Suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann back in court on Long Island

Gilgo Beach murder suspect Rex Heuermann appeared in court Wednesday on Long Island after being charged earlier this year.

Heuermann, a 60-year-old architect, was initially arrested outside his Manhattan office in July for the murder of three sex workers. He was later charged with the murder of a fourth victim. 

Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, Melissa Barthelemy, 24, Megan Waterman, 22, and Amber Lynn Costello, 27 are known as the "Gilgo Four."

Rex Heuermann’s attorney, Michael Brown insists he will take his time to carefully review what prosecutors call voluminous evidence tied to the Gilgo Beach killings. 

"I’m not going to be rushed to go to trial," said Michael Brown who is representing Heuermann. "The government has had this case since 2010. They made an arrest in 2023."

Brown is looking for files from the FBI investigation into former Suffolk County Chief of Police James Burke. Burke’s attorney says his client has never been involved and his name has been cleared. On Wednesday, Brown argued he may have played a role.

"Chief Burke has an extremely checkered history in terms of prostitutes and abuse," Brown said. "It seems contrary to common sense that Chief Burke wouldn’t let the FBI in to help with the investigation back then to help with their expertise."

Accused Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann, appears in court on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. 

The prosecution handed over more evidence including 422 electronic devices, 388 leads and information Brown requested claiming there was another suspect from Massapequa Park where Heuermann lived with the initials WH. Those initials were found on a belt bounding victim Maureen Brainard-Barnes. Prosecutors have argued the belt belonged to Heuermann’s grandfather, William.

"We’re talking about a tremendous amount of material, all of this information we have to turn over so we will," Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney said.

Heuermann’s estranged wife, Asa Ellerup was inside the courtroom but didn’t stop to speak. Heuermann stood in silence during the five-minute conference.

"He maintains today he’s not the guy," Brown said. "The burden is on the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt."

Heuermann is due back in court on June 18. The judge hopes the prosecution will handover all of the discovery by the end of July. 

At this point, no trial date has been set.


Who were the Gilgo Beach murder victims?

Most of the victims were young women who had been sex workers. Several of the bodies were found near the town of Gilgo Beach.

DNA from a discarded pizza crust and burner phone evidence tied him to three sex workers (Melissa, Megan, and Amber).

He was formally charged in the killing of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, months after being labeled as the prime suspect in her death, when he was arrested in July in the deaths of three other women.

A hair found in the buckle of this belt used to bind Brainard-Barnes is said to be linked to Heuermann. His daughter’s discarded energy drink taken from a garbage can also matched DNA profiles.

The bodies of the "Gilgo Four" were located within a quarter-mile of one another near Gilgo Beach in December 2010.

Riverhead, N.Y.: Accused Gilgo Beach killer Rex Heuermann appears before Judge Timothy P. Mazzei in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead, New York on August 1, 2023. (Photo by James Carbone/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

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. 

No arrests have been made in the deaths of the six others found near Gilgo Beach. The grand jury will continue to work to see if there are other possible connections.