Recently, I’ve been fascinated by an article from Psychology Today, written to cash in on the trending documentary about Ted Bundy that’s on Netflix. Having watched the documentary, nothing was shocking because it’s all information anyone with any interest in Bundy’s case already knows (plus it’s loaded with spelling mistakes, which is weird), however; it furthers the obsession with true crime, which is a good thing.
While reading Katherine Ramsland’s piece, I started putting the concepts and notions presented in the research to the figures I’m working with in this project and wasn’t particularly shocked to see how accurately they all match up to at least one aspect of what fits the moniker of a “psychopath.”
In the article, Ramsland focuses on the research of Al Carlisle, a prison psychologist who interviewed Bundy numerous times. “the ability to repeatedly kill and also function as a seemingly normal person develops through the evolution of three primary processes: fantasizing scenarios for entertainment or self-empowerment, dissociating to avoid difficult feelings, and compartmentalizing to be able to act as different people in different situations.”
In terms of those responsible for the events at Gilgo Beach, the responsible parties connected to the Long Island Serial Killer break down into the following categories (again, real names will not be used, as everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and also, lawsuits are no fun):
Fantasizing - The Purse, The Well-Spoken Man, The Good Doctor
Compartmentalizing - The Gentleman, The Face
Dissociating - The Banker
Now, two of these individuals I’ve mentioned in previous posts, but, the others, not yet. While it may be a little spoiler-y to reference that there are, at the very least, six individuals connected to this case, these individuals are confirmed by numerous law enforcement operators, as well as those connected to the case. There is one notable exception, though, and that’s The Face. This individual has only been referenced a couple times, but the connections are fairly obvious. More on that when we get to The Face’s eventual profile.
All of these individuals present a public persona that help create a smokescreen to mask their crimes. Ramsland breaks it down as “in other words, the actor can access the voice, the mannerisms, the behavior and the emotions of the role upon cue as needed, and then step out of the role when it’s not needed. The serial killer has a similar skill.” This is perhaps most evident in the case of The Banker, The Well-Spoken Man or The Gentleman, as these three individuals were able to maintain very public personas while also engaging in activity leading to the deaths of the GB4, as well as the others.
I think it’s fair to say that all of these aspects of the psychopath are important, but which one jumps out to you the most? Which seems to be the most important or most terrifying? Is it the ability to compartmentalize? To rationalize and accept one’s actions while also putting alternative actions into perspective and carrying on with one’s day? I don’t know.
Carlisle states: “The actor steps onto the stage to play out his role. The killer steps from one compartment in his mind into the other. The actor leaves the theater for a day on the beach. The killer shifts from the pathological compartment in his mind back into the socially acceptable compartment but he never completely leaves the theater in his mind. It is with him wherever he goes, 24-hours a day, day in and day out.”
These six individuals went about their business, every single day, acting their role of public and familial figure out, and then, in private, committed acts that have gone unsolved to this day.
So, I've been focused on recording and editing the podcast and have two episodes "in the can," as it were, so, I'm just waiting to hear from some sources about interviews for another episode before I pull the trigger on launching the show.
The podcast will be a six episode limited series, examining the night Shannan Gilbert disappeared, and presenting a theory that hasn't been focused on that, according to multiple sources, is a positive examination of the events of that night.
The first episode contains information that has never been released to the public before, but has been whispered about in certain circles regarding this case.
I have to quote a producer friend of mine in that you "never want to give away the secret sauce." In other words, for me to completely launch into what I've learned in the first couple of episodes would be crazy and not helpful to the case at all. That said, the listener will learn about the events over the course of the limited series (two per month is the aim, with additional content as it becomes available).
I want to thank Chris Kretz of the amazing Long Island History Project podcast for his invaluable guidance and help in getting me focused regarding the podcast.
There will be an update next week on Tuesday, and I hope to have the podcast up and running by next week as well.
In the meantime, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to throw some love our way on Facebook, too.
Email us with any questions, comments and more!
The suspect pool for the Long Island Serial Killer (LISK) aka The Craigslist Killer, is a fairly deep one, depending on who you talk to. While there are certainly suspects who seem like a complete impossibility (Joel Rifkin, David Berkowitz), there are others who seem like possibilities. That said, there are still others, those with means and those without, who may have had a hand in the demise of the Gilgo Beach 4 (Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes and Amber Lynn-Costello), as well as Shannan Gilbert, Jessica Taylor, “Peaches,” and the others.
This week, we’ll be taking a look at one such suspect. He has a name, he’s referenced on the LISK boards from time to time, and he was a favorite suspect for a long time, but has since seen his name taper off quite a bit since the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) started looking harder at John Bittrolff as the prime suspect in the case, whether officially or unofficially. For our purposes, this former-favorite suspect will be referred to as The Banker.
