LONG ISLAND - An intense police search of the Long Island home of Rex Heuermann is now complete, authorities said Tuesday as they ended a 12-day hunt for evidence that involved ripping up the yard and the discovery of a basement vault containing hundreds of weapons kept by the man accused of killing at least three women more than a decade ago.
"We have obtained a massive amount of material all of which has to be cataloged and analyzed," said Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney. "We won’t know what we have for quite some time."
Tierney declined to describe the bulk of the material, but said there was not a "singular piece of evidence" that jumped out to him.
The search turned up at least 279 weapons kept inside a thick basement vault large enough for a person to walk into, Tierney said. Police took boxes of additional evidence from the house, which he described as a "very cluttered environment."
Author Robert Kolker, who wrote a book about the Gilgo Beach murder victims and their families says he was surprised in some ways by Heuermann’s arrest.
"He was right there," he said. "Just 20 min away from where the bodies were found. He was in a career shaking hands and out on the town all the time."
A coalition of law enforcement agencies have been pouring over the property since July 14th, when Heuermann was arrested and charged with killing three women – Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Costello, and Megan Waterman – and dumping their bodies along a remote stretch of coastal highway near Long Island's Gilgo Beach more than a decade ago. Prosecutors identified him as the prime suspect in the death of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes.
Heuermann, who worked as an architect in Manhattan, has denied the charges through his lawyer.
The killings, all of which involved women engaged in sex work, happened while Heuermann’s family members were out of town, according to court papers. There is no indication his wife or children had knowledge of the crimes, Tierney said.
During the search, police used a scanning technology to identify "disturbances" in the ground outside Heuermann’s property, Tierney said. An excavator dug up the yard, and investigators with shovels could be seen scraping through freshly upturned earth.
"There was nothing of note taken from the back yard," he said. "As far as remains, there is a whole entire trace analysis we have to go through with the house with regard to hair fibers, DNA, blood, which we’ll have to await the results of."
Police were also seen pulling a large doll encased in glass and a portrait of a woman with a bruise on her face from the house. Tierney said it would be "quite some time" before all of the evidence could be tested for forensics.
The end of the search comes as police in Las Vegas and South Carolina are beginning their own investigations into whether the suspect may have been connected to any unresolved cases. Heuermann owns a timeshare in Las Vegas and planned to retire in a remote area of South Carolina, where his brother currently lives.
Tierney declined to discuss specifics in the other cases on Tuesday, but noted the investigation "is not limited to New York state."
Heuermann is due back in court on August 1st.
With the Associated Press.