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Bryan Kohberger’s criminology professor weighs in on Rex Heuermann’s arrest in Gilgo Beach murders probe

‘I’m not surprised at the kind of person that we’re looking at,’ renowned forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland told NewsNation

Andrea Blanco
Wednesday 19 July 2023 14:00 BST
Gilgo Beach suspect Rex Heuermann ‘a demon that walks amongst us’, police say

A criminology professor who once taught alleged University of Idaho murderer Bryan Kohberger has said she is not surprised that the man arrested in the Gilgo Beach serial killer case led a seemingly normal life.

Rex Heuermann’s arrest on 14 July marks a major breakthrough in the investigation into the trail of bodies found on Gilgo Beach, Long Island, more than a decade ago.

Up to 11 bodies could be linked to the case, according to investigators, but Mr Heuermann is so far only facing charges over the deaths of Amber Costello, Megan Waterman and Melissa Barthelemy.

Mr Heuermann is also the prime suspect in a fourth murder, with Suffolk County investigators saying they’re confident more charges loom ahead. Meanwhile, multi-state law enforcement agencies have also opened reviews into possible ties between Mr Heuermann and other unsolved cold cases across the country.

Prior to his arrest, Mr Heuermann, 59, had outwardly led a normal life, working as an architect in Midtown Manhattan and apparently making very little impression on his neighbours in Massapequa Park.

Renowned forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland, who has interviewed the BTK serial killer Dennis Rader and taught criminal justice graduate Mr Kohberger at DeSales University, said that she wasn’t shocked by the suspect’s lifestyle.

“I’m not surprised at the kind of person that we’re looking at,” Ms Ramsland told NewsNation on Monday.

“More and more we’re seeing people who are accomplished or holding jobs who have families and they still are doing this kind of thing.”

She added: “They learn and practise how to pass as a normal person.”

Weighing in on the “taunting calls” that Mr Heuermann is accused of making to victims’ family members after the murders, Ms Ramland said a small percentage of serial killers sometimes make such calls to “relive” their crimes and feel in control.

“He lives across the bay from [where the victims were found],” added Ms Ramsland, the leading academic authority on the BTK killings who co-wrote the book Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer with Rader.

“As if he can look across and know that they belong to him.”

Rex Heuermann, 59, was arrested last week in connection with the brutal murders of Melissa Barthelemy (upper left), Amber Costello (upper right), Megan Waterman (bottom left). He is also the prime suspect in the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes (bottom right) (AP)

Meanwhile, attorney John Ray told The Independent he was not familiar with Mr Heuermann prior to his arrest and was surprised to learn that the alleged murderer appeared to be able to blend into society.

Mr Ray represents the families of Shannan Gilbert, whose missing person’s investigation led to the discovery of the Gilgo Beach bodies, and Jessica Taylor, whose remains were among those found during the 2010 probe.

“His whole background and purpose and so forth, his lifestyle were all quite surprising,” Mr Ray said. “Much more needs to be known about that now, because here’s a fella who purports to be a successful architect. I doubt very much that he was.”

Former NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday that the 59-year-old suspect is now being looked at in connection to missing persons cases and murders far beyond the shores of Long Island – across the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and even nationwide.

An NYPD official also told ABC News that the married father-of-two’s DNA has been entered into a statewide database and that his alleged MO is being compared to other cases across New York state – including those during the period he was allegedly active in Gilgo Beach.

Mr Heuermann lived close to Gilgo Beach in Massapequa Park, Long Island, but worked in the heart of Midtown Manhattan where he runs an architecture firm. Some of the victims were last seen alive in the city.

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