Prosecutor renews interest in N.Y. serial killer case
MINEOLA, N.Y. — For years, the thicket along a beach highway on Long Island held a horrible secret. Hidden from passing drivers were the skeletal remains of 10 people, mostly young women who had worked as prostitutes. Who killed them, and why, is a mystery that has vexed a slew of seasoned homicide detectives.
The case took an intriguing turn when a veteran county prosecutor became the first authority to publicly name a suspect in at least one of the deaths: John Bittrolff, a Long Island carpenter who was sentenced to consecutive 25 years-to-life terms in prison this week for beating two prostitutes to death in 1993 and 1994.
Robert Biancavilla, an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, said after the sentencing that some of the remains found near Gilgo Beach “may be attributed to the handiwork of Mr. Bittrolff.”
If authorities have evidence to back up their suspicions, though, they aren’t saying.
Police found the skull of a prostitute named Jessica Taylor, who was 20 when most of the rest of her body was found in a wooded area of Manorville shortly after she disappeared in 2003. Body parts found on Gilgo Beach were also linked to another corpse found in Manorville in 2000. That female victim has never been identified.
Before he was jailed, Bittrolff lived in Manorville, part of the vast Long Island pine barrens region and the same hamlet where Taylor’s corpse and the body of one other woman were found.
In talking about the bodies near Gilgo Beach, investigators have said it is unlikely one person killed all the victims.
Joseph Pollini, a retired New York City police detective who investigated cold case homicides, said he found it hard to believe a prosecutor would publicly connect Bittrolff to the Gilgo Beach investigation on mere speculation.
“It’s highly unlikely a district attorney would put his neck out on a limb like that if he didn’t have something to back it up,” he said.