CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A judge has ordered a Long Island man suspected of killing two prostitutes more than 20 years ago to be held without bail.
John Bittrolff, 48, of Manorville, was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths 31-year-old Rita Tangredi and 20-year-old Colleen McNamee.
The carpenter and married father of two said nothing and showed no emotion at his arraignment Tuesday at First District Court in Central Islip, WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reported. A family member shouted “we love you” as Bittrolff was led away in handcuffs, Xirinachs reported.
The sister of one of the victims openly wept in the courtroom and later told reporters she never thought this day would come, Xirinachs reported.
Tangredi’s son, Anthony, said he felt relieved, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
Tangredi was found dead in a wooded area in East Patchogue in November 1993; McNamee was found dead two months later in the woods in Shirley. Both women were found nude, beaten and strangled, police said.
“Some arrests take a few hours, some days; some take 20 years,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Edward Webber told reporters, including CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
Detectives at the original crime scenes recovered DNA evidence that linked the two cases, police said.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said authorities zeroed in on Bittrolff after his brother’s DNA came up as a near-match in the state’s database.
“We were able to confirm that the killer had to be a brother with the very same parents,” Spota said. “This case was solved and is a testament to the miracle of modern DNA science.”
Prosecutors said Bittrolff is now a suspect in the 1993 Southampton murder of a third woman. He was 27 at the time and has since lived in Manorville, surrounded by woods and trusting neighbors, Gusoff reported.
“He’s like the mayor of this town, knows everyone, helps everybody out,” neighbor Roger Schwarting said.
Bittrolff, who pleaded not guilty, is due back in court next month. Suffolk police are asking for anyone who has information about him from the 1990s to contact them.
The murders are similar to an unsolved crime pattern involving sex workers — 10 bodies dumped along Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach, but police said there’s no evidence of a link, Gusoff reported.
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