Gilgo Beach murders: Search for evidence related to alleged serial killer expands to South Carolina

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
How investigators tracked down alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer who led 'double life'
Beyond Long Island, the search for evidence in connection with Gilgo Beach murders suspect Rex Heuermann has expanded to South Carolina.

LONG ISLAND, N.Y. -- Beyond Long Island, New York, the search for forensic and physical evidence in connection with Gilgo Beach murder suspect Rex Heuermann has expanded to property he owns South Carolina.

The sheriff's office in Chester said Tuesday it received a request to seize a vehicle -- a Chevrolet Avalanche.

Authorities said at the time of Heuermann's arrest on Friday, the vehicle was located in South Carolina and is linked to the investigation.

Heuermann purchased four lots along Rippling Brooke Drive in Chester in 2021.

Meanwhile detectives in New York are combing through storage units linked to the suspect and using DNA evidence to see if he's connected to other cold cases.

SEE ALSO | Revisiting old clue leads investigators to big break in Gilgo Beach murders

The multi-agency investigation led prosecutors to charge Heuermann with murder last Friday in the deaths of three of the 11 women whose remains were found buried along a remote beach highway in 2010 and 2011.

Heuermann, who has lived for decades across a bay from where the remains were found, is also considered the prime suspect in the killing of a fourth victim. He has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer said Heuermann denied committing the crimes.

Investigators have said it's unlikely just one person killed all of the victims, and they insist the probe is far from over after the watershed moment of Heuermann's arrest.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison, who spearheaded the creation of an interagency task force last year to solve the Gilgo Beach killings, has vowed that authorities will "work tirelessly until we bring justice to all the families involved."

Detectives executed a search warrant at Omega Self Storage in Amityville on Sunday and searched another nearby storage facility on Monday. Both are less than a 10-minute drive from Heuermann's home

This followed a multi-day search at Heuermann's house in Massapequa Park, about a 25-minute drive across a causeway spanning South Oyster Bay to the sandy stretch known as Gilgo Beach where the women's remains were found. That search yielded more than 200 guns, Harrison said.

Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney said Heuermann had permits for 92 firearms.

Investigators were also checking to see if Heuermann's DNA - obtained from pizza crust he disposed and linked to genetic material found on a Gilgo Beach victim's remains - connected him to other unsolved cases.

READ MORE | Long Island murders suspect Rex Heuermann had history of tax issues and lawsuits

The married father of two is behind bars, charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello, according to an indictment unsealed in Suffolk County Criminal Court. He is also considered the prime suspect in the death of Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

Harrison believes Heuermann's wife and adult daughter had no idea.

"They were shocked, they were disgusted, they were if you ask me, I don't believe that they knew about this double life that Mr. Heuermann was living," he said.

Heuermann was first eyed in the cases in March 2022. At the time, he was connected to a Chevy pickup truck a witness had seen where a victim disappeared in 2010.

Eyewitness News obtained exclusive video showing the arrest of Rex Heuermann outside his office in Midtown, Manhattan.

Tierney, personally appearing before the judge, called Heuermann an "ongoing danger." He implored the judge not to allow bail as Heuermann owns houses in South Carolina and Las Vegas and is a flight risk.

He said Heuermann used seven burner phones to make more than 200 searches about the Gilgo Beach investigation and family members of the victims.

Allie Pertel, the sister of one of the victims, Megan Waterman, spoke out after the arrest of Heuermann.

"I was honestly very shocked because he doesn't look like the monster that he is," Pertel said. "But hearing details from the day, I guess he really was a monster."

Allie Pertel, the sister of Megan Waterman a victim in the Gilgo Beach murders, speaks out following the arrest of Rex Heuermann.

Heuermann was ordered held on no bail pending a bail application based on what the judge called the "extreme depravity of the allegations."

The four women Heuermann is linked to were all found covered in burlap along a half-mile stretch of Ocean Parkway on Long Island's South Shore in late 2010.

Shannan Gilbert's disappearance in 2010 triggered the hunt that exposed the larger mystery. A 24-year-old sex worker, she vanished after leaving a client's house on foot in the seafront community of Oak Beach, disappearing into the marsh.

This story includes information from the Associated Press.