Wilmington woman is one of eight victims in New York killing spree

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Submitted: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 1:38am
Updated: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 6:23pm

OAK BEACH, NY (AP) — Investigators confirm one of several prostitutes found murdered in Long Island, New York is a native of Wilmington. The body of Amber Lynn Costello, 27, and bodies of three other women in their twenties were found along Ocean Parkway in December. Investigators say all four women advertised their services on Craigslist.

Since December, four other victims have been found along the remote highway. Detectives continue searching for Shannan Gilbert, 24, who was also a prostitute and offered services on Craigslist. Gilbert was last seen near the same highway where the eight bodies were found. Detectives suspect a serial killer but so far have no suspects.

“I’m just shocked,” Sherre Gilbert said in a brief telephone interview after learning from Suffolk County detectives that her sister was not among the eight bodies found. “I am still hoping for the best outcome.”

Shannan Gilbert, 24, who worked as an escort, was last seen last spring in Oak Beach, near where the latest remains were discovered, after apparently meeting a client she had booked through Craigslist. The bodies of four other prostitutes, all of whom advertised their services on Craigslist and were in their 20s, were found along the same highway by police searching for Gilbert in December.

A fifth body was located last week about a mile from where the first four were found and police on Monday said they uncovered the remains of three more people. Police have not identified any of the most recent victims and have not definitively linked them to the remains found in December.

Detectives suspect a serial killer but so far have no suspects.

The four dead prostitutes were found amid a 4-foot-tall tangle of sea grass punctuated by scrubby pine trees. Authorities have identified them as Costello, originally of Wilmington; Megan Waterman, 22, of Scarborough, ME; Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 28, of Norwich, CT; and Melissa Barthelemy, 24, of Buffalo, NY.

Although officers have searched the area several times since December, they intensified a search of the 7.5-mile area on Monday. After searching almost exclusively on the north side of Ocean Parkway, which leads to the popular Jones Beach, police academy cadets, K-9 units and other investigators moved to the south side of the roadway on Tuesday, searching a wide swath of sandy beach down to the ocean.

The north side of the highway has proved a challenging search for investigators, who have had to contend with a thicket of underbrush and evergreens, peppered with a variety of trash, from helium balloons to car tires to beer cans and bottles.

Although police were able to quickly rule out Gilbert as a victim because of forensic evidence they had on file in her case, identifying the four recently found bodies could take weeks or longer, officials have said. The New York City medical examiner’s office is assisting Suffolk County officials with their investigation.

Gilbert had arranged to meet a client in Oak Beach last May. A resident of the gated seaside enclave told The Associated Press on Tuesday that a woman believed to be Gilbert came to his door around 4:45 a.m. on May 1, pleading for help.

Gus Coletti said that when he attempted to call police, she fled. He said he suspected the woman may have been intoxicated or high on drugs.

A few moments later, an unidentified man in a sport utility vehicle drove past the house and said he was looking for the woman, but then took off. Neither the woman nor the man was seen by the neighbor again.

The client Gilbert had arranged to meet was investigated by police but has not been named as a suspect in her disappearance.

Police said their search of the area for additional victims would resume on Wednesday.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-04-05-11 2109EDT

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16 Comments on "Wilmington woman is one of eight victims in New York killing spree"

2015 years 8 months ago

All the media outlets are all calling it the same..even the police are calling them prostitutes. Sorry if your feelings are hurt, but the truth is the truth this is from the Huffpost.

Police said they’re narrowing in on a suspect they believe is the “Long Island Ripper.”

A source with knowledge of the investigation told the New York Post that cops are “looking at somebody.”

The source did not go into further detail.

Since January, police have been searching for a serial killer responsible for the deaths of at least eight prostitutes.

On Tuesday, police announced that they had broadened their search for victims after they discovered the remains of an eighth body.

A day before, news surfaced that searchers found three more sets of remains near Oak Beach.

Nassau and State police will begin a search Monday along both sides of Ocean Parkway west of where the remains were found this week.

Story continues below

2015 years 8 months ago

Yes, if John Smith were murdered they most likely would mention his occupation as a carpenter. But unless it was a work accident, his occupation would not be a contributing factor into his death. She advertised “services” on Craigslist. This is much like the thugs that come out to defend other thugs with weak claims of “he was a good guy” and “he never hurt anybody.” If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, guess what… You have a duck.

