Rex Heuermann’s wife had bizarre response to Gilgo Beach murders arrest as divorce filing revealed

Shocking court documents revealed that her hair had been found on the bodies of three of the four victims – but that she was out of town on each of the occasions that her husband allegedly struck

Rachel Sharp
Thursday 20 July 2023 10:46 BST

Gilgo Beach: Neighbour claims he confronted suspected killer for leering at his wife

The bizarre response of Rex Heuermann’s wife to news of his arrest in the Gilgo Beach murders has been revealed amid reports that she has filed for divorce.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said during a sit-down interview with Fox News that Mr Heuermann’s wife Asa Ellerup had initially been shocked after learning her husband was linked to the murders of three women whose bodies were discovered in Gilgo Beach back in 2010.

“When we told the wife, she was shocked, she was embarrassed. But there was a point where we showed her certain pictures and she said, ‘OK, it is what it is,’” Mr Harrison said in the interview that aired on Thursday.

It comes as online court records show that Ms Ellerup, who has been married to the accused serial killer’s wife for two decades, filed a matrimonial complaint in Suffolk County Supreme Court. The filing – titled Asa Ellerup v Rex Heuermann – states that the divorce is “uncontested”.

The case records include a complaint, summons and a “notice concerning continuation of health care coverage” all filed on Wednesday, though the contents have not been made public. The couple have two adult children, who lived with them at a home in Massapequa Park, roughly five miles from the Gilgo Beach crime scenes.

Ms Ellerup is said to have been “disgusted” when she learned that her husband had been arrested and charged with three of the string of unsolved killings that have haunted Long Island for more than a decade. He is also the prime suspect in a fourth murder.

Shocking court documents, released by Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office last week, revealed that her hair had been found on the bodies of three of the four victims – but that she was out of town on each of the occasions that her husband allegedly struck.

Ms Ellerup’s attorney Bob Macedonio told Fox News Digital outside Suffolk County Jail that she had filed for divorce after her life was “turned upside-down” by her husband’s alleged actions.

“This is all still a whirlwind,” he said.

“Her and her children’s lives have been completely turned upside-down.”

Mr Heuermann has an adult daughter and stepson with Ms Ellerup. Their daughter worked at her father’s architecture business with him in Manhattan.

Authorities remove a computer tower as they search the home of suspect Rex Heuermann

Mr Macedonio said that police carried out a coordinated raid on the family home in Massapequa Park on Thursday night at the same time that they arrested Mr Heuermann as he left his office in Midtown Manhattan.

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.

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.

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

Ms Ellerup and her two adult children were informed about the accusations against him and had their passports, computers, phones and iPads seized as police swooped on their home, her attorney said.

“They were home and the cops came in, and they were completely blindsided, and they told them what was going on,” he said.

Rex Heuermann mugshot

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison revealed on Monday that the arrest of Mr Heuermann appeared to catch his loved ones totally off guard.

“When we initially informed them about their husband, their father, they were shocked,” he said.

“They were disgusted — they were embarrassed.”

Court documents, filed as part of prosecutors’ request that bail be denied, revealed that hair belonging to Mr Heuermann’s wife was allegedly found on the bodies of three of the four victims.

Prosecutors say that two female hairs had been found on Waterman, one of them on the tape which the killer wrapped around her head. One female hair was found on tape used to wrap burlap around Costello and one hair was found in a belt buckle used to bind Brainard-Barnes – who Mr Heuermann is yet to be charged over.

To identify the female who the hair belonged to, investigators trawled through the trash at the Heuermann home in Long Island.

In July 2022, they recovered 11 bottles from the trash and they were swabbed for DNA.

Forensic testing found that the DNA on the bottles matched the female hair found at the crime scene, concluding that the hair belonged to Mr Heuermann’s wife.

The accuracy is such that more than 99 per cent of the North American female population can be ruled out, according to the court documents.

Prosecutors found that the suspect’s wife was out of town at the time of the three murders for which he has been charged but that her hair could have transferred to the crime scene through her husband’s clothing or through him using items such as tape taken from the family home.

She has not been named as a suspect and there is no suggestion that she was involved – or knew about – the murders.

As well as his wife’s DNA, Mr Heuermann’s DNA was also found on one of the victims – tied to him through a discarded pizza crust.

Map showing sites where victims of Gilgo Beach killer were found along Ocean Parkway in Suffolk County, Long Island

Mr Heuermann was also linked to the killings through a pimp’s tip about his pickup truck, a stash of burner phones, “sadistic” online searches and phone calls taunting victims’ families.

Investigators continue to comb through the family home for evidence – including body parts and trophies taken from the victims – as well as storage units connected to him two miles away in Amityville. So far, a trove of around 200 guns have been seized as well as his pickup truck.

Over in South Carolina, police seized the pickup truck at the centre of the murder investigation from his brother’s home this week.

Mr Heuermann owns a property in Chester next to his brother Craig.

The Chester County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that it “was requested by the Gilgo Beach Task Force to assist in gathering evidence in Chester County relevant to their investigation” – as law enforcement agencies are now also looking into unsolved murders and missing persons cases all across America.

A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson told The Independent on Tuesday that they are reviewing unsolved murders and missing persons cases around Sin City after becoming aware that the suspect owns a time share property in the area.

“We are aware of Rex Heuermann’s connection to Las Vegas. We are currently reviewing our unsolved cases to see if he has any involvement,” the department said.

The horrific serial killer case has captured the nation’s attention for more than a decade.

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.

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

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

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.

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 then 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.

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