Profile of the Long Island Serial Killer: One Killer, Maybe a Seasonal Visitor


Unless you have been living in complete seclusion, you know that a massive serial killer hunt is taking place on the South Shore of Long Island where ten bodies were found on a deserted area of Gilgo Beach along Ocean Parkway between December, 2010, and April, 2011.  These facts, provided by law enforcement, have been consistent.  What has not been consistent is the number of killers sought or the theories about the profile of the killer(s). I maintain that there is one killer who is becoming bolder and taking more risks, and he may be a seasonal (summer) visitor to the area.

Ever since the serial killer hunt began a year ago when the bodies of four female sex workers lured online from Craigslist were first found, I have believed that only one killer is responsible for the murders, even after additional human remains were located this April which included a female toddler and a young Asian adult male.  In recent weeks, law enforcement authorities have stated that they are now searching for only one killer and all of the victims are believed to be linked to the sex trade.  The toddler has been DNA matched to one of the female sex workers (probably her child) and the Asian male was found cross-dressed in female clothing and is also believed to be a sex worker.

The profiling of serial killers—that is, predicting their characteristics and behavior, while not an exact science, is well established among criminologists and investigators, especially the FBI.  Based on profiling principles, my own expertise, and the help of an incarcerated serial killer “muse,” I believe this killer is intelligent, middle-aged, a perfectionist and disarming, perhaps even charming. He is likely married or has a girlfriend. He is financially secure, has a reliable job, and owns a car or truck. Although he does not currently live on the South Shore (despite law enforcement claims to the contrary), he is intimately familiar with the area and probably once lived there.

Most significantly, he is coldly psychopathic and he is evolving—that is, transitioning from a highly meticulous “organized” killer into a more risk-taking “disorganized” killer in terms of his homicidal behavior and practices.  The bodies of the killer’s first victims—prostitutes whose murders date back as far as 15 years—were deliberately dismembered and scattered to avoid detection.  The bodies of the 4 prostitutes killed more recently (but who were actually found first) were intact and dumped in burlap sacks.

Given that his earliest murders went unsolved and even unreported for years, the killer has learned that meticulous dismemberment and disposal of the bodies is unnecessary.  Perhaps, too, it did not gratify his fantasy needs, which all serial killers have in one form or another.  This is a patient but brutal and unremorseful control killer who is becoming more daring over time. His increased risk taking intensifies the excitement that he experiences through his killings.  Like an addict, he needs progressively more of the drug to achieve the same high.

Significantly, the killer may be transient and perhaps an annual summer visitor to the South Shore beaches.  This is suggested because all of the prostitute victims identified were reported missing between Memorial Day and Labor Day over the years.  This is not really surprising.  Two of the characteristics of organized, psychopathic serial killers are repetitious, compulsive or cyclical behavior and the ability to blend back into their seemingly normal lives between killings.  It is also possible that the killer resides in Manhattan because seven calls made over a 6-week period to the sister of his victim, Melissa Barthelemy, using the victim’s cell phone in the summer of 2009 were traced to Manhattan.

Can there be any prospect more frightening than that of a careful and compulsive sexual killer who is compelled to murder, becoming bolder and who absolutely will not stop until he is apprehended?  Although it seems unlikely given the apparent lack of progress made by law enforcement, let’s hope that he is apprehended quickly and before another innocent victim is found on the beach.

Scott Bonn, PhD, is a professor at Drew University in Madison, NJ.  He is currently writing a book on the public’s fascination with serial killers and he is the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq.”  He can be reached @DocBonn on Twitter.

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Posted on February 6, 2012, in Long Island Serial Killer, Serial Killers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. ‘Very intriguing hypothesis Dr. Bonn! The only point I wonder about is…. that historically, “seasonal workers” are not typically financially secure… and may be single and rather transient, as these victims appear to be…. How often are serial killers married versus single? Do they exhibit all of this repressed rage because their women cannot measure up to their perfectionistic standards?


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