An imprisoned ex- chief of the Suffolk County Police Department, James Burke, was named Thursday by a lawyer for the family of one Gilgo Beach victim as a possible suspect in the unsolved serial killings.
Attorney John Ray, speaking at a news conference with a woman who claims ex-Suffolk County Police Commissioner James Burke [Photo left], engaged her in rough sex, pointed the finger at the former top cop.
“Jimmy Burke is now moved into the circle of suspects,” said Ray, admitting that he lacked a smoking gun in the killings of 11 victims.
But the lawyer insisted there was “very strong circumstantial evidence” linking Burke to the killings.
Burke, 52, became police chief two years after the disappearance of New Jersey prostitute Shannan Gilbert led to the eventual discovery of 11 bodies.
Law enforcement source with knowledge of the Long Island serial killer investigation told FoxNews.com last month that Burke was viewed as a person of interest in the murders, adding that federal investigators were questioning Burke’s former girlfriends after learning he had a “violent past.”
“Leanne,” is an escort who claims she was paid to have sex with disgraced ex-Suffolk County Police Chief, James Burke, in 2011. She appeared at the press conference beside, ray John.
Despite the report, rose through the ranks to become the Suffolk County police chief. He was criticized for rejecting the help of the FBI after they initially assisted with the investigation. The FBI revived the cold case last year after Burke’s arrest.
It was the search for Shannan Gilbert that led to the discovery of four other women’s remains and the linkage to the work of a suspected serial killer.
24-year-old Gilbert, a Jersey City, N.J. prostitute disappeared May 1, 2010, after visiting a client in the gated community of Oak Beach on a barrier island off Long Island’s south shore.
On December 10, 2010, a police K-9 team stumbled across the first set of remains. In the following days, police found three more women in varying states of decomposition.
Shannan Gilbert was a Craigslist escort and went missing in May 2010. Her Skeletal remains found on a Long Island beach in December, 2011, in a marsh about a half-mile from where the 24-year-old escort disappeared after meeting a client in 2010.
Identified as Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Lynn Costello.The women were all sex workers in their 20s. Each was stuffed inside burlap bags along Ocean Parkway, a 15-mile road that spans Jones Beach, roughly a mile from where they would later find Gilbert’s body, in December 2011.
In the latest accusation, the woman with Burke, who identified herself only as “Leeanne,” said she encountered Burke at a spring 2011 house party near the area where several of the victims’ bodies were found.
At the press conference “Leanne,” said she met Burke at a party in Oak Beach in June 2011. Burke allegedly, paid her $400 for “rough sex” at the home, a few miles from where the murdered prostitutes were found.
In August 2011, the woman said she met Burke for sex a second time in a bathroom at an undisclosed location. “He insisted upon oral sex, which was given,” the affidavit states.
She described Burke as “aggressive” to reporters and said he called her a “whore” before throwing $300 or $400 in cash at her.
“I was a little dehumanized,” she said.
In an affidavit, the woman claims she observed Burke “roughly pull a young woman by her hair to the ground” at the party, which included cocaine. She said in read sworn affidavit that Burke was introduced to her as a “a high police official.”
Shannan Gilbert’s sisters Stevie Smith (L), Sarra Elizabeth Gilbert (C) and Sherre Gilbert (R) her mother Mari Gilbert (seated left) and attorney John Ray
“We took it to a bathroom and he could not consummate actual intercourse and he became really angry,” she recounted. “Then he forced me into really aggressive oral sex. It was so aggressive that my ears teared.”
John Meringolo, the attorney for Burke, issued a terse and dismissive response: “These allegations do not warrant a comment.”
Burke was sentenced in November to 46 months in prison for beating a heroin junkie who robbed the commissioner’s SUV of sex toys, a porn video and a box of cigars back in 2012.
He then leaned on detectives who witnessed the attack on the handcuffed man to cover up the beating.
Ray said the story told by Leeanne, a one-time college student turned prostitute, “brings a direct connection between Burke and those poor, dead victims lying along Ocean Parkway.
The charge by Ray came after another revelation this week in the case: DNA indicated a woman’s torso found in 1997 matched up with body parts discovered 14 years later and several miles apart on Long Island.
The unidentified torso, known to police as “Peaches” because of a tattoo on her chest, was located in Hempstead Lake State Park in 1997. Her other parts turned up in April 2011 in Jones Beach State Park.
Investigators eventually located the remains of eight women, a man and a small child in the area around Gilgo Beach.