AMHERST, NY (WKBW) - Like many young women, Melissa Barthelemy had big plans for her future.
After graduating from South Park High School, the Buffalo native went to cosmetology school and then moved to New York City in 2007.
"She originally started working at a barber shop cutting hair in NYC. She wanted to make enough money to come back home and open her own salon," said Lynn Barthelemy, Melissa's mother.
But those plans were derailed when Melissa entered the seedy world of prostitution. She told her family that she was an exotic dancer.
"She was not a mean person. And she wasn't a bad person. I know a lot of stories have been going around," said Melissa's father, Mark Szpila.
The family learned of Melissa's occupation, she was working as an escort, only after she disappeared in the summer of 2009.
18 months later, last December, Melissa's body and the remains of three other women were found on Long Island.
Suffolk County police said the women all had a few things in common: all were in their 20's and all four advertised escort services on the Web site Craigslist.com.
"We didn't know what she was doing. I mean, we knew she went down there to cut hair and then she told us she was an exotic dancer," said Lynn Barthelemy.
Police believe the killings were committed by the same person. The search for a suspect continues.