Suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann is expected in a Suffolk County courtroom next week as a special grand jury has been considering new charges related to a fourth set of remains found in the seaside community, sources told Newsday.
It was not clear why Heuermann is facing a new court appearance, though prosecutors have said in recent months that the special grand jury was only being asked to consider an indictment into the killing of Gilgo victim Maureen Brainard-Barnes.
Heuermann, 60, already has pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with murder in the killings of three women whose remains were found in the Gilgo Beach area in December 2010.
Heuermann is scheduled to appear in Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei's fourth-floor Riverhead courtroom on Tuesday morning, the sources said.
A spokeswoman for Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney and Heuermann defense attorney Michael J. Brown of Central Islip did not respond to requests for comment.
Tierney had said following Heuermann’s most recent court appearance that the grand jury presentation would conclude “shortly.”
“What we've been trying to do is we've been trying to build our case for the grand jury,” Tierney said at the Nov. 15 news conference. “We stand ready. We look forward to trying the case.”
Heuermann, an architect from Massapequa Park, had been next scheduled to appear in court for a conference on Feb. 6. He has been held without bail since his July 13 arrest in the killings of Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy and Amber Lynn Costello, whose remains were found near Gilgo Beach 13 years ago.
Heuermann pleaded not guilty to the original six-count indictment related to the other three slayings at his initial arraignment on July 14.
Prosecutors have said since that time that Heuermann also was the prime suspect in the slaying of Brainard-Barnes, whose remains were found with the other three victims. All four of the women — the first of 10 sets of remains found along Ocean Parkway that are believed to be the work of one or more serial killers — were sex workers.
Heuermann was linked to the women's killings through DNA, cellphone site data and burner phones, prosecutors have said.
Brainard-Barnes, 25, of Norwich, Connecticut, was the first victim found. She was last seen alive in Manhattan on July 9, 2007.
Brainard-Barnes’ remains were bound with a distinctive belt embossed with the initials “WH” or “HM,” which Tierney first publicly linked to her death in an August interview with Newsday.
The belt, images of which Suffolk released during a news conference in 2020 in an attempt to drum up investigative tips in the case, was one of three belts used to bind Brainard-Barnes, Tierney said.
A cheek swab, obtained from Heuermann by court order since he’s been in custody, matched a mitochondrial DNA profile that authorities who were surveilling Heuermann developed from a pizza crust and used napkin that allegedly were discarded in Manhattan, prosecutors have said.
The mitochondrial DNA profile developed from the pizza and napkin could not be excluded as a match to a hair found at the bottom of burlap used to “restrain and transport” the remains of Waterman, one of the victims, according to prosecutors.
Brown said the prosecution's DNA claims only potentially place his client in a pool of “thousands and thousands” of possible donors of the hair. He has also said his client has professed his innocence and is actively working on his defense.
With Anthony M. DeStefano