Progress in Long Island Serial Killings Case Brings Attention to Numerous Unresolved Crimes Against Sex Workers

by Sophia Chen
Unsolved murders of sex workers

In 2006, the global media was rocked by the discovery of four deceased women found in a drainage ditch just outside Atlantic City, drawing attention to a deeply unsettling issue.

News outlets from across the world descended upon the popular seaside gambling location. Over a hundred investigators and prosecutors were designated to the case. Safety concerns skyrocketed among casino patrons, and fellow sex workers of the victims began arming themselves discreetly.

However, as the years rolled on, public interest and fear gradually subsided, leaving the unsolved case of the “Eastbound Strangler” – a moniker derived from the victims’ head orientation – largely forgotten.

The recent arrest of a man connected with the murders of three women, whose bodies were discovered on a Long Island beach in 2010, has renewed interest in another cold case, the Gilgo Beach serial killings, that bears striking similarities. This case includes a total of 11 victims, primarily young, female sex workers. This progress, however, serves to underscore a grim reality: Many similar cases, like the one in Atlantic City, remain unresolved.

The FBI hasn’t provided any statistics regarding the number of unsolved sex worker murders in the U.S. Nonetheless, reports from the media and local authorities reveal a significant backlog of unresolved cases, ranging from nine women discovered along Massachusetts highways to 11 found deceased in New Mexico, and another eight bodies found in the swamps and crawfish farms of southern Louisiana. Other crimes against sex workers in places like Chicago, New Haven, Connecticut, and Ohio also continue to baffle investigators.

Serial killers, particularly those targeting sex workers, have historically managed to evade justice, dating back to London’s infamous Jack The Ripper in the 1880s. Their victims often lived on society’s fringes, making them easy targets.

Gary Ridgway, infamously known as the Green River killer, who was convicted for 49 murders in Washington state, admitted during his 2003 court hearing that he targeted sex workers due to their low social visibility.

In November 2006, two women stumbled upon a body while taking a walk near Atlantic City, leading to the discovery of three additional bodies in the vicinity.

The cheap motel in Egg Harbor Township, where these bodies were discovered, no longer stands. It was demolished as part of a cleanup effort targeting the crime and drug-infested area notorious for disturbances, and the murders of Barbara Breidor, Molly Jean Dilts, Kim Raffo, and Tracy Ann Roberts.

For families of the victims, the relentless progression of time without resolution brings daily torment.

“Sadly, it felt like nobody cared anymore,” remarked Joyce Roberts, whose daughter, Tracy Ann, was one of the victims in Atlantic City.

Phoenix Calida, a former sex worker from Chicago and current advocate for sex workers through the Sex Workers Outreach Project, echoed this sentiment. “You feel like the only way you’ll be remembered is when they catch the serial killer who killed you,” she commented.

Various law enforcement agencies, from Massachusetts State Police to the Albuquerque Police Department, continue to actively investigate numerous unsolved crimes against sex workers. Rewards have been offered, and task forces have been established, yet many cases, like those in Louisiana’s Jennings area, remain unsolved.

Police in Las Vegas are even probing potential connections between a recent arrest in Long Island and their unsolved cases involving sex worker murders.

Despite initial large-scale efforts involving multiple law enforcement agencies following the Atlantic City discoveries, the number of investigators dwindled over time, leaving these cases in the shadows.

Calida highlighted that sex workers often face assault and robbery due to the perception that they are less likely to report these crimes. She remarked that she has personally lost three friends from the Chicago sex trade. “There’s always this specific fear that it’s a serial killer…And we wonder: Will law enforcement take it seriously because it’s ‘just another sex worker?’” she questioned.

Several AP writers contributed to this report.

You can follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Unsolved murders of sex workers

What was the breakthrough in the Long Island serial killings?

The recent arrest of a man linked to the murders of three women, whose remains were discovered on a Long Island beach in 2010, has brought renewed attention to the Gilgo Beach serial killings case.

What are the similarities between the Atlantic City and Gilgo Beach cases?

Both cases involve multiple victims, primarily young, female sex workers. Also, both locations are near the ocean, leading to speculation about a single killer operating in these areas.

What is the public sentiment towards these unsolved cases, according to the text?

The text suggests that public attention and fear tend to fade over time, leading to a feeling among the victims’ families and advocates that these crimes are being forgotten or overlooked.

How do law enforcement agencies respond to these cases?

Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, state, and local police departments, continue to investigate these cases. However, due to the high number of unresolved cases and their complex nature, progress is often slow.

Why are sex workers often targets for these kinds of crimes?

Historically, sex workers have been targeted due to their marginal status in society. Notably, they’re less likely to be missed quickly or their absence reported, making them easy targets for perpetrators.

Who is Phoenix Calida and what’s her view on these cases?

Phoenix Calida, a former sex worker from Chicago, is an advocate for sex workers through the Sex Workers Outreach Project. She feels that these cases are often neglected and that sex workers are remembered only when their killers are caught.

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SarahJ99 July 31, 2023 - 5:56 am

This is so sad. 🙁 Who’s fighting for these women? They’re victims too, but seem to be forgotten. Justice needs to be served!

DetectiveDan July 31, 2023 - 10:17 am

Strange how the locations are near the ocean. wonder if it’s same guy or just coincidence…

MikeL47 July 31, 2023 - 2:07 pm

man, i can’t believe these cases are still open. Its like nobody cares bout these poor women… shocking

AngelicaP July 31, 2023 - 8:32 pm

Can’t imagine what the families go through, each day with no news. my heart breaks for them. It’s just not fair.

TracyW77 August 1, 2023 - 12:27 am

Its terrible that sex workers are such easy targets. they deserve protection and respect like everybody else.


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