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Inside the hunt for the Gilgo Beach serial killer

For round twenty years, the sands and marshes of Long Island’s Gilgo Beach saved a darkish secret.

A killer or killers roamed the locality, luring in escorts and intercourse staff and brutally murdering them.

Body after physique was dumped alongside the shoreline, hidden for months and even years with out being found.

Then, in 2010, a chilling 911 name made by a girl in concern for her life led police to look the space.

What they found was way more horrifying than anybody might have imagined.

Over the subsequent yr, the stays of 11 victims – primarily feminine escorts – have been found dumped in the space, plunging the Suffolk County neighborhood into terror.

But, the case went chilly and no arrests have been made, no suspects have been named and there was no justice for the victims and their households.

That is, till now.

In July, there was a sudden break in the case when native married father-of-two Rex Heuermann was arrested on suspicion of being the notorious serial killer.

The 59-year-old was charged with the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello and can also be the prime suspect in the homicide of a fourth girl Maureen Brainard-Barnes – who was final seen alive in New York City in early June 2007.

Rex Heuermann in a video about structure posted on YouTube

(Bonjour Realty)

Long Island native Mr Heuermann lived near Gilgo Beach, the place the killer dumped his victims. He additionally labored as an architect in Manhattan, the place a few of the ladies have been final seen alive.

Does this imply that the hunt for the Gilgo Beach serial killer is lastly over?

How have been the Gilgo Beach victims murdered?

For greater than a decade, the Gilgo Beach murders stumped legislation enforcement officers in Suffolk County who believed it could possibly be the work of a number of serial killers who focused intercourse staff and dumped their our bodies alongside the distant seashores on Ocean Parkway.

The case started in May 2010 when Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old intercourse employee, vanished after leaving a shopper’s home on foot close to Gilgo Beach.

She known as 911 for assist, saying she feared for her life, and was by no means seen alive once more.

In the chilling name, launched final yr, Gilbert is heard repeatedly telling the 911 operator that “somebody’s after me”.

She can also be heard arguing with a person – who she refers to as Mike – who seems to be making an attempt to encourage her to get again right into a automobile; at one level, she is heard asking if he’s “going to kill” her.

Map of the websites the our bodies have been dumped

(Suffolk County Police Department)

“These people are plotting to kill me,” she tells the dispatcher.

During a search for Gilbert in dense thicket near the seaside, police found the stays of one other girl.

Within a matter of days, the stays of three extra victims have been discovered shut by.

By spring 2011, the stays of a complete of 10 victims had been discovered – eight ladies, a person, and a toddler.

Gilbert’s physique was present in December 2011. Her reason behind demise is broadly contested, with authorities lengthy claiming that it’s not linked to the serial killer or killers however that she died from unintentional drowning as she fled from the shopper’s dwelling.

However, an impartial post-mortem commissioned by her household dominated that she died by strangulation and her mom believes she was murdered.

Like Gilbert, most of the victims focused have been intercourse staff.

Several theories have been thought of over the years however nobody had ever been charged with the killings.

Authorities have beforehand stated they imagine that three separate serial killers could possibly be accountable for the slayings over a interval of round 20 years.

Brush space alongside Ocean Parkway. the place Megan Waterman’s stays have been recovered in 2010

(Suffolk County Police Department)

The case appeared to go chilly for a number of years till final yr when Suffolk Police’s Rodney Harrison vowed to lastly shut the case and convey the killer or killers to justice.

The newly appointed commissioner stated that, with “a set of fresh eyes”, he had religion that he might get the chilly case “across the finish line”. He launched a devoted taskforce for the case.

Who have been the Gilgo Beach victims?

The stays of not less than 11 victims have been present in the Gilgo Beach space although it stays unclear if they’re all the work of the identical killer. Many have been intercourse staff who provided escort companies on Craigslist or labored in New York City.

The first sufferer discovered was Melissa Barthelemy, whose stays have been found alongside Ocean Parkway on 11 December 2010 throughout the search for Shannan Gilbert – a 24-year-old intercourse employee from New Jersey who vanished after visiting a shopper in Oak Park and making a chilling 911 name the place she revealed fears for her life.

Two days afterward 13 December, the stays of three different victims – Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello – have been discovered shut by.

All three ladies have been recognized to promote escort companies on Craigslist.

Brainard-Barnes – often called certainly one of the Gilgo Beach Four – was final seen alive in early June 2007 in New York City whereas Costello was final seen leaving her North Babylon dwelling in the future in early September 2010.

Waterman was final seen alive in early June 2010 at a Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge.

This mixture of undated picture offered by the Suffolk County Police Department, reveals Melissa Barthelemy, prime left, Amber Costello, prime proper, Megan Waterman, backside left, and Maureen Brainard-Barnes (backside proper).


