If you’re a true crime-enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of the Long Island Serial Killer, otherwise known as LISK podcast. We have it as part of our best true crime podcasts of the year.
The LISK case is one of the most notorious cold cases in the United States, as investigators are baffled by the case and still trying to determine over a decade later who killed ten-plus women in Gilgo Beach, Long Island. While there are books, movies, and documentaries about the LISK, the most notable way to consume information about this case is the LISK: Long Island Serial Killer podcast.
Before we dive into the podcast, let’s review what was previously known about the case.
LISK Case Background
The investigation of the LISK case began in December 2010 when police found ten bodies on Gilgo Beach while searching for a missing Shannan Gilbert. After being hired by local resident Joseph Brewer for sex work via Craigslist, Shannan was seen fleeing his home, screaming for help, and calling 911 before disappearing into the night. Authorities would later find the remains of ten women while looking for Shannan.
Now that we have some background information on this case, let’s examine season one of the “LISK: Long Island Serial Killer” podcast.
LISK: Long Island Serial Killer Podcast
The “LISK: Long Island Serial Killer” series is hosted by Chris Mass and consists of six main episodes along with several bonus episodes and minisodes. In each episode, Mass shares the story of each victim and what is known of their disappearance. He interviews authorities and people who were close to the victims to include as many details as he can about the case.
LISK Episodes 1 & 2
In the first two episodes, Mass takes listeners through the events that led up to Shannan Gilbert’s disappearance as well as what occurred the night that she went missing.
We learn that on the night of April 30, 2010 Shannan received a call from a client over an hour outside of town. She agreed to meet this client, so Michael Pak, her driver, drove her to the gated community of Oak Beach. They arrived at Joseph Brewer’s home in the early morning hours of May 1, 2010, and Shannan went inside.
At around 4 a.m., Brewer goes outside to tell Pak that Shannan won’t leave. Once inside, Pak realizes that Shannan is on the phone with 911 operators.
After both men try to remove a shaken and paranoid Shannan from the house, she runs out of the house. Pak follows her and then runs into a neighbor who says he’s called 911. During this interaction, Shannan heads to a different neighbor’s house who also calls 911 after hearing Shannan scream that someone is trying to kill her.
After three total 911 calls have been made, police arrive at 5:40 a.m., 10 minutes after the last call. They don’t find anything, so they assume that Shannan took off with Pak, while Pak is led to believe that Shannan found a way home. When Shannan doesn’t make it home later that morning, her family becomes worried.
With no answers, Shannan’s family begins to perform their own investigation by asking residents about what happened that night.
In the second episode, more is revealed about Shannan’s life before her disappearance. She had a harsh childhood that consisted of drugs and an absent father, and she also suffered from bipolar disorder. Despite these setbacks, she was determined to move to New York to pursue singing and performing. While she waited for her breakthrough, she found work as an escort.
We also learn about a suspicious person who may or may not have been involved in Shannan’s disappearance. Dr. Peter Hackett, a resident of Oak Beach, claimed that he helped Shannan on the night she went missing and called her mother Mari.
However, he later changes his story and denies some of these details when asked by numerous people. Some people are still suspicious of him, but others believe that he tried to insert himself into the case and pose as a hero.
LISK Episode 3
“Melissa Barthelemy” is the title of the third episode and one of the women whose body was found at Gilgo Beach. She had a fairly good childhood with her close-knit family that consisted of her mom, sister, and stepdad. Melissa went to cosmetology school and dreamed of owning her own hair salon.
In the meantime, she moved to New York City with her boyfriend at the time to get a job at a hair salon. After she and her boyfriend broke up, Melissa began dating the hair salon owner who got her into sex work.
A few years later in the summer of 2009 before Melissa’s sister Amanda planned to visit her, Melissa went missing. Soon after, Amanda began receiving calls from Melissa’s phone with an anonymous man on the other line. He claimed that he had Melissa and later says that he killed her. Police try to determine where the calls are coming from, but the calls eventually stop. Then, in December 2010, a year and a half after her disappearance, Melissa’s body was found.
LISK Episode 4
Maureen Brainard-Barnes was the first to go missing in 2007. She and her two siblings were raised by a single mother, then Maureen became pregnant at 16 and later became a sex worker to make ends meet. During this time, she met Sarah Marquis who would end up joining Maureen’s business but only work with her for about three weeks before Maureen went missing.
A few weeks after Maureen’s disappearance, Sarah received a call from a man who claimed that he knew where Maureen was. And in December 2010, Maureen’s body was found.
In June 2010, Megan Waterman walked out of her hotel in Long Island and was never seen alive again. She had also started working as a sex worker and placing ads on Craigslist.
While she lived in Maine, she often traveled to New York for work at the advice of her boyfriend. Megan tells her boyfriend in the middle of the night that she’s going to the store and is seen via video footage leaving the hotel, then her body was found six months later.
LISK Episode 5
Amber Lynn Costello was the last of the four women found on Gilgo Beach and had only been missing since September 2010. Amber differs from the other victims in that she was involved in sex work from a young age. Her older sister Kim first became an escort while trying to pay for college and got her sister involved soon after.
On her last day, Amber agreed to meet with a client at his place and was never heard from again.
LISK Episode 6
In the last episode of the season, the search continues for Shannan Gilbert. In March and April 2011, many other bodies are found. Then, in December 2011, Shannan’s belongings are found in the marsh in Oak Beach, and soon after, her body is found a year to the day that the first four women’s bodies were found.
In 2012, a new county executive took office and hired a new chief of police, James “Jimmy” Burke. This resulted in investigators in the LISK case being forced to retire and hand the case over to Burke. Due to Burke’s sketchy past, people are suspicious of him as it relates to the LISK case.
Now that you’re all caught up, feel free to jump right into season two called, “LISK: The Search For Answers,” which is out now.