UNITED STATES NEWS

Arrest in Gilgo Beach killings isn’t end of investigation, police say. Other deaths remain unsolved

Jul 17, 2023, 7:33 AM | Updated: 2:36 pm

MASSAPEQUA PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Detectives on Long Island are hunting for fresh clues about an architect arrested in connection with a string of murders known as the Gilgo Beach killings. They’re combing through storage units linked to Rex Heuermann and using DNA evidence to see if he’s connected to other cold cases.

The ongoing work Monday marks an important new phase in a multi-agency investigation that — after years of dead ends and frustrations — led prosecutors to charge Heuermann with murder last Friday in the deaths of three of the 11 women whose remains were found buried along a remote beach highway in 2010 and 2011.

Heuermann, who has lived for decades across a bay from where the remains were found, is also considered the prime suspect in the killing of a fourth victim. He has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer said Heuermann denied committing the crimes.

Investigators have said it’s unlikely just one person killed all of the victims, and they insist the probe is far from over after the watershed moment of Heuermann’s arrest.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison, who spearheaded the creation of an interagency task force last year to solve the Gilgo Beach killings, has vowed that authorities will “work tirelessly until we bring justice to all the families involved.”

“We’re just in the infancy of the work that needs to be done going forward,” Deputy Commissioner Anthony Carter told The Associated Press on Monday.

Detectives executed a search warrant at Omega Self Storage in Amityville on Sunday and searched another nearby storage facility on Monday. Both are less than a 10-minute drive from Heuermann’s home

This followed a multi-day search at Heuermann’s house in Massapequa Park, about a 25-minute drive across a causeway spanning South Oyster Bay to the sandy stretch known as Gilgo Beach where the women’s remains were found.

Investigators were also checking to see if Heuermann’s DNA — obtained from pizza crust he disposed and linked to genetic material found on a Gilgo Beach victim’s remains — connected him to other unsolved cases.

Heuermann, 59, is charged with killing Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello. Authorities are continuing to work toward charging him in the death of a fourth victim, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, said Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

Most of the victims were young women who had been sex workers. Their deaths long stumped investigators, and the mystery fueled immense public attention and led to a 2020 Netflix film, “Lost Girls.”

Harrison, the NYPD’s former chief of detectives and chief of department, made solving the Gilgo Beach killings one of his top priority when he was appointed police commissioner in January 2022.

Harrison soon formed the Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation Task Force, convincing the FBI, state police and local departments to commit their top investigators full time to the effort. Harrison assigned longtime Gilgo Beach investigator Detective Lt. Kevin Beyrer to lead the probe.

“His goal was not to move the case forward, his goal was to solve the case,” said Carter, who moved to the Suffolk County department with Harrison from the NYPD.

Task force investigators started working out of a dedicated space at a Suffolk County police facility, an open space with no offices so they could share ideas and information.

Within six weeks of their first meeting, task force investigators identified Heuermann as a suspect — using a vehicle registration database to connect him to a Chevrolet Avalanche pickup truck that a witness reported seeing when one of the victims disappeared.

Some of the victims were believed to have disappeared from Massapequa Park, and their cell phones were found to have pinged towers in the area.

The truck discovery unlocked other investigative tools.

A grand jury authorized more than 300 subpoenas and search warrants, allowing the task force to dig into Heuermann’s life. They collected billing records for burner phones he allegedly used to arrange meetings with the victims, retested DNA found with the bodies, and combed Heuermann’s internet search history, which showed intense interest in the Gilgo Beach killings and the renewed investigation.

In January, a task force surveillance team tailing Heuermann in Manhattan watched as he threw the remnants of his lunch – a box of partially eaten pizza crusts – into a sidewalk garbage can. Investigators rushed in, grabbed the box, and sent it to the crime lab, which matched the DNA from Heuermann’s afternoon nosh to a male hair found on burlap used to restrain one of the victims.

The results of that testing came back on Tuesday, two days before Heuermann’s arrest.

“There were some questions about the task force — that the mission of the task force is now complete because we’ve affected an arrest,” Carter said. “Everything is in its infancy still. This is just part of it. There’s so much more work that needs to be done in terms of additional investigation, additional interviews, analyzing evidence, and on and on.”

“There are still a lot of victims, and we need to continue to try to bring justice for all of them,” he added. “That’s super important to all of us, and super important to the Suffolk County Police Department.”

___

Associated Press reporter Karen Matthews contributed to this report.

___

Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/

United States News

Associated Press

Cause of crash that killed NY couple at Niagara Falls border crossing still a mystery 8 months later

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — A police investigation into the crash and explosion that killed two people in a high-powered luxury car at a Niagara Falls border crossing last year has concluded with the crash’s cause still a mystery, authorities said. The probe into the Nov. 22, 2023, crash that killed Kurt and Monica Villani, […]

11 minutes ago

FILE - A long row of unsold 2021 X3 sports-utility vehicles sits at a BMW dealership Sunday, March ...

Associated Press

BMW recalls over 291,000 SUVs because interior cargo rails can detach in crash, raising injury risk

DETROIT (AP) — BMW is recalling more than 291,000 SUVs in the U.S. because the interior cargo rails can detach in a crash, increasing the risk of injury. The recall covers certain X3 SUVs from the 2018 through 2023 model years. The company says in documents posted by U.S. safety regulators that dealers will replace […]

27 minutes ago

Associated Press

Authorities identify victims of fatal plane crash near the site of an air show in Wisconsin

NEKIMI, Wis. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man and a man from New York have been preliminarily identified as the victims of a fatal plane crash near the site of an airshow in eastern Wisconsin. The bodies of Sean Tommervik, 37, of Philadelphia, and James G. Sullivan, 32, of Brooklyn, were found Monday in the wreckage […]

56 minutes ago

Associated Press

Fake protest set for TV shoot on NYC campus sparks real demonstration by pro-Palestinian activists

NEW YORK (AP) — A fake protest encampment set up for a TV shoot on a New York City college campus sparked a real reaction from pro-Palestinian activists, who organized their own demonstration against the filming, a newspaper reported Wednesday. The scenario unfolded Monday and Tuesday at Queens College, where the CBS drama “FBI: Most […]

1 hour ago

Lear production worker Abigail Fletcher rides her mini bike in support of the picket line as member...

Associated Press

Strike at plant that makes truck seats forces production stoppage for Missouri General Motors

Production has halted at a Missouri General Motors plant that manufactures trucks and vans, the result of a strike at the company that supplies seats for the vehicles. About 480 workers at Lear Corp. in Wentzville walked out at midnight Sunday. The strike brought production to a standstill Monday at the GM plant in Wentzville, […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears speaks at a press conference announcing that Raymond Ron...

Associated Press

Mistrial declared in case of Indiana man accused of fatally shooting five, including pregnant woman

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial in the case of an Indianapolis man accused of fatally shooting five people, including a pregnant woman, after a witness verbally confronted the defendant in front of the jury. Marion County Superior Judge Chris Miller declared the mistrial Tuesday in the trial of Raymond Ronald Lee Childs […]

1 hour ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Arrest in Gilgo Beach killings isn’t end of investigation, police say. Other deaths remain unsolved