Suspect’s Arrest in Gilgo Beach Serial Homicides Cold Case, Da Says Evidence Has Flooded In

The Suffolk County District Attorney told CNN on Monday that since the suspect’s arrest on Thursday, a torrent of evidence and information relating to the Gilgo Beach homicides has been received by investigators. “We feel we can prove these three murders,” Ray Tierney said on “CNN This Morning.”

Three of the “Gilgo Four,” a group of women whose remains were discovered on Gilgo Beach on Long Island in 2010, were killed, and 59-year-old Rex Heuermann was arrested and charged with murder. He is accused of murdering Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello, however he has pled not guilty.

Prosecutors claim in their bail application that he is the key suspect in the disappearance and murder of a fourth lady, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, in 2007. In addition, “we’re also confident that we’re going to be able to eventually charge that fourth murder,” Tierney said.

A source familiar with the matter told CNN that when Heuermann, an architect, was taken into custody last week, he asked only one question during intake: “Is it in the news?” Vicki DiStefano, a spokeswoman for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, told CNN that he had been placed on suicide watch upon his arrival at the jail.

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DiStefano said the decision was made by the medical staff at the Suffolk County jail, not the sheriff’s department, and that this kind of thing happens frequently with inmates like Heuermann. A person familiar with the matter claims that between 200 and 300 weapons were discovered by authorities in a walled-off vault behind a barred metal door in Heuermann’s basement.

There were various handguns and semiautomatic rifles in the cache. While the authorities knew Heuermann had registered 92 firearms in the state, the trove was a surprise to them. Although forensics have been the primary focus of the search of Heuermann’s home in Massapequa Park, Long Island, the source says that authorities are also looking for items that may be souvenirs from the killings.

Suspect's Arrest in Gilgo Beach Serial Homicides Cold Case, Da Says Evidence Has Flooded In

These items would need to be kept in a way that no other family members would have come across them. The investigators have discovered a doll that does not appear to have been in any of the children’s bedrooms but is otherwise “out of place” in the home. The Amityville, Long Island, storage container where Heuermann stored his belongings was also searched by the investigators.

Tierney claimed that a flood of new information had emerged as a result of the arrest and subsequent search warrant executions. We are currently experiencing a deluge of data and evidence that will require considerable time to process.

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“We have a description of the last individual who saw the final victim, Amber Costello, alive that matches that of this defendant, who has a rather unique physical appearance,” he added. “We have phone evidence, and we also have that DNA evidence.” According to Tierney, DNA evidence was found on one victim belonging to Heuermann and two bodies belonging to his wife.

“With regard to that DNA and those hairs, it’s either transfer — that is, one person comes into contact with a second person who then comes into contact with a third person — or, you know, they were at a location where, you know, the family member occupied, whether it’s a car or a house,” Tierney said.

Eleven sets of human remains, including those of the Gilgo Four, were discovered in various locations on the South Shore of Long Island between 2010 and 2011, sparking what authorities have dubbed “one of the most consequential homicide investigations” on the island.

Suffolk County Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Carter responded to a question about whether or not investigators plan to link Heuermann to other murders by saying, “As we continue to gather evidence, anything is possible.”

Carter indicated that a task group comprised of law enforcement officials from multiple jurisdictions would continue looking into Heuermann and the other unsolved cases by piecing together the suspect’s movements over the course of several years, going through tips, and interrogating potential witnesses.

From the moment the bodies were found until Thursday, the investigator added, “there is still an active investigation as to his whereabouts and his conduct.” For over a year, police kept an eye out for Heuermann while they accumulated enough evidence to finally bring charges against him. Carter said they chose to arrest him on Thursday because they were worried he had his sights set on another person.

Hearing that the arrest was unfolding gave him “an adrenaline rush,” he said. “I knew that this person was a demon,” Carter said. “The fact that we are able to bring some closure and some peace to the families as well as take a violent person off of the streets is rewarding, I think, for everyone.”

A lady who claims to have been in a networking group with Heuermann described a chilling exchange to CNN station WABC. He reportedly asked her if she knew about the massacre at Gilgo Beach. “And back then I will say ‘Oh you know, he’s just from the area, maybe you know, he’s just a local talking … and would think that I’d find it interesting,’” Dominique Vidal said.

“But now I see it as a serial killer, kind of just putting it in somebody’s face,” she continued. She also claimed that in late February, after she had left the networking group for architects and designers in which they had both participated, Heuermann called her and left a voice mail.

Authorities Lay Out key Evidence

The Gilgo Four were found bound in camouflaged burlap along the same quarter-mile stretch of roadway in 2010, when authorities were searching for a missing lady. By the time officials located the missing woman’s remains a year later, they had already discovered 11 other sets of bones along the South Shore of Long Island, all within a few miles of Gilgo Beach.

After more than a decade passed without a resolution, a joint investigation task team was established in early 2022. Tierney claims that within a matter of weeks, the task group had zeroed in on Heuermann as a suspect. After that, detectives started keeping tabs on him and his loved ones, secretly collecting DNA samples, and poring over his phone records to see if there was a link to the murders.

After combing through thousands of cell tower records, police zeroed down on a handful of locals who matched the suspect’s physical description given by an eyewitness. Authorities said that Heuermann was the culprit because he matched the witness’s description, was located close to the cell site on Long Island, and worked close to the cell sites in New York City where other calls were intercepted.

The DNA of a male hair recovered on the burlap that had been used to wrap Waterman’s body was matched to a sample taken from a pizza crust that Heuermann had thrown away in a Manhattan trash can back in January, providing police with a major break in the case.

Suspect's Arrest in Gilgo Beach Serial Homicides Cold Case, Da Says Evidence Has Flooded In

Tierney added that Heuermann conducted at least 200 searches for updates on the Gilgo inquiry and compelled searches for photographs of the victims and their families on the internet. The prosecutor further claimed that the data includes searches for violent pornography and images of abused, raped, or murdered women.

Authorities said Heuermann’s wife and two children were out of state when the three ladies were killed.  According to Carter, the suspect’s family has been helpful throughout the investigation. The suspect’s actions, according to the investigator, are the “worst case I’ve ever seen.”

Carter told CNN that the allegations against Heuermann are among the most alarming he has encountered in his professional life. “I can’t begin to imagine the pain that these families have had to endure over the last decade and to know that this demon was capable of doing such an evil act to these families, it is just, you know, beyond comprehension,” Carter said.

Several Times, the Deputy Commissioner Called Heuermann a “Demon”

It’s difficult to put yourself in someone’s shoes who could perpetrate the things he did, Carter added. He set out to do this maliciously. The atrocities he did were the worst he had ever witnessed, and he had every intention of covering them up, he added.

Heuermann and his family called Massapequa Park, right across the harbor from where the bodies were discovered, home. According to his company’s website, the suspect is a certified architect and has been the sole proprietor of the New York City-based design and consulting firm RH Consultants & Associates since 1994.

The Investigation is Far From Over

Several other cases involving human remains discovered in the region around the same time as Heuermann’s arrest in connection to three homicides on Gilgo Beach are still being investigated.

“We’re going to continue to work this case and work the entire Gilgo investigation,” Carter said. “The detectives in this case – one thing I really want to say about them – they never quit,” Carter said. “They’ve been working this case for over a decade and they never quit.”

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