Suffolk DA Ray Tierney came to Newsday studios to sit down with our reporters to discuss the latest in the Gilgo investigation and what investigators learned from a document found on Rex Heuermann's computer.

Investigators are analyzing tape recovered from the basement of alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann’s home, a location where they believe he may have killed his victims, Newsday has learned through court records and an exclusive interview with Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

Tierney said a document uncovered in March was the major break that led investigators to conduct “a more particularized search” of the basement, where they believe Heuermann used tape and push pins to hang tarps and plastic to conceal violent acts.

“In the basement, using infrared light, you're able to see things with greater contrast,” Tierney told Newsday reporters Friday. “We saw adhesive indications, pieces of tape left. We photographed that and then we preserved it. And now we're going to analyze it.”

Tierney said the document, which he alleges “illustrates [Heuermann’s] motive, meticulous planning and intent to murder,” became critical as law enforcement processed just how much it matched the crime scenes and information gathered in the months since the original search of the First Avenue home following his July 13 arrest.

Asked directly if he believes Heuermann killed inside the residence, the district attorney returned to the document.

“It talks about setting up a tarp, setting up plastic in a place where you can have unfettered access,” Tierney said.

“Unfettered” is a word prosecutors used five times in a bail application filed Thursday describing how they charged Heuermann with second-degree murder in the slayings of Jessica Taylor and Sandra Costilla. The Manhattan architect pleaded not guilty to the superseding indictment, which brings the current number of women he is accused of killing to six.

When Costilla, who Tierney said anecdotal evidence suggests was a sex worker, was killed in November 1993, her body dumped in a wooded area of North Sea, Heuermann’s mother and a woman who appears to be Heuermann’s first wife had recently moved out of the home. When Taylor was killed in 2003, Heuermann’s second wife and their children were on vacation out of state, prosecutors said.

“[That] would have allowed [Heuermann] unfettered time to execute his plans for Ms. Taylor, which included the decapitation, dismemberment, and transportation of her remains, without any fear that his family would uncover or learn of his involvement in these crimes,” prosecutors wrote, adding that he was alone at the time all six alleged victims are believed to have been killed.

References to using push pins over tape and concerns over “sound travel” further indicate the killings “would have occurred indoors, and likely inside” Heuermann’s home, “a controlled environment” he was familiar with and where he could access tools, prosecutors wrote in the bail letter.

Reached by telephone Friday, Heuermann’s defense attorney, Michael J. Brown, declined to comment on the prosecution’s theory that his client may have killed women inside his home. On Thursday, Brown called the new allegations “horrific,” but said they could make it a more difficult case to prosecute.

“Most people assume, and I think rightfully so, that from a criminology standpoint, the MO would be the same,” Brown said. “So you have burlap bags, you have a two-or-three-year period, you have [sex workers.] Now the allegation has obviously expanded tremendously. Now you're talking about, and any murder is horrific, but the way in which they claimed these murders occurred, were [particularly] horrific. You have 20 years prior, you have a completely different location, you have dismembered bodies. So it definitely changes the dynamics. It's inconsistent with the initial theory.”

When asked about the evolving MO Friday, Tierney said investigators don’t have the same amount of evidence in terms of what happened to the bodies of the first four alleged victims — Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello — since their remains were found skeletonized near Gilgo Beach.

But Tierney said he believes descriptions in Heuermann’s alleged planning document and other evidence, including the dismemberment of Taylor and 25 postmortem sharp-force trauma wounds to Costilla, show Heuermann had an interest in “sexual and mutilation acts” after death. Taylor’s final phone call was placed on the evening of July 21, 2003, prosecutors said. That’s four days before a witness might have seen Heuermann’s truck around 10:30 p.m. on July 25 in the area of Halsey Manor Lane in Manorville, where her partial remains were discovered the following day, prosecutors said.

