The creators of a television series about the unsolved Gilgo Beach murders brought the first two episodes to the Hamptons International Film Festival Sunday morning, then spoke to audience members who had many questions and perhaps even more theories.
One man suggested that the Suffolk County police’s slow progress on the case indicated that the killer was a cop. A woman drew parallels between the purported Long Island serial killer — nicknamed LISK — and the case of John Bittrolff, the Manorville carpenter recently charged with two murders dating back to the early 1990s. Yet another audience member was certain the Gilgo Beach killer had an accomplice.
“There are so many different theories,” said Josh Zeman, a Sea Cliff native who directed the series with Rachel Mills. “And that’s one of the things we wanted to look at in this case.”
The eight-part series, “The Killing Season,” makes its debut Nov. 5 at 9 p.m. on the A&E network. Although the first episode focuses on the so-called LISK, who is believed to have preyed on sex workers and dumped their bodies along Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach and Oak Beach, “The Killing Season” broadens its scope to include similar murders in other cities and states. The filmmakers paint a picture of the dangers of sex work in the internet era and place blame on police departments who they believe consider dead prostitutes less important than other murder victims.
After the screening, viewers stayed to hear a talk from the directors and producer Alex Gibney, who were joined by Robert Kolker, author of the book “Lost Girls,” and Thomas Hargrove, founder of the non-profit Murder Accountability Project.
Part of what “The Killing Season” illustrates, said Zeman, is that as official progress on the Gilgo Beach case has stalled, amateur detectives have popped up all over the world to share their theories — some wild, others intriguing. Much of the show’s first two episodes rely heavily on ideas found on the website Websleuths.com.
“Because Suffolk County police did not give information out, the general public at large needed to speculate,” Zeman said. “When you’re not transparent, that’s what people do, they speculate.”
Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, in an interview with the documentarians, said: “Every day we do everything we can to solve it and that’s why I immediately got the FBI on board.”