The Banker functions as a primary funding source for parties, gatherings and has extensive connections across Long Island. In a sense, this individual is very similar to The Well-Spoken Man, however; he’s nowhere near as educated. The Banker is a businessman, a mover and shaker in the Long Island political scene, and in every sense of the word - a phony.
Having had discussions with individuals who were close to The Banker’s family, they presented him in varying ways - some describe him as a doting father and husband, one who would do anything for his family, putting a sense of moral value above anything else, while others describe The Banker as a degenerate gambler and frequent flyer when it comes to sex workers. Like everything else in this case, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the reality while ignoring the smokescreen.
Hiding one’s nocturnal proclivities while in the public eye proclaiming to be a family man and supporter of traditional, moral values isn’t a new concept, but The Banker takes this notion further. In regards to the gambling aspect, The Banker is noted to have frequented Atlantic City quite regularly, and unsurprisingly, bodies of various sex workers had been found there, as well. Some arranged in such a way that they pointed toward Long Island.
Hervey Cleckley’s book Mask of Sanity first posited the notion of an individual, or psychopath, appearing at first to be a perfectly average, even charming human being. This is done both to present themselves in a way that allows them to function in society, but also to perhaps stem the tide of their internal mayhem. While The Banker may exhibit some of the aspects of Cleckley’s clinical profile, it isn’t complete. Poor reactions to external influencers is one that makes sense, along with the rumored impersonal sex life, however; there are others that just don’t click.
In my research, Cleckley points to “lack of remorse or shame” as one the indicators of a psychopath. The Banker doesn’t exhibit this. In my interviews and discussions with folks who are close to the family of The Banker, at some point, there seemed to be a remarkable amount of remorse over some event that occurred.
The notion of being a public family man and private deviant seems like a lot for one individual to shoulder. Whether The Banker struggles with maintaining their mask of sanity or not remains a mystery.
In my time researching this case, I found that the perceptions regarding prostitution vary wildly. While many hold the belief that the oldest profession is a serious crime, others have softened on the notion, citing that, essentially, prostitution is a victimless crime. There’s a transaction, if things go smoothly, everything is fine. While there are certainly outliers when it comes to individuals taking advantage of men and women engaged in selling sex, I’d like to discuss less about the legal side of the coin and more about the societal aspect.
Conversations with those in law enforcement have been varied. Some older, retired officers view the sex trade as just a way of life. Women and men engaged in an activity to pay the bills, to survive, to feed their habits, whatever the case. Other officers, still on the job, discuss how prostitution is very much so a crime and are quick to cite the issues with its existence, yet acknowledge that when a sex worker goes missing, there isn’t a huge drive to find this person, because the general idea is that they were involved in a risky endeavor that resulted in them going missing and that because other crimes are more important, a missing sex worker isn’t at the top of the list of importance.
Of course, these are human beings like anyone else. There are numerous groups dedicated to the Long Island Serial Killer (LISK) that have threads about the case. Typically, when someone refers to the girls who went missing as a “prostitute” or “hooker,” the thread quickly dissolves into a flame war of posters taking the high road in an effort to put a human face on the victims. While this is obviously important to do, it also takes the focus on the questions and inquiry.
Having had conversations with family members and friends of the girls who were discovered the human face of this profession takes immediate shape. While yes, drugs and other addictions certainly were in play, that doesn’t make a person worth tossing to the side. Where does this stigma of non-interest from law enforcement come from, I started to ask. None of my law enforcement contacts were really able to shed light on the question, so, I had to do my own research.
From what I gathered, part of the problem is the criminalization of the act of hiring a sex worker. When one vanishes, even if a client list is found, who would be willing to share their experience with that individual or to talk about the kind of person they were when the implication is that the person being questioned is a criminal for hiring the sex worker in the first place?
Other aspects highlight that sex workers are in constant conflict with police officers. In 2011, the Suffolk County Police Department asked sex workers to come forward with any and all information regarding the LISK or the victims and their possible movements around the time they disappeared. From what I have heard, the result of this dragnet was minimal. The basic thinking at the time was that why would a sex worker out themselves to the police and face potential scrutiny at the hands of a police force who seemingly disregards them when they need them?
It's hard not to see that side of the argument against coming forward back in 2011.
Sex work and the demand for sex workers isn’t going anywhere. As long as individuals are willing to pay for sex or companionship in some form, there will always be sex workers who are taken advantage of. Whether that means more dead bodies found along beaches on Long Island, or individuals who are abused in some other form, the criminalization of sex work seems absurd. Protecting individuals engaged in sex work, building bridges between law enforcement and sex workers to better protect and crack down on malicious crime seems to be the answer, but who knows if that will ever occur.
A QUICK UPDATE:
After the recent passing of my father, the podcast was put on hold for a bit. However, in the coming weeks, once hosting is resolved, we should be up and running. I appreciate your patience, dear readers, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out!