References to searching for dumpsters that Heuermann made in his planning document has led investigators to believe he may have used public wastebins to offload evidence, ridding himself of rubber gloves and booties and equipment used in the alleged crimes, Tierney said, adding that he likely used multiple dumpsters that could not be traced back to him.

Investigators also now believe Heuermann scouted out surveillance cameras in public places before the killings so law enforcement couldn’t easily trace his activities around the times he disposed of the bodies, Tierney said.

“He's looking at video on the LIE,” the district attorney said. “He’s going in stores to make sure that he does not get captured on or around the time he's engaging in something he wants to keep hidden.”

That also led Heuermann to use cash to make purchases for items used in the killings or the disposal of bodies, but Tierney said investigators were still able to use his financial records to build their case.

“There’s an effort, alleged through that document, that shows these items he's buying, he's specifically making sure that you can’t trace it back,” Tierney said. “Having said that, there is a lot of documentation, in certain instances, where we have been able to trace back certain purchases and certain significant occurrences.”

Tierney also said there are now specific cases not previously tied to Gilgo Beach that Heuermann is being looked at for. He declined to discuss specifics or say if any of those cases predate the 1993 killing of Costilla, which along with Taylor moved the timeline of the charged killings ahead 14 years.

In all that time, Suffolk’s top prosecutor said, investigators believe Heuermann was leading a “double life.”

“He had his public facing life and his private life, and he was very careful not to intermingle the two,” Tierney said.

With Anthony M. DeStefano, Michael O'Keeffe, Macy Egeland and Akiya Dillon

Investigators are analyzing tape recovered from the basement of alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann’s home, a location where they believe he may have killed his victims, Newsday has learned through court records and an exclusive interview with Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

Tierney said a document uncovered in March was the major break that led investigators to conduct “a more particularized search” of the basement, where they believe Heuermann used tape and push pins to hang tarps and plastic to conceal violent acts.

“In the basement, using infrared light, you're able to see things with greater contrast,” Tierney told Newsday reporters Friday. “We saw adhesive indications, pieces of tape left. We photographed that and then we preserved it. And now we're going to analyze it.”

Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney speaks to reporter Macy Egeland...

Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney speaks to reporter Macy Egeland in Newsday’s office in Melville Friday. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Tierney said the document, which he alleges “illustrates [Heuermann’s] motive, meticulous planning and intent to murder,” became critical as law enforcement processed just how much it matched the crime scenes and information gathered in the months since the original search of the First Avenue home following his July 13 arrest.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Investigators are analyzing tape recovered from the basement of alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann’s home, a location where they believe he may have killed his victims.
  • Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney said a document uncovered in March was the major break that led investigators to conduct “a more particularized search” of the basement, where they believe Heuermann used tape and push pins to hang tarps and plastic to conceal violent acts.
  • Heuermann was charged with second-degree murder in the slayings of Jessica Taylor and Sandra Costilla. The Manhattan architect pleaded not guilty to the superseding indictment, which brings the current number of women he is accused of killing to six.

Asked directly if he believes Heuermann killed inside the residence, the district attorney returned to the document.

“It talks about setting up a tarp, setting up plastic in a place where you can have unfettered access,” Tierney said.

“Unfettered” is a word prosecutors used five times in a bail application filed Thursday describing how they charged Heuermann with second-degree murder in the slayings of Jessica Taylor and Sandra Costilla. The Manhattan architect pleaded not guilty to the superseding indictment, which brings the current number of women he is accused of killing to six.

When Costilla, who Tierney said anecdotal evidence suggests was a sex worker, was killed in November 1993, her body dumped in a wooded area of North Sea, Heuermann’s mother and a woman who appears to be Heuermann’s first wife had recently moved out of the home. When Taylor was killed in 2003, Heuermann’s second wife and their children were on vacation out of state, prosecutors said.

