What to Know About Gilgo Beach Serial Killer Case as Rex Heuermann Now Faces 6 Murder Charges

Rex Heuermann has been charged in the murders of six women whose remains were found between 1993 and 2011

<p>James Carbone/Newsday via AP, Pool</p> Rex Heuermann enters the courtrrom for a hearing at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead, N.Y. on June 6, 2024.

James Carbone/Newsday via AP, Pool

Rex Heuermann enters the courtrrom for a hearing at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead, N.Y. on June 6, 2024.

In July 2023, Gilgo Beach serial killing suspect Rex Heuermann was arrested and accused of the murders of four women whose remains were found along a half-mile stretch of Ocean Parkway in Long Island, N.Y.

The women, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, Amber Costello and Maureen Brainard-Barnes were all escorts, between the ages of 22 and 27, who went missing between 2007 and 2010.

The discovery of their body parts — which were found close together in Dec. 2010 and bound with duct tape or leather belts and wrapped in burlap — made national headlines.

Shockingly, even more remains, including those of a mother and toddler were discovered in March and April of 2011.

Books and movies were made about the sensational case and it spawned multiple theories about police corruption in Suffolk County as well as who was responsible for the slayings.

At the time of Heuermann's 2023 arrest, prosecutors said Heuermann, 60, who was taken into custody outside his Manhattan office, was linked to the killings through DNA evidence and phone records.

Almost one year after Heuermann was taken into custody, on Thursday, June 6, he was charged with two additional counts of murder in the deaths of Sandra Costilla in 1993 and Jessica Taylor in 2003.

<p>Suffolk County Police Department</p> Sandra Costilla; Jessica Taylor

Suffolk County Police Department

Sandra Costilla; Jessica Taylor

Here’s what to know about the case.

First Set of Bodies Found in 2010

Investigators first came upon the bodies of Brainard-Barnes, 25, Barthelemy, 24, Waterman, 22, and Costello, 27, in Dec. 2010.

Brainard-Barnes was the first to disappear on July 9, 2007 in New York City. Three leather belts were used to restrain her — one of which was used to tie her legs, feet and ankles together.

<p>Suffolk County Police Department; Barthelemy family; Suffolk County Police Department (2)</p> Maureen Brainard-Barnes; Melissa Barthelemy; Megan Waterman; Amber Lynn Costello

Suffolk County Police Department; Barthelemy family; Suffolk County Police Department (2)

Maureen Brainard-Barnes; Melissa Barthelemy; Megan Waterman; Amber Lynn Costello

Related: Gilgo Beach Serial Killer Suspect Rex Heuermann Charged with 2 More Murders, Bringing Total to 6

Barthelemy vanished on July 10, 2009 in New York City.

Waterman was last seen alive around 1:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn in Hauppauge, N.Y., on June 6, 2010. She was found bound with duct tape.

Costello disappeared on September 2, 2010 after leaving her West Babylon home for a date. She was also found bound with duct tape.

Initially, authorities had been looking for Shannan Gilbert — another sex worker who ran from a client's home in Oak Beach, a gated community off Ocean Parkway, and called 911 in May, 2010. After police made the discoveries of the initial four bodies, they uncovered more human remains near beaches in Nassau and Suffolk Counties — including those of Gilbert and Taylor.

At Least 10 Bodies Found Off Ocean Parkway

Investigators uncovered the remains of at least 10 people along Ocean Parkway — including those of Jessica Taylor, Valerie Mack and Karen Vergata — in March and April of 2011.

Taylor was found "lying on her back with her legs bent underneath her" by a witness walking their dog in a wooded area in Manorville on July 26, 2003. A tattoo on her torso had been "severely obliterated by a sharp object" and her arms had been dismembered below her elbows.

<p>Suffolk County police</p> crime map

Suffolk County police

crime map

The 20-year-old escort was last seen near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. More of her remains were discovered along the Ocean Parkway stretch in the spring of 2011, just months after police identified the remains of Costello, Waterman, Brainard-Barnes and Barthelemy.

The partial skeletal remains of Mack, a 24-year-old escort who was last seen by family members in Port Republic, N.J., were found in Manorville in 2000.

Like Taylor, Mack's remains were found in both Manorville and later on Ocean Parkway in 2011.

<p>Suffolk County District Attorney's Office</p> Karen Vergata

Suffolk County District Attorney's Office

Karen Vergata

In Aug. 2023, authorities identified the remains of Karen Vergata. Previously known as Jane Doe No. 7, Vergata was 34 when she went missing in 1996.

