Cops feared Gilgo Beach serial murder suspect would strike again

‘He is a demon who walked among us’: Cops arrested Gilgo Beach ‘serial killer’ Rex Heuermann over fears he’d strike AGAIN after suspect ‘continued to patronize sex workers, use fake IDs and buy burner phones’ – as it’s revealed he has 92 gun permits

  • Investigators say they arrested Rex Heuermann over public safety concerns
  • Heuermann, 59, is charged in cold case Gilgo Beach serial killer murders
  • Cops were surveilling him but say he continued to ‘patronize sex workers’

Investigators have revealed that they moved to arrest the suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer due to fears that he might strike again.

Rex Heuermann, 59, was dramatically arrested Thursday night in midtown Manhattan outside his architectural office on Fifth Avenue, 13 years after the victims’ bodies were found on an isolated Long Island beach. 

Cops had Heuermann under surveillance since last year, and had planned to continue to follow him as they built their case, but decided to swoop in and make the arrest in the interest of ‘public safety,’ Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney told reporters.

Tierney cited a number of red flags, saying that Heuermann ‘continued to patronize sex workers,’ was using false IDs and burner phones, and had permits for an astonishing 92 firearms. 

‘Which of course made us very nervous,’ said Tierney, who has led a secret investigative task force focused on Heuermann since the spring of 2022. 

Flanked by family members of the victims as he addressed reporters, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison delivered a grim assessment of the suspect, saying: ‘Rex Heuermann is a demon that walks among us, a predator that ruined families.’ 

Manhattan architect Rex Heuermann, 59, is charged with three murders attributed to the Gilgo Beach serial killer, and is the prime suspect in a fourth victim’s murder

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said Heuermann had been under surveillance since last year, and cops moved in to arrest him over fears he would strike again

At an arraignment hearing on Friday, Tierney told the court his teams had been following Heuermann since last year and planned to continue to do so as they built the case, but feared he was about to flee the country.

Later, at a press conference, he and other law enforcement officials were concerned that Heuermann could target other victims if he remained free.

‘We had the FBI surveilling the defendant… this individual that continued to patronize sex workers at all hours of the night, continued to use fictitious emails, identities, burner phones,’ said Tierney.

‘As we worked through the case and got closer and closer, suddenly the balance tips in favor of public safety,’ he said.

‘We wanted as a task force to continue it but we felt collectively as a task force that it was time to strike that balance and take him off the street.’

Tierney said Heuermann has permits for 92 firearms which have not yet been accounted for, but added that they might be found in a large safe at Heurmann’s home. 

‘He has a very large safe in which guns are kept,’ he said. ‘We’re continuing to execute search warrants, so I’m sure we’ll have that answer shortly.’

It’s not clear whether investigators believe firearms were used in any of the murders. The victims’ remains were discovered in a decomposed state that complicated efforts to determine their injuries. 

‘Forensically there was not a lot that could be done with the remains,’ said Tierney. 

Heuermann, who has lived for decades across a bay from where the remains were found, is charged with killing Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello. 

He is also considered the prime suspect in the death of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, whose body was bound and hidden in thick underbrush along a remote beach highway, authorities said. 

A total of 11 bodies were found on a desolate stretch of Ocean Parkway over the course of several months in 2010 and 2011. Most of the victims were young women who had been sex workers. 

Tierney declined to say whether Heurmann is suspected in the other murders, saying his task force was focused on the four victims tied to Heurmann, adding that those four cases had distinct ‘commonalities’. 

He cited the need to maintain investigative secrecy as the other murders are investigated, but vowed to continue pursuing justice for all the victims. 

Heuermann, who has lived for decades across a bay from where the remains were found, is charged with killing (L to R): Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello

He is also considered the prime suspect in the death of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, whose body was bound and hidden in thick underbrush along a remote beach highway

Heuermann’s lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf Friday in state court in Riverhead. Judge Richard Ambro ordered him held without bail, citing ‘the extreme depravity’ of his alleged crimes. 

During an initial court appearance, Heuermann appeared smug – puffing his cheeks out and nodding as some of the charges were read. He wore khaki pants and a gray collared shirt, and did not speak in court.

He pleaded not guilty to all six charges – three counts of first degree murder, and three of second degree murder. 

After the hearing, his attorney Michael Brown said his client had cried out to him saying, ‘I did not do this.’ 

Prosecutors say a trove of evidence connects him to the murders, including DNA recovered from a pizza crust Heuermann tossed out that matched genetic material found on the women’s remains.

Prosecutors allege other evidence tying Heuermann to the murders includes: 

  • His wife’s DNA was found on three of the victims’ bodies 
  • One of his own hairs was found on one of the victims’ bodies 
  • Calls made from a burner phone to the victims were traced to his office 
  • A call made to one of the victims’ sisters after she died was traced to his office 
  • His Tinder profile with photos of him was linked to the burner phone number
  • His personal phones always pinged in the same areas as the suspect burners 
  • His Chevrolet pick-up truck matched the suspect vehicle spotted by a witness 
  • He matches the physical description of ‘ogre’ like man seen with one victim
  • Heuermann conducted graphic searches for child porn and sexual torture
  • He also searched Google for updates on the case, searching ‘why could law enforcement not trace the calls made by the long island serial killer’

Speaking to reporters, DA Tierney addressed the long delay between the discovery of the bodies and the identification of a suspect.

Tierney said he convened a grand jury investigation after Heuermann’s name first came to the attention of investigators as a possible suspect in March 2022.

