jumping out of my chair when I heard this. For years, I’ve gotten a lot of flak online for suggesting the police look into Bittrolff’s background to see if they could tie him to some of the Gilgo Beach murders. Most of the criticism comes from people who know him personally and can’t believe he’d ever be able to commit to the atrocities he was accused of in 2014. I get it. He’s a family man. He has a wife and two kids. He grew up in the area. He was the guy in the neighborhood everyone knew and loved. No one ever wants to think someone in their inner circle could do something like this. But on the opposite side of the spectrum, I’ve also been privately contacted by a number of people who have known Bittrolff for years, even decades, and they weren’t surprised to hear of his 2014 arrest, what he was charged of, and could even go so far as to see him being responsible for the Gilgo Beach murders. Their names and the details they shared with me will remain completely confidential, as promised, but their stories only reaffirm what I’ve long suspected and what the DA’s office is now confirming.
Bittrolff’s attorney called Biancavilla’s statements yesterday “laughable.” As a lawyer who has promised to file an appeal for his client, it’s his job to say this. Of course he would think the accusation is laughable. But I don’t think it’s a laughing matter at all. I think of all those women who lost their lives and were left to decompose for years before they were found. I think of their families who have waited years for justice. Now they might have a glimmer of hope.
Do I think the Suffolk County DA’s office has some sort of blockbuster evidence tying Bittrolff to the murders? Nope. I don’t. He would have been charged already. We’re not even sure which murders they think he might be responsible for, if any (though I have a pretty good idea). Many people have also suspected over the years that Gilgo Beach was a dumping ground for two serial killers, which could absolutely be the case.
So, what’s next? I have a feeling we may not hear anything from the Suffolk County DA office until they are ready to file charges—and if this does happen, it could be months or even years before they make the move. In the meantime, I’ll keep digging and blogging when I can.