Alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann has been indicted on a new murder charge in the killing of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, six months after the Massapequa Park resident was charged with killing three other women whose remains were found alongside Ocean Parkway in 2010, a new indictment shows.
Heuermann, 60, pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning before Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei in Riverhead to a superseding indictment charging him with second-degree murder in Brainard-Barnes’ killing. Investigators believe Brainard-Barnes was the first of the “Gilgo Four” to be killed sometime after she disappeared in the summer of 2007.
Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said at a news conference following Heuermann’s arraignment that the investigation into the other killings — the remains of 10 people were found near the beach community beginning in 2010 — would continue as part of the Gilgo Beach homicide probe.
“This indictment marks a change in the investigation,” Tierney said. “The grand jury investigation of the so-called ‘Gilgo Four’ is over. It has been concluded and we will proceed with those cases in court … But there should be no mistake: The work of the grand jury is continuing.”
WHAT TO KNOW
- Alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann has been indicted on a new murder charge in the killing of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, who went missing in 2007.
- Heuermann, 60, pleaded not guilty Tuesday before Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei in Riverhead to a superseding indictment charging him with second-degree murder in Brainard-Barnes’ killing.
- The Massapequa Park resident was charged with multiple murder counts in the killing of three other women whose remains were found alongside Ocean Parkway in 2010, He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.
The district attorney said the Gilgo Beach homicide task force and the grand jury will continue the investigation into the other six unsolved cases.
“They’ll be investigated through the grand jury and when it is appropriate, and if we have anything to say, we’ll say it at that time,” he said.
Heuermann, dressed in a dark gray suit, his hands cuffed behind his back, glanced up at Tierney as he announced the new charge during the arraignment. He looked away as Tierney said Brainard-Barnes’ name.
Defense attorney Michael J. Brown entered the not guilty plea on Heuermann's behalf, and Mazzei ordered him to again be remanded to the county jail.
“Again he said 'I'm not guilty of these charges,’” Brown said of Heuermann. “He's looking forward to fighting these charges.”
Prosecutors had labeled Heuermann as the prime suspect in Brainard-Barnes’ killing when he was arrested July 13 in the slayings of three other women. The new charge against Heuermann comes six months after his arrest in the killings of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello. Heuermann has pleaded not guilty. All the “Gilgo Four” victims worked as escorts, investigators have said.
A Manhattan architect with no prior criminal record, Heuermann has been held without bail in the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead since he was arrested outside his Manhattan office.
Family members of both Brainard-Barnes and Heuermann were in court Tuesday.
Heuermann's estranged wife, Asa Ellerup, arrived with her daughter, Victoria Heuermann, who attended a court proceeding in her father's criminal case for the first time. They did not speak to reporters.
Brainard-Barnes' 24-year-old daughter, Nicolette Brainard-Barnes, read a statement in what her attorney, Gloria Allred, described as her first public comments on her mother's death. She said she attended the arraignment to speak for her mother.
“While the loss of my mom has been extremely painful for me, the indictment by the grand jury has brought hope for justice for my mom and my family,” she said, adding that she hopes her mom is “remembered as a loving mother.”
She was 7 years old when her mother went missing.
Allred, a Los Angeles-based attorney known for handling high-profile women's rights cases, said she has agreed to represent six clients related to several victims, including family members of Brainard-Barnes, Barthelemy and Waterman.
Melissa Cann, younger sister of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, said losing her sister has become “a wound that truly never heals.”
“It remains part of you,” said Cann, 39. Cann described her sister as a talented person who had her whole life ahead of her. She said that in addition to the families of the “Gilgo Four” she hopes people also remember the others found along that stretch of narrow highway in 2010 and 2011.
“These victims had families,” Cann said. “They were human beings with aspirations and hope for a better future for themselves.”
Prosecutors said they linked Heuermann to Brainard-Barnes’ killing through nuclear DNA analysis and other evidence, a newly filed bail application shows.
A hair found on a belt buckle used to bind the feet, ankles and legs of Brainard-Barnes contained a hair that DNA analysis shows is “7.9 trillion more times likely to have come from a person genetically identical to Asa Ellerup’s SNP Genotype file than from an unrelated individual.”
Brown said he had previously been told the evidence was unsuitable for nuclear DNA testing.
“This morning was the first time in this 13-plus years that, miraculously, nuclear DNA testing and results has come forward.”
He called the earlier mitochondrial DNA testing “not very convincing.”