The DA said he used the investigative powers of the grand jury to issue more than 300 subpoenas and summon witnesses, while maintaining strict secrecy to avoid alerting the suspect to progress in the investigation.

He suggested that prior efforts to resolve the case had been too public, and influenced by outside factors. 

‘The reason why these investigations fell short in the past was because there was a lot of outside influence, a lot of people who had nothing to do with the investigation or any of the agencies, they still asserted pressure,’ he said.

‘That did not happen with our task force. Ours was run by our members and we did what we thought was in the best interest of the investigation.’

Heuermann lives in Massapequa Park, a community just north of South Oyster Bay and the sandy stretch known as Gilgo Beach where the victims’ remains were found. 

The evidence against Heuermann was laid out in a 32-page letter by Suffolk County DA’s Office explaining why he shouldn’t be granted bail. 

It details how a new task force set up by Suffolk County DA last year came across his name within months of investigation, prompting questions about why previous investigative units failed to nail him. 

Heuermann’s first link to the case is through the Chevrolet Avalanche truck that he owned in 2009 and 2010, when the women were murdered. 

The vehicle was seen at the homes of at least one of the victims the day before she went missing. 

Heuermann also matches the description of an ‘ogre’ like man visited one of the victims the night before she died. 

In that case, he is said to have arranged a meeting with Amber Costello for sex at her home. 

Costello and a male friend conducted a ‘ruse’ whereby the male friend pretended to interrupt their hook-up, claiming he was an angry boyfriend. 

The man who’d paid for sex was forced to leave, with his money on the table. 

Rex Heuermann is shown in one of his Tinder profile pictures. Police tracked the fictitious email account he used on the profile and his burner phone number to the case

Heurmann in another of the photos he used on the dating app. He is said to have sent the photos to women asking for hook-ups 

In January this year, after watching Heuermann and his family since last March, the detectives in the case seized a pizza box he’d thrown in the trash outside his Manhattan office

The pizza box taken from a trash can outside Heuermann’s midtown office 

These are some of the searches conducted on Heuermann’s computer 

These are the sick Google searches conducted on Heuermann’s computer 

Heuermann is shown buying additional minutes for another burner cellphone in May this year. He paid cash

Afterwards, he texted Costello saying ‘that wasn’t very nice’ and demanding a ‘credit’ on his next service. 

Costello met with the customer again the following night, but she he insisted on doing so away from her home. 

The witness said the customer was between 6ft 4 and 6ft 6, with a broad frame and glasses. 

He lived nearby in Massapequa Park, where he still resides with his family, but his Icelandic wife was out of town when the murders occurred. 

In addition to the car matching the vehicle seen at the victim’s home, police were able to trace phone calls made from a burner phone to the victims to set up rendezvous to the areas surrounding his home and his Manhattan office. 

New York City architect Rex Heuermann, 59, has been arrested in connection with Long Island’s Gilgo Beach murders, in a bombshell breakthrough in one of the country’s most notorious unsolved serial killer cases

Another call was made to one of the victims’ relatives after she vanished. That call was traced to his office. 

He also used fictitious email accounts and more burner phone numbers for a Tinder profile, where he posted photos of himself, years later. 

In addition to the hard evidence linking him to the specific murders, Heuermann conducted also conducted incriminating internet searches. 

Among them were search terms like ‘ 

He also conducted heinous Google searches for child porn and violent sexual images of women being tortured. 

In January this year, after watching Heuermann and his family since last March, the detectives in the case seized a pizza box he’d thrown in the trash outside his Manhattan office. 

His DNA from one of the crusts was a 99.6 percent match to a male hair found at the bottom of the burlap sack one of the victims was found in.

Prosecutors also discovered unidentified female hairs on three of the victims. 

They initially traced Heuermann to the case by matching a description of his Chevrolet truck to the vehicle he owned at the time of the murders. 

The car was seen at the home of Amber Costello, one of the victims, who vanished on September 2, 2010.

The street in Massapequa Park, Long Island, where a suspect was this morning arrested in connection with the Gilgo Beach murders 

Heuermann’s truck was removed from the home this afternoon 

Representatives from The Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York exit the office building of Rex Heuermann

Representatives from The Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York exit the office building of Rex Heuermann, at 385 5th Avenue in New York City, and re-enter the building with additional supplies and gloves on July 14, 2023

Chilling similarities can be drawn between Heuermann, a married  father-of-two, and the unknown suspect described in a 2011 FBI profile of the Gilgo Beach killer. 

That profile described a ‘sadistic but charming average Joe’, who could blend into any environment unnoticed.

Heuermann lived a seemingly normal, ‘average Joe’ life until his dramatic arrest. 

The profilers told The New York Times that the suspect was likely financially stable and bright. 

‘He may have sought treatment at a hospital for poison ivy infection. As part of his job or interests, he has access to, or a stockpile of, burlap sacks,’ the profile read. 

Heuermann grew up in Massapequa Park, attending high school with Billy Baldwin, and started working in Manhattan in 1987. 

Heuermann was married once in 1990 and again years later to his current wife, Asa Ellerup, who is of Iceland descent. 

He and Asa have an adult daughter Victoria, who works with Heuermann at his architectural firm, and a stepson, Asa’s son from a previous marriage. 

Part of his job was to negotiate between the city of New York’s Department of Buildings and private architects.  

In a 2022 video, Heuermann boasted about his architectural career working with New York City’s Department of Buildings. 

‘I was born and raised on Long Island and have been working in Manhattan since 1987. A very long time!’ he told Bonjour Realty. 

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