By Tessa Raebeck
John Bittrolff, the Manorville man who was arrested last week and accused of killing two women whose bodies were found dumped in the woods within months of each other in late 1993, and suspected in a third case in which the woman’s body was discovered in North Sea, will be arraigned on a grand jury indictment on Thursday, July 31.
The 48-year-old husband and father was arrested by detectives last week and charged with two counts of second-degree murder. A carpenter who has lived with his family in a Brookhaven Town home for over a decade, Mr. Bittrolff was connected to the crimes through DNA evidence, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said.
During a brief court appearance in Riverhead on Tuesday, July 28, Judge James Hurson reviewed Mr. Bittrolff’s bail and ordered him to continue to be held without bail in the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead.
Judge Hurson will unseal the grand jury indictment at Thursday’s arraignment.
The body of Mr. Bittrolff’s first alleged victim, Rita Tangredi, 31, was found beaten and strangled to death on November 2, 1993 in a wooded area off of Esplanade Drive in East Patchogue. Ms. Tangredi lived in East Patchogue and was known by police to be a prostitute.
Colleen McNamee, 20, of Holbrook, was found dead nearly three months later on January 30, 1994. Ms. McNamee, also believed by authorities to be a prostitute, was likewise beaten, strangled to death and left naked in the woods, near the William Floyd Parkway in Shirley.
The murders were considered to be cold cases until DNA evidence obtained from Mr. Bittrolff’s brother, Timothy Bittrolff, who was arrested in 2013 and convicted of assault, was found to be similar to DNA found at the crime scenes. John Bittrolff was also charged with assault in 1990.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said Mr. Bittrolff might also be responsible for the murder of Sandra Costilla, a woman from Queens whose body was discovered in November 1993 off of Old Fish Cove Road in the North Sea area of Southampton.
All three women were strangled and beaten before they were killed. District Attorney Spota said the positioning of their bodies, the manner in which they were killed and a particular item of clothing that was missing from all three bodies make Mr. Bittrolff a suspect in Ms. Costilla’s murder.
Although Ms. Costilla was not a prostitute, Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said she “led a similar lifestyle.”
Mr. Bittrolff has not been charged in the Costilla case.
“The possible connection between these two murders and the homicide of Ms. Costilla is under investigation at this time,” District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a press release.