As it happenedended1695914949

Gilgo Beach case: New DNA evidence links Rex Heuermann to murders

Follow updates as Rex Heuermann appears in court for a pre-trial conference in the Gilgo Beach murders case

Rachel Sharp
Thursday 28 September 2023 16:29 BST
Moment Gilgo Beach suspect arrested in crowded New York street

Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann was back in court in New York on Wednesday to face charges for the murders of three women whose bodies were found dumped along the shores of Long Island.

In the court hearing in Suffolk County Court, prosecutors said that a DNA sample taken from the 59-year-old architect had now tied him further to the murders.

According to court documents released following Mr Heuermann’s 13 July arrest, prosecutors said that a male hair had been found on the burlap used to wrap Megan Waterman’s body before she was dumped along Gilgo Beach.

After investigators zeroed in on Mr Heuermann as a possible suspect in the killings, they sought his DNA to compare it to the hair sample.

This January, a surveillance team watching the suspect saw him chuck a pizza box into a trash can close to the office of his architecture firm in Midtown Manhattan.

They seized the box and found a leftover pizza crust inside, which was tested for DNA.

Forensic testing then proved that the DNA on the pizza crust was a match to the hair found on Waterman’s body.

Following his arrest, prosecutors sought a DNA sample directly from Mr Heuermann and a judge ordered the accused killer to have a cheek swab taken last month. The swab was then tested and compared to the DNA evidence.

In court on Wednesday, prosecutors confirmed it came back a match – that the hair found on Waterman’s body belongs to Mr Heuermann.

Mr Heuermann, a married father-of-two, was arrested on 13 July and charged with the murders of Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy and Amber Costello in what marked a major development into the infamous Gilgo Beach murders. He is also the prime suspect in the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

All four women worked as sex workers and disappeared after going to meet a client. Their bodies were found in December 2010 bound by belts or tape and some wrapped in burlap.

In total, remains of 11 victims were found along the Long Island shores in 2010 and 2011.

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Welcome to The Independent’s liveblog

Follow updates as Rex Heuermann appears in court for a pre-trial conference in the Gilgo Beach murders case.

Rachel Sharp27 September 2023 10:29
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HAPPENING TODAY: Rex Heuermann due back in court

Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann will return to court in New York where he faces charges for the murders of three women whose bodies were found dumped along the shores of Long Island.

The 59-year-old architect is scheduled to appear in Suffolk County Supreme Court for a pre-trial conference on Wednesday morning.

At the hearing, the judge could rule on a motion seeking to return the accused killer’s stash of guns to his family.

Mr Heuermann’s wife Asa Ellerup has asked that the trove of around 200 guns seized during a search of their home in Massapequa Park be given back.

Prosecutors and the defence will also discuss other matters surrounding evidence in the case.

Mr Heuermann is expected to appear in person for the hearing.

Rachel Sharp27 September 2023 10:40
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How the Gilgo Beach serial killer turned the Long Island shore into a graveyard

For around two decades, the sands and marshes of Long Island’s Gilgo Beach kept a dark secret.

A killer or killers roamed the locality, luring in escorts and sex workers and brutally murdering them.

Body after body was dumped along the shoreline, hidden for months and even years without being discovered.

Then, in 2010, a chilling 911 call made by a woman in fear for her life led police to search the area.

What they discovered was far more horrifying than anyone could have imagined.

Over the next year, the remains of 11 victims – mainly female escorts – were discovered dumped in the area, plunging the Suffolk County community into terror.

But, the case went cold and no arrests were made, no suspects were named and there was no justice for the victims and their families. That is, until now.

In July, local married father-of-two Rex Heuermann was arrested on suspicion of being the infamous serial killer. The 59-year-old has been charged with the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello and is also the prime suspect in the murder of a fourth woman Maureen Brainard-Barnes – who was last seen alive in New York City in early June 2007.

Now, the question is: now an arrest has been made, is the hunt for the Gilgo Beach serial killer finally over?

