Police in Long Island have revealed what could be key evidence in the Gilgo Beach serial killer case: a black leather belt, embossed with the initials "WH" or "HM." Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart told reporters Thursday that investigators believe the belt, which was recovered at the "initial stage" of the investigation, was handled by the suspect, though she declined to say whether they think it was used as a murder weapon. Asked why investigators had waited until now to unveil the evidence, Hart said they had decided to "leverage social media," the New York Times reports. Police have also launched a new website, gilgonews.com, to collect tips and share updates on the murder investigation, reports CNN.
"It is important that the families of these murder victims know we remain steadfast in our commitment to deliver justice," Hart said. The investigation began in May 2010, when police searching for missing 24-year-old Shannan Gilbert found the bodies of four women in bushes near the Long Island beach. They eventually found the bodies of nine women (most of whom had worked as prostitutes), a man, and a toddler. Gilbert's skeletal remains were found in Dec. 2011 in a marshy area 9 miles away from where other bodies were found, and Hart said Thursday that Gilbert's death "does not match the pattern of the Gilgo Beach homicides," though her relatives believe she was a victim of the serial killer. (Read more Gilgo Beach killer stories.)