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'We Are Making Progress': Old Phone Data Being Examined In Long Island Serial Killer Case

Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini has invested in more than $300,000 to analyze phone data that he hopes will lead to the serial killer's identity.

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The Long Island Serial Killer Case, Explained
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The Long Island Serial Killer Case, Explained

Who is the Long Island Serial Killer? What are the Gilgo Beach Murders? How many victims were there? The murders remain unsolved with no suspect identified publicly by police. Here are five things to know about the case.

Authorities in New York's Long Island have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in hopes that new technology can help crack the Long Island Serial Killer case.

Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini told Fox News that he has directed more than $300,000 into advanced technology to analyze old phone data in hopes of tracking down the killer responsible for the murders of at least 10 victims.

"Cell phone work is critical to solving this case," he said. "There is an incredible amount of data – we’re talking over 5 million data points. The human brain cannot analyze that data in any constructive way."

Sini said that in order to “connect the dots,” investigators needed to invest in hardware and software that can accurately analyze the data at hand. 

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 could be connected have circulated for years. Many of the victims were sex workers who advertised their services on Craigslist, hence the "Craigslist Ripper" moniker.

Investigators believe that the serial killer utilized burner phones to contact victims in an effort to evade capture. The sister of Long Island Serial Killer victim Melissa Barthelemy reported that the possible killer also used Barthelemy’s cell phone to call and taunt her at least seven times around the time of her 2009 disappearance, Newsday reported in 2011. Such calls pinged from cell towers near Times Square and Penn Station.

"We are looking for someone who is sophisticated, particularly someone who knows how to evade detection," Sini told Fox News.

Before becoming a district attorney, the native Long Islander worked as a federal prosecutor. Sini also has a background in cold case investigations.

He believes that in addition to the burner phones, the killer likely kept a typical, traceable cell on him at most times.

"Imagine the ability to track where the killer was by utilizing the bad guy phone and figure out exactly where that bad guy phone was and then compare it to the different victims and see if there is a number that pops that's common to those different times in different areas," he told Fox News.

Sini told Fox News that investigators have identified some phone numbers of interest, noting “we are making progress.” Since 2018, when he was voted into office, he assigned 23 people in his office to take on the investigation.

"The more we put into the software and the more we study the results, we are getting a clearer picture of what happened during the time these women were murdered," he said.

Last year, Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announced that genealogy websites would be mined for possible matches, as authorities successfully did in California to catch the infamous Golden State Killer. Her department also released several images of a belt believed to be handled by the killer.

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