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Feds Probing L.I. Beach Corpses Eye Laptop

Authorities search on a beach near Babylon, NY - Dec 14, 2010 - AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Authorities search on a beach near Babylon, NY – Dec 14, 2010 – AP Photo/Seth Wenig

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The FBI has asked a court for permission to search a computer belonging to a man under scrutiny for his ties to a prostitute whose body was discovered along with three other corpses near a Long Island beach.

beach bodies victims Feds Probing L.I. Beach Corpses Eye Laptop

Gilgo Beach Victims (Photo/Kathleen Maloney)

An agent filed an application Thursday seeking access to a laptop belonging to Akeem Cruz, of Brooklyn. Cruz is one of the last people to have been with 22-year-old Megan Waterman, of Maine, the weekend she disappeared after traveling to a hotel in Hauppauge to meet clients for sex.

Months later, she and three other prostitutes were found dead, their remains scattered along a beach road.

The four women were in their 20s, advertising their prostitution services online. They appeared to share similar middle-class childhoods, but it is the way they lived their adult lives that has authorities chasing a serial killer.

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In the court filing, agents didn’t mention the killings, but said they were seeking evidence of sex trafficking.

Cruz was jailed in Maine on an unrelated drug charge.

The victims’ bodies were found in mid-December, strewn 500 yards apart along a deserted barrier island highway off New York’s Long Island.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall has the latest

Once investigators determined they were all sex workers, it wasn’t a leap to say they had a killer in common.

The women found dead on Long Island grew up in Maine, Connecticut, North Carolina and upstate New York. One was a promising hairstylist. Two others were described as loving mothers; one called home three times a day to speak to her 4-year-old daughter.

An ex-husband of 27-year-old Amber Lynn Costello, originally of Wilmington, N.C., said their marriage ended when they argued over her heroin use.

“I just don’t put up with that,” said Michael W. Wilhelm, 41, of Kannapolis, N.C. “I told her to hit the road.”

Costello was the most recent victim to be seen alive; police say she was last seen in September living in North Babylon, several miles north of where her body was found.

Relatives knew that 22-year-old Megan Waterman of Scarborough, Maine, was advertising her escort services online, but said she was an adult who made her own choices.

Waterman, mother of the 4-year-old, was last seen at a Hauppauge, N.Y., hotel in June 2010. She had apparently traveled to New York on Memorial Day weekend with Akeem Cruz, a 21-year-old Brooklyn man described as her boyfriend. He is serving 20 months in a Maine prison for drug trafficking.

Maureen Brainard-Barnes, also a mother, was the first of the four women to disappear. She left Norwich, Conn., on July 9, 2007, and headed for New York City, planning to return the following day. A Norwich Police Department missing-persons flier notes there are few details about her disappearance.

“When she stopped calling people, everybody knew something was wrong,” said Sarah Marquis of Groton, Conn., who described herself as a close friend.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)