“[That] would have allowed [Heuermann] unfettered time to execute his plans for Ms. Taylor, which included the decapitation, dismemberment, and transportation of her remains, without any fear that his family would uncover or learn of his involvement in these crimes,” prosecutors wrote, adding that he was alone at the time all six alleged victims are believed to have been killed.

Sandra Costilla, left, and Jessica Taylor. Credit: SCPD: AP

References to using push pins over tape and concerns over “sound travel” further indicate the killings “would have occurred indoors, and likely inside” Heuermann’s home, “a controlled environment” he was familiar with and where he could access tools, prosecutors wrote in the bail letter.

Reached by telephone Friday, Heuermann’s defense attorney, Michael J. Brown, declined to comment on the prosecution’s theory that his client may have killed women inside his home. On Thursday, Brown called the new allegations “horrific,” but said they could make it a more difficult case to prosecute.

“Most people assume, and I think rightfully so, that from a criminology standpoint, the MO would be the same,” Brown said. “So you have burlap bags, you have a two-or-three-year period, you have [sex workers.] Now the allegation has obviously expanded tremendously. Now you're talking about, and any murder is horrific, but the way in which they claimed these murders occurred, were [particularly] horrific. You have 20 years prior, you have a completely different location, you have dismembered bodies. So it definitely changes the dynamics. It's inconsistent with the initial theory.”

When asked about the evolving MO Friday, Tierney said investigators don’t have the same amount of evidence in terms of what happened to the bodies of the first four alleged victims — Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello — since their remains were found skeletonized near Gilgo Beach.

But Tierney said he believes descriptions in Heuermann’s alleged planning document and other evidence, including the dismemberment of Taylor and 25 postmortem sharp-force trauma wounds to Costilla, show Heuermann had an interest in “sexual and mutilation acts” after death. Taylor’s final phone call was placed on the evening of July 21, 2003, prosecutors said. That’s four days before a witness might have seen Heuermann’s truck around 10:30 p.m. on July 25 in the area of Halsey Manor Lane in Manorville, where her partial remains were discovered the following day, prosecutors said.

Bail application for Gilgo Beacj sus[ect Rex A. Heuermann depicts...

Bail application for Gilgo Beacj sus[ect Rex A. Heuermann depicts his “planning document.” Credit: SCDA

References to searching for dumpsters that Heuermann made in his planning document has led investigators to believe he may have used public wastebins to offload evidence, ridding himself of rubber gloves and booties and equipment used in the alleged crimes, Tierney said, adding that he likely used multiple dumpsters that could not be traced back to him.

Investigators also now believe Heuermann scouted out surveillance cameras in public places before the killings so law enforcement couldn’t easily trace his activities around the times he disposed of the bodies, Tierney said.

“He's looking at video on the LIE,” the district attorney said. “He’s going in stores to make sure that he does not get captured on or around the time he's engaging in something he wants to keep hidden.”

That also led Heuermann to use cash to make purchases for items used in the killings or the disposal of bodies, but Tierney said investigators were still able to use his financial records to build their case.

“There’s an effort, alleged through that document, that shows these items he's buying, he's specifically making sure that you can’t trace it back,” Tierney said. “Having said that, there is a lot of documentation, in certain instances, where we have been able to trace back certain purchases and certain significant occurrences.”

Alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann on Thursday.

Alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann on Thursday. Credit: AP/James Carbone

Tierney also said there are now specific cases not previously tied to Gilgo Beach that Heuermann is being looked at for. He declined to discuss specifics or say if any of those cases predate the 1993 killing of Costilla, which along with Taylor moved the timeline of the charged killings ahead 14 years.

In all that time, Suffolk’s top prosecutor said, investigators believe Heuermann was leading a “double life.”

“He had his public facing life and his private life, and he was very careful not to intermingle the two,” Tierney said.

With Anthony M. DeStefano, Michael O'Keeffe, Macy Egeland and Akiya Dillon

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

A taste of summer on Long Island NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer. 

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

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