Suspect in Gilgo Beach killings may have started preying on women more than three decades ago


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  one week ago  •  1 comments

By:   Corky Siemaszko

Suspect in Gilgo Beach killings may have started preying on women more than three decades ago
Rex Heuermann, the man charged in the Gilgo Beach serial killings may have started preying on young women earlier than first believed — and not just on the South Shore of Long Island.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

The man charged in the Gilgo Beach serial killings may have started preying on young women earlier than first believed — and not just on the South Shore of Long Island.

Rex Heuermann was 29 and three years away from getting his architecture license when the remains of Sandra Costilla, one of two women he was charged Thursday with killing, was found in 1993 on the east end of Long Island, in a wooded area of Southampton near Fish Cove Road.

The remains of the five other women that Heuermann has been charged with killing were all found from about 2010 or later in and around Gilgo Beach, which is some 70 miles west of Southampton.

The fact that Heuermann has now been charged with a more than 30-year-old murder is an ominous sign to expert criminologists like Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired New York Police Department sergeant who once ran the cold case squad in The Bronx.

"Before all this is over, he could become one of the most prolific serial killers ever on Long Island," Giacalone said. "There may be as many as 50 more unsolved murder cases that could be linked to him based on this time frame and his M.O. [modus operandi]."

Heuermann is also under investigation in the 2000 death of another woman, Valeria Mack, according to his indictment.

Heuermann, 60, had been living a quiet life with his family, commuting from his home in Massapequa Park to his office in Manhattan since 1987, police said.

"It's like they say, beware of the quiet ones," Giacalone said. "He was coming and going and trying not to draw attention to himself. And in the meantime, women were disappearing."

The Costilla case is the oldest murder that prosecutors have hung on Heuermann. They say the 28-year-old woman was killed either on Nov. 19 or 20, 1993, when hunters found her badly battered and mutilated body. They say DNA from hairs found on her body matched Heuermann's.

Costilla, according to Heuermann's indictment, was a native of Trinidad and Tobago who had been living in New York City. But the document shed little else in the way of information about her.

At the time of her disappearance, police said Costilla had been living on Gates Avenue in the Ridgewood section of Queens, a borough of New York City, and sometimes used the last name Cutello. She was arrested in 1992 for jumping a subway turnstile, so her fingerprints were on record, Newsday reported at the time.

But reporters who visited Costilla's block in Queens at the time could not find any residents who knew her.

"Till somebody who cares about her comes forward, that's what we're stuck with," Detective Lt. John Gierasch, then-commander of Suffolk's Homicide Squad, was quoted as saying. "We don't have any recent address on her nor do we have any information on where her family may be."

Heuermann was also charged Thursday with second-degree murder in the killing of 20-year-old Jessica Taylor, who disappeared in July 2003 while working as an escort in New York City. Her dismembered and mutilated body was found in 2011 in the scrub near Ocean Parkway, just east of Gilgo Beach on the south shore of Long Island. His hairs were also found on her body.

Taylor, according to the indictment, had been a sex worker in the Midtown area of Manhattan and spoke with her mother by cellphone before leaving for what would be her final date. She had arranged to head to Poughkeepsie, New York on July 25, 2003, for her mother's birthday.

"When her daughter failed to arrive at her Poughkeepsie residence or answer any phone calls, Ms. Taylor's mother notified law enforcement," the indictment states.

Last year, Heuermann was charged with the long-unsolved killings of three female sex workers whose bodies were found dumped on a Long Island beach — Melissa Barthelemy, 24; Megan Waterman, 22; and Amber Lynn Costello, 27.

Earlier this year, Heuermann was also charged in the killing of 25-year-old Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

Taylor's body and Mack's body were found near the other women, who have been dubbed the "Gilgo Four," according to the indictment.

The hunt for the Gilgo Beach killer began in 2010 after the search for a missing sex worker led to the discovery of the remains of 11 other people in and around the beach on Long Island's South Shore.

But the case quickly stalled amid accusations that detectives were dragging their feet because of a cultural bias against sex workers. It wasn't revived until 2022 when Suffolk County's new police commissioner, Rodney Harrison, assembled the Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation Task Force, which was made up of federal and state investigators, as well as local detectives.

Meanwhile, Heuermann was, on the surface at least, just an average Long Island family man minding his own business. The architect lived with his wife, Asa Ellerup, his daughter, Victoria, and stepson, Christopher Sheridan ,in the modest home he grew up in. He rarely interacted with his neighbors.

Other than an interview done at his Manhattan office that was posted on YouTube in 2002 by Bonjour Reality, Heuermann kept a low-profile professionally as well.

Heuermann, who records show became a licensed architect in 1996, spoke in the video about the ins and outs of being a consultant who helps customers navigate New York City's arcane building codes. He also talked about how he learned to build furniture with his father in their workshop.

In a portion of the interview that now comes across as especially chilling, Heuermann described his favorite tool — a cabinet maker's hammer.

"It is persuasive enough when I need to persuade something," he can be heard saying.

"Not someone?" the interviewer asks.

"Something," Heuermann replies. "And it always yields excellent results."

Heuermann also had another interest that wasn't revealed until after police searched his home — a fascination with unsolved murder cases.

In his office, according to the indictment, police found a copy of a book by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker titled "The Cases That Haunt Us."


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The architect and father allegedly "meticulously planned and executed six separate murders," Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney said at a news conference Thursday.

Tierney said the discovery of a digital "planning document" on one of 350 electronic devices seized from Heuermann’s Massapequa Park, New York, home was a "significant impetus" for investigators to return to Heuermann’s house and two locations in eastern Long Island.

Investigators said the planning document contained a checklist of things to do in order to package a body for transport, avoid leaving traces of DNA and other steps. There were notes indicating steps to take "next time," i.e., considering a hit to the face or neck "NEXT TIME," or using heavier rope for the neck, according to court documents.

Court documents show he also allegedly had a "post event" checklist, which appeared to be a "checklist of tasks following the 'event' or homicide to avoid apprehension, i.e. ... 'BURN GLOVES,' 'DISPOSE OF PICS' taken of the victim, and 'HAVE STORY SET' (e.g., alibi, story for family upon their return, or law enforcement, should an inquiry be made)." New disturbing details emerge as Gilgo Beach suspect charged in 2 more murders (msn.com)

and DNA, in some cases 30 years old, was his downfall.

This will be one hell of a trial


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