MELVILLE, N.Y. – Like a relentless stalker in a cheesy horror movie, the Montauk Monster keeps popping up for one last scare.

So when will the curtain finally drop on this New York’s Long Island thriller? Judging by the buzz, not very soon.

The latest, according to the East Hampton Star: The monster has been stolen from the backyard of Eric Olsen, a Montauk, N.Y., real estate agent who said he had taken the corpse from Ditch Plains Beach, where it was “discovered” July 12.

That day, three Montauk friends – Jenna Hewitt, 26, Rachel Goldberg, 29, and Courtney Fruin – snapped a picture of the creature, which fanned the flames of a story that has become bigger and more complicated ever since.

Olsen and the three friends maintain that the monster is real.

But some claim there could be a shady backstory to the whole deal. Media blog Gawker has reported the theory that Goldberg is the sister of indie filmmaker Darren Goldberg. It says someone connected to the film might have planted a monster prop on the beach as part of a viral marketing ploy to promote his new flick, “Splinterheads.”

The film’s Web site says, “We have the Montauk Monster” under a picture of the creature.

Under that theory, Hewitt, Goldberg and Fruin may have come upon the critter accidentally.

Hewitt’s mother said Rachel Goldberg’s only brother, Gregory, works at a Montauk restaurant with his sister and Jenna Hewitt.

“These girls have no desire to bring any attention to themselves,” Janis Hewitt said Friday. “They wouldn’t even think of creating a hoax like this.”

She added, “This all has been blown out of proportion.”

Cue the credits? Not yet.

(c) 2008, Newsday.

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-08-08-08 2335EDT

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