Rex Heuermann was indicted in the November 1993 death of Sandra Costilla, left, whose killing Suffolk police and prosecutors had long associated with a different suspect, and the July 2003 dismemberment death of Jessica Taylor. Credit: SCPD: AP

This story was reported by Akiya Dillon, Anthony M. DeStefano and Michael O'Keeffe. It was written by O'Keeffe.

Jessica Taylor was allegedly killed by Gilgo Beach serial killing suspect Rex A. Heuermann more than 20 years ago, but her family says their memories of a young woman who loved to sing, play board games and make people laugh remain fresh in their hearts.

The crushing pain sparked by the Poughkeepsie resident’s 2003 disappearance and death remains fresh in their hearts, too, her relatives said Thursday in Riverhead after Heuermann was charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of Taylor and Sandra Costilla of New York. Taylor was 20 years old when she died.

“Jessica, my darling daughter, you will never be forgotten,” Taylor’s grieving mother, Elizabeth Baczkiel, said in a statement read by attorney Gloria Allred at a news conference after Heuermann’s arraignment on the new charges. “You will always be missed. You will forever be in our hearts.”

Elizabeth Baczkiel, mother of Gilgo Beach victim Jessica Taylor, enters...

Elizabeth Baczkiel, mother of Gilgo Beach victim Jessica Taylor, enters a news conference in Riverhead on Thursday. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Heuermann, 60, of Massapequa Park, pleaded not guilty before State Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei for the July 2003 dismemberment death of Taylor and the November 1993 slaying of Costilla. Investigators also believe Heuermann is a suspect in the killing of Gilgo Beach victim Valerie Mack, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said for the first time Thursday.

Heuermann had previously pleaded not guilty to multiple murder charges in connection with the killings of four women whose remains were found near Gilgo Beach in 2010. Relatives of two of those women — Melissa Barthelemy and Maureen Brainard-Barnes — also attended the news conference but did not speak to reporters.

Baczkiel was joined at the news conference by Taylor’s cousins, Violet Swager and Jasmine Robinson, who called Taylor “a beautiful person.” Robinson said she cherishes memories of dancing, drawing, jumping rope and sleepovers with Taylor.

“I was lucky to share my childhood with her and I wish every day that we got the chance to create new memories,” Robinson said. “When I think of her, I see her smile first, big and bright, lighting up her face, gleaming through her beautiful eyes.”

Costilla's remains were found in North Sea in November 1993. Costilla, 28 years old when she was killed, was a native of Trinidad and Tobago but had live in New York City before her death.

Sandra Costilla.

Sandra Costilla. Credit: SCPD

Costilla’s death had not been tied to the Gilgo Beach investigation until K-9 units searched the wooded North Sea property where her remains had been found in April. Police had previously said Costilla’s death may have been linked to the killings of Colleen McNamee and Rita Tangredi, a narrative that continued through the 2014 arrest of John Bittrolff, who was eventually convicted in the other two murders.

Police asked the public for help finding Costilla’s family in 1993, saying they needed more information to aid in the investigation. Unlike the other alleged victims in the case, law enforcement has never described Costilla as a sex worker.

Her relatives could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The superseding indictment charging Heuermann with the slayings of Taylor and Costilla is the first document formally linking the defendant with the death of Mack, although he has not been charged in her death.

Mack, who grew up in south New Jersey, was 24 years old when she disappeared in 2000. Her family for years searched futilely for her before Suffolk County police detectives told them the young woman was dead and had been identified as a victim in the Gilgo Beach serial killings.

Mack’s birth mother, who struggled with substance abuse, AIDS and troubled relationships with men, lost custody of her daughter. Mack spent nearly 10 years in seven foster homes before she was adopted by Edwin and JoAnn Mack, who described Valerie in a 2022 interview with Newsday as a sweet and vivacious girl.

Mack started hanging out with the wrong group of kids as a teen, skipping school and doing drugs, her family said. She became involved in sex work and was arrested three times for prostitution, drugs and loitering.

Mack moved back in with her adoptive parents after suffering heart problems. She got a job at a Dollar Tree discount store but later moved to New York. Mack’s last contact with her family was in 2000.

Ed Mack, the adoptive father of Valerie Mack, said he is gratified the latest developments showed that the investigation was proceeded at a steady pace.

“It shows the police are looking at all the leads and data … it looks like they are really mining the evidence,” the New Jersey resident said.

Valerie Mack went missing in 2000.

Valerie Mack went missing in 2000. Credit: SCPD

Taylor also lived in New York City before she disappeared. She was reported missing in July 2003 and was last seen at the Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan. The Suffolk County Medical Examiner concluded that Taylor had been murdered just days before her torso was found.

Taylor was a sex worker who was in a relationship with a man believed to be her pimp and boyfriend, although her family believes she had run away from the man shortly before she died. Her remains were identified in part by a tattoo that included the man’s name. The tattoo may have been “severely obliterated” with a sharp object by Heuermann to inhibit identification of her remains, according to court documents.

Baczkiel said her daughter was a loving and compassionate person who loved board games such as Monopoly and Candy Land. Taylor also loved to make people laugh and was close to her two brothers, the grieving mom said.

“She loved to cuddle with me and her brothers when she was younger,” Baczkiel said in the statement read by Allred. “They would pile on the couch and watch TV. I miss how she would call me ‘mommy’ and mama,’

“It is a tragedy she never had children. Jessica would have been a great mother. She loved kids and she loved working with them.”

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