Who is Gilgo Beach murders suspect Rex Heurmann?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Jul 17, 2023 at 01:44 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

The arrest of 59-year-old architect Rex Heuermann in Massapequa Park, New York, has brought a mix of relief and fear to the community. Heuermann stands accused of the murder of three women, and his arrest has revived memories of the unsolved Gilgo Beach case from over a decade ago, where the remains of ten adults and a child were discovered.

The recent news of Heuermann’s arrest, made by a re-energised task force, initially sparked fears that a police officer may have been responsible for the murders. As residents processed the shocking news, they described Heuermann’s nearby home as eerie and neglected, a stark contrast to the well-kept houses in the area.

Rex Heuermann, the mysterious figure next door

Details of Heuermann’s life added to the sense of unease. Despite his imposing physical presence and living just blocks away, he went largely unnoticed by neighbours during his daily commute or in local establishments. People also found it peculiar that despite his 6ft 4in stature, Heuermann wasn’t known in any of the local bars and restaurants.

However, his elusive nature was shattered when the New York Post interviewed a 25-year-old woman who claimed she had been stalked by Heuermann in a nearby park earlier in July 2023, leading her to file a police report.


Police say phone records and DNA from a discarded pizza crust led them to charge a Long Island architect with the murders of three of the 11 victims from a long-unsolved string of killings known as the Gilgo Beach murders. #fox5newyork #longisland #newyork #gilgobeach #gilgobeachmurders #coldcase #unsolvedmysteries #crime #DNA

♬ original sound - Fox 5 New York

Furthermore, during a news conference on Friday 14 July, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison referred to Heuermann as a “demon that walks among us” and a “predator that ruined families.” The accused architect, a married father of two, pleaded not guilty to the charges. The court ordered Heuermann to be held without bail due to the gravity of the allegations.

The three women Heuermann is charged with murdering, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello, were among the victims known as the “Gilgo Four.” Most of these individuals were young, female sex workers whose remains were discovered near Gilgo Beach in 2010. Although Heuermann has not been formally charged with the murder of the fourth Gilgo victim, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, court documents indicate that he is considered the prime suspect.

How did the police identify Rex Heuermann as the killer?

The investigation leading to Heuermann’s arrest was extensive and involved careful surveillance by state and federal authorities. The police had been monitoring the 59-year-old since March 2022, ultimately deciding to make an arrest in the interest of public safety. The key evidence against Heuermann included DNA recovered from a pizza box discarded outside his office, linking him to one of the victims.

Additionally, burner phones and cellular phone site data connected him to the victims, revealing a pattern of communication and disposal of the devices. Hairs found on the victims were also identified as belonging to Heuermann or his wife.

During their investigation, authorities discovered that Heuermann made over 200 searches related to the Gilgo Beach case, including images of the victims and attempts to locate their relatives. The suspect’s search history also revealed disturbing interests in sadistic and torture-related pornography. The meticulous work of the task force was aimed at preventing Heuermann from realising their close surveillance and impeding their progress.

While Heuermann’s arrest brings a sense of closure for the families of the victims, Lynn Barthelemy, the mother of Melissa Barthelemy, expressed to NBC News her desire for him to suffer at the hands of fellow inmates. Over the years, the case surrounding the Gilgo Four has faced strong criticism, with some questioning the police’s commitment to solving it since the women involved were sex workers.

What will happen next?

As the legal process unfolds, residents of Massapequa Park hope for justice for the victims and the identification of any potential accomplices or perpetrators involved in the other unsolved murders linked to the Gilgo Beach case. Heuermann’s arrest marks a significant step forward in the pursuit of truth and justice, providing a glimmer of hope for the families affected by these heinous crimes.

That being said, John Ray, an attorney representing the families of Shannan Gilbert and Jessica Taylor, after expressing his satisfaction with the recent arrest, and stating that “finally, the dam has broken,” insisted that he still firmly believes that Heuermann is not the only one responsible for all 11 murders, including Gilbert’s and Taylor’s, leaving the mystery unresolved and indicating the presence of another suspect. Ray emphasised that there is still much work to be done in the ongoing investigation.

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