Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect had one chilling question for officials after his arrest

Court documents have revealed that over the last year between March 2022 and June 2023, Heuermann repeatedly looked online for updates in the investigation – and details about the task force hunting him

Rachel Sharp
Tuesday 18 July 2023 13:56 BST
Moment Gilgo Beach suspect arrested in crowded New York street
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Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann had just one chilling question for jail officials following his arrest last week, it has been revealed.

As the 59-year-old married father-of-two was processed into Suffolk County Jail on a string of murder charges, sources told CNN he was curious about his newfound notoriety.

“Is it in the news?” he asked.

Mr Heuermann’s alleged interest in the media coverage of the killings isn’t new.

Court documents revealed that over the last year between March 2022 and June 2023, he repeatedly looked online for updates in the investigation, searched for details about the victims and their families, read news stories about the case and looked for podcasts and documentaries about the murders.

He also took a keen interest in the task force launched by Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison in January 2022 that was actively hunting for him, the documents state.

Among the questions he looked for answers to online was: “why could law enforcement not trace the calls made by the long island serial killer”, and “why hasn’t the long island serial killer been caught”, “Long Island killer” and “Long Island serial killer phone call”.

Knowing he was keeping a close eye on the investigation, police have said they kept the developments under close guard until they swooped on him on the night of 13 July as he left his office in Midtown Manhattan.

Dramatic video shows a team of plainclothes officers surrounding him and taking him into custody on the busy block.

He was charged with three counts of murder in the first degree and three in the second degree over the deaths of Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy and Amber Costello.

Booking image provided by Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office shows Rex Heuermann following arrest (AP)

The three women, who all worked as escorts, vanished without a trace between 2007 and 2010. Their bodies were found in December 2010 during a search for Shannan Gilbert – a sex worker who vanished after visiting a client in Oak Park and making a chilling 911 call where she revealed fears for her life.

He is also the prime suspect in the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes – who together with the three is known as the “Gilgo Beach Four” and was last seen alive in early June 2007 in New York City.

The four women were found within one-quarter mile of each other, bound by belts or tape and some wrapped in burlap.

They are among 11 victims – mostly female sex workers – whose bodies were found in the Gilgo Beach area in 2010 and 2011.

Following his arrest, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office said that Mr Heuermann has been placed on suicide watch in the local jail. This is routine for such cases, officials said.

While he is being held behind bars, police continue to search his family home in Massapequa Park and a storage unit two miles away in Amityville.

Officials said that they are looking for possible “body parts” and “trophies” taken from victims by the killer.

It is unclear if anything of that nature has been found however the Suffolk County Medical Examiner was spotted on the scene of the storage unit on Monday.

New York State police officers carry out a large item from the home of Rex Heuermann (AP)

Over the weekend, a trove of 200 to 300 firearms were seized from the suspect’s home – a home he has lived in his whole life and which is located just a 20-minute drive from Gilgo Beach where the killer dumped the bodies of his victims. He had legal permits for 92 guns, police previously said.

As well as the murder of Brainard-Barnes, police are still investigating whether Mr Heuermann is behind the murders of seven other victim whose bodies were found along the shores of Gilgo Beach.

Investigators further afield are also exploring potential links between the serial killer suspect and other unsolved murders outside of Long Beach.

An NYPD official told ABC News the 59-year-old is being looked at in connection to missing persons cases and murders across all five boroughs of New York City.

The married father-of-two’s DNA has been entered into a statewide database and his alleged MO is being compared to other cases – including those during the period he was allegedly active in Gilgo Beach.

It has also emerged that Mr Heuermann has ties to South Carolina and Las Vegas, owning properties in both locations.

Court records show that Mr Heuermann was linked to the killings through a pimp’s tip about his pickup truck, a stash of burner phones, “sadistic” online searches, phone calls taunting victims’ families, his wife’s hair found on the victims’ bodies – and a pizza crust.

He pleaded not guilty as he appeared in court on 14 July where he was ordered to be held without bond.

The Gilgo Beach murders had long stumped law enforcement officials in Suffolk County who believed it could be the work of one or more serial killers who targeted sex workers and dumped their bodies along the remote beaches on Ocean Parkway.

The case began in May 2010 when Gilbert vanished after leaving a client’s house on foot near Gilgo Beach.

Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Costello, Maureen Brainard-Barnes and Megan Waterman (from clockwise top left) (AP)

She called 911 for help saying she feared for her life and was never seen alive again.

During a search for Gilbert in dense thicket close to the beach, police discovered the remains of another woman.

Within a matter of days, the remains of three more victims were found close by.

This booking image provided by Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office shows Rex Heuermann

By spring 2011, the remains of a total of 10 victims had been found including eight women, a man, and a toddler. Police have long thought that it could be the work of one or more serial killers.

Gilbert’s body was found in December 2011. Her cause of death is widely contested with authorities long claiming that it is not connected to the serial killer or killers but that she died from accidental drowning as she fled from the client’s home.

However, an independent autopsy commissioned by her family ruled that she died by strangulation and her mother believes she was murdered.

Like Gilbert, most of the victims targeted were sex workers while some are yet to be identified.

Investigations are continuing into the other murders.

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