Series 1 Episode 1
First Broadcast: 10PM Mon 13 February 2012

In one of the worst serial killings in American history, over just two years police have discovered 11 bodies dumped on an isolated stretch of coastal road in Long Island, New York, leading to a wealthy gated community.

Four of the dead were sex workers who had advertised online, as part of a rapidly growing internet sex trade worth millions. The killer is still at large.

With access to several people close to the case and to the victims, this True Stories film pieces together a crime that exposes a darker side of middle-class, white America. The film includes compelling interviews with families of the victims and of another online escort, Shannan Gilbert, who was found nearby, and first-hand accounts from witnesses, senior police and officials close to the case.

Examining how the sex trade has increasingly moved online, the film sheds light on a world where clients can now search for individuals from the privacy of their home, and, most importantly for some, anonymously.

The most highly prized commodity in this online industry is the ordinary American girl, like many of the victims of the Long Island serial killer, who were cashing in on this seemingly straightforward, lucrative operation in order to make ends meet or earn fast money.

Shannan's fate was one of the biggest mysteries of this crime. Her disappearance triggered the man-hunt and unearthing of this gruesome, high-profile case. But when her body was finally discovered in December 2011, police concluded that Shannan's death was not linked to the serial killer, something that is still strongly contended by her family.

This film tells the chilling story of five American girls who fell prey to a new, highly dangerous form of prostitution.

As the hunt for the killer continues, the police cannot rule out the possibility that he has claimed more lives, or that he will kill again. Meanwhile, more women are taken in by the lure of the online sex trade, running the risk of becoming someone's next victim.

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America's Serial Killer on Channel4.com

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True Stories examines an unsolved case of serial murder and the online sex trade

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Sat 26 Apr11PM More4