Seven months later, on 26 July 2011, the stays of Jessica Taylor have been present in a wooded space in Manorville throughout the ongoing search for Gilbert. Taylor labored as an escort in New York City.

Valerie Mack additionally labored as an escort however was final seen alive in Philadelphia in 2000. Her stays have been discovered on two separate events in Manorville in 2000 and in Oak Beach in 2011 however she was solely recognized in 2020 by way of the use of genetic family tree.

On 4 August 2023, Long Island officers introduced that one other sufferer – often called Jane Doe 7 or Fire Island Jane Doe – had additionally lastly been recognized.

Karen Vergata, 34, was final seen alive in Manhattan in 1996 whereas working as an escort.

Her legs have been first discovered wrapped in plastic at Davis Park on Fire Island’s Blue Point Beach in 1996. Almost precisely 15 years afterward 11 April 2011, her cranium was discovered off Ocean Parkway near a few of the different Gilgo Beach victims.

In a press convention asserting her identification, officers refused to substantiate whether or not or not Vergata’s homicide could also be linked to Mr Heuermann.

Some of the victims have by no means been recognized.

The skeletal stays of an Asian male, aged between 17 and 23 years previous, round 5 toes 6 inches tall and with poor dental well being, have been discovered alongside Ocean Parkway in April 2011. He is believed to have died round 5 to 10 years earlier.

That identical day, the stays of a feminine toddler have been found. She was later recognized as the daughter of the also-unidentified feminine sufferer dubbed “Peaches” whose stays have been present in Nassau County.

Who is the serial killer in Gilgo Beach?

On 13 July, there was an enormous breakthrough in the case when Mr Heuermann was lastly arrested and charged with three of the murders – and suspected of a fourth.

Dramatic video captured him strolling alongside a Manhattan street when he was immediately surrounded by plainclothes officers and brought into custody.

Gilgo Beach: What we all know thus far

The accused killer has been married twice and shares a 26-year-old daughter and stepson, with particular wants, together with his second spouse Asa Ellerup.

Mr Heuermann is president of structure agency RH Consultants & Associates, an organization which he based in 1994 and which his grownup daughter additionally works for.

According to the firm web site, Mr Heuermann’s firm has labored with the likes of Catholic Charities, NYC-DEP Sewerage Treatment and American Airlines and different main tenants at the JFK International Airport.

An organization web page known as Meet The Team and that includes his photograph was taken down as information of his arrest broke.

In an interview posted on YouTube by Bonjour Realty final yr, the father-of-two stated that he was “born and raised in Long Island” however had been “working in Manhattan since 1987… [a] very long time”.

The structure agency is predicated in Midtown Manhattan – the place a few of the Gilgo Beach victims have been final seen alive.

According to courtroom information, telephone calls constructed from burner telephones and a few of the victims’ cellphones might be traced to his workplace.

In his skilled life, some acquaintances described him as smug whereas others stated he was “creepy”.

Paul Teitelbaum, who labored with Mr Heuermann on a constructing in Brooklyn Heights, instructed The New York Times following his arrest that the suspect had a “swagger” and an angle that stated: “I’m the expert, you’re lucky to have me.”

Meanwhile, Dominique Vidal – an inside designer who was a part of the identical structure networking group as Mr Heuermann – stated that he repeatedly known as her and left her a “creepy” voicemail regardless of them by no means having labored collectively.

Rex Heuermann reserving photograph


“He left this [voicemail] for me end of February after I left the group,” she stated in a TikTok video posted on Sunday.

“Previous to that, he did call me a couple of times. I answered the phone. Nothing really significant. I found it odd he was calling me because I had no work for him. There’s no ongoing relationship. We were just two people who used to be in the same networking group.

“There’s nothing incredibly scary about the voicemail, besides the fact that he is the Gilgo Beach murderer.”

Neighbours of Mr Heuermann in Massapequa Park – which is positioned only a 20-minute drive from Gilgo Beach the place the killer dumped the our bodies of his victims – gave a combined image of the accused killer following his arrest.

Neighbours instructed The Independent that he was a quiet household man who lived in the close-knit neighborhood together with his spouse and two kids.

One neighbour, who has lived a stone’s throw from the Heuermanns for greater than twenty years, stated that the household is “a very quiet family” who made “no imprint at all” on the neighborhood.

“Basically, we never had any contact with him… living here 22 years and never said two words to him,” the long-time Massapequa Park resident stated, including that “one bad apple doesn’t spoil the bunch” in a “great neighbourhood”.

Yet one other neighbour – who had lived there for 13 years – instructed Newsweek that kids would keep away from his dwelling on Halloween.

