A Manorville man will be in court Tuesday to face second-degree murder charges in connection with the beating and strangling deaths of two women more than 20 years ago, police said late Monday night.
John Bittrolff, 48, of 167 Silas Carter Rd., was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the killings of Rita Tangredi, 31, who had no known address at the time of her death, and Colleen McNamee, 20, of Holbrook, Suffolk police said.
Bittrolff was being held overnight at the Fifth Precinct and will appear in First District Court for arraignment Tuesday, police said.
His arrest comes more than 20 years after the nude bodies of both women were found within three months of each other in wooded areas of East Patchogue and Shirley.
Investigators at the time suspected the two killings were linked and did not rule out the possibility they were the work of a serial killer. Suffolk police also had offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of the killer or killers of both women.
Monday night, Suffolk police said in a statement that detectives at the original crime scenes, in 1993 and 1994, recovered DNA evidence linking the cases. Some time this year, detectives with the Homicide Squad “recovered DNA evidence which linked Bittrolff to these cold cases.”
Both women had been strangled and sustained a severe blow to the head, which the medical examiner ruled was the cause of death in both cases. Each was white, about 5 feet tall and 125 pounds, officials said.
Tangredi was found on Nov. 2, 1993, a day after she was last seen hitchhiking on Montauk Highway, east of County Road 101, in East Patchogue, officials said.
The driver of an all-terrain vehicle found her partially buried body in an abandoned East Patchogue housing development. Police said that prostitutes sometimes took their clients there, but investigators on the case two decades ago declined to say whether Tangredi was involved in prostitution.
Just more than two months later, the parents of McNamee, a 1991 Sachem High School graduate, reported her missing to Suffolk police.
On Jan. 30, 1994, McNamee’s body was found after an anonymous caller told them about a woman’s nude body just off the eastbound service road of the Long Island Expressway near the William Floyd Parkway exit. McNamee was last seen on Jan. 5, 1994, getting into a small blue car in front of the Blue Dawn Diner in Islandia.
At the time of her disappearance, McNamee was an outpatient of the South Shore Treatment Center in Islandia, authorities said.
After their daughter’s body was discovered, McNamee’s parents offered a $1,000 reward.
Police investigating her death said McNamee was known in East Patchogue, where Tangredi was found, and had once been arrested on charges of loitering for the purpose of prostitution.
Dennis James, the principal at Sachem High School when McNamee graduated, told Newsday in an interview after her body was found that she was a studious girl.
“She was a very straightforward kid. She had like a B-plus average. She was a nice girl. It’s just such a tragedy.”
In their statement Monday night, Suffolk police said they are still looking for information about the two victims and Bittrolff, “especially concerning their activities in the early 1990s.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.