Gilgo victims' families outraged over play

A scene from tjhe play Killing Time, where

A scene from tjhe play Killing Time, where a character named Joe (Jordan Swisher), is dumping bodies at Gilgo Beach. In this scene, Joe is supposed to be at Gilgo Beach looking over the crime scenes. (July 24, 2012) (Credit: Handout)

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A Massapequa man has written a play inspired by the Gilgo Beach serial killings, outraging the families of several women whose remains were found off Ocean Parkway.

Tom Slot, 33, said he penned "Killing Time" -- which premiered Off-Broadway last week -- after the Gilgo case got him thinking about society's obsession with serial killers.

The play, which is described on Slot's website as an "absurdist dramatic comedy," tracks the lives of three fictional serial killers and six of their victims. Among the characters: a Long Island serial killer named "Joe" and a prostitute he murdered. In real life, at least five of the women found near Gilgo worked as prostitutes.

"From the beginning, I was interested in what happens to the soul and spirit of people who are brutalized in this fashion," said Slot, who recalled visiting Gilgo Beach while it was bustling with investigators.

The play critiques society's obsession with serial killers, and suggests more attention should be paid to their victims. It also abounds with gory descriptions of murders and dark humor about lethal violence.

In one scene, the Long Island killer shoots two women at Gilgo Beach.

"I'm totally outraged that he's made this play," said Lynn Barthelemy, whose daughter Melissa Barthelemy, 24, was found dead in the underbrush along Ocean Parkway in December 2010. "What he's doing is wrong."

Mari Gilbert, whose 24-year-old daughter Shannan Gilbert's disappearance in May 2010 sparked the hunt that led to the discovery of other remains near Gilgo Beach, also criticized the project.

"I think it's really morbid, but I've come to learn that there's a lot of morbid people in the world and enjoy that kind of stuff," Gilbert said. "I think it's sad that people are profiting over something so horrid."

Elizabeth Meserve, whose niece, Megan Waterman, 22, was found along the shore, said Slot should at least have alerted the women's families to his project. Instead, several were told of the play by a Newsday reporter.

"He should have talked to the families and gotten to know more about these women who lost their lives," Meserve said. "It doesn't seem right."

Slot said he never meant to offend the families -- and felt contacting them would have been an even deeper intrusion.

"I can completely understand their having a negative reaction," said Slot, who also teaches acting at Queens College and Teachers College at Columbia University.

Slot said the victims in the play are actually "honored" during the finale, in which they leave a purgatory-like state and seem to find lasting peace.

"I was always far more interested in these people than their killers," he said.

"Killing Time" plays through Sunday at the Payan Theatre, 300 W. 43rd St.

With Tania Lopez

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