“Most people don’t knock on his door,” stated Barry Auslander. “During Halloween, the kids are told to stay away. He’s not a very nice person.”

He added that his dwelling was “dilapidated” and at all times darkish.

New York State law enforcement officials transfer a steel cupboard as legislation enforcement searches the dwelling of Rex Heuermann, Saturday, July 15, 2023, in Massapequa Park, N.Y.


Mr Heuermann has lived on Long Island his entire life – residing in the exact same property that he grew up in together with his spouse and two kids. He grew up in Massapequa Park and attended Berner High School the place Billy Baldwin was a classmate.

Maureen Holpit, 59, who additionally attended Berner High School with Mr Heuarmann, instructed The Independent that Mr Heauerman was as soon as a shy teen who would typically depart “love notes” in her locker. Ms Holpit stated her exchanges with the now suspected serial killer have been at all times nice and well mannered.

“I was always nice and friendly to him, you know. Seemed like he kind of got picked on and people would make maybe portray him as a little nerdy. He was very quiet, mild-mannered. So I was nice and would say, ‘Hey, Rex, how are you?,’” Ms Holpit, who now lives in Florida, tells The Independent.

“I was getting these notes in my locker. As I’m remembering, there were multiple little love notes but they were not signed,” she added. “Then, one day I did see him put it in my locker and so I knew they were from him. I may have said to him that I had a boyfriend or I just liked him as a friend.”

How did they catch the Gilgo Beach killer suspect?

In 2022, the Suffolk County Police Department, New York State Police, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI revamped the probe into the killings that in the end led to Mr Heuermann’s bombshell arrest.

A bail utility launched by the Suffolk County District Attorney revealed that Mr Heuermann was linked to the serial killings by way of cellphone proof and surveillance.

Prosecutors have argued that no bail must be set for Mr Heuermann on account of his current searches for “sadistic materials, child pornography, images of the victims and their relatives.”

Mr Heuermann was first linked to the chilly case in March 2022 after investigators found {that a} Chevrolet Avalanche registered to him was probably the one noticed by a witness in Costello’s disappearance.

Mr Heuermann appeared in courtroom in handcuffs on Friday and pleaded not responsible to 6 homicide expenses

(Fox 5/YouTube)

As legislation enforcement closed in on him, they served greater than 300 subpoenas and search warrants that uncovered cellphone information for burner telephones used to rearrange conferences with three of the “Gilgo Four” victims earlier than they went lacking.

Further evaluation additionally allegedly linked Mr Heuermann to taunting calls made to members of the family of the victims, in response to investigators. The calls have been constructed from the Midtown Manhattan space, the place the places of work of Mr Heuerman’s structure enterprise are positioned.

Among the proof linking Mr Heuermann to the murders was a hair discovered on burlap materials used to wrap Waterman’s corpse, in response to courtroom paperwork. DNA evaluation had not been doable in the early phases of the investigation, however new expertise allowed testing in July 2020.

A workforce surveilling Mr Heuermann collected a discarded pizza field that then confirmed a DNA match with the suspect on 12 June.

Records additionally present that a number of on-line accounts below fictitious names linked to Mr Heuermann have been used for unlawful actions. Mr Heuermann allegedly used these accounts and burner telephones to contact ladies for prostitution companies, in addition to making chilling on-line searches.

Police take away proof from dwelling of Long Island serial killer suspect

(Patrick Reichart)

The searches included sadistic, torture-related pornography, baby pornography and different disturbing content material.

Mr Heuermann can also be accused of looking out “why could law enforcement not trace the calls made by the long island serial killer,” “why hasn’t the long island serial killer been caught” and “new phone technology may be key to break in case.”

More forensic evaluation revealed that feminine hairs present in the three crime scene places belonged to Mr Heuermann’s spouse. However, authorities have decided by way of cellphone information that Mr Heuermann’s spouse was out of state when the murders happened.

At the time Barthelemy went lacking in July 2009, Mr Heuermann’s spouse was in Iceland. She visited Maryland round the time Waterman disappeared in June 2010, and in addition travelled to New Jersey when Costello was final seen in September of that yr.

“It is likely that the burlap, tape, vehicle(s) or other instrumentalities utilised in furtherance of these murders came from Defendant Heuermann’s residence, where his wife also resides, or was transferred from his clothing,” prosecutors defined.

Mr Heuermann can also be the prime suspect in the homicide of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, who’s believed to be certainly one of the “Gilgo Four.” Prosecutors famous in the utility that information for the burner telephones used to contact Brainard-Barnes weren’t obtained at the time she went lacking and now not exist.

Investigators in Suffolk County are additionally investigating his doable ties to the different murders.

Meanwhile, legislation enforcement businesses throughout the nation have revealed that they too are taking a recent have a look at chilly instances.





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