Rex Heuermann appeared in court Tuesday as prosecutors turned over a large body of evidence to his lawyer. NewsdayTV's Shari Einhorn reports.  Credit: Newsday Staff

Suffolk County prosecutors handed over a trove of documents to the defense for alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann — including nearly 3,000 police tips — as the former Manhattan architect appeared briefly Tuesday in a Riverhead courtroom.

Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Santomartino told the court it had provided to the defense — at its request — the police department's “lead log” containing 2,944 tips received by the public since the beginning of the case in 2010 until Jan. 2. Prosecutors provided the log as well as the full file on the first 25 tips.

Heuermann, 60, of Massapequa Park, dressed in a dark suit and tie and handcuffed, did not address the court. State Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei set Heuermann's next court appearance for April 17.

“The leads are important,” said Heuermann's defense attorney, Michael J. Brown, speaking to reporters after the court conference. “I think you heard the government this morning say there's somewhere close to 3,000 leads in this case. Obviously some of those leads aren't going to be significant at all. But some of those leads are going to be extremely significant. And they're going to be important for us in the defense of this case. So we want to see those leads and we want to see the credibility of those leads and we want to see what follow-up the police department did in regard to those leads.”


  • Suffolk prosecutors said they have turned over to Rex A. Heuermann's defense nearly 3,000 police tips received since the beginning of the Gilgo Beach killings in 2010 to Jan. 2.

  • “The leads are important,” Heuermann's defense attorney, Michael J. Brown, told reporters. “Obviously some of those leads aren't going to be significant at all. But some of those leads are going to be extremely significant.”

  • Heuermann is charged with murder in the killings of four women whose remains were found near the Gilgo Beach area in 2010. His next court date is April 17.

Brown, who addressed reporters with co-counsel Danielle Coysh, broadcast part of his potential defense.

“You expect that a detective is going to follow up and they're going to do their due diligence,” Brown said. “You would hope that they would speak to witnesses, speak to the individual and maybe get records like they did with Mr. Heuermann. So we're looking forward to getting all the documents, and obviously if they didn't do anything, we'll see the lack of effort and the lack of investigation on any potential lead. That could be very problematic for them, and that could help support our position.”

Brown said in the discovery he's reviewed, there have been “significant” leads provided to police. He said that in at least one instance, police were close to charging another suspect.

“We were informed, among other individuals, that there was another individual that the prior district attorney of this county was prepared to charge with these crimes,” said Brown, referring to former Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini. “We haven't received any of that documentation. We expect that it will be forthcoming, but that's very important, extremely important to this case.”

As part of the discovery process, the prosecution also handed over 2,500 pages of lab reports and underlying notes and 3 terabytes of data from electronic devices, including cellphones, laptops and a “palm pilot,” that was taken into police custody following Heuermann's arrest.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said after court that the discovery process will continue. No motion schedule for the case has been set.

“The defense specifically asked for that material, so that's why we prioritized it,” Tierney said about the police tip information. “A lot of material provided; we still have more material to turn over. But we're continuing to provide that discovery on a rolling basis.”

Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to first- and second-degree murder in the killings of Megan Waterman, Amber Costello and Melissa Barthelemy, and second-degree murder in the slaying of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, collectively known as the “Gilgo Four.” The victims, whose remains were discovered in 2010, were sex workers.

Heuermann has been held without bail since his July 13 arrest.

Brown said his client has been reviewing discovery in the jail, but is suffering because he's so isolated. Newsday reported previously that Suffolk Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. has placed Heuermann in a special housing unit due to his notoriety and threats made by other inmates to harm him.

“The sheriff has been great; they've been permitting him to review the discovery,” Brown said. “He's in this isolation situation … and I understand it, it's for his own safety. You obviously don't want someone in the jail trying to get their 15 minutes of fame, so that's why he's being isolated. But at the same time, he's not getting any social interaction with anybody else other than a correction officer.”

Asked by a reporter whether Heuermann is lonely and depressed, Brown said: “I think that's probably two of the many emotions that he has probably experienced.”

Brown added that his client is receiving counseling services.

Tierney has said investigators have linked Heuermann to the killings through DNA evidence, cellphone site data and his alleged whereabouts in the same vicinity to the victims at key times.

Heuermann used seven burner phones over a 14-month period to do approximately 200 searches about the Gilgo Beach investigation — even visiting the website Suffolk police created in 2020 as a clearinghouse for information and tips — and for photos of the victims and to learn about their family members, including siblings and children, Tierney has said.

Heuermann’s Chevrolet Avalanche pickup, which authorities said helped crack the case after a witness described it as being driven by a man who paid for services from Costello the day before she went missing, was recovered by FBI investigators in South Carolina.

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