Some of Vergata’s remains were found on Long Island's Fire Island on April 20, 1996. Additional body parts were discovered on Long Island's Tobay Beach on April 11, 2011. Investigators used genetic genealogy to identify her.

suffolk county police department Valerie Mack
suffolk county police department Valerie Mack

Related: Rex Heuermann Allegedly Linked to 2 More Gilgo Beach Victims by Witness Testimony: Lawyer

Vergata worked as a sex worker at the time of her death and disappeared from Manhattan on Feb. 14, 1996.  As with Mack, investigators have not said if their deaths are linked to the murders of the six women.

Those still unidentified include a toddler and her mother, who was nicknamed Peaches, and an Asian man who was wearing women’s clothing and appeared to have been brutally beaten.

In Dec. 2011, authorities discovered the skeletal remains of Gilbert in a marsh near Oak Beach. While the details of how she vanished are murky, police have long suspected that Gilbert somehow got lost in the inhospitable marshland and died accidentally - either of exposure or accidental drowning. Her family believes she was murdered.

<p>Jersey City Police</p> Shannan Gilbert

Jersey City Police

Shannan Gilbert

There's a Netflix Movie and a Book About the Case

The case gained notoriety after it became the focus of author Robert Kolker’s 2013 bestselling nonfiction book Lost Girls. The book was later turned into a true crime Netflix movie of the same name, released in 2020 and starring Amy Ryan, Gabriel Bryne, and Lola Kirke.

Mounting Evidence

Heuermann was arrested July 13, 2023, near his office building in Manhattan for the murders of Waterman, Barthelemy and Costello. He was charged with the murder of Brainard-Barnes last January.

Prosecutors said Heuermann was linked to their murders by burner phones and DNA evidence found on the victims.

He was also traced to a Chevrolet Avalanche registered to him that was allegedly seen at the time of Costello's disappearance. Authorities also found evidence that Heuermann was allegedly obsessed with the case and searched online for articles about the task force that was formed to investigate the murders.

According to authorities, included in his searches were: “Why could law enforcement not trace the calls made by the Long Island serial killer,” and “why hasn’t the Long Island serial killer been caught.”

Investigators also allegedly found hundreds of internet searches about raping and torturing women, child sexual abuse material and searches involving rape. He also allegedly searched online for his alleged victims and their families.

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On Thursday, June 6, the Suffolk County prosecutor's office announced that Heuermann had been charged in the murders of Taylor and Costilla.

Authorities alleged Heuermann worked in the same area where Taylor worked as an escort and he was in the area when she disappeared. Authorities said witnesses saw a dark-colored Chevrolet pick-up near where Taylor's partial remains were found in Manorville. Investigators said Heuermann purchased a pick-up matching the description around one year earlier.

After Taylor's remains were found, authorities alleged Heuermann accessed a newspaper article online with the headline: "Cops Seek Help in IDing Manorville Body."

Related: Police Say Accused Long Island Serial Killer Rex Heuermann Allegedly Kept Track of His Victims' Families

Authorities said they also allegedly found a hair they believe to be Heuermann's from a surgical drape that had been under the victim.

Costilla, 28, was found lying on her back with her arms outstretched over her head with her legs spread apart in 1993 in Southampton. She had multiple sharp force injuries to her face, torso, breasts and vaginal area. Heuermann has allegedly been linked to her case through DNA.

'Planning Document'

In a bail application released on June 6, Suffolk County authorities alleged that Heuermann had a "planning document" and "methodically" took notes to “plan out” his “kills.” The document includes an exhaustive collection of bullet points and columns, with different kinds of notes.

One section allegedly features four columns labeled "Problems," "Supplies," "DS" and "TRG." The lists under each column appear to indicate possible challenges to executing a killing, and what tools one might need.

The "Problems" column shows a bulleted list that includes "hair & fiber," "DNA," "finger prints in gloves" and "blood stains," according to the document. Under "Supplies," the list includes "saw / cutting tools," "lie / acid," "burn can" and a police scanner.

The column labeled "TRG" has a bullet point that says "small is good," which investigators claim in the document is significant given that Heuermann's alleged victims were all petite women.

Under a separate section titled "Things to Remember," Heuermann allegedly wrote, "get sleep before hunt too tired creats (sic) problems" and "hit harder too many hit to take down. consider hitting neck next time for take down," the bail application alleges.

In the "planning document," Heuermann also allegedly made reference to optimizing "play time" by masking noise using drop cloths, which authorities believe is "a reference to sexual and mutilation acts perpetrated on victims," per the bail application.

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