Family: Man called 6 times from victim's cell

At left, Melissa Barthelemy, who was identified as At left, Melissa Barthelemy, who was identified as one of the bodies found at Gilgo Beach in December. (Dec. 21, 2011) Photo Credit: Handout / Kevin P. Coughlin

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BUFFALO - A suspect in the murder of one of the women whose body was dumped on Gilgo Beach called the woman's younger sister repeatedly in the weeks after her disappearance, her family said Thursday.

On six occasions, an unidentified man police believe was involved in the death of Melissa Barthelemy, 24, used her cell phone to dial her sister, Amanda, between late July and Aug. 26, 2009, said Jeffrey Martina, fiance of the girls' mother at a news conference Thursday in Amherst, a Buffalo suburb.

A law enforcement source said previously that three calls had been made to the family.

Martina and Lynn Barthelemy, the victim's mother, declined to say what the suspect said. A law enforcement source told Newsday the suspect disparaged Melissa Barthelemy, at one point calling her "a whore."

When asked how she felt about the calls, Amanda, now 16, gave a one word answer: "Terrible."

Spokesmen for the NYPD and Suffolk police declined to comment on the calls.

A law enforcement source said this week that NYPD detectives were aware of the three calls made in late July. Family members said Thursday they didn't know Melissa worked as a prostitute until after her disappearance on July 12, 2009.

Barthelemy's father, Mark Szpila, broke down as he described her Thursday as "wonderful, she was the light of my life."

Her remains were found in December, one of four wrapped in burlap and left near a beachfront road in Babylon Town. Authorities believe they died at the hands of a serial killer or killers.

With Andrew Strickler

and Anthony M. Destefano

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