How the Gilgo Beach serial killer turned the Long Island shore into a graveyard

More than a decade after 11 bodies were found dumped in Long Beach, married father of two and Manhattan-based architect Rex Heuermann is under arrest. Does this mean the hunt for the Gilgo Beach serial killer is finally over? Rachel Sharp reports

Rachel Sharp27 September 2023 10:50
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Who are the ‘Gilgo four’?

The remains of at least 11 victims were found in the Gilgo Beach area though it remains unclear if they are all the work of the same killer. Many were sex workers who offered escort services on Craigslist or worked in New York City.

The first victim found was Melissa Barthelemy, whose remains were discovered along Ocean Parkway on 11 December 2010 during the search for Shannan Gilbert – a 24-year-old sex worker from New Jersey who vanished after visiting a client in Oak Park and making a chilling 911 call where she revealed fears for her life.

Two days later on 13 December, the remains of three other victims – Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello – were found close by.

All three women were known to advertise escort services on Craigslist.

Brainard-Barnes – known as one of the Gilgo Beach Four – was last seen alive in early June 2007 in New York City while Costello was last seen leaving her North Babylon home one day in early September 2010.

Waterman was last seen alive in early June 2010 at a Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge.

Brainard-Barnes, Waterman, Costello and Barthelemy are together known as the “Gilgo Four”.

Mr Heuermannis charged with the murders of Waterman, Barthelemy and Costello but is yet to be charged with Brainard-Barnes’ murder.

Rachel Sharp27 September 2023 11:20
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WATCH: Moment Gilgo Beach suspect arrested in crowded New York street

Moment Gilgo Beach suspect arrested in crowded New York street
Rachel Sharp27 September 2023 11:50
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Manhattan architect, family man and accused serial killer: Who is Rex Heuermann?

His Manhattan business describes him as a registered architect with over 30 years’ experience.

His neighbours describe him as a “family man” living with his wife and two children in a tight-knit community in Suffolk County.

But now authorities are describing him as the suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer who unleashed terror along the shores of Long Island more than a decade ago.

Rachel Sharp27 September 2023 12:30
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WATCH: Gilgo Beach murders victim Jane Doe 7 identified as Karen Vergata

Gilgo Beach murders victim Jane Doe 7 identified as Karen Vergata
Rachel Sharp27 September 2023 13:54
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What to expect in court today:

Rex Heuermann will return to court in New York today where he faces charges for the murders of three women whose bodies were found dumped along the shores of Long Island.

The 59-year-old architect is scheduled to appear in Suffolk County Court for a pre-trial conference at 9.30am on Wednesday morning.

At the hearing, Justice Timothy Mazzei could rule on a motion seeking to return the accused killer’s stash of guns to his family.

Prosecutors and the defence will also discuss other matters surrounding evidence in the case.

Rachel Sharp27 September 2023 14:10
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ICYMI: Rex Heuermann continued to show ‘disturbing’ online behaviour in the days before arrest

Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann continued to show “disturbing” behaviour right up until his arrest for the murders of three women, according to the top investigator on the case.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison told Newsday in August that he also wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Mr Heuermann may have been “preparing to kill again” at the time of the arrest.

Mr Harrison said that law enforcement saw some concerning actions from the married father-of-two while he was under surveillance before his arrest last month.

“I can’t talk about if he was preparing to kill again,” he said.

“He’s somebody that was still engaging in activity that was disturbing, be it his internet searches, be it engaging in other activities that he shouldn’t be engaging in.”

Commissioner Harrison added that he was “very, very passionate” about keeping eyes on Mr Heuermann up until his arrest because “we need to see what his lifestyle is”.

The accused killer had been on the radar of Long Island police for months – not long after the newly-appointed commissioner launched a new taskforce to crack the unsolved Gilgo Beach serial killer case back in January 2022.

After surveilling him for months, officers swooped on the architect as he left his office in Manhattan on 13 July.

Rachel Sharp27 September 2023 14:37
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Rex Heuermann in court in Suffolk County

Rachel Sharp27 September 2023 15:08

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