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Police on Long Island have released footage of one of the Long Island Serial Killer victims shortly before she vanished in 2010.
Megan Waterman, 22, was last seen at a Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge on June 6, 2010 and on Tuesday, the Suffolk Police Department released footage of her at that hotel. Her skeletal remains were found months later in December, close to where three other victims were found within days of each other on Gilgo Beach.
In all, 10 victims have been officially attributed to the elusive serial killer while others, like Shannan Gilbert, have been linked unofficially to the case. Many of the victims were sex workers who advertised their services on Craigslist.
“We believe she left the hotel that night to meet her killer,” Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said during a Tuesday news conference in Oak Beach, Newsday reports. The footage shows Waterman in the lobby of the hotel; investigators believe she met with her killer shortly after.
Harrison, who was confirmed as the new police commissioner for Suffolk County in December, announced on New Year’s Eve that the department is in “a great place to solve” the case, citing new leads. This week, he said that the release of the footage is an attempt to enlist the public’s help in solving the killings.
Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD detective sergeant and current professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice told Oxygen.com that he fears the release of the hotel footage may be too little, too late.
“This is of no value at this point,” he said on Wednesday morning. “This is something that should have been released when they got it because it was the freshest in everybody’s mind. Now we are dealing with this 12 years later. [...] If you want the public to help, you have got to get that information out as soon as you can.”
“The 911 tapes to me are far more important,” he added, referring to emergency 911 calls related to the disappearance and death of Gilbert in May 2010. During the search for her, authorities made the grim discovery of the "Gilgo Beach Four," and soon began uncovering even more victims of the Long Island Serial Killer.
Gilbert had made a 911 call the night she disappeared, reportedly saying "There's someone after me … they're trying to kill me."
The calls have long been a source of contention in the case. A New York Appellate Division court ruled in 2020 that the Suffolk County Police Department must release 911 calls related to Gilbert's disappearance, which her estate lawyer John Ray had been fighting to get out in the public for more than three and a half years. Harrison has recently pledged to release those 911 calls, Newsday reported.
Giacalone says he has hope that they will be released. He also hopes that police may have some audio recordings of a possible suspect taunting the family of victim Melissa Barthelemy by phone.
“There might be recorded audio calls,” he said. “That’s something that nobody has really asked about.”
Giacalone told Oxygen.com that he has faith that the new efforts being put forth by Harrison, as well as District Attorney Ray Tierney and Sheriff Errol Toulon, Jr., whom he calls "capable," could be productive despite classifying the case as being "mishandled" by police in the past.
Former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke, who previously led the investigation on the case, had cut ties with the federal investigators during the serial killer probe. Burke, who has been accused of mishandling the case, later served a 46-month federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to beating up a handcuffed suspect who had stolen a gym bag from his SUV in a separate case.
For more than a decade now, the identity of the elusive murderer alternately dubbed the "Long Island Serial Killer," the "Gilgo Beach Killer," and the "Craigslist Ripper" has remained a mystery. Even the true scope of the killings isn't fully clear. While police have officially linked 10 victims, whose remains were found primarily near beaches along Long Island's south shore in 2010 and 2011, to the investigation, an additional six bodies were found in the same area at around the same time. Although those other victims haven't been officially declared part of the case, theories about how those additional killings or deaths— like the death of Gilbert — could be connected have circulated for years.
This week, Harrison also announced that he has doubled the Crime Stoppers reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case to $50,000. He expressed hope that someone may remember seeing Waterman, who had had grown up in the coastal Maine town of Scarborough, on the night she vanished.
"We hope that anyone who may have been in the area that night will reach out to our Crime Stoppers hotline, 1-800-220-TIPS," he said of the newly released footage.
Tips can also be submitted to a website devoted to the case, created by law enforcement.
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