Allleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann is arraigned...

Allleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann is arraigned on new murder charges at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Thursday. Credit: James Carbone

The indictment of Rex A. Heuermann on two additional murder charges in the ongoing Gilgo Beach serial killer case opens a new chapter in the investigation, expanding the period and the geographical area in which the alleged killer was active, officials and experts say.

Serial killer analysts, veteran prosecutors and defense attorneys say new charges — and potential new ones down the road — could complicate the case even more and delay a trial for a long time.

But because Heuermann is charged with murder, there’s no statutory requirement to bring the case within a certain time.

“I think it's impossible for this case to be tried in 2024 considering the filing of new charges,” veteran Manhattan-based defense attorney Robert Gottlieb said. “I would expect that the case will go to trial when the DA has determined that there are no additional charges, no additional murders, that they would expect to be indicted by a grand jury.”

WHAT TO KNOW

  • New murder charges filed against suspected Gilgo Beach killer Rex A. Heuermann could delay a trial for a long time, officials and experts say.
  • On Thursday, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney unsealed second-degree murder charges against Heuermann, a Massapequa Park architect, for the deaths of Jessica Taylor in 2003 and Sandra Costilla in 1993.
  • Heuermann has pleaded not guilty of first- and second-degree murder charges in connection with the slayings of four other women whose remains were found near Gilgo Beach in 2010.

With Heuermann looking at multiple life sentences if convicted, Gottlieb said there’s less incentive for the defendant to plead guilty.

“There is no qualitative difference between being charged with four murders or 10 murders,” he said. “How many life sentences can induce a plea, if you are, in fact, guilty?”

Gottlieb said it would be up to the judge to press forward with the trial.

In April, State Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei asked Heuermann's lawyer, Michael Brown, to start thinking about how much time he might need to review discovery before they set a trial date.

Last week, Brown told reporters the new charges will certainly delay the start of a trial.

“Any one murder [charge] is a tremendous amount of discovery,” he said. “Now you’ve just added two more to the fray.”

Brown said one new area of discovery he’d like to explore relates to the case files of convicted killer John Bittrolff, who was previously named a suspect in Costilla’s killing by prior Suffolk prosecutors.

“The district attorney’s office had the finger pointed at Bittrolff,” Brown said. “So we want to look at those murders as well.”

 Bittrolff is serving a 50-years-to-life sentence in the killings of Colleen McNamee and Rita Tangredi, who like each of the six alleged victims in Heuermann’s case were both sex workers. He is appealing his conviction. 

On Thursday, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney unsealed second-degree murder charges against Heuermann, a Massapequa Park architect, for the deaths of Jessica Taylor in 2003 and Sandra Costilla in 1993.

Heuermann, 60, who had previously been charged in the deaths of four other women found in the brush along Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Six other bodies, those of four women, an infant, and an unidentified male victim who police said had Asian ancestry — whose deaths have not been linked to Heuermann — have also been found in the Gilgo area.

Former Nassau County prosecutor Fred Klein, who prosecuted Long Island’s most prolific serial killer, Joel Rifkin, said he believes the number of victims charged in the case will rise.

“I’m confident that if people look hard enough they’re going to find other victims,” he said.

Officials also linked the death of Valerie Mack, another Gilgo Beach victim, for the first time to Heuermann. Although the former Manhattan architect has not be charged with the death of Mack, whose body was found in Gilgo Beach, prosecutors indicated in court documents that her manner of death was similar to Costilla and Taylor's.

“The case continues, the criminal prosecution continues, the investigation continues,” Tierney said Thursday, adding Heuermann is a suspect in Mack's death. “The investigation has been expanded to the bodies that have been found on Gilgo and beyond.”

Before Thursday’s announcement, the time frame of the prosecution appeared to be between 2007 and 2010.

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

Taylor was found in 2003 on Halsey Road in Manorville about 50 miles from the Gilgo bodies.

She had been decapitated and both arms were severed below the elbows. In 2011, her skull and arms were found on Ocean Parkway, south of Gilgo Beach. Her tattoo had been mutilated, prosecutors say, to inhibit police from identifying her body.

Costilla, 28, the earliest victim tied to Heuermann, was discovered in 1993 also far from the Gilgo dumping site. She too had been mutilated, something serial killers often do to cover their tracks, experts said.

Klein, who ran the major offense bureau before becoming a Hofstra professor, said that he saw parallels between Rifkin and the allegations against Heuermann.

“There are parallels in the sense that [Heuermann] was disposing of some of the deceased by dismembering them and scattering the body parts, which is what Rifkin was doing with some of his earlier victims,” Klein said. “But eventually [Heuermann] found what he felt was a secure disposal site and stopped dismembering the bodies.”

Prosecutors on Thursday revealed that they had found a “manifesto” on one of Heuermann’s seized computers that investigators said provided a “blueprint” for how he allegedly chose and killed his victims.

“His intent was specifically to locate these victims, to hunt them down, to bring them under his control and to kill them,” according to the bail application filed by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.

Searches of his computers also revealed a search history for violent bondage and torture pornography going back to 1994.

This level of planning also parallels other serial killers and supports the belief that there could be other victims, according to Scott Bonn, a criminologist who specializes in serial killers.

“This is a complete sexual sadist psychopathy. He’s not going to stop. The idea that he’s going to take a 10-year hiatus is extremely unlikely,” Bonn said. “Unfortunately, I believe that there are burial grounds out there that have not yet been discovered.”

Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney speaks to reporters in Newsday’s...

Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney speaks to reporters in Newsday’s Studio 2 on Friday. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Tierney said that he and his team will continue to analyze the evidence that’s been seized and look for more clues tying Heuermann to others deaths.

“We’re not going to stop,” the prosecutor said. “We can’t stop. We owe that to the victims. That’s the least we can do. We understand we have a court case. We understand we’ll go forward with that, but however that works. Whatever we need to do, we’re going to do it.”

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