Architect Charged in Three Gilgo Beach Serial Killings on Long Island

by Chloe Baker
Gilgo Beach serial killings

On Friday, a Long Island architect was arrested and charged with murder in connection to three of the infamous Gilgo Beach serial killings. Detectives following a new lead claim that they matched DNA from a pizza the suspect consumed to genetic material found on the victims’ remains.

The accused, Rex Heuermann, resides across a bay from where the remains were discovered and is now facing charges for the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello. Authorities also consider him the primary suspect in the death of a fourth woman, whose body was concealed in dense underbrush along a remote beach highway.

Heuermann, 59, was apprehended on Thursday as part of a renewed investigation that linked him to a pickup truck spotted by a witness during one of the victims’ disappearances in 2010. Detectives tailing Heuermann obtained his DNA in March by collecting a discarded pizza crust from a box found in a Manhattan trash can. They matched it to DNA extracted from a hair found on a restraint used in the murders.

Represented by his lawyer, Michael Brown, Heuermann pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Friday at the state court in Riverhead. Judge Richard Ambro ordered his detention without bail, citing the “extreme depravity” of the alleged crimes.

Heuermann, dressed in khaki pants and a gray collared shirt, remained silent throughout the court proceedings.

Heuermann resides in Massapequa Park, a community situated just north of South Oyster Bay and the well-known sandy shoreline called Gilgo Beach. The remains of the victims were discovered along a desolate oceanfront highway between 2010 and 2011. Most of the victims were young women involved in sex work. Their deaths have long puzzled investigators and garnered significant public attention, even inspiring a 2020 Netflix film titled “Lost Girls.”

Unraveling the identity of the killer and the motive behind the crimes has posed a challenge to multiple experienced homicide detectives, despite changes in police leadership. Last year, an interagency task force was established, combining the efforts of the FBI, state police departments, and local authorities, with the aim of solving the case.

Previously, investigators had encountered various obstacles in their nine-year pursuit of answers. However, recent developments allowed them to link Heuermann to the pickup truck and connect him to other key evidence. This evidence includes burner cellphones used to arrange meetings with the victims, as well as taunting calls made to one of Melissa Barthelemy’s relatives, using her cellphone after her disappearance in 2009.

During the past months, Heuermann reportedly displayed an obsessive interest in the ongoing investigation, conducting extensive internet searches about the Gilgo Beach killings. He specifically sought information about the victims he is accused of killing, as well as podcasts and documentaries about the case, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

Concerned about the possibility of Heuermann fleeing and the potential danger he poses to the community, authorities decided to charge him now with three of the murders. However, they continue working towards bringing charges against him in the death of another Gilgo Beach victim, Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

Up until his arrest, Heuermann persisted in using burner phones, engaging with sex workers, and searching the internet for sadistic content, including sexually exploitative images of children, as revealed by Tierney. The prosecutor also noted that Heuermann has access to 92 handguns.

Governor Kathy Hochul of New York expressed hope that Heuermann’s arrest would bring peace to the community and the long-overdue closure for the victims’ families.

The sudden arrest provided a mix of shock and relief for some of the relatives who had been waiting for a breakthrough in the case for years. Amy Brotz, Melissa Barthelemy’s cousin, admitted she never thought they would find the perpetrator.

Law enforcement personnel descended on Heuermann’s residence on Friday morning. The small red house, located about 40 miles east of midtown Manhattan, had been Heuermann’s childhood home. Neighbors described the family as reclusive, noting the dilapidated state of the property amidst the well-maintained homes and lawns in the community.

According to Barry Auslander, the man who resided in the house commuted to New York City daily, dressed in a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase. Auslander found it strange considering the neglected condition of the house.

Heuermann, who is married with a daughter and a stepson, works as a licensed architect for a Manhattan-based firm specializing in store buildouts, renovations for major retailers, offices, and apartments.

John Ray, the attorney representing the families of two other victims, Shannan Gilbert and Jessica Taylor, expressed satisfaction that the police were finally making progress and hoped for a favorable outcome.

The hunt for answers began after the disappearance of Shannan Gilbert in 2010, which ultimately led to the discovery of additional human remains near Gilgo Beach. The investigation unveiled a complex crime scene stretching from a park near the New York City limits to Fire Island, including far-eastern Long Island.

Investigators have maintained that it is unlikely a single person is responsible for all the victims found near Gilgo Beach.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gilgo Beach serial killings

Who was charged in the Gilgo Beach serial killings?

A Long Island architect named Rex Heuermann was charged in the Gilgo Beach serial killings. He is accused of murdering Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello, and is considered the prime suspect in the death of a fourth woman.

How did investigators link the suspect to the killings?

Investigators matched DNA from a pizza that Rex Heuermann had eaten to genetic material found on the victims’ remains. They also connected him to other evidence, including a pickup truck spotted by a witness during one of the victims’ disappearances and burner cellphones used to arrange meetings with the slain women.

What were the past developments in the Gilgo Beach serial killings case?

The case remained unsolved for several years, and the discovery of the victims’ remains sparked a high-profile investigation. A task force was formed involving the FBI, state and local police departments to solve the mystery. Various pieces of evidence were revealed over time, including a previously unreleased photograph, a 911 call, and the identification of one of the women’s remains through DNA technology.

What was the reaction to the suspect’s arrest?

The arrest came as a shock and relief to some of the victims’ relatives who had been waiting for justice for a long time. The community and New York Governor Kathy Hochul expressed hope that the arrest would bring peace to the community and closure to the families affected by the Gilgo Beach serial killings.

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NewsWatcher123 July 15, 2023 - 12:08 am

It’s about time they arrested someone for these gruesome killings. Long Island architect linked to pickup truck, burner phones, and taunting calls. Justice for the victims!

InvestigationJunkie July 15, 2023 - 1:48 am

This is why I love true crime! The gilgo beach murders have baffled investigators for so long, but now they’ve caught a suspect. Can’t wait to see how it unfolds!

JaneDoe87 July 15, 2023 - 2:04 am

wow, this is shocking! long island architect charged in 3 gilgo beach serial killings. dna from pizza? that’s cray!

CrimeEnthusiast22 July 15, 2023 - 7:19 am

The Gilgo Beach serial killings have haunted the community for years. Finally, a breakthrough! DNA evidence from pizza crust leads to the suspect. Such a chilling case.

TrueCrimeFan July 15, 2023 - 7:25 am

omg, finally some progress in the gilgo beach case! it’s been years! can’t believe they matched dna from pizza to the victims’ remains. chilling!

CuriousMind July 15, 2023 - 4:11 pm

This case is like something out of a movie! Gilgo Beach, mysterious remains, and now an architect charged with murder. Can’t wait to learn more about the investigation!


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