Rex Heuermann Arrested in Gilgo Seaside Serial Killings

The our bodies had been unearthed close to distant Gilgo Seaside on Lengthy Island’s South Shore greater than a decade in the past, terrifying residents and leaving the victims’ households bereft. In all, the stays of 9 girls, a person and a toddler had been found.

Since then, investigators have tried to find out whether or not the killings had been dedicated by one individual or by a number of attackers. However for greater than a decade the circumstances went unsolved.

Then Rex Heuermann, an architect who had lived most of his life in Nassau County and labored in Manhattan, was taken into custody on Thursday, accused of killing three girls and is suspected within the homicide of a fourth. Earlier than his arrest, investigators had sifted by means of clues so simple as a monogrammed belt wrapped round one of many victims and as subtle because the digital alerts of disposable cellphones.

Mr. Heuermann was charged with three counts of first diploma homicide and three counts of second diploma homicide within the killings of Amber Lynn Costello, Megan Waterman and Melissa Barthelemy, whose our bodies had been discovered wrapped in looking camouflage burlap inside 1 / 4 mile of one another on a stretch of seashore. All had been of their 20s, petite and dealing as escorts. They disappeared between 2009 and 2010.

The stays of a fourth lady, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, who went lacking in July 2007, had been additionally discovered alongside their our bodies and buried in the same means.

Prosecutors stated Rex Heuermann took selfies that he despatched to assist prepare sexual assignations. Credit score…Suffolk County District Lawyer

Mr. Heuermann was not charged with the killing of Ms. Brainard-Barnes, however he “is the prime suspect in her loss of life,” in keeping with the bail utility filed by Allen Bode, the chief assistant district legal professional in Suffolk County. The proof in her case “suits the modus operandi of the defendant.”

Prosecutors requested within the court docket papers that Mr. Heuermann be held with out bail based mostly on circumstances together with “the intense, heinous nature of those serial murders,” the planning that went into them, the suspect’s historical past of firearm possession and “his latest searches for sadistic supplies, little one pornography, photographs of the victims and their kinfolk.”

Mr. Heuermann, who had been arrested in Midtown Manhattan on Thursday evening, appeared Friday afternoon in a Suffolk County courthouse, the place he spoke in a low voice solely to establish himself.

Handcuffed, his hair raveled, he grimaced and sighed as District Lawyer Raymond A. Tierney described DNA proof linking him to the crime, gathered from pizza crust, bottles and human hairs.

Mr. Tierney stated Mr. Heuermann had licenses for 92 weapons and an “irresistible” motive to flee.

Choose Richard Ambro stated he was ordering him held “due to the intense depravity of the allegations.”

Exterior the courthouse, Michael Brown, Mr. Heuermann’s lawyer, stated the proof was circumstantial and that his consumer had wept, telling him, “I didn’t do that.”

“We’re trying ahead to combating this case in a court docket of legislation, not the court docket of public opinion,” he stated.

Investigators stated they linked Mr. Heuermann to the killings utilizing not solely DNA, however know-how that pinpointed the areas of disposable mobile telephones they believed the killer used to contact the victims within the hours earlier than they disappeared.

“Rex Heuermann is a demon that walks amongst us, a predator that ruins households,” stated Rodney Okay. Harrison, the Suffolk County commissioner. Regardless of criticism over the lengthy investigation, he stated, investigators had by no means been discouraged.

The physique of Ms. Barthelemy was the primary that was found, on Dec. 11, 2010, when a police officer conducting a coaching train together with his canine associate discovered her stays. Two days later, the police discovered the stays of the three different girls.

Later that yr, they discovered the stays of Valerie Mack, a 24-year-old mom from southern New Jersey who had paid the payments as an escort and had been lacking for 20 years. The stays of six different individuals — 4 girls, one man and a 2-year-old lady who was the daughter of one of many girls — had been additionally unearthed within the months that adopted. These six deaths stay unsolved.

“The work shouldn’t be performed, however this can be a main, main step ahead,” stated Steve Bellone, the Suffolk County govt.

The households of some victims stated the arrest of Mr. Heuermann made them really feel optimistic that their family members’ circumstances would even be solved.

“I’m grateful for the exhausting work that has been performed,” stated Jasmine Robinson, a cousin of Jessica Taylor, a 20-year-old lady who had labored as an escort in New York. A few of her stays had been present in 2003, quickly after she went lacking. Extra had been discovered alongside Ocean Parkway round Gilgo Seaside in early 2011.

“I’m grateful that as we speak is occurring,” Ms. Robinson stated. “And I’m eager for the longer term.”

Prosecutors laid out an intricate investigation that noticed a break in March 2022 when investigators found that Mr. Heuermann had owned a Chevrolet Avalanche truck on the time of the killings. A witness had seen an Avalanche parked in one of many murdered girls’s driveways shortly earlier than she disappeared, Mr. Bode, the prosecutor, wrote in his submitting.

