LONG ISLAND - Suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann appeared in court Wednesday, with his estranged wife, Asa Ellerup, attending his appearance for the first time.
Ellerup was met by a circus of cameras, which marked the first time she came to court since his arrest back in July.
"He’s accused of some heinous crimes and she wants to see and hear the evidence in the courtroom, not the media or the podcasts," said Robert Macedonio, Ellerup's divorce attorney.
Ellerup, who was being followed by a film crew, said nothing as she walked in. The conference finished in a matter of minutes. Heuermann glanced at her in the gallery as he was escorted out, and she slightly smiled.
"My understanding is she doesn't think he was capable or committed these acts he appreciates that support," said Michael Brown, Heuermann’s attorney.
Heuermann’s attorney told the judge he's still waiting on key evidence, including lab report results. The 60-year-old architect maintains his innocence.
"I want to see what the evidence is and exactly what they, what we’ve received to date," Brown said. "I don’t agree with the position that it’s a strong case."
But prosecutors who handed over 200 more pages of evidence, along with 13,000 photos from the search of the suspect’s home, office and storage units call the evidence voluminous.
"Today we turned over the lab work and underline notes pertaining to it, which from the time of the investigation to the arrest, gigabytes of material," said Suffolk County DA Ray Tierney.
Tierney, who is prosecuting the case himself, anticipates the grand jury’s work, connecting Heuermann to the murder of a fourth victim, to wrap soon.
"We anticipate it concluding and once it does, if the grand jury acts, we'll make comment on that," Tierney said.
Heuermann responded ‘yes I am’ when the judge asked if he was using allotted time to review evidence. He’s due back in court Feb. 6.
Heuermann is charged with the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello. He's also the prime suspect in the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes.
The four women were found dead in Gilbo Beach back in 2010. Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
What are the Gilgo Beach murders?
The Gilgo Beach murders – the deaths of 11 people whose remains were found in 2010 and 2011 – have long stumped investigators.
Most of the victims were young women who had been sex workers. Several of the bodies were found near the remote town of Gilgo Beach on the southern shore of Long Island.
Determining who killed them, and why, has vexed a slew of seasoned homicide detectives through several changes in police leadership. Last year, an interagency task force was formed with investigators from the FBI, as well as state and local police departments, aimed at solving the case.
The formation of the Gilgo Beach task force represented a renewed commitment to investigating the unsolved killings, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said at the time.
The 'Gilgo Four'
The bodies of the "Gilgo Four" were located within a quarter-mile of one another near Gilgo Beach in December 2010.
In 2022, Suffolk County Police released new information on victims – Brainard-Barnes, Barthelemy, Waterman and Costello, including personal information and their last known whereabouts.
Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old sex worker, vanished on May 1, 2010. A police officer and his cadaver dog were looking for her body in the thicket along nearby Ocean Parkway when they happened upon the remains of a different woman. Within days, three other bodies were found, all within a short walk of one another.
Gilbert's disappearance and search is what ultimately led to the discovery of several remains in the area.
Associated Press wire services helped contribute to this report.