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2 years after Gilgo bodies found, families remain frustrated

A car passes by a makeshift memorial for

A car passes by a makeshift memorial for a victim in the Gilgo Beach slayings along Ocean Parkway. (Dec. 10, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Two years since the discovery of multiple sets of human remains along Ocean Parkway triggered a search for a serial killer, investigators have gone silent while victims' frustrated families want their cases solved.

"It's just frustrating," said Lyn Barthelemy of upstate Akron, on the lack of progress in finding her daughter's killer.

The first of the four Gilgo Beach victims found in December 2010, Melissa Barthelemy, 24 of the Bronx, was discovered two years ago Tuesday.

Her remains were among 10 sets identified in the case, which has since been used as fodder for an Off-Broadway play and television documentaries. Only one arrest has been linked to the case.

On Saturday, Lorraine Ela, 45, of South Portland, Maine, whose daughter Megan Waterman, 22, was among those four victims, will visit the white crosses used as markers where the burlap-wrapped bodies were found.

"I want to know what happened," Ela said. "To not just Megan, but to all the victims."

Maureen Brainard Barnes, 25 of Norwich, Conn., and Amber Lynn Costello, 27 of North Babylon, were discovered along with Waterman. Police and family said all worked as prostitutes.

Waterman's aunt, Elizabeth Meserve, 47, of Westbrook, Maine, said the ongoing mystery of her niece's disappearance and the lack of new information has taken its toll on the family.

Suffolk police Monday would not comment.

"As far as I know, there haven't been any developments made," Meserve said.

Hopes of a break in the case fizzled after Suffolk police all but ruled out a Mount Vernon man recently arrested and accused of killing his girlfriend. The NYPD notified Suffolk detectives last week of the man because he had a history of violence toward women. Suffolk police said the man had no connection to the Gilgo case, but would not rule him out as a suspect.

The four remains were discovered two years ago as Suffolk K-9 police officer Scott Mallia and dog Blue were conducting a search exercise, and looking for a missing Jersey City woman.

Shannan Gilbert, 24, a prostitute whose family pressured police to search for her, was last seen leaving a client's home in Oak Beach. The search drew attention to the nearby Ocean Parkway area. Gilbert was found a year ago Thursday. The Suffolk medical examiner ruled her cause of death inconclusive.

A three-month search for Gilbert beginning in March 2011 by Suffolk police, with assistance from Nassau police, State Park Police, State Police and the FBI, yielded six additional sets of human remains including a toddler's.

Waterman left behind a 6-year-old daughter, whom Meserve is now raising. "She talks about her mom. She misses her mom," Meserve said. "She actually has just started to have some night terrors again."

Meserve said she spends her energy "trying to keep Akeem Cruz behind bars."

Cruz, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty in April to violation of the Mann Act, a federal law that prohibits the transporting of people across state lines for prostitution. He admitted he drove Waterman and another woman from Maine to Long Island several times to meet clients.

"With all those victims, including a child on that beach," Meserve said, "so far he's been the only arrest."

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