Accused Gilgo Beach Serial Killer Rex Heuermann Returns to Court

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
April 17, 2024US News
Accused Gilgo Beach Serial Killer Rex Heuermann Returns to Court
Rex Heuermann in an undated photo. (Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Accused serial killer Rex Heuermann returned to court on Wednesday for a hearing in the infamous case of the Gilgo Beach murders.

The 60-year-old architect is accused of killing four sex workers and disposing of their bodies along a coastal highway in Long Island. The victims, who became known as the Gilgo Four, were all bound and wrapped in burlap.

The string of killings took place between 1996 and 2011. For more than a decade, the murders left the community on edge as residents feared a serial killer was on the prowl on Long Island’s South Shore. Mr. Huermann has been charged with four murders, but a total of at least ten bodies have been found.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mr. Heuermann was arrested in July 2023 and immediately charged with the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello. He was later also charged with the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

The suspect’s estranged wife, Asa Ellerup, also returned to court to attend Wednesday’s hearing. She filed for divorce just days after his arrest but also said she believes her husband is not capable of the murders and continues to give him “the benefit of the doubt.” Their daughter, Victoria Heuermann, also attended court on Wednesday.

During the hearing, Judge Timothy Mazzei said he wants the trial to begin as soon as July. However, he also said that the defense needs time to review the large amount of evidence in the case. The new evidence turned over by prosecutors includes more than 400 electronic devices and nearly 400 leads on the suspect.

Meanwhile, the defense continues to target the former police chief and his alleged lack of cooperation with federal authorities in investigating the string of murders.

“The Suffolk County Police Department, especially with Chief James Burke in charge, and the FBI were butting heads. And, to some extent, I think Chief Burke was suppressing the investigation and wouldn’t allow the FBI to participate in it with their expertise,” according to Michael Brown, Mr. Heuermann’s defense attorney.

Mr. Brown also reiterated to the media that the chief has a “checkered history” with prostitutes and cited his arrest for soliciting a prostitute at a Suffolk County park. He may call the chief to testify on the witness stand, he suggested to the media on Wednesday.

Mr. Heuermann’s defense attorney has also cast doubt on the DNA evidence allegedly linking Heuermann to the Gilgo Four. Investigators said a DNA profile obtained from a male hair found on the burlap used to wrap one of the victims matched the suspect.

Prosecutors have also said that evidence shows the suspect used burner phones and has a long online history of researching the Gilgo Beach killings.

Mr. Heuermann is set to return to court on June 18 for another hearing. He is being held without bail and faces several life sentences without parole if convicted.

Mr. Heuermann has notably not been linked or charged with any of the murders outside of the Gilgo Four. Six other bodies were found dispersed along a span of several miles. By contrast, the Gilgo Four were found within a quarter-mile of each other. In addition, three of those victims remain unidentified, and several of the bodies were discovered dismembered. Those cases, to this day, remain unsolved.

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