A 48-year-old Manorville man was arrested Monday in connection with a pair of cold case murders from the 1990s, Suffolk County Police announced late Monday night.
John Bittrolff of Silas Carter Road, in Brookhaven Town, is accused of killing two women and dumping their bodies in wooded areas in East Patchogue and Shirley. Mr. Bittrolff, who was charged with two counts of second-degree murder, was connected to the crimes through DNA evidence, police said.
On Nov. 2, 1993, Rita Tangredi, 31, was found nude in a wooded area off Esplanade Drive in East Patchogue. Ms. Tangredi, who was also identified as Rita Tangredi-Beinlich and whose address was unknown at the time of her death, was beaten and strangled to death, police said.
On Jan. 30, 1994, the body of Colleen McNamee, 20, who was living on Hyacinth Lane in Holbrook, was found dead in the woods near Express Drive South, near William Floyd Parkway in Shirley. Ms. McNamee was also found nude, beaten and strangled to death, police said.
Detectives at the original crime scenes recovered DNA evidence, which linked the cases. Homicide detectives recovered DNA evidence this year that linked Mr. Bittrolff to the cold cases.
Mr. Bittrolff was arrested at 6:30 a.m. Monday and was held overnight at the Fifth Precinct for his arraignment Tuesday at First District Court in Central Islip.
Ms. McNamee was last seen Jan. 5, 1994, getting into a small blue car in front of the Blue Dawn Diner in Islandia, according to a 2003 Crimestoppers press release. She was an outpatient at South Shore Treatment Center in Islandia.
Ms. Tangredi was last seen hitchhiking Nov. 2, 1993, on Montauk Highway, east of County Road 101, in East Patchogue. The next morning, a youth riding an all-terrain vehicle found her partially buried body in a wooded area near an abandoned housing development in the village, according to a 1996 Crimestoppers press release. Ms. Tangredi had been arrested earlier that year on prostitution charges, and police said they believe her death was related to prostitution.
Both women had frequented the East Patchogue area and been arrested for prostitution, police said at the time.
Detectives told Newsday in 1994 that a third murder victim, Sandra Costilla of Queens, whose body was found in a wooded area in North Sea 18 days after Ms. Tangredi’s, may have also been connected to the same killer. Two years later, detectives told Newsday they did not have conclusive evidence to tie her death to the other two murders. No arrest was ever made in the Costilla case.
Ms. Tangredi’s murder was one of three suspicious deaths reported in the area within a four-day stretch in 1993, according to a Newsday report at the time. Linda Greico, a 42-year-old postal worker, was shot to death in her driveway as she walked from her car to her home the day after Ms. Tangredi’s body was discovered. Earlier that same week, 73-year-old John Muller was found bludgeoned to death in his home on Hulse Landing Road in Wading River.
Police did not say if Mr. Bittrolff has been a suspect in any other murders, including several cases involving human remains found in Manorville.
Suffolk County property records show Mr. Bittrolff purchased his home in Manorville in 2003. His previous addresses include Shirley, Center Moriches and Mastic Beach, according to records.
A Pennsylvania man who was convicted of a different murder in 2003 had once been a suspect in the murders of Ms. Tangredi and Ms. McNamee, according to a 1999 report published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Anyone with information about Ms. Tangredi, Ms. McNamee or Mr. Bittrolff, especially concerning their activities in the early 1990s, is asked to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS, police said.