A woman believed to be one of the victims of a Gilgo Beach serial killer has been formally identified as a Philadelphia escort who went missing two decades ago.
Valerie Mack, who also went by Melissa Taylor, vanished near Atlantic City, New Jersey in 2000 at the age of 24.
Her naked torso was found in Manorville, New York later that same year.
Then, in 2011, more of her remains were uncovered more than 40 miles away during a search near Gilgo Beach on Long Island – a discovery that linked her to a suspected serial killer in the area.
Eleven sets of human remains were uncovered in 2010 and 2011 along Gilgo Beach. Most of them were young prostitutes. No one has been arrested for their deaths.
On Thursday, police revealed that Mack was identified through genetic genealogy technology. For the past nine years, she had been dubbed ‘Jane Doe No. 6’.
‘For two decades, Valerie Mack´s family and friends were left searching for answers and while this is not the outcome they wanted, we hope this brings some sense of peace and closure,’ Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said in a statement.
The Gilgo Beach killings have made national headlines and were recently the subject of a Netflix film, titled Lost Girls.
Valerie Mack, who also went by Melissa Taylor, vanished near Atlantic City, New Jersey in 2000 at the age of 24. Her torso was discovered in Manorville, New York several months after her death, before other parts of her body were uncovered near Gilgo Beach in 2011. She was known as ‘Jane Doe No. 6’ prior to her identification
Eleven sets of human remains were uncovered in 2010 and 2011 along Gilgo Beach. Most of them were young prostitutes. Police say it is unlikely that one person is responsible for all their deaths, but are certain that several of the killings are linked
The 2010 disappearance of Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old sex worker who vanished after leaving a client’s house on foot near Gilgo Beach, triggered the hunt that exposed the larger mystery.
Months later, a police officer and his cadaver dog were looking for her body in the thicket near the beach 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 – eight women, a man and a toddler.
Pictured Suffolk County Search Divers in April 2011 after the bodies of at least 10 people were found in the area after cops began a search for missing sex worker Shannan Gilbert
Investigators have been unable to determine who is responsible for all of the deaths, or whether a lone serial killer or several suspects were involved. Over the years, they’ve said it is unlikely one person killed all the victims.
Chillingly, Mack is at least the second person whose remains were found in both Manorville and along Gilgo Beach.
Police found the skull of Jessica Taylor, a 20-year-old prostitute, near Gilgo Beach and most of the rest of her body in a wooded area of Manorville 40 miles away.
Mack’s identification comes four months after police reinvigorated the investigation into the suspected serial killings, releasing images of a belt that was found near the crime scene.
Cops also created a website specifically for the investigation in a bid to finally solve the cold case for which there have been no arrests.
The first four bodies found were those of women in their 20s who worked as prostitutes, according to police (all pictured). In total, the remains of eight women, one Asian man and one toddler were all found along several miles of parkway in 2010 and 2011
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announced in January that the belt appears to have the embossed initials, WH or HM.
Hart said authorities believe the belt was handled by the suspect and did not belong to any of the Gilgo Beach victims. She did not give a specific location about where the belt was found.
The belt was discovered in the early stages of the investigation but was a previously undisclosed piece of evidence withheld from the public. It’s unclear why, but Hart said her team believed ‘it was time’ to release the information.
Hart didn’t say whether DNA from the killer was taken from the belt.
The unexpected announcement on Friday came four months after police released images of a black leather belt that was found at the crime scene, pictured, branded with WH or HM
In total, 10 sets of human remains – those of eight women, one Asian man and one toddler – have been found along Gilgo Beach.
The Asian man, who authorities said was dressed in women’s clothing, was found in March 2011.
Police believe the toddler was the child of one of the victims, but the girl and mother were found in two different areas. The toddler was found on April 4, 2011.
The first four bodies found were those of women in their 20s who worked as prostitutes, according to police.
Maureen Brainard Barnes, 25, went missing on July 9, 2007. Her remains were found on December 13, 2010.
Megan Waterman, 22, who had a daughter, went missing on June 6, 2010. Her body was also found on December 13, 2010.
An aerial view of the area near Gilgo Beach and Ocean Parkway on Long Island where police found the remains in 2010 and 2011 as they searched for missing sex worker Shannen Gilbert
The remains of Melissa Barthelemy, 24, who had been living in the Bronx at the time, and Amber Lynn Costello, 27, were also found on December 13, 2010.
Barthelemy’s body was the first to be found. She went missing on July 12, 2009. Costello disappeared on September 2, 2010.
In March 2011,police discovered the skull of a 20-year-old prostitute identified as Jessica Taylor.
Five more remains were discovered at Gilgo Beach over the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, Shannan Gilbert’s body was later found in the marsh in the community of Oak Beach in December 2011, about three miles east of where the other 10 sets were discovered.
Police have long maintained that Gilbert’s death was accidental and excluded her from the 10 other bodies found during the case.
They said at the time that she drowned in a drug-induced haze after wandering into the wetland, but her relatives have long disputed that determination.
An independent autopsy results commissioned by Gilbert’s mother indicated she too may have been strangled like the other victims.
In one of the more unusual twists in the saga, Gilbert’s mother, Mari, was murdered last year by another daughter, Sarra, in her upstate New York home.
Police searching the wooded area near where the bodies were found in April 2011
Source: dailymail US