Maureen Brainard-Barnes was 25 years old when she went missing and was living at 180 Prospect St. in Norwich, Connecticut. She is believed to have taken an Amtrak train from New London, Connecticut to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan on July 6, 2007.
While in Manhattan, she was staying at the Super 8 Motel, located at 59 West 46th St. At the time, Brainard-Barnes, who was 4 feet 11 inches tall, was working as a sex worker, advertising on Craigslist, Backpage and other websites. She was known to advertise under the names Juliana or Marie. Her routine was to travel to Manhattan for a few days to work as an escort, and then return home to Connecticut. While in Manhattan, she was known to stay at The Super 8, The Red Roof Inn on West 32nd Street, the Carter Hotel on West 43rd St. and the Manhattan Hotel on 8th Avenue.
On occasion, Brainard-Barnes would travel with another female who worked out of a different room at the same location. They both may have used a male friend, who they would refer to as their cousin, to accompany them and offer a level of safety and protection. Brainard-Barnes traveled with her female friend the weekend she went missing, however her friend returned home early and Brainard-Barnes stayed behind. Brainard-Barnes was last heard from on July 9, 2007 at 11:43 p.m. when she called a friend in Connecticut. Although she was known to work out of motel rooms, on the night of July 9, 2007, she told her friend she would be going to meet someone outside of the motel on an “out-call.”
Brainard-Barnes was reported missing by a friend to the Norwich Police Department on July 14, 2007. The NYPD assisted the Norwich Police Department in the missing person investigation, eventually taking it over. Brainard-Barnes was found on December 13, 2010 on the north side of Ocean Parkway, near Gilgo Beach, during the search for Shannan Gilbert, who had gone missing from Oak Beach.
She is believed to be the first victim in what is known as the “Gilgo Four”.
The Suffolk County Police Department remains committed to seeking justice for the victims in these cases. Suffolk County Crime Stoppers has recently announced the reward leading to an arrest in this case has been increased from $25,000 to $50,000.