The Gilgo Beach Murders Were a Cold Case. Then a New Police Chief Arrived.

New York Times, September 25, 2020

This Time’s article is interesting for its parallels and contrasts to the OCCK case. For a decade after 16 bodies were found near a stretch of Ocean Parkway in New York–a burial ground used by a serial killer–no person of interest, no suspect–no comment by the Suffolk County Police Department. For many years, the police commissioners “seemed reluctant to discuss the case publicly and those who lived in the affected beach towns had tried to wish it away.” (Sound familiar?)

Most of the victims appeared to be young women who had worked as escorts. Commissioner Hart acknowledged how poorly the police were regarded in the public eye, “seen as showing little more than apathy and even disdain for the victims.” One senior detective in 2011 said it was a “consolation” to the community that the victims were only prostitutes. This man is the kind of detective that makes me hate police. Seriously.

In 2012 Suffolk police abruptly locked the FBI out of the “Long Island serial killer” investigation and was sent packing before the bureau’s behavioral analysis unit could develop a profile of the killer. “Ms Hart said she learned this was happening for one reason: Suffolk County’s newly appointed chief of department, James Burke, seemed to want it that way. And there was a reason for that, too: The Justice Department was investigating him for corruption.” Seems Burke assaulted a suspect who had stolen a bag filled with pornography and sex toys from Burke’s car. Burke then did the police chief thing and pressured detectives who witnessed the assault to keep quiet. The Suffolk County district attorney then got in on the game and helped with the cover-up.

Eventually both Burke and the D.A. were convicted of conspiracy and Suffolk County became notorious as one of the nation’s most corrupt law enforcement jurisdictions.” Hey, Suffolk County, I have a county in Michigan that could give your’s a run for its money. Big time.

This past spring, two years into the job, Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announced a major break in this case which had “confounded her predecessors for nearly a decade.” Hart had moved Suffolk County’s most notorious unsolved case forward “where others once seemed determined to keep it from going anywhere at all.”

Hart, who spent 20 years working as an FBI agent, welcomed the FBI back into the investigation now that the conspiring pornmeister and assaulter Burke was gone. After seeing the Golden State Killer arrested using genetic genealogy, Hart called a colleague at the FBI and asked “How do we get this done?”

As in the OCCK case, the evidence in the Long Island serial killer case has little in common with what police had to work with in the Golden State Killer case. Hart partnered with the FBI to engage a private lab to process an unidentified victim’s DNA. Identifying the victims may lead more directly to the killer. The identification of victim “Jane Doe No. 6” as Valerie Mack last May was the first successful genetic genealogy investigation in New York.

Commissioner Hart held a press conference in the wake of publicity on the case and a Netflix release for “Lost Girls.” She defended her decision to be more public about the case. “We’re coming up on the 10-year anniversary on this. It’s received a ton of publicity. So how do we get the message out? The thought is, somebody out there knows something.”

When have you ever heard a press conference from the Michigan State Police on the OCCK case? There has been momentum in the OCCK case with more publicity than ever before via books, podcasts, articles and documentaries in the last few years. Yet all the MSP does is respond to a well-written factual account of all we can know about these cases given the actions of a few dirty players at the top, by saying “We don’t comment on fiction.” Those are fighting words as far as I’m concerned.

The makers of the documentary Children of the Snow, based on the 2018 book The Kill Jar, written by J. Reuben Appelman, had to PRESS officials to provide a tip line number to give the public with the documentary. Who announces this and requests people with any information come forward–a member of the MSP? Oh, hell no. It’s left to Detective Cory Williams, with Wayne County–not Oakland County (as in OAKLAND COUNTY Child Killer), to make the pitch.

Have we ever heard from Birmingham P.D. or the Oakland County Sheriff’s office in the OCCK case? Hell no. So convenient that the information, such as it is and in the shape it is in, is shoved in a room at an MSP post. And they are never in the mood to talk about the OCCK case.

In the meantime, in Suffolk County, Commissioner Hart continues to press ahead with DNA identification of as-yet unnamed victims. How about this as a giant contrast to the OCCK case:

That’s a new sentiment in the Suffolk County Police Department: the idea that investigating the case and acknowledging the families’ pain are two sides of the same coin, that doing one helps the other. That realization could be the greatest step forward the police have taken in this case. “There’s a lot of work left do do,” Ms. Hart said. “But there is momentum. And I’m going to continue to use that momentum to move forward.”