Mary King
2015 years 8 months ago

Why are you calling these women prostitutes? They are someone’s daughter, sister, & mother. Can’t you just call them victims? Amber Costello was a friend of my daughter. She was like a daughter to me. I would appreciate it if you would stop calling her a prostitute!! You didn’t know her!!! That is not what she was. She was not on Craig’s list! If John Smith the carpenter is murdered, do you call him John Smith the carpenter or do you say John Smith was murdered? I sure hope nothing like this ever happens to you or your family, so the news won’t exploit you, or is that your main goal in life? To exploit people. Good God, the girl was murdered! Give her & her family peace! Amber was a Mother, Daughter, Wife, & friend!! Try using one of those words, or are those words not in your vocabulary?

2015 years 8 months ago

If John Smith used craigslist to obtain carpentry clients, and then was possibly murdered by one of those clients, then yes it would certainly be part of the story.

This is the news. They are supposed to report who, what, when, where, and why. Sorry if that information sometimes shows in individual in a negative light, but we all make our bed and have to lie in it.

My advice is set up an online memorial for this young lady. There people can share memories, stories, and all the positive things this young lady has done.

Guest CommonTater
2015 years 8 months ago

So you say…. “Amber Costello was a friend of my daughter.”

You may wish to question what that means in the big picture. I know I would….

2015 years 8 months ago

If 5 Carpenters/Lawyers/Teachers etc….. were found murdered you wouldn’t have a problem with the headlines reading, 5 teachers found murdered. Its sad that these women took that path, but it’s even worse that some sicko finds them as easy prey. Lets pray this fiend is found before anyone else becomes a victims.

2015 years 8 months ago

How many more lives do we have to lose before people get it? Craigslist personals are DANGEROUS! Predators are lurking behind computers waiting to rape and murder. Is the almighty dollar worth risking your life over? It’s very sad that this is the only work these people could find. Now look where they are. So sad. My condolences to the families.

m. wright
2015 years 8 months ago

Amber was my best friend from 95 since middle school at Myrtle Grove Middle School, As well As New Hanover High School. We spent everyday together and I am still mourning the loss of my friend as I am sure the other victims families are as well. Please stop referring them as prostitutes! These girls were Mothers, Sisters, Daughters Aunts and close friends. If you are wanting to honor the deceased lets focus on the good things not the bad! I know Amber had found the Lord and changed her life around for the better. Instead of bashing the victims bash the murderer! This is a very sensitive subject for me as well as the others who are mourning and still waiting for there daughters killer to be found.

2015 years 8 months ago

This is the most insensitive comment I have ever heard. You are a poor excuse for a human.

Have a little dignity, and respect someones loss.

Let’s hope that when you die your obitury says,

“Friendless a**hole dies, and no one cares.”

2015 years 8 months ago

In addition to not enjoying the pay cut, people no longer appreciate truth or truth-tellers. The truth no longer “sets you free,” it simply ticks off the enablers, those who will accept any conduct at all from anyone.

I’m sure that the police are making up the part about her listing her services on Craigslist. After all, they would gain so much by making up such a tale…. (???)

2015 years 8 months ago

WWAY has been sitting on putting up my posts lately. Maybe I’m hitting a little close to home from them.

2015 years 8 months ago

Get over yourself. Do you think you’re the only one who’s comments don’t get posted.

2015 years 8 months ago

I had to edit yet another post because WWAY has been slow on posting them. I then resend it with some changes in case it wasn’t posted because I hurt some feelings.

2015 years 8 months ago

I’ve never seen you respond in the same way twice to a post. Got to you, didn’t he Guesty???

2015 years 8 months ago

I will take your a**hole complement since that means I’m telling the truth. The truth isn’t always popular or easy but that doesn’t change the truth. Don’t worry about my social life, I have plenty of friends. We all have in common that we are productive members of society. You must be thinking of your own epitaph when you mention that nobody cares.

2015 years 8 months ago

I just was able to edit my comment so I didn’t have two of them there stating the same thing. I decided to edit it to state WWAY has been dragging their feet.