June 12th, 2024

Suspect in Long Island’s Gilgo Beach serial killings is charged in the deaths of two more women

By Philip Marcelo, The Associated Press on June 6, 2024.

FILE - Alleged Gilgo serial killer Rex Heuermann appears inside Judge Tim Mazzei's courtroom on Feb. 6, 2024 in Riverhead, N.Y. Prosecutors are planning a major announcement in the case as Heuermann is set to appear in criminal court on Long Island on Thursday, June 6, 2024. (James Carbone/Newsday via AP)

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (AP) – The New York architect previously accused of murdering four women and leaving their corpses scattered along a coastal highway was charged Thursday in the deaths of two more women.

Rex Heuermann, 60, was set to appear before a judge to face charges that he murdered Jessica Taylor and Sandra Costilla. Taylor disappeared in the early 2000s. Costilla was killed in 1993. The new charges came just days after police finished extensive searches of Heuermann’s Massapequa Park home and a wooded area on Long Island tied to the investigation of a string of deaths known as the Gilgo Beach serial killings.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney planned to hold a news conference following the court hearing.

Since late 2010, police have been investigating the deaths of at least 10 people – mostly female sex workers – whose remains were discovered along an isolated highway not far from Gilgo Beach on Long Island’s south shore.

The victims had disappeared over a span of at least 14 years. Vexed police officers made only halting progress in identifying possible suspects. Investigators long said it was likely that not all of the deaths were the work of the same killer. Some of the victims disappeared in the mid-1990s. Investigators concluded that an 11th person who disappeared in 2010 from the barrier island community of Oak Beach had accidentally drowned.

Heuermann, who lived across a bay from where the bodies were found, was arrested last July. Prosecutors said a new investigative task force used mobile phone location data and DNA samples to link the architect to some of the victims. He was charged with killing four of the women: Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Lynn Costello and Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

Investigators who had searched Heuermann’s home extensively and dug up his yard last summer returned to the house again last month and spent nearly a week searching it again. They focused their efforts mostly in the basement, according to a lawyer for Heuermann’s wife.

That followed a search in April of a wooded area in Manorville, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of Heuermann’s home, linked to another Gilgo Beach victim.

Jessica Taylor, 20, vanished in 2003 while working as an escort in New York City. Some of her remains were discovered in Manorville that year. Other remains were found in a 2011 search of the beach scrub by the side of Ocean Parkway, the road where the other Gilgo Beach victims were found.

Investigators in April also spent days searching a property in the eastern Long Island hamlet of North Sea, where the Costilla’s body was discovered in 1993. Costilla was 28 when she was killed and had lived in New York City.

A decade ago, Suffolk County prosecutors said publicly that they believed Costilla had been killed by a carpenter who lived in the area, John Bittrolff, who was convicted of murdering two other women whose bodies had been found on the same part of Long Island. But Bittrolff was never charged with Costilla’s death due to lack of evidence. He insists he is innocent of any murders.

Heuermann’s lawyer and the lawyers separately representing his wife and two adult children declined to comment.

Heuermann, who has been in custody since his arrest, has pleaded not guilty. He had been set to return to court on June 18 for a status hearing. No trial date has been set.


Follow Philip Marcelo at twitter.com/philmarcelo.

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