One of the seemingly anonymous victims of an elusive serial killer or killers known as the "Long Island Serial Killer” and the "Gilgo Beach Killer” has been identified.
A partial set of female remains were found along New York's Gilgo Beach in 2011 during the continuing search for Shannan Gilbert, whose disappearance kicked off the gruesome discovery that there was an apparent serial murderer on the loose on Long Island. Another set of unidentified partial remains had been found in 2000 in Manorville, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. Those remains turned out to be a match to the set found in 2011, which were listed as belonging to Jane Doe #6.
After nearly a decade of anonymity, the Suffolk County Police Department announced on May 22 that they had identified the woman. On Thursday, they revealed her name to the public – 24-year-old Valerie Mack, who went missing in 2000 while living in Philadelphia, according to police. Her family had last seen her in spring or summer of 2000 in the Port Republic area of New Jersey.
The identification of Mack appears to signal progress in the mysterious case. In all, 10 victims — some of whom still remain unidentified — have been attributed to the unknown killer or killers. There are theories that an additional six victims in the area are linked to the Long Island Serial Killer.
At a Thursday afternoon press conference, Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart credited genetic genealogy for assisting in Mack’s identification. DNA was uploaded to a genealogy database, which provided matches with some of Mack’s relatives and ultimately her son, who is now in his 20s.
Through her son, police were able to positively identify the remains as Mack. Hart had announced in January that investigators would be utilizing new technology in their search for the killer or killers.
The commissioner said Thursday that Mack had no known ties to Long Island and said investigators are looking into “why she was here during that time period.”
Mack was working as an escort at the time of her death and Hart explained Mack had been arrested three times on prostitution charges. While many of the Gilgo Beach victims were sex workers who advertised on Craigslist, Hart told Oxygen.com that Craigslist was in its infancy in 2000 and investigators will be looking into whether she advertised services online.
Hart also noted that Mack went by the alias Melissa Taylor during at least one prior arrest.
“Valerie Mack was left without parents at an early age,” Hart said, explaining that Mack had been in foster care before she was adopted.
Mack was living with a boyfriend when she vanished.
“She had a normal life,” Hart said at the news conference, discussing the last time Mack’s family saw her. “Nothing really stood out. She just didn’t come home one day.”
Investigators are looking into why Mack wasn’t officially reported missing at the time, Hart said.
“We have a really, really strong team here that is aggressively pursuing every avenue that is open to us,” Hart said Thursday.
The recent Netflix film "Lost Girls," inspired by the case, alleged that previous Suffolk investigators, who are no longer at the department, disrespected many of the victims. Hart seemed determined to show that the victims are the priority now.
“We’re going to keep moving forward," she said. "We're not going to stop. We are going to make every attempt we can to solve this and find justice for these families.”
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