By the point detectives discovered of the truck, they’d already narrowed their search to a number of males who had been in a small space of Massapequa Park the place cell-site data had led them to imagine that the killer lived, in keeping with an individual with information of the matter.

Investigators discovered that the killer had used burner telephones to contact victims within the hours earlier than they disappeared. Utilizing mapping know-how, they discovered that the calls to the victims originated from two key areas linked to Mr. Heuermann: close to his house on First Avenue in Massapequa Park and components of Midtown Manhattan close to his workplace at Fifth Avenue and thirty sixth Avenue.

It was close to that workplace {that a} sequence of “taunting” calls was made to Ms. Barthelemy’s household, utilizing her cellphone, in keeping with the court docket submitting. One got here in July 2009 to Ms. Barthelemy’s sister, Amanda.

“Do you assume you’ll ever communicate to her once more?” a bland, calm voice stated to her, in keeping with an individual with information of the decision.

When she advised the caller that she hoped to speak to her sister once more, he replied that he had killed her after having intercourse together with her. A number of seconds later, the caller hung up.

Investigators discovered that Mr. Heuermann used burner telephones to contact prostitutes or therapeutic massage parlors and used false names to arrange an e mail account to seek for “intercourse staff, sadistic, torture-related pornography” and imagery and movies of girls and kids being sexually assaulted.

The account was additionally used to ship selfies “to solicit and prepare for sexual exercise” and to seek for podcasts and documentaries associated to the investigation. He “repeatedly” seen “tons of of photographs depicting the murdered victims and members of their fast households,” Mr. Bode wrote.

Mr. Heuermann additionally looked for articles a few activity power arrange in 2022 to research the killings.

However whereas he was discovering out in regards to the activity power, it was discovering out about him. In July 2022, a detective took 11 bottles from a trash can outdoors Mr. Heuermann’s home. Investigators in contrast DNA from the bottles to DNA extracted from hairs discovered on a few of the our bodies.

It was an obvious match for Mr. Heuermann’s spouse, who had been in another country or out of state when every of the three girls disappeared. Detectives concluded that Mr. Heuermann had one way or the other transferred his spouse’s hair to the victims.

By January 2023, Mr. Heuermann was below common surveillance, and investigators noticed him throw a pizza field right into a sidewalk rubbish can outdoors his workplace constructing. The Suffolk County Crime Laboratory swabbed the discarded crusts for DNA, which in June matched with a hair discovered on Ms. Waterman’s physique.

Mr. Tierney stated that the duty power used a grand jury to situation greater than 300 subpoenas and search warrants. The grand jury helped investigators quietly pursue Mr. Heuermann, Mr. Tierney stated throughout a information convention.

“We knew this one individual can be watching,” he stated.

Mr. Heuermann lived most, if not all, of his life in a tidy working-class suburb roughly an hour by prepare or automobile from Midtown Manhattan.

Neighbors stated he had attended Alfred G. Berner Excessive College and lived in his longtime household house, which had vegetation on a roof that was partly supported by naked wooden. With its cracked and light shingles and unkempt yard, the small home stood out from the neatly saved properties on the block.

Neighbors stated they averted it on Halloween.

Residents described Mr. Heuermann as an “common” man who went to the Massapequa Park station each day, carrying a swimsuit and toting a briefcase. “You’d by no means assume he was something however a businessman,” stated a neighbor, Barry Auslander.

In a February 2022 interview, Mr. Heuermann described himself as an architect and advisor who carefully learn constructing and administrative codes and saved an “intensive library of out of date books.”

“I’m a troubleshooter, born and raised on Lengthy Island, been working in Manhattan since 1987 — very very long time,” he said in the 18-and-a-half-minute interview with Antoine Amira, an actual property agent and host of a present known as Bonjour Realty on YouTube, who spoke with Mr. Heuermann at his workplace.

On Friday, cops and reporters swarmed the white and beige brick constructing the place Mr. Heuermann labored. Round 3:15 p.m., legislation enforcement officers left carrying containers, a mallet and different massive instruments as curious passers-by stared.

Within the interview with Mr. Amira, Mr. Heuermann stated his father was an aerospace engineer who helped construct satellites and crafted furnishings at house. Mr. Heuermann stated he additionally constructed furnishings out of a workshop at his home.

Sitting at a desk and wearing a lightweight blue button-down shirt, Mr. Heuermann described the “endurance” and “tolerance” wanted to cope with out-of-town architects intimidated by New York’s byzantine constructing laws.

His job, he stated, taught him extra about “the right way to perceive individuals.”

On the finish of the interview, Mr. Amira requested Mr. Heuermann to pose for a selfie. Mr. Heuermann, a 6-foot-4, heavyset man who towered over Mr. Amira, placed on a pair of black sun shades.

“Are you able to smile?” Mr. Amira requested.

Mr. Heuermann replied that he was smiling.

Andy Newman, Nate Schweber, Erin Nolan and Ellen Yan contributed reporting. Jack Begg contributed analysis.

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