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What we know about Rex Heuermann, suspect in Gilgo Beach murders that shook Long Island more than a decade ago

What we know about the Gilgo Beach suspect
What we know about the suspect and victims in the Gilgo Beach serial killings 06:28

The suspect arrested in connection with the unsolved serial killings of women found along a New York beach highway has been identified as Rex Heuermann, of Massapequa, Long Island.

Court documents show Heuermann, 59, is being charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of three women — Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello — in 2009 and 2010. He was also named as "the prime suspect" in the murder of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes. They were among at least 10 victims whose bodies were found in the area, in a case that stymied investigators for years. 

Heuermann, who worked as an architectural consultant in Manhattan, was taken into custody by Suffolk County Police and state police late Thursday night. There was a large police presence Friday morning at his home in the village of Massapequa Park.

Long Island Serial Killings suspect
Booking photo of Rex Heuermann (inset), arrested in connection with a string of unsolved killings known as the Gilgo Beach murders on Long Island. Police searched a home in Massapequa Park, New York, on on July 14, 2023, after he was taken into custody. Background: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AP; Inset: Obtained by CBS New York

Heuermann was arraigned in court Friday and pleaded not guilty. The judge ordered him held without bail.

The arrest comes more than a decade after the discovery of the remains of numerous victims along Long Island's Gilgo Beach. The long-unsolved killings were the subject of numerous CBS "48 Hours" reports and the 2020 Netflix film "Lost Girls."

According to court documents filed by prosecutors, investigators began a "comprehensive review of every item of evidence" in the case in 2022. Authorities said that led them to take a closer look at a Chevrolet Avalanche registered to Heuermann at the time of the murders, similar to one reported seen by a witness. The investigation also turned up connections with burner cellphones and other phone data allegedly linked to the suspect. 

In addition, the court filing says a hair found on burlap that wrapped one of the victims was determined to be a DNA match to Heuermann, based on a DNA sample retrieved from crusts in a pizza box he discarded.

Heuermann is an architect who founded the New York City firm RH Consultants and Associates, in 1994, according to the company's website. His clients included Target, Foot Locker, Catholic Charities and American Airlines, the website says. 

A "Meet the team" link on the firm's website with Heuermann's photo has been taken down but CBS News obtained a screenshot before it was removed.

Rex Heuermann is pictured in this screenshot from RH Consultants and Associates' website. RH Consultants and Associates

"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," according to the company's website. 

Residents of Massapequa Park told CBS New York they were stunned by the news.

"We've been here for about 30 years, and the guy's been quiet, never really bothers anybody," next-door neighbor Etienne DeVilliers told the station. "We were kind of shocked, to tell you the truth." 

DeVilliers said Heuermann is married, with two children. He added that his neighbor told him he was an architect.

"Like I said, we're shocked. Because this is a very, very quiet neighborhood. Everybody knows each other, all of our neighbors, we're all friendly. It's never been a problem at all," DeVilliers said.

In a 2022 interview with Bonjour Realty that was posted to YouTube, Heuermann says he was "born and raised on Long Island" 

Actor Billy Baldwin tweeted on Friday that he went to high school with Heuermann.

"Woke up this morning to learn that the Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect was my high school classmate Rex Heuermann," Baldwin tweeted, saying they went to Massapequa's Berner High School and graduated in 1981.  

Heuermann told Bonjour Realty last year that has worked in Manhattan since 1987.

"I'm an architect, I'm an architectural consultant, I'm a troubleshooter," he says, adding that he's adept at interpreting arcane building codes and handles lots of negotiations with the buildings department.

"At home, I have an extensive library of obsolete books" about building codes from the past century, he said.

On Friday, officers converged on a small red house that had been raided earlier in the morning in the suburb about 40 miles east of midtown Manhattan, the Associated Press reported. Investigators were seen outside the home, which appeared to be in disrepair.

"This house sticks out like a sore thumb. There were overgrown shrubs, there was always wood in front of the house," neighbor Gabriella Libardi told the AP. "It was very creepy. I wouldn't send my child there."

Barry Auslander, another neighbor, told the AP the man who lived in the house commuted by train to New York City each morning, wearing a suit and tie.

"It was weird. He looked like a businessman," said Auslander. "But his house is a dump."

In the 2022 interview with Bonjour Realty, Heuermann was asked hypothetically what tool he would be to help elevate his business. He replied that he would be a hammer.

"I have one tool that's pretty much used in almost every job. It's actually a cabinet maker's hammer," he said. "It is persuasive enough when I need to persuade something and it always yields excellent results."

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