Is Rex Heuermann the Long Island Serial Killer?

There was a very unexpected update in the Long Island Serial Killings – also known as the Gilgo Beach case on July 13, 2023.  Rex Heuermann, a 59 year old man from Massapequa Park in New York was arrested and charged with three of the murders.

We did a two part podcast episode on the possible victims of the Long Island Serial Killer back in 2020.  It was some of our very early work, so please keep that in mind when listening.

In this blog, we are going to give a quick recap of the victims (please listen to the earlier episodes and read earlier blogs for more details) and we are mainly going to focus on Rex and the arrest.

In terms of a background in the case, the Gilgo Beach serial killings were a series of murders between 1996 and 2011 in which the remains of up to 18 people were found in Gilgo Beach, on the South Shore of Long Island. Most of the known victims were sex workers who advertised on Craigslist. The perpetrator in the case is known variously as the Long Island serial killer (LISK), the Manorville Butcher, and the Craigslist Ripper.

Four of the victims were termed the Gilgo Four. The remains of Melissa Barthelemy (24) were the first to be discovered in the case during the search on December 11, 2010, according to Suffolk County officials. Two days later, investigators discovered the remains of three additional victims – Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Amber Costello and Megan Waterman – strewn across a half-mile stretch on Gilgo Beach.

Currently, Rex has been charged with the murders of 3 of the Gilgo Four – Amber, Melissa and Megan.  We believe that charges for Maureen’s murder are forthcoming.

So, this is what we know about Rex so far.

He was born in 1959 to Dolores and Theodore.  I believe he also has a brother, Craig.  

This seems kind of random but apparently Theodore was an “aerospace engineer who built satellites” — while also working as a cabinet maker.

Records show Theo Heuermann died in 1975, when he was 50 and Rex would have been 11.  I believe that Dolores is around 93 and is still alive at the time of recording.

In 1981, Rex and randomly Billy Baldwin graduated from Alfred G. Berner High School in Massapequa, Town of Oyster Bay.   Billy made a statement after the arrest.

“Married, two kids, architect. ‘Average guy… quiet, family man.’ Mind-boggling. Massapequa is in shock.”

Rex went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in architectural technology at the New York Institute of Technology in Westbury, New York.

In 1988, when Craig Heuermann was 22, he was driving while high and intoxicated and he killed a police chief.  According to the NY Post, Craig was driving 61 mph during the 9:25 a.m. smash — and was already in an “intoxicated and ‘coked-up’ condition at the time,” Judge Frank Rossetti noted of the police findings in the case.

He slammed head-on into a car driven by city Housing Authority police Capt. Winnion Buskey, 51, who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a Newsday report at the time.

After pleading guilty, Craig started a three-year prison sentence for criminally negligent homicide at a since-closed minimum-security prison in Gabriels in upstate New York.

He was paroled in August 1990, months after his initial review was denied, according to state corrections records obtained by The Post.

On September 29, 1990, he and his first wife Elizabeth R. Ryan got married at Saint Peter’s Church in New Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA. Craig was his best man. At that time, he was an intern architect at Greer Construction Corp. in Freeport, New York.

The house where he grew up in Massapequa Park is where I believe he was still living when he was arrested.  He purchased it from Dolores in 1994 for $170,000.  This was the same year that he started his own company, RX Architecture Design.

His marriage to Elizabeth didn’t last long, and in 1996, he married again.  His second wife is Asa Ellerup.  Rex became the stepfather of her son from a previous marriage. In the same year, she gave birth to their daughter Victoria K. Heuermann.  I believe that Rex’s stepson may have special needs.  His name doesn’t seem to have been published anywhere yet.

Rex seems to have been fairly successful in his career.  His clients included Target, Foot Locker, Catholic Charities and American Airlines. Part of his profile, which has since been taken down, read:

“Throughout the years, Rex Heuermann has provided services to other city agencies, not-for-profit agencies, builders, developers and individual owners of buildings in regard to ADA, NYC and NY State Codes as well as Zoning Consultation.”

Despite living fairly modestly, Rex seems to have had tax evasion issues.  Nassau County records show Rex was subject to six tax liens filed by the IRS in Nassau County between 2010 and 2021. According to the liens, he owed a total of more than $425,000 for taxes he had failed to pay going back to 2005.

