Rex Heuermann – The Gilgo Beach Murders

On Friday, a murder charge was brought against a Long Island architect in connection with the Gilgo Beach murders, a series of killings that have remained unsolved for a long time. Detectives, following a new lead, claim to have matched DNA from a pizza that the suspect, Rex Heuermann, consumed with genetic material found on the victims’ remains.

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Heuermann, who has resided near the area where the remains were discovered for many years, is accused of murdering Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello. Additionally, authorities consider him the primary suspect in the death of a fourth woman, whose body was concealed in dense vegetation along a secluded beach highway.

Throughout the investigation, law enforcement has stated that it is unlikely that a single individual was responsible for all 11 victims. Heuermann, aged 59, was apprehended on Thursday night as part of the renewed investigation. His status as a suspect was initially established in March 2022, when detectives connected him to a pickup truck seen by a witness during one of the victims’ disappearances in 2010.

According to authorities, in March, investigators who were monitoring Heuermann’s activities obtained his DNA from pizza crust that he discarded in a trash can in Manhattan. They were able to match this DNA to a hair found on a restraint used in the killings.

During his court appearance on Friday in Riverhead, Heuermann’s lawyer entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. Judge Richard Ambro ordered that he be held in jail without bail, citing the “extreme depravity” of the alleged conduct.

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Heuermann’s attorney, Michael Brown, stated that they had only become aware of the charges on Friday morning. After the arraignment, Brown spoke to reporters and mentioned that Heuermann had asserted his innocence, saying, “I didn’t do this.”

In court, Heuermann, dressed in khaki pants and a gray collared shirt, did not address the court or speak during the proceedings.

Heuermann resides in Massapequa Park, a community located just north of South Oyster Bay and the renowned Gilgo Beach area where the remains were discovered between 2010 and 2011. The victims primarily consisted of young women who were engaged in sex work. Their murders had long perplexed investigators, generating significant public interest and even inspiring a Netflix film titled “Lost Girls” in 2020.

The identification of the perpetrator(s) responsible for these crimes, as well as their motives, posed a challenging puzzle for numerous experienced homicide detectives, despite various changes in police leadership over the years. In an effort to solve the case, an interagency task force was established last year, comprised of investigators from the FBI, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Rex Heuermann is a demon that walks among us — a predator that ruined families,” Suffolk County police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said. “If not for the members of this task force, he would still be out on the streets today.”

Prosecutors revealed that after establishing the connection between Heuermann and the pickup truck, investigators were able to uncover further evidence implicating him in the crimes. This evidence included the use of burner cellphones to arrange meetings with the victims and harassing phone calls made to one of Barthelemy’s relatives, using her own cellphone, by an individual claiming to be the killer. These developments played a crucial role in building the case against Heuermann.

In recent months, it was discovered that Heuermann had been actively monitoring the progress of the investigation. Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney stated that Heuermann had displayed an obsessive search behavior on the internet, relentlessly seeking information about the Gilgo Beach murders. This included searching for details about the victims he is accused of killing, as well as engaging with podcasts and documentaries related to the case.

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Source: Suffolk County Police Department

Tierney explained that the decision to charge Heuermann with three of the killings at this time was driven by concerns about the defendant potentially fleeing and the risk posed to the community. However, authorities are actively working to build a case against him for the fourth victim, Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

Prior to his arrest, Heuermann was found to be using burner phones, engaging with sex workers, and conducting online searches related to sadistic content, including sexually exploitative images involving children, according to Tierney. Additionally, it was revealed that Heuermann possessed permits for 92 firearms.

The arrest came as a surprise but also brought a sense of relief to some of the relatives of the victims.

Law enforcement personnel descended on Heuermann’s residence, a small red house located around 40 miles (64 km) east of midtown Manhattan, on Friday morning. Dozens of residents gathered, alongside police and media, observing as a group of investigators, some wearing protective suits, conferred near the front porch. The porch itself was in disrepair, with its roof supported by 2-by-4s.

Heuermann, who is married and has a daughter and stepson, holds a valid architecture license and works for a Manhattan-based firm that specializes in store buildouts, office renovations, and residential projects, as stated on the company’s website. Their portfolio includes work for major retailers, offices, and apartments.

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John Ray, the attorney representing the families of two other victims, Shannan Gilbert and Jessica Taylor, expressed satisfaction that the police are finally taking action and making progress. He cautiously emphasized the need to wait and see where these developments will lead.

Gilbert’s disappearance in 2010 played a pivotal role in uncovering the larger mystery surrounding the Gilgo Beach murders. She was a 24-year-old sex worker who went missing after leaving a client’s residence on foot in the waterfront community of Oak Beach, seemingly vanishing into the marshland.

Several months later, while searching the thick vegetation alongside Ocean Parkway for Shannan Gilbert’s body, a police officer and his cadaver dog stumbled upon the remains of another woman. This discovery led to the subsequent uncovering of three additional bodies within a short walking distance from each other.

By the spring of 2011, the number of discovered human remains had increased to a total of 10 sets, consisting of eight women, one man, and one toddler. Some of these remains were later linked to dismembered body parts found in other locations on Long Island, creating a perplexing crime scene that extended from a park near the New York City limits to a resort community on Fire Island and out to the far eastern part of Long Island.

In December 2011, Gilbert’s body was eventually found approximately 3 miles (5 kilometers) to the east of the location where the other 10 sets of remains had been discovered.

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