YAPHANK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The nearly decade-long hunt for a suspected serial killer on Long Island took a new turn Thursday.
Suffolk County police revealed a new clue in the so-called “Gilgo Beach murders.”
Watch: Authorities Announce New Information In Gilgo Beach Murders
It’s Long Island’s deepest, darkest mystery: Nearly a dozen murders, none of them solved.
Thursday, Suffolk Police released images of a belt, previously under wraps, that may have been worn or used in the murders. It’s a new push to bring a serial killer to justice.
“Today we are launching a website for sharing information about these unsolved murders,” said Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart.
Eleven cold case killings, and now Suffolk Police are adding to what the commissioner calls the most complex and well-known investigation in Suffolk history.
The remains of 11 people were found along a desolate stretch of Ocean Parkway on Gilgo Beach starting in December of 2010. The killer was never caught.
With Gilgonews.com, they are now asking for public tips, and shared for the first time an image of half inch letters on a belt near the bodies.
“A black leather belt embossed with the letters HM or WH was recovered during the initial start of the investigation. We believe the belt was handled by the suspect,” Hart said.
There will be new technology as well. The county recently approved searching public geneology databases to identify nameless victims.
It was the search for missing escort Shannon Gilbert in 2010 that turned up the stunning killing field. The scattered remains of five other sex workers plus five unidentified victims, including a man and a toddler.
Gilbert’s sister, reached by phone, said it’s about time.
“Even though we found Shannon, we never found closure. We don’t even know what happened to her. So of course we want it to be solved. We want to know what’s going on. We want to get the answers that we are just so desperately seeking,” said Shannon’s sister Sherre Gilbert.
Watch: Attorney John Ray Calls On Police To Release Shannon Gilbert 911 Calls
Attorney John Ray, who represents Gilbert’s family, has taken the county to court to force police to release Gilbert’s 911 calls, where she spoke her final words. He alleges a cover-up in a department once led by the now discredited police chief James Burke.
“Suffolk County has covered up the facts in this investigation. They have done an inadequate and negligent job,” Ray said.
“The amount of work is unprecedented,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini. “We remain committed to obtaining justice.”
For the first time, police backed off an earlier administration’s theory that Gilbert wasn’t murdered but rather died accidentally.
“She does not match the pattern. We let the facts dictate where they lead,” Hart said.
The website is up and running. Police say there will be periodic updates and crime scene photos. The goal is to leverage social media and technology that didn’t exist a decade ago to finally catch a serial killer.