A suspect — New York City architect Rex Heuermann — has been arrested in connection to the string of murders that took place in Gilgo Beach, New York, known as the “Long Island Serial Killer” case.
“Rex Heuermann is a demon that walks among us,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said during a press conference on Friday, July 14. “A predator that ruined families. If not for the members of this task force he would still be on the streets today. Even with the arrest, we are still not done.”
Heuermann has been charged with three counts of first degree murder and three counts of second degree murder in connection to the deaths of Amber Costello, Melissa Barthelemy and Megan Waterman. According to the SCPD, the suspect’s wife and children were out of town when he allegedly committed the murders.
In the early morning hours on July 14, Heuermann was named as a suspect and taken into custody in the town of Massapequa, Long Island, according to multiple outlets. Law enforcement officials reportedly searched a home on First Avenue in a town close to Gilgo Beach. Eyewitnesses and residents of the area told several outlets that the home belongs to a man with a family and has lived there for several years.
A spokesperson for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office told NBC News that morning there was a “significant development in the case.”
Just days prior, police discovered the remains of a man along Ocean Parkway in the town of South Islip.
News 12 Long Island was the first to report the news of the man’s arrest.
This development comes 13 years after authorities accidentally discovered the remains of several victims who worked as online escorts. The bodies of Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Costello, Megan Waterman and Maureen Brainard-Barnes were uncovered in December 2010. Each one was buried in burlap within about 500 feet of one another in the marsh along Gilgo Beach.
In March and April 2011, human remains of six more victims were found on the beach. Four of the bodies were women, one was an Asian male and the last victim was a female toddler.
At the time, police had been searching for Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old escort who went missing in May 2010 after she visited a client whom she met on Craigslist. Gilbert was meeting the client in the town of Oak Beach and ended up calling 911 while fleeing the area. During the 20-minute phone call, Gilbert claimed, “They are trying to kill me.”
Gilbert’s remains were discovered in December 2011.
Though an independent investigation ruled her cause of death as possible strangulation, police claimed at the time that it was from accidental drowning.
Nine years later, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart confirmed that a leather belt had been found in January 2020 at one of the locations along Ocean Parkway that they believed belonged to the murderer. The belt had the letters “WH” or “HM,” which some believed could have been the suspect’s initials. However, this was never confirmed.
During a press conference at the time, Hart noted that the belt had been “handled by the suspect and didn’t belong to any of the victims.”
That year, law enforcement created the website gilgonews.com in order to share all information with the public regarding the investigation, allowing those with tips to post anonymously.
The murder case quickly gripped the entire world, as residents of the suburban towns were fearful after the bodies were found in 2010 and 2011. As the case became more widely known, multiple documentaries and films were released about the killings.
In 2020, Netflix released its movie Lost Girls based on the book Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery, which unraveled the story of how Gilbert’s mother, Mari Gilbert, advocated for her daughter and the other victims.
According to NBC News, Heuermann’s lawyer, Michael Brown, said, “I will say to you folks that it’s extremely circumstantial in nature. In terms of speaking to my client, the only thing I can tell you that he did say, as he was in tears, was ‘I didn’t do this.’”
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