Gilgo victim a natural helper
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On the last day friends saw Amber Lynn Costello alive, she walked out of her North Babylon home with these parting words: "If my sister calls, tell her I love her."
It was Sept. 2, 2010.
The sisters never saw each another again. Last month, Suffolk County police identified Costello, 27, as one of four bodies dumped near Gilgo Beach. Police believe the slayings may be the work of a serial killer.
"When her soul left this earth, mine shattered," Kimberly Overstreet said of her younger sister after a funeral service for Costello Saturday at Lindenhurst Funeral Home. "I'm trying to pick up the pieces."
Born in Charlotte and raised in Wilmington, N.C., Costello was twice married and divorced, battled drug addiction and found faith later in life, her sister said. Like the other Gilgo Beach victims, Costello advertised online as a prostitute.
"She was very involved with church and had a lot of faith," Overstreet said. "She just fell short of her own beliefs."
Costello had four nieces she doted on, and Christmas was a favored time because she enjoyed giving presents. "She'd give even though she didn't have a lot," the Rev. Wayne Griffiths, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Babylon, said during the small service attended by family, friends and Nassau police detectives.
Costello was a natural at helping people through dark times and using her own experiences to comfort others. "She had understanding," Griffiths said. "She had empathy. She used these characteristics to help others."
Overstreet said she brought Costello to New York about a year ago and got her into drug rehab. She lived in a sober house and then moved into an apartment.
Prostitution pulled her back into drugs, and soon Costello was working to feed her habit, Overstreet said.
When she went missing, her sister thought she was in a rehab program and would be out of communication for awhile. Overstreet said she went to North Carolina to care for her father, who has lung cancer. While there, friends called to ask if she had heard from Costello.
They shared the details of the grisly find at Gilgo Beach. Overstreet provided a DNA swab and waited for the results, with a confirmation coming in late January.
"I can't really express what I feel because it's too strong, but I am at peace with her being gone because she truly is in a better place," Overstreet said.
Another memorial service, in Wilmington, is scheduled for Thursday, Costello's birthday.