FBI follows new lead in case of Gilgo Beach Killer

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The FBI is hoping to identify a victim in the infamous Gilgo Beach serial killings in Long Island, New York. Police in Mobile, Alabama posted to Facebook on Friday that they were searching for relatives and friends of a man who died in the 1960s in connection with one of the victims, known as ‘Peaches’.

Police believe 10 deaths are linked to the Gilgo Beach murders. The first discovery of human remains was made in 2010, while more bodies were found in 2011. The killings date back to 1996, police believe.

The human remains were found along Ocean Parkway on Gilgo Beach – most of them women. One man, or transgender woman, and one child were also discovered.

One of the unidentified victims – an African American woman – had been dubbed “Peaches” for the tattoo on her left breast.

Her partial remains were discovered Hempstead Lake State Park in 1997, however other skeletal remains belonging to the victim were found near Jones Beach State Park.

In 2011, police found the remains of the woman’s daughter, who was only around one to two years old. The two were wearing similar jewellery.

Police did not say what connection the long dead Alabama man might have with the Gilgo serial killer in New York.

In a Facebook post, Mobile Police Department said: “The FBI is seeking relatives and friends of Elijah “Lige” Howell/Howard [1927-1963]. Mr. Howard lived in Prichard, AL, with his wife Carrie and passed away in Mobile, AL, in 1963 with Ms. Lillie Mae Wiggins Packer.

“His relatives may be able to assist in the case of a woman and child found in another state.”

Accompanying the post was an image of the peaches tattoo from the Gilgo case. Mr Howard lived in Prichard, Alabama with his wife Carrie. He died well before the first of the Gilgo murders.

However, police may wish to speak to some of “Peaches” relatives to identify her. Investigators previously thought they had a lead when a tattoo artist in Connecticut claimed he had given “Peaches” the ink. However, he did not have her name on file.

At the start of 2022, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison launched an interagency task force with the aim of solving the case, which involves at least 10 murders.

At least some of the victims were sex workers. The case started in 2010 when 23-year-old Shannan Gilbert called 911 and told an operator that someone was trying to kill her.

She then disappeared from a gated community on south shore of Long Island. Ms Gilbert advertised online as an escort.

During the search for Ms Gilbert, the first four victims – believed to have been killed by the Gilgo Beach killer – were found.

Police have said that although the search for Ms Gilbert led to the discovery of the first of the Gilgo Beach Killer’s victims, her disappearance is not thought to be related to the case.

They included 24-year-old Melissa Barthelemy, 27-year-old Amber Lynn Costello, 22-year-old Megan Waterman and 25-year-old Maureen Brainard-Barnes and the victims were nicknamed the “Gilgo Beach Four”.

In March 2011, more human remains found near Gilgo Beach were identified as 20-year-old Jessica Taylor. Police said that part of Ms Taylor’s body had been found eight years earlier around 40 miles away in Manorville, New York.

Just days later more sets of human remains were found near Ocean Parkway. The first belonged to 24-year-old Valerie Mack whose partial remains had also been found in Manorville years before.

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The remains of a toddler were found near Ms Mack, according to police. Just two miles from the site police found the remains of an Asian man or trans woman believed to be between 17 and 23 years old.

In April 2011, two more sets of remains were found including those belong to “Peaches” – part of her body had been discovered more than a decade earlier in Hempstead Lake State Park in 1997.

She is believed to be the mother of the toddler found around a week earlier. The woman and her child were found at opposite ends of the area where the bodies were dumped.

Found alongside “Peaches” was the skull of a woman who was linked to remains found on nearby Fire Island in 1996. The Gilgo case remains unsolved more than a decade after it began.

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