UPDATED AS A WHOLE: Police officers and investigators are using cellphone data, DNA evidence and computer search histories to identify the suspect in the Long Island serial killer case, District Attorney for Suffolk County, New York, Ray Tierney, said in a news conference this afternoon.
Among the other pieces of evidence presented to a grand jury since an investigative team was formed last year was hair found on the bodies of at least three victims, hair whose DNA matched DNA found on one belonging to suspect Rex Heuermann discarded pizza crust was found.
Tierney also said that Heuermann had been linked to various “Brenner” cell phones — another phone allegedly used to contact each victim and then discarded after the murder — and that cell tower data linked locations that Heuermann made frequent visits—his home in Massapequa Park, his office in midtown Manhattan—to make calls to victims.
The victims were sex workers who disappeared between July 2007 and September 2010; Their bodies were found in the Gilgo Beach area in December 2010.
Each of the victims was tied with camouflage sacking of the kind used in constructing duck blinds for hunting.
Tierney also noted that the women’s disappearances happened while Heuermann’s wife and children were out of town on vacation. The prosecutor said there was also evidence that Heuermann called survivors of the victims to mock them.
Heuermann, the suspect in at least some of the “Lost Girls” murders, was indicted by a grand jury this morning on six counts of murder, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney. Tierney said the case is ongoing and more charges are expected.
Today’s charges are related to the deaths of three women – Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Costello and Megan Waterman – the so-called “Gilgo Four,” women whose bodies were discovered along Ocean Parkway in 2010. Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to charges and has been taken into custody without bail.
Court filings from the Suffolk County District Attorney named Heuermann as the prime suspect in the disappearance and death of the fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes. (In all, the remains of nine women, as well as the bodies of a man and an infant, were eventually discovered in the Gilgo Beach area, although only four have so far been allegedly linked to the suspect or were associated with the case.) .
The suspect in the so-called Long Island Serial Killer case – a series of murders near Gilgo Beach on New York’s south shore of Long Island – portrayed in the 2020 Netflix film lost girls — was arrested in Manhattan last night, more than 10 years after the first body was found.
Police sources confirmed to local media last night that Suffolk County Police had the suspect in custody. A large police presence gathered at the suspect’s home in Massapequa Park, Long Island last night and remained on the scene today.
Heuermann, a Massapequa Park architect, was arrested near his midtown Manhattan office last night and charged today. The New York Times reports that Heuermann spent most of his life in Nassau County – the site of Massapequa Park.
Actor Billy Baldwin provided some background on the suspect, tweeting today that the two were classmates at Bern High School, born in 1981. “I woke up this morning to find out that the suspect of the Gilgo Beach serial killer was my high school classmate Rex Heuermann. “Baldwin writes and adds, ‘Married, two children, architect.’ ‘Mediocre guy…calm family man.’ Unbelievable…Massapequa is in shock.”
In 2010, 24-year-old New Jersey sex worker Shannan Gilbert was reported missing after traveling to Oak Beach, Long Island, a gated community near Gilgo Beach, for an escort job. Over the next year, the bodies of four young women were found in the thick undergrowth of the Gilgo Beach area. In all, the remains of nine women, as well as the bodies of a man and an infant, were eventually discovered.
Gilbert’s remains were found in December 2011.
It was long believed that the killings were the work of a serial killer targeting sex workers.
A multi-agency law enforcement task force was formed last year after local police made little progress on the case. Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone thanked all the different departments that have handled the case over the years, including Suffolk County, the NYPD and the FBI, at a news conference this morning. “We never stopped working on this case,” Bellone said.
In addition to numerous documentaries and episodes of true crime TV series, the case inspired the popular 2020 Netflix drama lost girls, Directed by Liz Garbus from a screenplay by Michael Werwie and based on the book Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker. Amy Ryan played real-life activist Mari Gilbert, mother of murdered Shannan Gilbert. (Mari Gilbert passed away in 2016).
The film premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was released on Netflix that same year.