LONG ISLAND (SCRIPPS) — Their faces are haunting. The stories of how they died are still unknown. At one of the recovery scenes, a black leather belt embossed with the letters “H.M.” or “W.H.” Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart says they believe “the belt was handled by the suspect and did not belong to any of the victims.”
Investigators say a person involved in at least one of the killings is somehow tied to the belt, but they haven’t said exactly how. Instead they’re seeking answers from the public, hoping for new tips and leads to be submitted to the website “gilgonews.com,” which has yet to work.
There’s been criticism of investigators’ developments. Attorney John Ray, who represents the family of victim Shannan Gilbert, said, “For nine years the Suffolk County Police Department has covered up the fact in this investigation.” Gilbert was a sex worker, whose disappearance after leaving the home of a client in the Gilgo-area in 2010 sparked the search that resulted in so many bodies being found. Gilbert had called 9-1-1 at length the night she vanished. Release of the tapes of that call was among many things blocked by then-Police Chief James Burke and then-District Attorney Tom Spota. Both men have since been convicted of crimes unrelated to the Gilgo killings.
New leadership says they’re showing more openness, but they still won’t release Gilbert’s 9-1-1 tapes. Hart said investigators “don’t believe she matches many of the patterns of the Gilgo Beach homicides.” That statement took many by surprise, a statement saying her death may not be related to the homicidal deaths of the other victims. Attorney John Ray and Gilbert’s family strongly disagree.