OAK BEACH, N.Y. — In a bombshell news briefing Thursday, an attorney for one of the victims of a suspected New York serial killer announced an alleged link between a disgraced ex-police chief and the case, according to WPIX-TV.
Former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke, long suspected of keeping the FBI in the dark about the bodies found along a desolate stretch of road in his county, faces a new accusation from a sex worker who says there's a link between him and the killings.
Former Suffolk County police chief James Burke stands handcuffed between two FBI agents on Dec. 9, 2015. (Photo: Jim Staubitser)
It's been six years since the killings began, with no suspect and no one in custody. On Thursday the attorney for the family of alleged victim Shannan Gilbert detailed the alleged connection between Burke, prostitutes and Gilgo Beach.
“This is the first time that there has been an actual connection made between former Police Chief Burke, Oak Beach and prostitution. … And that’s why it is significant," attorney John Ray said at an afternoon press conference, alongside the sex worker.
The escort, who, according to an affidavit, has been in the profession for five years, discussed multiple times she said she partied with Burke in 2011 at an unknown Oak Beach home and engaged in "rough sex." Oak Beach is about 8 miles away from Gilgo Beach along a thin stretch of land that runs between a bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Numerous people, prostitutes, and drugs – including cocaine – were at the gatherings, she said.
WPIX has reached out to Suffolk County Police Department for a comment and is awaiting a reply.
Burke's attorney, John Meringolo, said, "These allegations do not warrant a comment."
When asked about the significance of the claims, Ray pointed to what he described as an unusual act for any officer.
“Under those circumstances, a high police official from Suffolk County goes and parties in Oak Beach itself with drugs and with prostitution. That suggests an arrogance and a certainty in his mind that he could pretty much do whatever he wanted with regard to that investigation … That itself is pretty outrageous,” the lawyer said.
The Long Island escort gave a sworn statement and is willing to take a lie detector test, Ray said.
While the statements are not a "smoking gun" directly showing Burke is a killer, Ray described it as “very strong circumstantial evidence.”
The first body was found in December 2010. Police were looking for Shannan Gilbert, a sex worker, who has disappeared near Oak Beach after running from a client's home. Gilbert wouldn't be discovered until 2011, but a total of 10 bodies would be found in and around Gilgo Beach. And there may be other cases connected to what is believed to be the work of a serial killer.
As the years dragged on, Burke was accused of keeping the FBI out of the loop.
However, any link between Burke and the Gilgo Beach murders is unclear. Burke was recently sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for planning a cover-up after he beat up a man who stole sex toys and other items from his car.
Separately, the Associated Press reported Wednesday new DNA evidence has been discovered in the investigation.
A torso found inside a rubber bin back in 1997 was linked this week through a Justice Department database to a female victim whose body parts were found "many miles away" along a Long Island beach highway in 2011, according to the AP.
The woman's body parts were located along with that of her child.
This new link is the first development in the cold case in years, the AP reports.