What are the Gilgo Beach murders?

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An aerial view of the area near Gilgo Beach and Ocean Parkway on Long Island where police have been conducting a prolonged search after finding ten sets of human remains on April 15, 2011 in Wantagh, New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Gilgo Beach murders – the deaths of 11 people whose remains were found in 2010 and 2011 – have long stumped investigators. 

Most of the victims were young women who had been sex workers. Several of the bodies were found near the remote town of Gilgo Beach on the southern shore of Long Island.

Determining who killed them, and why, has vexed a slew of seasoned homicide detectives through several changes in police leadership. Last year, an interagency task force was formed with investigators from the FBI, as well as state and local police departments, aimed at solving the case.

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Graphic via Suffolk County Police Dept.

The formation of the Gilgo Beach task force represented a renewed commitment to investigating the unsolved killings, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said at the time. 

"We’re happy to see that they’re finally active, the police, in accomplishing something. Let’s wait and see what it all leads to," said John Ray, the attorney for the families of two victims, Shannan Gilbert and Jessica Taylor.

Months later, a police officer and his cadaver dog were looking for her body in the thicket along nearby Ocean Parkway when they happened upon the remains of a different woman. Within days, three other bodies were found, all within a short walk of one another.

By spring 2011, that number had climbed to 10 sets of human remains – those of eight women, one man, and one toddler. Some were later linked to dismembered body parts found elsewhere on Long Island, making for a puzzling crime scene that stretched from a park near the New York City limits to a resort community on Fire Island and out to far eastern Long Island.


Gilgo Beach murders: Suspect taken into custody on Long Island

A suspect has been taken into custody in connection with a long-unsolved string of killings, known as the Gilgo Beach murders. Investigators are currently searching a home in Massapequa Park.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.