Neighbours congregated in shock in Massapequa Park on Friday after the arrest of long-time resident Rex Heuermann in connection with the Gilgo Beach murders, looking on as police loaded and hauled away a black pickup truck and another large, tarped-over piece of evidence on flatbeds.
One woman, whose property backs up to that of Mr Heuermann and his wife, told The Independent on Friday: “I really have no comment ... I mean, we’ll all watch it unfold.”
Mr Heuermann’s street, First Avenue, is one block from the now-closed Nassau County Police Academy and a stone’s throw from a nature preserve that borders main Long Island thoroughfare Sunrise Highway.
One long-time neighbor of the Heuermanns, who has lived a few doors down from the family for more than two decades, told The Independent on Friday that the suspect, his wife and two children were “a very quiet family” who made “no imprint at all” on the local community.
“Basically, we never had any contact with him ... living here 22 years and never said two words to him,” she said – while quick to point out that “one bad apple doesn’t spoil the bunch” in a “great neighbourhood.”
Mr Heuermann was charged Friday with six counts of murder in connection with the infamous Gilgo Beach killings, which were believed to be the work of a serial killer after the first bodies were found in 2010 along remote stretches of Long Island shoreline. The killer is believed to have claimed at least 10 victims.
A 59-year-old architect with an office in Manhattan, Mr Heuermann is married with children and graduated from high school on Long Island. He faces three counts of murder in the first degreee and three in the second degree over the deaths of Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy and Amber Costello.
It is not clear what led to the sudden breakthrough in the case over a decade after bodies began being dumped along remote beaches.
The Gilgo Beach murders have 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 purported serial killer has been linked to up to 11 victims, though authorities have never been able to confirm if the same person was responsible for all.
Mr Heuermann was first linked to the cold case in March of 2022 after investigators discovered that a first-generation Chevrolet Avalanche registered to Mr Heuermann was possibly the one spotted by a witness in Costello’s disappearance.
As law enforcement closed in on Mr Heuermann, they served more than 300 subpoenas and search warrants that uncovered cellphone records for burner phones used to arrange meetings with three of the “Gilgo Four” victims before they went missing.
Further analysis also allegedly link Mr Heuermann to taunting calls made to family members of the victims.
A bail application released by the Suffolk County District Attorney revealed that Mr Heuermann was linked to the serial killings through cellphone evidence and surveillance.
Prosecutors argued in the application that no bail should be set for Mr Heuermann due to his recent searches for “sadistic materials, child pornography, images of the victims and their relatives.”