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Rex Heuermann, Things You Need to Know about the Gilgo Beach murders

On Thursday evening, law enforcement took a suspect into custody in relation to the long-unsolved slayings of women on Long Island, New York. Here is what we currently know about the case.

Rex Heuermann

According to court documents, the suspect charged on Friday with a series of long-unsolved slayings of women in Long Island, New York, resided in a peaceful South Shore suburb not far from the beach highway where human remains were discovered over a decade ago. The suspect, identified as Rex Heuermann, 59, lived in Massapequa Park, a village located in Nassau County. His arrest has sent shockwaves through the tranquil community, as neighbors described him as a well-dressed man who commuted to work as an architect in Manhattan. There was no reason to suspect that he could be connected to the perplexing series of killings that have puzzled investigators and gained national attention.

Rosemarie Kafka, 56, a former neighbor who resided near the Heuermann family before relocating last year, expressed her astonishment, saying, "If he is found guilty, it would mean he was living a double life. He seemed like an ordinary person, going to work, raising kids in our local school, and living in a good neighborhood. It's hard to believe he could be involved in such crimes."

The arrest of Heuermann took place in midtown Manhattan on Thursday night, after which he was transported to Suffolk County. He has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree murder related to the deaths of three women. Additionally, he is a suspected figure in the disappearance and death of a fourth woman, but the investigation into that case is still ongoing, as stated in a bail application. A judge remanded him without bail. During a Friday afternoon news conference, local prosecutors and police commended a multi-agency task force that was formed last year for their efforts in identifying Rex Heuermann as the main suspect in the long-unsolved slayings of women on Long Island, New York. They explained that cellphone evidence and DNA obtained from a pizza crust played a crucial role in building their case. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison expressed gratitude for the fresh perspectives brought by the task force, as well as the resilience of the investigators involved. He characterized Rex Heuermann as a malevolent presence, stating, "Rex Heuermann is a demon who walks among us." In response to the accusations against his client, Heuermann's attorney, Michael J. Brown, spoke to reporters, highlighting the circumstantial nature of the evidence and stating that Heuermann has vehemently denied any involvement in the crimes. Brown described his client as distraught and emotionally overwhelmed, asserting that Heuermann had tearfully proclaimed his innocence. The case, which has remained unresolved for years since the discovery of human remains near Gilgo Beach in 2010, has haunted investigators. While not all of the approximately 16 victims found in the area are believed to be linked to the same perpetrator, court documents indicate that Heuermann is allegedly connected to four slayings where the victims were found in similar positions, bound with belts or tape, and wrapped in burlap-like material. In light of the arrest, authorities have cordoned off Heuermann's residence in Massapequa Park. Officials in hazmat suits were observed entering the modest single-story house, located on a street of well-maintained residences. Concurrently, investigators are searching both Heuermann's property and his midtown Manhattan office. Neighbors who had sporadic interactions with Heuermann and his family over the years described them as private individuals who generally kept to themselves. Patricia Maressa, a neighbor of over two decades, remembered Heuermann as a tall, well-dressed man. The news of his arrest left her stunned, as she remarked on the tranquility of the neighborhood, where the silence of the night was often broken only by the sound of a pin dropping. Heuermann's residence is also connected to his business, RH Consultants & Associates. As an architect, he obtained his license in 1996, and public records indicate no disciplinary actions against him. Among his clients were notable organizations such as Catholic Charities, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and major tenants at John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to his online biography. In a YouTube interview conducted by Bonjour Realty in early 2022, Heuermann described himself as an architectural consultant and troubleshooter, emphasizing his Long Island roots and his professional experience in Manhattan since 1987. He shared insights into his profession, including the necessity of tolerance when dealing with clients and city entities who may not fully understand the complexities of his work. The interviewer asked about the qualities required for his job, to which Heuermann replied, "I don't like to use the word tolerance, but sometimes you have to. And it's not just with the city. It's also with the client, because most clients, they don't understand what I have to do, why I have to do it, and what it takes to get done." In the interview, Heuermann also mentioned his passion for constructing furniture, a skill he learned from his father, an aerospace engineer who worked on satellite projects. He spoke of his workshop and the tools he used, including a cabinet maker's hammer, which he referred to as persuasive when the need arose. One person who knew Heuermann through weekly networking meetings expressed surprise at his arrest, stating that he had been viewed as a friend and colleague. She last spoke to him via Zoom on Tuesday and described him as organized and friendly, highlighting the unexpected nature of the allegations. The connection between Heuermann and the investigation arose in 2010 when a Suffolk County police officer, conducting a training exercise with his K-9 partner, discovered the first set of human remains along Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach. This discovery eventually led to the identification of Melissa Barthelemy, who had been reported missing in 2009. Subsequent investigations uncovered the remains of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello, all of whom were believed to be sex workers who had advertised their services online. After years of fruitless investigation, a review conducted in 2022 by a joint law enforcement team, including local and state police and the FBI, revitalized interest in a Chevrolet Avalanche registered to Heuermann. Information regarding the vehicle had been provided by a witness during the search for Costello. The investigation into Heuermann involved scrutinizing cellphone billing records, which revealed the use of burner phones to arrange meetings with three of the victims, as well as the use of a phone to make taunting calls to one of the victims' sisters. Heuermann is also suspected of using the victims' cellphones after their deaths. Investigators linked Heuermann's cellphone usage to an AOL account accessed by a burner phone. Further analysis indicated that additional burner phones had been used for thousands of searches related to sex workers, sadistic and torture-related pornography, and child pornography. These phones were also linked to an email involved in more than 200 online searches specifically related to the victims and updates in the "Long Island serial killer" case. Hair samples found on the victims were tested and determined to belong to another female. In July 2022, investigators collected DNA from bottles left for trash collection in front of Heuermann's residence. DNA analysis of hair found on Megan Waterman matched Heuermann's wife's DNA, according to court documents. The police investigation ascertained that Heuermann's wife was out of town during the periods in which the killings took place. Prosecutors theorized that the burlap, tape, and other items used in the murders were sourced from Heuermann's residence, where his wife also resides, or were transferred from his clothing. A male hair was also discovered on the burlap wrapping Megan Waterman's body. Police collected a discarded pizza thrown away by Heuermann and swabbed the pizza crust for DNA. In June, lab results indicated that Heuermann could not be excluded as the source of the male hair found near the bottom of the burlap used to restrain and transport Waterman's deceased body. Heuermann has been charged in the deaths of Barthelemy, Waterman, and Costello. Although he remains the prime suspect in Brainard-Barnes' case, no charges have been filed as the investigation continues. Authorities have also appealed to the public for assistance in solving other cases involving human remains found in Gilgo Beach over the past few decades that are not believed to be connected to Heuermann.


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