LISK Updates: New (Old) Evidence Released and Lost Girls Movie

Hey, it’s been awhile! I’ve been incredibly busy with work, helping my mom recover from a couple surgeries, and other “life” stuff. I am currently down for the count with a nasty case of the flu (and I mean NASTY- wash your hands and take your vitamins, because y’all do not want this), but being stuck on my couch is giving me a chance to catch up on blogging!

My August post about the Long Island Serial Killer(s) had quite a few readers and a lot of positive feedback, so I felt that I owed you some recent news on the case.

Firstly, on Thursday, January 16 of this year, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart held a press conference and released photos of a belt embossed with the initials “WH” or “HM” (depending on which way one holds it) that she states was found at Gilgo Beach 9 years ago during the height of the investigation. According to Hart, the belt was “handled” by LISK and does not belong to any of the 10 victims attributed to the killer.

Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart at a recent press conference, holding up a picture of the belt thought to be “handled” by the Long Island Serial Killer. Photo courtesy of Gothamist.
Close-up of the belt. It is embossed with either “WH” or “HM” depending on how one holds it. Photo courtesy of Gothamist.

Commissioner Hart did not say how they had managed to connect this belt to LISK (DNA perhaps?) or why the police chose to release this information 9 years later. In a recent recent interview with the podcast L.A. Not So Confidential, Robert Kolker, author of Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery, hypothesized that this recent release of information might be because Hart, who is new to her position as police commissioner, might be taking a new approach to the case by sharing more information with the public.

Coincidentally (or maybe not) the release of new information in the LISK case coincided with the release of the trailer for Lost Girls, a Netflix film based on Kolker’s book. I stated in my original blog about this case how much I loved Kolker’s book, which makes me both very excited but also nervous about this film. Oftentimes, when I really love a book, I find myself very disappointed by it’s film adaptation because it just doesn’t quite live up to the book. That being said, the trailer looks pretty promising. The film’s narrative seems to focus on Mari Gilbert, Shannen Gilbert’s mother, who is portrayed by Amy Ryan, probably best known for her roles in The Wire and The Office. One of the things I like best about Kolker’s book is his complex portraits of the victims and their families, showing them as the complex human beings they were and are rather than plot devices in a serial killer thriller. While I’m doubtful that a film will be able to deliver that amount of depth (perhaps a multi-part series would’ve been a better choice), I do think the choice to focus on Mari is a nod to that complexity. I have seen several interviews with Mari, and her love for Shannen, her drive, strength, passion, and doggedness make her an excellent character to drive this story. From the trailer, it looks like Amy Ryan is doing a great job capturing those qualities. Sadly, Mari is now deceased (in an incredibly sad addendum to the tragedy already faced by this family, Mari was killed by another of her daughters, Sarra, while Sarra was in the midst of a schizophrenia-induced psychotic break), so we won’t get to know how Mari would’ve felt about her portrayal or the film as a whole. I’m excited to see it, and I’m hoping when it is released on Netflix on March 13, it will bring fresh eyes and new perspectives on this still-unsolved case.

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