The Gilgo Beach Murders; What We Know So Far

By: Vincent
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Giglo Beach murder victims: Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, an unidentified Asian man, Amber Lynn Costello, Valerie Mack, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Shannan Gilbert, and Jessica Taylor's pictures, with an over view of Gilgo Beach in the background

Rex Heuermann, Gilgo Beach

On Dec. 11 2010, during a search for missing woman Shannan Gilbert, the Suffolk County police found the remains of Melissa Barthelemy. On Dec. 13 the police found the remains of three other women; Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Amber Costello, and Megan Waterman, as per CNN. Found on the foamy waterfront of Gilgo Beach, the remains had been identified as women who went missing between July 2007 and September 2010. 

Rex Heuermann

According to CNN, more bodies would be discovered in the following years. They including a toddler, her mother, and an Asian man, although it was the initial bodies, now dubbed the ‘Gilgo Four’, which would be attributed to the same killer. The victims were escorts who advertised on the website Craigslist. It is believed this is how the killer made initial contact with them.

Gilgo Beach

The alleged killer is Rex Heuermann, 59, a Massapequa Park resident. The architect operates out of midtown Manhattan. Investigators started seriously suspecting him in 2022. Initial evidence against Heuerman was cobbled together from leftover trash, DNA left near the bodies, and a disturbing phone call from April 2011, which came from Barthelemy’s cell phone, among other things. 

Rex Heuermann walking handcuffed into court for the Gilgo Beach murders
📸: Newsday

In the disturbing phone call, which was heard by the victim’s sister, the caller taunts the family. He also claims to have killed Barthelemy. This type of thing is common with serial killers, according to an FBI publication. They state that they develop an ego that makes them believe they can never be brought to justice. 

Heuermann was arrested July 13 and charged with one count of first degree murder and one count of second degree murder in each of the three killings, as per CNN. He was first identified as a suspect in early 2022, and was located through the narrowing of cell phone records. Heuermann allegedly used burner phones to contact escorts, and authorities were able to locate where these calls were coming from using state of the art technology. 

DNA from trash at Heuermann’s home also led to his arrest. A pizza crust and other refuse, which might seem inconsequential to normal people, contained pertinent DNA that the authorities could use to further incriminate. Stray male hairs are said to have been found on the burlap sacks that covered the victims, and hair that is believed to be from Heuermann’s wife was found near the bodies, as per CNN. 

An empty pizza box with leftover crust used as evidence against Rex Heuermann

According to CNN, Heuermann’s internet search history was full of information about the Gilgo investigation, and searches about the victim’s families. The prosecution also said his search history included violent pornography, and depictions of women being abused. 

Heuermann is charged with the murder of three of the ‘Gilgo Four’, and suspected of the fourth, Maureen Bernard-Baines. “We’re also confident that we’re going to be able to eventually charge that fourth murder,” Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney told CNN.

📸: Reuters

The police raided Heuermann’s Massapequa Park home on July 14 of this year and, according to NBC, a massive amount of evidence was recovered. The authorities have not divulged the nature of the evidence, but suffice to say one must assume the evidence is substantial. 

On Aug. 1 mountains of evidence made its way to Heuermann’s defense attorney’s desk, as per NBC. Eight terabytes of evidence were provided by Suffolk County prosecutors. D.A. Ray Tierney told NBC, “You’re talking about 13 years of investigation, it’s a massive amount of material.”

Heuermann was silent at the court hearing, and his lawyer, Michael Brown, maintains his innocence.

“The press has convicted my client without seeing a shred of evidence,” he told the New York Post. “So, he doesn’t stand a chance with the press. And we’re not going to try the case in the press.”

Rex Heuermann

📸: Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office/AP

Heuermann pleaded not guilty, and his next court date is scheduled for Sept. 27, with the actual trial itself still months, if not years, away. He is being held in jail with no bail, and is reportedly on suicide watch. 

Gilgo Beach



Vincent Arroyo is a young writer born and raised on Long Island, and a contributor for Shades of Long Island.

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