The wife of Rex Heuermann, the man charged with killing at least three women and burying their bodies on a beach beside a remote coastal highway, may sue police for leaving her home in a “shambles” in their search for evidence.
Asa Ellerup is living in a “waking surreal nightmare,” her attorney said on Friday.
She is also struggling to pay for cancer treatment while living in a house that she claims was trashed by investigators searching for possible evidence of her husband’s alleged crimes.
At a press conference on Long Island, attorneys for Ms Ellerup, Mr Heuermann’s estranged wife, and his two adult children, announced the family planned to follow a notice of claim, a move that would allow them to eventually sue police for “leaving their home in shambles”.
“Their valuables were shattered, their places were destroyed, the place they laid their heads no longer exists,” said Vess Mitev, an attorney who is also representing Mr Heuermann’s daughter, Victoria, and stepson, Christopher Sheridan.
“They’re going through a horrific emotional time that none of us can imagine,” he added, previously describing their experience as that of a “surreal, walking horror show”.
Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney has said police followed standard procedure during their 12-day search of the house.
Ms Ellerup is currently scrambling to find a way to pay for her skin and breast cancer treatment, attorneys said. Her current medical insurance, which is tied to her husband’s employment, runs out later this year.
She has spoken to her husband by phone but has not visited him and filed for divorce from Mr Heuermann last month just days after the bombshell arrest of the architect in a case that has baffled authorities for over a decade.
The family has raised more than $40,000 through a GoFundMe started by Melissa Moore, the daughter of serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson, known as the “Happy Face Killer”.
That crowd-funding campaign has generated some controversy. John Ray, an attorney for Shannon Gilbert, a woman found dead on a coastal marsh near Mr Heuermann’s alleged victims, urged the public against donating to the family, describing them as suspects in the case, rather than victims.
Suffolk Police have concluded that Gilbert drowned accidentally — a finding her family has not accepted, believing she was also killed.
Mr Heuermann was charged last month in the deaths of Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Costello, and Megan Waterman. Their remains were found on Gilgo Beach just off Long Island.
He is the prime suspect in the death of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes.
All four of the women were believed to be engaged in sex work prior to their disappearance. Other remains were also found in the vicinity but no connection has been made to Mr Heuermann, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Bob Macedonio, an attorney for Ms Ellerup, said Mr Heuermann was living a “complete double life,” with his wife and children totally in the dark about his alleged crimes.
The lawyers said there has been no contact between the authorities and any family members.
Mr Heuermann is due back in court on 27 September.
With reporting by the Associated Press