Life as they knew it instantly fell apart. As architect Rex Heuermann was arrested in NYC in July, police simultaneously descended on his Long Island home. After ordering the accused Gilgo Beach Serial Killer’s family out, investigators spent the next 12 days tearing the property up “from the floorboards to the shingles,” a lawyer representing Rex’s daughter, Victoria Heuermann, 26, and stepson, Christopher Sheridan, 33, revealed. After sleeping in a rental car, Heuermann’s wife, Asa Ellerup, 59, returned to pick up the pieces with her devastated kids, who’d “cry themselves to sleep,” she said, adding that Christopher, who has developmental disabilities, has been “so distraught and doesn’t understand.”
There are only a few people in the world who can possibly relate to their unique nightmare. With Heuermann, 60, in jail awaiting trial for the murders of three women, his family has found support from the loved ones of convicted serial killers. Melissa Moore is the daughter of Keith Jesperson, known as the Happy Face Killer, who was arrested in 1995 for murdering eight women. Moore started a GoFundMe to raise money (more than $55,000 so far) for Ellerup, who’s battling cancer and lost her job. Kerri Rawson is the daughter of B.T.K. Killer Dennis Rader, who was caught in 2005. When Rawson heard about the Heuermann arrest, she instantly thought, “‘Does he have a family?’ Because I know exactly what my family went through 18 years ago, and when I heard that he did, I was devastated,” she says — for them and for herself all over again.
Both women paid close attention when Heuermann, who’s pleaded not guilty, was charged. Rawson, whose father is serving 10 consecutive life sentences for killing 10 women, had “a difficult time…remembering what I had been through,” she says. “It’s just trauma and shock.”
But their horrific experiences eventually turned into a call to action. Rawson now assists cops on cold cases that may be connected to her dad, while Moore helps family members of serial killers rebuild their lives. In August, she visited Ellerup, who’s filed for divorce. “I witnessed a familiar facial expression from Asa. One my mother had of ten after my father’s arrest,” recalls Moore to The U.S. Sun. “The look was one of pride for her children and fear: ‘Are they going to be OK?’”
As the Long Island investigation continues — Heuermann is the prime suspect in a fourth unsolved murder, too — his family will have to find a new normal. “There is no playbook for what you should do after hearing your husband or father is an alleged serial killer,” Moore says. “It’s truly one moment at a time. To eventually one day at a time.”
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