The IRS later filed tax lien releases showing that Rex repaid or no longer owed about $215,078 of that debt, with the most recent documents being filed in October 2022.

According to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Rex and Asa also currently owe a total of more than $81,500 in personal income tax to the state, with the tax bills having accrued since November 2020.

Between 2014 and 2022, Rex filed four lawsuits in New York courts against drivers who he said had hit him with their cars, causing him “serious and permanent personal injuries,” court records show. Three of the cases were settled or discontinued, while the most recent one is ongoing.

When asked in some court documents if he played sports, he said, “Really only thing I competed in was competition rifle.”

Rex also had some professional trouble in 2007.  In September of that year, a seven-story apartment building in Harlem, New York City that he had been hired to renovate was declared unsafe by fire officials, who ordered at least 26 families to evacuate.

As we mentioned, Rex has been charged with 3 of the 4 Gilgo Beach murders so far.  Just for reference for a timeline:

Maureen Brainaird-Barnes was reported missing in July 2007.  

Melissa Barthelemy went missing on July 12, 2009.

Megan Waterman went missing June 6, 2010.

Amber Waterman disappeared in September 2010.

Their remains were all found between December 11-13, 2010. 

Police now allege that Rex carried out these murders while his wife and children were out of town.

There have been lots of questions about how police actually narrowed down the search and identified Rex as a suspect.

On February 15, 2022 a task force was established for this case.

In March 2022, police discovered that Rex had owned a Chevrolet Avalanche truck between 2009-2010.  A pickup truck had been reported as being seen near the crime scene in the past.

Once they started looking into Rex, they also found that there were calls to the victims that originated from a location near his home in Massapequa Park and another location near his office in Manhattan. 

Investigators said they narrowed cell tower records from thousands of possible individuals down to hundreds and then to a handful of people. They focused on residents who matched a physical description provided by a witness who had seen the killer.

A series of “taunting” calls in which a male caller admitted killing and sexually assaulting Melissa were made from her phone to her family members from the vicinity of Rex’s office during the summer of 2009, according to the bail application.

According to the New York Post, the killer/Rex said to Amanda: ‘Is this Melissa’s little sister?’. ‘Yes,’ replied the girl.  

‘Do you know what your sister is doing?  She’s a whore.’  The calls were always made in the evening and lasted for under three minutes.  

This info is from a 2011 article that references Massapequa Park:

‘He wouldn’t talk to anybody but her,’ Mrs Barthelemy told the Post (referring to her younger daughter). ‘One time I answered, and he hung up as soon as he heard my voice.’

But she kept a note of the conversations while police pinpointed the caller’s location in Times Square, Madison Square Garden and Massapequa, a short drive from Gilgo Beach in Suffolk County.

If you want to go into detail about the calls Rex allegedly made to the victims, check out this document.   It’s very interesting in terms of tracking the calls.

This is an interesting quote from that same article:

‘Without question this guy is smart, this guy is not a dope. it’s a guy who thinks about things.’

According to the bail application documents, Rex also used burner phones to contact sex workers or massage parlors. He also created false names for an email account used to search for “sex workers, sadistic, torture-related pornography and child pornography.”

We have now learned that Rex was likely in the same location as the burner cellphones used to contact some of the Gilgo 4.  

In one case on July 10, 2009, records show the burner phone and Rex’s phone were in the same location and traveled together from Massapequa to New York City, prosecutors wrote.

Then, both Melissa and Rex’s phones traveled eastbound toward Massapequa.

One fictitious email account was used to send selfies “to solicit and arrange for sexual activity.” Another was used to search for podcasts and documentaries about the investigation, as well as “images depicting the murdered victims and members of their immediate families.” 

Rex made an AOL account under the name John Springfield (Springfieldman9)  in January 2011.  As of December 2022, he was still using that account.   Police determined that Rex was using a burner phone to access that account.  Between 2021-2013, two of Rex’s burner phones were used to extensively contact sex workers or massage parlors.  Police even found CCTV of Rex purchasing these burner phones.

In July 2022, a detective took 11 bottles from a trash can outside his house in Massapequa Park.

