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While the so-called "Long Island Serial Killer" case remains unsolved, over the years it has become a deep source of intrigue to true crime fans. Yet there are similar and less-publicized cases whose victims also deserve a closer look. One such case that began 15 years ago involves the killings of four women who were found in the outskirts of Atlantic City. And some believe, as is mentioned in the new Lifetime movie, "The Long Island Serial Killer: A Mother's Hunt for Justice," that these murders may be connected to the notorious ongoing New York case.
The new film primarily focuses on the hunt for the serial killer, or killers, responsible for killing at least 10 individuals whose remains were found on Long Island. As the person or persons behind the deaths of those found killed in the remote beach towns of Suffolk County's Gilgo and Oak Beach remains a mystery, the body count of the case has become a point of contention. An additional six corpses found around Long Island beaches have not been officially linked to the serial killings — but theories have been put forth that their deaths could also be connected.
It’s also suggested in the movie that there are other murders that could be connected to the same killer on Long Island — and specifically, the four 2006 murders attributed to the so-called “Atlantic City Serial Killer.” Also dubbed the “Eastbound Strangler” in the press, the culprit is responsible for the deaths of four women whose remains were found behind the Golden Key Motel in New Jersey’s Egg Harbor Township.
The grim discovery began when two women came across the remains of Kim Raffo, 35, who was lying face-down in run-off water and chemical waste, Fox News reported in 2013. The women called 911, and first responders soon found the remains of three other women within a few yards of Raffo’s corpse.
The bodies of Barbara V. Breidor, 42, Molly Jean Dilts, 20, and Tracy Ann Roberts, 23, were found close-by in varying states of decomposition. Three of the four women were blonde, and all were layed face-down with their heads pointing east. All were barefoot. Based on the level of decomposition, it was concluded they were all killed at different times. Investigators believe they were most likely strangled, ABC News reported in 2010.
Several of the victims discovered on Long Island — some as early as 1996 — were strangled, too. And several, in both cases, were also sex workers. Fifteen years later, no one has been arrested in connection with the slayings in both the New York and New Jersey cases. However, the two cases have not officially been linked, as an officer with the Suffolk Police Department confirmed to Oxygen.com this week.
“We continue to communicate with law enforcement agencies, including Atlantic City Police Department, regarding the Gilgo Beach homicide investigation,” the officer said. “At this time, there is no link between our case and the Atlantic City case.”
Still, the Lifetime movie ends on a dedication to both the victims in Long Island and Atlantic City. Melissa Cann, sister of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, said she doesn't buy that the cases are linked. Brainard-Barnes was 25 year old when she was killed — one of the first four women to be found murdered on Long Island.
“I do not believe the Atlantic City murder victims are related to my sister's murder,” Cann told Oxygen.com. “It has never been told to me that they are or were linked. From my understanding, they are not.”
Below is a brief look at the four women whose murders in New Jersey have not yet been solved.
Kim Raffo, 35
Raffo grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Atlantic City with her boyfriend in 2003. She was in search of a new life, CBS News reported in 2007. However, she struggled with substance abuse.
"She was trying to get her life together, but she couldn’t get away,″ her friend, John Pesce, said following her death, as the Associated Press reported in 2006.
Raffo had two children. At one point, she was living in Florida and a member of the local Parent Teacher Association, NJ.com reported in 2016.
Barbara Breidor, 42
Breidor worked as a cocktail waitress at area casinos, CBS reported in 2007. Her sisters said she was a victim of domestic violence and had struggled with the death of her father.
"She ended up self-medicating herself... with drugs," her sister, Francine, told "48 Hours."
Breidor was known to help her mother by assisting with her clothing shopping, NJ.com reported. At the time of her death, Breidor had a 9-year-old daughter.
Tracy Ann Roberts, 23
Roberts grew up in Delaware and was trained to become a medical assistant, CBS News reported. Later, like the other victims, she was known to use substances. She had only recently relocated to Atlantic City.
"Everybody that knew her said that she was a really nice, pretty, young person that had her whole future ahead of her," John DeAngelis, then-captain of the Atlantic City Police Department, told CBS News.
Her murder left her daughter without a mother, according to NJ.com.
Molly Dilts, 20
Dilts had a tattoo of an English bulldog on her body, which helped investigators learn her identity after her remains were found.
"She was a warm and loving caring kid," her uncle, Steve Taylor, told CBS News. "She had a lot of good to spread to the world and it's just a shame that she won't be able to do that."
Dilts grew up in Black Lick, Pennsylvania, a blue-collar mining town.
"For everything that that poor girl had gone through, I think she came out pretty damned well," Taylor said.
Dilts' mother had died young, and her brother had also died before her own death, according to NJ.com.
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