Rex Heuermann’s wife turns up to court after vowing to give him ‘benefit of doubt’ over Gilgo Beach murders

Asa Ellerup, who shares two adult children with the accused serial killer, says he is ‘not capable of the crimes he is accused of’

Rachel Sharp,Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 17 April 2024 23:27 BST
Gilgo Beach suspect Rex Heuermann ‘a demon that walks amongst us’, police say

Rex Heuermann’s wife Asa Ellerup showed up to support her husband in court on Wednesday, after she vowed to give him the “benefit of the doubt” over his alleged involvement in the notorious Gilgo Beach murders.

The accused serial killer appeared in court on Wednesday for a discovery hearing where prosecutors turned over a trove of evidence in the case.

Ms Ellerup, his wife of two decades and mother of his adult children, was seen arriving at the Suffolk County Supreme Court in Riverhead that morning. She gave no answer when asked by reporters why she had decided to turn up.

In the hearing, prosecutors turned over more discovery to the court, including evidence from Mr Heuermann’s properties, as the judge has asked that the discovery phase wrap up as soon as possible so the trial can proceed.

According to prosecutors, 15 disclosures have been made between Mr Heuermann’s last court date and Wednesday’s hearing, ABC7 reported. Those disclosures include thousands of pages of discovery, including 388 leads on Mr Heuermann, DNA lap reports, and data from 422 digital devices seized from the suspect’s home and office.

“Just today alone, we provided the Barnes missing persons investigation from the NYPD which is approximately 2,500 pages,” Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said.

“We have about a 12-terabyte hard drive with regard to the nuclear DNA. We have digital extractions from a number of the digital devices that were recovered from the defendant’s residence.”

Asa Ellerup, left, the estranged wife of Long Island serial killing suspect Rex Heuermann, arrives at court in Riverhead, N.Y. on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 (AP)

Mr Heuermann’s attorney Michael Brown demanded that a trove of FBI files about the case also be turned over as part of the discovery process.

He said he was specifically requesting FBI files that involved then-Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke, who was later jailed for corruption and is currently facing charges of soliciting sex. Burke has been accused of trying to keep the FBI out of the investigation in the early days of the case.

“The Suffolk County Police Department, especially with Chief James Burke in charge, and the FBI were butting heads,” he told reporters outside court, per the New York Post.

“And, to some extent, I think Chief Burke was suppressing the investigation and wouldn’t allow the FBI to participate in it with their expertise.”

The Independent has reached out to Burke’s lawyer for comment.

DA Tierney said it would be the FBI’s decision as to whether or not the defence receives the requested information.

“I don’t control the FBI. The only thing that I can control is the documents in my possession, which we will certainly provide to the defense,” he told reporters. “Over and beyond that, what he’s seeking, he’s going to have to take that up with the FBI.”

Mr Heuermann will next return to court on 18 June.

Rex Heuermann appears next to his attorney Michael Brown at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead, New York, on Wednesday 17 April 2024 (AP)

His wife’s appearance at the hearing comes after she released a statement in March in which she insisted her husband is “not capable of the crimes he is accused of”.

“I will listen to all of the evidence and withhold judgment until the end of trial,” said Ms Ellerup in the statement, released through her attorney Bob Macedonio.

“I have given him the benefit of the doubt, as we all deserve.”

Mr Macedonio told ABC News that Ms Ellerup – who filed for divorce just days after his July 2023 arrest in the high-profile case – had visited Mr Heuermann “several times” since he was charged with the murder of a fourth victim in January and “she doesn’t believe he’s capable of this”.

Ms Ellerup’s attorney said that she also wanted to extend her “heartfelt sympathies” to the victims and their families.

“Nobody deserves to die in that manner,” she said in the statement.

It’s now been nine months since Mr Heuermann was arrested and charged with three of the murders that rocked the Long Island community of Gilgo Beach for more than a decade.

Rex Heuermann appears in court charged with the serial killings (AP)

Mr Heuermann was initially charged in July with the murders of three women Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy and Amber Costello.

This January, he was also charged with the murder of a fourth victim Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

The four women, together known as the “Gilgo Four”, all worked as sex workers and disappeared after going to meet a client.

Their bodies were found in December 2010 within one-quarter mile of each other, bound by belts or tape and some wrapped in burlap – all dumped along Gilgo Beach.

Court documents laying out the case against the 60-year-old Manhattan architect state that hairs belonging to Ms Ellerup were found on Waterman and Costello – and on the belt used to bind Brainard-Barnes.

Prosecutors found that the suspect’s wife was out of town at the time of the murders but that her hair could have transferred to the crime scene through her husband’s clothing or him using items such as tape taken from the family home. A hair belonging to Mr Heuermann was also allegedly found on the burlap wrapped around Waterman’s body.

Ms Ellerup and the couple’s adult children, Victoria Heuermann, 26, and Christopher Sheridan, 33, are said to have been blindsided by his shock arrest.

Vess Mitev, an attorney representing the adult children, previously told The Independent that the family was simply trying to survive after being thrust into the national spotlight over their family member’s alleged crimes.

The Heuermann family home (AP)

“The Heuermann children have been living in a constant, surreal, waking nightmare,” he said.

“Just because the news coverage doesn’t continue or it’s not in the news on a daily basis each day, for them it’s every day, it’s every moment. It’s the moment they wake up to the moment they go back to sleep again.

“It’s a situation you wouldn’t want to wish on anyone. It’s not a reality.”

He added: “Their focus has just been on managing their basic daily needs. We have specific, fundamental needs that we require to survive as people and that has really been their primary goal as their resources have been depleted completely or are no longer available to them.

“Their basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter and a safe space to sleep in have been all but obliterated. They’re trying to piece back together those very basic but yet so vital things that most of us take for granted.”

It has since emerged that the accused killer has signed over full ownership of the family property to his wife – and that Ms Ellerup is working with Peacock on a documentary.

Asa Ellerup attends husband Rex Heuermann’s court hearing on 15 November (PIX11)

In total, the remains of 11 victims were found along the shores of Long Island in 2010 and 2011, sparking fears of one or more serial killers.

The case began back in May 2010 when Shannan Gilbert, a young woman working as a sex worker, 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 a dense thicket close to the beach, police discovered human remains. Within days, four victims had been found.

By spring 2011, the number of victims rose to 10.

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 family continue to believe she was murdered.

No charges have been brought in connection to the other victims also found along the shores.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in