Think about that the next time you cast a ballot for mayor or city council members (to whom police chiefs report), or for a prosecuting attorney (potentially especially dangerous), county sheriff (reports to no one except the voters every four years), or attorney general or governor (who should be keeping an eye on the state police). At the micro and macro-level, these elected officials can do some serious damage or some serious good. Do you want someone who can work with momentum or are you happy with the “consolation” that the killing stopped in Oakland County after just four kids were taken and killed in 1976 and 1977?

12 Comments on “The Gilgo Beach Murders Were a Cold Case. Then a New Police Chief Arrived.”

  1. crimebuffy says:

    The new OC Prosecutor will hopefully bring the much needed change and ambition this case (along with others under jc’s watch) needs.
    97 more days & then See Ya…..

    • John says:

      I’ve never really put much thought into the lack of coverage of the OCCK. Now putting thought into it , they have completely tossed that cold case to the side. There isn’t shit to ring people’s brains back to that case. That’s why I feel this should be something that Is nation wide. There should be a movie on this to rattle people’s minds. There are individuals that are full away of the case and they have blocked it from their minds. There are people that have moved from Michigan that were around when the murders happened.

  2. maggiep1958 says:

    I am not happy with children’s deaths being swept under the rug; no matter how long it has been. I hope that Dana Nessel and Karen McDonald can get action on this case!!!

  3. Hei Hu Quan says:

    Catherine, thanks for sharing yet another stark example of the police being directed by a new chief to do their job. I hope they follow through as the known evidence in this case points to there being some possible involvement of high-echelon perpetrators, they’d prefer to see stay in the shadows. I would say that Birmingham PD, FBI and MSP should feel the full shame of this but judging from their criminal inactions, indifference and unbridled contempt for the victims and their families, I honestly don’t believe they have the capacity.

    Since we’re on the subject of NY, I want to share with you and the others a very buried series of incidents that occurred in NYC during the mid-70’s that eerily share in common some similarities to the OCCK case. It’s a profoundly disturbing case that’s haunted me for a while and I’ve always thought there was a lot more to the story, as it literally terrified citizens of the Upper West Side of Manhattan for two years. It involved the targeting, rape, mutilation and murder of young boys of African-American and Latino backgrounds. The case’s killer(s) were creepily and vulgarly dubbed “Charlie Chop-Off” and despite the police having coerced some diminished capacity individual to take the fall, the case is officially unsolved.

    I’ve read many stories on this case and there has only been one book which somewhat covers it. I found this post that did the best job of documenting it here:

    I urge anyone who’s interested to review it as this was a case that traumatised New Yorkers just 3 years before they experienced an new terror in the form of Son of Sam. Information is suspiciously scarce on this case and one definitive correlation to the OCCK case is that the cops didn’t give a fuck here as well. So much so, that the outraged community protested outside the police station demanding justice and forming a virtual lynch mob for a suspect being held there.

  4. RD1 says:

    Going through the Investigator’s reports for the Lamborgine-Lawson cases and speculated relationship to OCCK, again recently.
    And noticing, again, the speculation trail involving J. Tazelaar. In particular, speculation that J Tazelaar was involved in OCCK and specifically the tragic kidnapping, abuse and murder of Tim King. (The investigator refers repeatedly to his interpretations of Lawson’s “Who is #1” cryptic non-leads nonsense, etc as inspiration for this)
    J Tazelaar being some kind of pedo kingpin, or not, at that time & place wouldn’t offend me in any way – if true – except for this;
    Multiple documents appended to “People vs Tazelaar, pleadings” clearly state that J Tazelaar was in custody from his arrest in Feb. of 1977, until his Motion to Reduce Bond was granted around April 21/77 and he was judicially permitted release on Personal Recognizance May 2/77.
    So – J. Tazelaar could not have had direct involvement in any aspect of the Tim King case.
    Isn’t that right? Or are those documents in error somehow?

    • RD1 says:

      A lot of useful information about pedophiles living in that time & place, their relationships, “modus operandi” etc., did come out of the police investigator playing out his Tazelaar-Lawson speculations, as documented in those reports, so it wasn’t wasted effort – despite locked up pedo sex criminals awaiting trial not able to be “a person involved in the King killing”.