By January 2023, he was under regular surveillance. Investigators saw him throw a pizza box into a sidewalk garbage can outside his office building in Manhattan and the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory swabbed the discarded crusts for DNA.

On February 24 this year, a forensic lab concluded that a hair found on Megan’s remains matched the DNA from one of the bottles.  It is believed that DNA belonged to Asa.  There is no indication yet that Asa knew about the murders, as she was out of the area at the time they happened.  

A hair from Amber’s remains was tested and also was a match for the DNA on a bottle, it says. Prosecutors wrote that means it’s likely the burlap, tape, vehicles or other things used in the killings came from his home, or was transferred to them from his clothes.

Between March 2022 and June 23, Heuermann used the same account to conduct more than 200 searches about serial killers and articles about the task force investigating the Gilgo Beach killings.

We have also learned that Rex liked to listen to podcasts about the LISK case. Creepy. 

Rex was arrested in New York City on July 13, 2023.  We have read that police believed Rex may have been onto them and they brought the arrest forward.  This is why they have not currently charged him with Maureen’s murder.  The court documents say that part of the case “is expected to be resolved soon.” 

Suffolk County DA Ray Tierney spoke about the timing of the arrest.

“We were playing before a party of one. We knew the person responsible for these murders would be looking at us.”

He also spoke about the other victims.

“There are a lot of other victims, you know, in that area,” he told CNN.

“There are a lot of victim’s families that want closure. So that’s what you work towards.”

“Yes, the day has finally come when someone so … depraved of heart who would kill individuals, innocent individuals in the prime of their lives, their young lives, is finally brought to justice,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said. “Rex Heuermann is a demon that walks among us. A predator that ruined families. If not for the members of this task force, he would still be on the streets today.”

Rex pleaded not guilty during his court appearance on Friday, July 14.

“I did not do this,” his court appointed attorney, Michael Brown, said his client told him. Rex was apparently in tears after the arrest. I have seen that Asa was in court supporting Rex.  

Rex is due in court again on August 1.

On Sunday, July 16, police searched a storage unit that Rex had rented.

Det. Lieutenant Kevin Beyrer told News 12:

“We have executed a search warrant for one of the storage units in relation to the Gilgo suspect case,” he said.

On the same day, police were seen removing multiple weapons from Rex’s home.  He had permits for 92 weapons.  

Police were seen carrying out a child-sized blonde doll that was kept in a large wooden and glass case adorned with flowers.

The creepy doll with a red bow adorned on top of its head, wearing a red outfit, was just one of several items officers clad in hazmat suits, gloves and masks took out of the home and filled into a truck.

‘We’re just going through his house, looking to see if there’s any evidence,’ a police source told the New York Post. ‘If he has any trophies’ from the victims whose bodies he dumped at Gilgo Beach.

Police in both South Carolina and Las Vegas have announced that they are looking into the case.  Rex owned a timeshare in Vegas for many years and Craig, Rex’s brother lives in South Carolina.  Rex had apparently planned to retire with Craig.

“We are aware of Rex Heuermann’s connection to Las Vegas. We are currently reviewing our unsolved cases to see if he has any involvement,” a police spokesperson said.

Earlier in this episode, we mentioned the Chevy Avalanche truck that was a bit of a smoking gun in the case.  After Rex was impounded, police impounded a second Avalanche from the South Carolina property that Rex and Craig owned.

“During the investigation and prior to the arrest the Chester County Sheriff’s Office was requested by the Gilgo Beach Task Force to assist in gathering evidence in Chester County relevant to their investigation,” the South Carolina department said on Facebook.

“The Chester County Sheriff’s Office has and will continue to work closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Suffolk County law enforcement authorities during this very important and arduous investigation,” the sheriff’s office said.

On Wednesday, July 19, Rex’s wife Asa filed for divorce.  

In a statement shortly after the arrest, defense attorney Michael Brown referred to Rex as a “loving husband” and said he and Asa had been married more than 25 years.

Asa’s attorney told ABC on Wednesday that she had no comment.

SOURCE LIST’s%20wife%20and%20children%20were,the%20victims%20from%20his%20clothing.


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