A woman whose skeletal remains were found along a suburban New York beach highway, in an area where body parts of 10 other people had been strewn, was identified as a Philadelphia escort who went missing two decades ago, police said Thursday.
Suffolk County police said the woman previously known as “Jane Doe No. 6” was identified through genetic genealogy technology as Valerie Mack, who also went by Melissa Taylor and was last seen in 2000 near Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Determining the victim’s identity has brought clarity to a long-running Long Island mystery that attracted national headlines, was featured on true-crime TV shows and was the subject of a recent Netflix film, Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said.
“For two decades, Valerie Mack’s family and friends were left searching for answers and while this is not the outcome they wanted, we hope this brings some sense of peace and closure,” Hart said in a statement.
Mack, born in 1976 two days shy of the U.S. bicentennial, was 24 years old when she disappeared. She was never reported as a missing person, police said.
Her remains were found in two places more than 40 miles (65 kilometers) and a decade apart: in 2000 in Manorville, near where Long Island splits into its two forks, and in 2011 near Gilgo Beach, where the remains of the others were found. Most of them were young women who worked as prostitutes.
Mack is at least the second person whose remains were found at the beach and also in Manorville. Police found the skull of Jessica Taylor, a 20-year-old prostitute who disappeared in 2003, near Gilgo Beach and most of the rest of her body in a wooded area of Manorville.
There is no familial relationship between Mack and Jessica Taylor, despite Mack’s Melissa Taylor pseudonym, police said.
The 2010 disappearance of Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old sex worker who vanished after leaving a client’s house on foot in the seafront community of Oak Beach, triggered the hunt that exposed the larger mystery.