(NEW YORK) — BY: AARON KATERSKY and ELLA TORRES
A previously unidentified victim of the unsolved Gilgo Beach murders in Long Island was named Thursday, nearly two decades after her partial remains were first found, police said.
Valerie Mack was identified as the victim previously known as “Manorville Jane Doe” or “Jane Doe #6,” the Suffolk County Police Department announced. Mack was identified through genetic genealogy technology.
Mack went missing in 2000 when she was 24 and working as an escort in Philadelphia, according to police. Her partial remains were found that same year in a wooded area off Halsey-Manor Road in Manorville. In 2011, her dismembered remains were found along Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach.
The murders have never been solved, and, until Mack’s identification, half the victims had not yet been identified.
In 2010 and 2011, the remains of 10 people were discovered in Gilgo Beach in weedy sections of Ocean Parkway near Jones Beach. Police have said most of the victims were sex workers. Four victims remain unidentified.
No suspects have been detained, but police previously told ABC News they’re working under the assumption a serial killer is to blame in some, if not all, of the killings.
Police made the grisly discovery while searching for a missing sex worker, Shannan Gilbert. Her body eventually was found in December 2011 in nearby Oak Beach, which is also along Ocean Parkway. Police don’t believe her death is tied to the others because she “doesn’t match the pattern of the Gilgo Beach homicides,” but they’ve also said her death is part of the active investigation into the Gilgo Beach murders.
In January, police released what they called a “significant piece of evidence” involving the murders. The evidence was a photograph of a black leather belt embossed with the letters “WH” or “HM,” depending on how it’s held.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said at a press conference she believed a suspect in the murders “handled” the belt, but would not elaborate.
Hart on Thursday said she hopes the identification of Mack will bring some sense of closure and peace to her family.
It is believed to be the first time a law enforcement agency in New York state has used genetic genealogy to identify an individual as part of a police investigation, authorities said. Police had announced last week that they made the identification, but did not immediately name Mack.
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