John Bittrolff, the 51-year-old Manorville carpenter who was found guilty of murdering two women and dumping their bodies in the woods more than 20 years ago, was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of 25 years to life in prison Tuesday by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro.
The case was largely solved using DNA found on the victims, prosecutors said.
“These two murders are as brutal as anything I’ve ever seen,” the judge said at Mr. Bittrolff’s sentencing in Riverside. He said the goal of his sentence was to ensure that Mr. Bittrolff never saw freedom again.
In court, Mr. Bittrolff declined to speak, but his attorney, John Manley, said his client “didn’t do it” and is innocent. He said he plans to immediately file an appeal of the decision.
The bodies of Rita Tangredi, 31, of East Patchogue and Colleen McNamee, 20, of Holbrook were both found murdered in the woods more than 20 years ago. Both were found naked and positioned in similar fashion by the killer.
In court Tuesday, Ms. Tangredi’s son, Anthony Beller, and Ms. McNamee’s father, Lawrence McNamee, and brothers Ken and Thomas McNamee, all addressed the court, and called for the maximum sentence for Mr. Bittrolff.
“I will one day have to tell my children how their grandmother was taken from us,” Mr. Beller said to Mr. Bittrolff. “You are the monster in that story.”
Lawrence McNamee praised the jury for their ability to see the truth.
“My daughter’s hopes and ambitions, and our hopes for her, died with her,” he said.
Thomas McNamee said his sister “was brutally murdered by Mr. Bittrolff. A stone cold killer.”
Ms. Tangredi was found Nov. 3, 1993 in a wooded area off of Esplanade Drive in East Patchogue. The cause of death was blunt force trauma to her head and strangulation.
Ms. McNamee was discovered Jan. 30, 1994 in a wooded area east of William Floyd Parkway in North Shirley, and she had been strangled and had a blunt force injury to her head.
Both victims had been prostitutes and had drug problems, officials said at the trial.
Both cases went unsolved for years until Mr. Bittrolff’s brother, Timothy, was arrested on an unrelated charge and was required to give a DNA sample to the state’s DNA database.
That identified Timothy Bittrolff has a “partial match” in the murders of Mr. Tangredi and Ms. McNamee, meaning that the killer was related. Police then followed members of the Bittrolff family looking for items with DNA that matched what was found at the two murder scenes. They finally found a cup with John Bittrolff’s DNA on it, leading to his arrest on July 21, 2014 on two counts of second degree murder.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla said he felt a letter Mr. Bittrolff sent from jail to a friend showed his lack of remorse.
The letter read, “They can’t prove anything. They’ve got nothing,” according to Mr. Biancavilla.
“He relished in the fact that his victim’s had evidence of more than one sexual encounter,” Mr. Biancavilla said. “That’s why he chose these girls. He chose them because they were victims and were vulnerable, and he chose them because he thought that no one would care enough to bring him to justice.”
Mr. Biancavilla said outside court that he believes Mr. Bittrolff may have killed other women. He said he was prepared to present evidence provided to his office of Mr. Bittrolff brutalizing animals, but the judge would not allow it.
In one case, Mr. Biancavilla said, Mr. Bittrolff wrestled a pig and then slit its throat and let it bleed to death, while in another, he killed a deer and then removed the heart and ate it raw in front of people he was hunting with, Mr. Bittrolff said.
“He’s got a long history of brutality and disregard for life,” Mr. Biancavilla said.