Investigators have said Ellerup is not a suspect and was out of state when the victim disappeared. But Heuermann lived with Ellerup and could have inadvertently transferred his wife’s hair onto Brainard-Barnes’ remains, court papers say.
Heuermann’s wife and children were in Atlantic City from about July 6 to July 20, 2007 — within the time Brainard-Barnes was last heard from on July 9, 2007, according to the bail letter.
Prosecutors said investigators found a Bank of America credit card statement in one of Heuermann’s storage units showing a charge at an Atlantic City hotel during that time period when police searched the storage units after his arrest, the bail letter said. Prosecutors said the trip was also corroborated by Heuermann’s wife after he was arrested.
Heuermann joined his family on July 13, 2007, according to the bail letter, “which allowed Defendant Heuermann unfettered time to execute his plan.”
Ellerup's attorney, Robert Macedonio, said the new details “again make it clear” that Heuermann's wife and children were “not involved, or even in the jurisdiction, when the killing took place.”
The document also gave insight into the dayslong police search of Heuermann’s home and storage units after his arrest. Investigators seized “hundreds of electronic devices” from his home and office that included Google searches for the Gilgo victims, the status of the murder investigations and for software that would “assist in wiping or erasing data from computers and other similar digital devices.”
Prosecutors said Heuermann used “file shredding software” on July 9, 2009, shortly before Heuermann was to meet Barthelemy, which investigators believe was an attempt to destroy any digital evidence linking the two.
Attorney Danielle Coysh, co-counsel to Brown, said prosecutors turned over additional discovery Tuesday, including grand jury minutes and returns from the search warrants, which investigators previously said were executed at Heuermann's home, business and storage facilities.
Investigators also claim they have been further able to link Heuermann to Costello’s disappearance through an analysis of his laptop computer, which they claim shows Heuermann accessed Costello’s advertisement on Backpage on Sept. 1, 2010, at about 9:03 p.m.
Prosecutors called that new information a “direct link” and said it “further solidifies” that Heuermann was the person described by the witness as being at Costello’s home and later picking her up before she disappeared and was killed. Investigators first identified Heuermann as a potential suspect through a witness statement describing Costello leaving home with someone in a Chevrolet Avalanche. Heuermann previously owned an Avalanche.
Prosecutors also said two phones seized from Heuermann when he was arrested — one he was carrying and the other an “Alcatel” flip phone recovered from his work desk drawer — were used by Heuermann to make “hundreds of contacts with sex workers between 2020 and 2023.”
On March 1, 2020, at 4:39 p.m., that phone texted someone with a 516 area code named only in the bail letter as “sex worker #1” regarding a sex advertisement in the Massapequa area and said: “Hi, I saw your ad and wanted to see if we could set something up later, Andy.”
After a few exchanges over scheduling, Heuermann’s phone texted on March 4, 2020, at about 7:49 p.m., “Andy here email me at email@example.com we can talk bed info,” the bail letter said.
Google records and a search warrant for the email account show it was created in 2017 in the name of “Andrew Roberts,” which prosecutors said is one of Heuermann's aliases. Prosecutors also noted that Heuermann’s middle name is Andrew. The email account, according to prosecutors, was used as recently as April 2021 to access and search for “pornography, rape, torture and sex workers several thousand times.”
That email address is also linked to searches for information into the Gilgo Beach murder investigation, prosecutors said.
Brainard-Barnes, 25, lived in Norwich, Connecticut, before she disappeared.
Her remains were found Dec. 13, 2010, on the north side of Ocean Parkway, near Gilgo Beach, during the search for Shannan Gilbert, who had gone missing from Oak Beach.
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 were 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.
The remains of Waterman and Costello were also found in that area on Dec. 13, 2020.
Barthelemy’s remains were found two days earlier. Those three victims’ remains were found with a camo burlap over their remains.
Heuermann was linked to the first three women's killings he was charged with through DNA, cellphone site data and burner phones, prosecutors have 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 by Heuermann 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.
Heuermann was charged with second-degree murder in Brainard-Barnes’ slaying — not also first-degree murder like was charged in the killings of the other three women — because the first-degree murder statute requires a charged individual commit three murders in a 24-month period and Brainard-Barnes’ killing didn’t occur within that window, Tierney said. Brainard-Barnes was killed in July 2007 while Barthelemy was killed in July 2009; Waterman in June 2010 and Costello in September 2010.
“The numbers just didn’t work out for murder in the first degree as to Brainard-Barnes’ murder,” Tierney said.
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