      The investigator’s professed confidence in Lawson and his theories, more troubling to me.
      I understand that I’m reading through an investigative process, watching the investigator’s perceptions and theories change-grow, as they go along. But Tazelaar being in custody, March 16, 1977 – March 22, 1977, invalidates chains of related Lawson assumptions-assertions.
      “The info Lawson gave Barry King in 1988 has for the most part been confirmed, including the information about “Kim” in Amsterdam naming #1 by name, to Lawson, as a person involved in the King killing”.
      “This would make Lawson’s theory even more credible”, etc.
      But now, in 20/20, that’s not really true is it?

      • cathybroad says:

        As you said, the interesting thing about those documents is to watch the investigation unfold. An investigation that should have taken place decades before it did.

        Fuck the Tazelaars. Josiah is a pedophile and he and his brother, who lives a short stroll from our neighborhood, are liars. They were friends with Shelden. They were worth dogging for information. They probably have some idea what happened in the OCCK cases. If nothing else, that stack of documents show how big the pedophile network was in suburban Detroit and the lack of deep investigation of any of it back in the day. The investigation evolved, no thanks to the lying sacks of shit who were interviewed by police.

        At the time, things were lining up in a way that made sense with Lawson’s cruel face-to-face with my Dad in 1988. Lawson turned out to be a freak. What a surprise.

  5. RD1 says:

    Contributions big & small, I appreciate them all – even if I disagree with them. 🙂
    Reading articles about Marney Rich Keenan’s book. Hooray! for books on this subject, generally, and the more the merrier.

    In the Detroit News article “Author seeks truth in Oakland County Child Killer case”, Keenan is quoted saying;
    “We know the four kids were exploited for this purpose, [commercial child sexual abuse images] ” Keenan said. That’s quite a bold statement. Some people believe that is true.

    From Julia Cianci dissertation; “After the Snow:…”
    “After retirement from the Birmingham Police Department, Lieutenant Jack Kalbfleisch and his wife settled in Florida where he works as an investigator for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). He submitted Mark, Jill, Kristine, and Tim’s photos to both the NCMEC database and to INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization) in order to search for child pornography connections”.

    Excellent! That needs to be done, from time to time. It has been done before, of course, and in the past there have been no confirmed matches. At one time, I had some ideas about commercial CP publications described in forensic journals, that I thought might bring a match. I asked Cathy to ask her friends to check that (on that wretched forum of old). Alas, nothing.
    From Det. William’s investigator reports, we learned that Lawson boldly claimed a Dutch friend of Francis Shelden told Lawson that he/she knew all about the case and who was responsible and alleged CP involvement. Dutch authorities kindly went through EVERYTHING in the massive collections seized there from Shelden and this friend years ago, and confirmed; NO OCCK victim images. Nothing.
    Has NCMEC reported any OCCK victim matches, from the MILLIONS of seized images (in various formats) in their database? No. Never.

    It’s conceivable that polaroids of one or more OCCK victims might have existed once upon a time, but there is still NO PROOF any of them were exploited for commercial child sexual abuse images publications, as far as I know. You’re welcome to “know” they were, if you wish, but without the hard evidence of matched images, that knowing will remain private & internal.

  6. RD1 says:

    Last thoughts on this.
    I can be wrong, of course, and for those who are convinced that whatever Bobby Moore was up to in the basement of that house, holds “the key”…there can be more than one way to identify victims in child sexual abuse images.
    Canadian investigators have had some success, tracing settings and background objects (see below). One of the witnesses Det. Williams interviewed, described a “big round couch” in the basement as a likely setting for filming “the boys”.
    While not unique in that time & place, such a piece might still be unusual enough – in historic images – to help identify victims whose faces are not visible in the shot.
    “Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object”

    • cathybroad says:


      As you point out in another comment, thus far no images in any form have been found of the four known OCCK victims. I am sure any such images if they existed were destroyed almost as quickly as the Birmingham PD destroyed any police reports about Chris Busch after he was found dead in November 1978. That is, if they didn’t talk every parent out of filing charges against the son of an area “bigwig.”

      Or the images went the way of the foil-wrapped Polaroids Greene told Flint PD about that were buried under a downspout in a backyard. Police found them but . . . oops, they are long gone.

      I can imagine a family member finding some shit like this in a safe deposit box after a guy dies. Do they go to police? Hell no. Just like Greg Greene’s brother, who told Cory Williams that Greg wrote him a long letter from prison about his life. The brother threw it out because he didn’t want his kids to find it. What was in the letter, you ask? He can’t remember.

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