A man suspected in the serial killings of women on Gilgo Beach on Long Island’s South Shore was charged with murder on Friday.
According to court documents obtained by HuffPost, Rex Heuermann, 59, a married architect who lives on Long Island, New York, was indicted on three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree murder on Friday.
He has been charged in connection with the killings of three of the four women who were found dead between 2009 and 2010 and known as the “Gilgo Four”: Megan Waterman, 22, Amber Lynn Costello, 27, and Melissa Barthelemy, 24. He was not charged with the death of the fourth woman, Maureen Brainard Barnes, 25, but authorities said he remains a suspect in her killing.
Investigators were able to link Heuermann to the killings after reviewing cellphone data that revealed he had used burner phones to arrange meetings with three of the women, prosecutors said. Authorities also revealed alleged details of his online history, including searches for “sadistic materials” and photos of the victims and their families.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Rex Heuermann is a demon that walks amongst us, a predator that ruined families,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said in a news conference following Heuermann’s arraignment Friday.
According to the document, police first found the body of Barthelemy on Dec. 11, 2010, during a training with a police dog that located the remains along Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach.
Two days later, on Dec. 13, police searched the area along the beach and located the remains of Brainard-Barnes, Waterman and Costello, and at that time determined that they were victims of homicide. Each woman had been wrapped in a similar position and bound with either belts or tape, and most of them were wrapped in a burlap material.
Each victim had a similar profile: They were all petite women between the ages of 22 and 27 who were believed to have been sex workers and who were missing clothing and personal items. Each woman had been contacted before her disappearance by a person using a burner cellphone, and phones belonging to Brainard-Barnes and Barthelemy were used after they disappeared, authorities said.
In Brainard-Barnes’ case, prosecutors said outgoing calls were made to check her voicemail, while Barthelemy’s phone was used to make “taunting” calls to her family members. In one of the calls, a man’s voice admitted to her relative that he had killed and sexually assaulted Barthelemy, authorities said. Some of the burner numbers were tied to locations near where Heuermann lived or worked, authorities said, and at least three of the women were killed while Heuermann’s wife and children were traveling out of state.
Investigators zeroed in on him as a suspect in March 2022 after discovering he owned a first-generation Chevrolet Avalanche, the same model of car that a witness to Costello’s disappearance had spotted. A witness account also described the man as an “ogre,” which authorities on Friday said they found consistent with Heuermann’s size.
As they investigated him, they found that Heuermann had created a number of fake emails to create Tinder profiles using burner phones in the past decade under the names Andrew Roberts, Thomas Hawk, Andy Roberts and John Springfield, prosecutors said.
Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney told reporters on Friday that police and prosecutors decided to go public with their investigation because they feared he would kill again; Heuermann allegedly continued to use fake email addresses and burner phones to contact women.
“This individual was a person that continued to patronize sex workers at all hours of the night,” he said.
Investigators also found that one of Heuermann’s fake emails, under the name of Thomas Hawk, was used in thousands of online searches related to sex workers, sadistic, torture-related pornography and child sexual abuse materials, according to prosecutors.
Heuermann allegedly searched for phrases that included “teen girl begging for rape porn,” “Chubby 10 year old girl,” and “mature escorts Manhattan.”
Additional searches allegedly made between March 2022 and June 2022 by Heuermann included specific phrases relating to the Long Island serial killings investigation.
Two of several phrases Heuermann searched for included, “Why could law enforcement not trace the calls made by the long island serial killer,” and “In Long Island serial killer investigation, new phone technology may be key to break in case.”
Police also found selfies of Heuermann under the fake persona of John Springfield’s account. Under the persona of Andy Roberts, Heuermann allegedly contacted a number of individuals in New York City’s Midtown for sex.
In January, police obtained a pizza box thrown out by Heuermann in Midtown Manhattan from which they obtained DNA linking him to the death of Waterman, prosecutors said.
Police said they also linked DNA from hair believed to belong to Heuermann’s wife to hair found on or near three of the Gilgo Beach victims.
According to The Associated Press, Heuermann’s lawyer entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf Friday, noting that his office only learned about the charges that morning.
Heuermann is a longtime resident of Massapequa Park. His Long Island high school classmate, actor Billy Baldwin, reacted to his arrest on Friday. According to a video interview posted last year, Heuermann described himself as a “troubleshooter” and has owned an architectural firm, RH Consultants & Associates, since 1994.
According to his online biography, clients included Catholic Charities, NYC-DEP Sewerage Treatment and American Airlines and other major tenants at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Neighbors described him as an “average” man who mostly kept to himself.
“Seeing him walk to the train, you’d never think he was anything but a businessman,” one neighbor, Barry Auslander, told The New York Times.
On Friday, authorities also revealed that 92 guns were registered to Heuermann.
The killings had struck fear in the community for over a decade, and speculation was rampant about whether other bodies found on Long Island could be connected to the same killer. The deaths of nine women, a man and a toddler have caught media attention since 2010; authorities have only said that Heuermann is suspected of killing the “Gilgo Four.”