This story was reported by John Asbury, Nicole Fuller, Michael O'Keeffe and Grant Parpan. It was written by Fuller.
Investigators continued searching for evidence Tuesday at an Amityville storage unit and at the Massapequa Park home of Gilgo Beach serial killing suspect Rex A. Heuermann, as police said they have seized more than 200 guns from a vault inside the home.
Suffolk police on Tuesday declined to elaborate on the guns found in the house and whether the suspect had permits to have them.
State police and crime lab personnel returned Tuesday to Omega Self Storage in Amityville, erecting white tents and tarps as they removed potential evidence in the investigation against Heuermann, 59, a married Manhattan-based architect who lives in the same house on First Avenue in Massapequa Park where he was raised.
The storage unit searched Tuesday morning is adjacent to another Omega storage facility that police searched Monday with crime lab personnel, removing items including furniture and large pieces of wood.
Authorities were seen Tuesday removing a rug, mirrors, a guitar and other items from Heuermann's home. Their work only paused during a brief torrential downpour.
Heuermann was arrested Thursday night on a sidewalk outside his Manhattan office and charged with murder in the killings of three women whose bodies were found in December 2010 in the Gilgo Beach area.
Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney told ABC News that police arrested Heuermann at his Manhattan office because of the large cache of weapons.
"We wanted to take him into custody somewhere outside the house, because of access to those weapons," Tierney said.
Heuermann pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Friday to three counts each of first- and second-degree murder in the deaths of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello. The women’s remains — along with those of Maureen Brainard-Barnes — were found in proximity to one another along an area of thick vegetation at Gilgo Beach. Heuermann has not been charged in Brainard-Barnes’ killing, though prosecutors called him a “prime suspect.”
The remains of six other victims were later found, but authorities have not tied Heuermann to those killings.
Heuermann’s attorney, Michael J. Brown, did not respond to a message seeking comment Tuesday but has called the evidence against his client "circumstantial" and stressed his client has no criminal record and is a married father.
Also on Tuesday, the investigation into Heuermann, who has a condo in Las Vegas and owns land in South Carolina, expanded.
"We are currently reviewing our unsolved cases to see if he has any involvement,” Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said in a statement, noting the department is aware of Heuermann’s connection to Las Vegas.
Also, Heuermann's Chevrolet Avalanche, which authorities said was key to identifying him as a potential suspect, was being transported by a New York State Police tow truck Tuesday from South Carolina to Long Island after it was seized by the FBI in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said Heuermann's family expressed "shock, disappointment and disgust" over the allegations.
"The members of the task force spoke with the wife and the son and daughter and at this time we believe they did not know about his horrible activities," Harrison said. "This wasn't a 'we saw this coming' situation."
In court papers filed last week, prosecutors said they first linked Heuermann to the remains of the women found at Gilgo Beach last year through a witness statement identifying the driver of a Chevrolet Avalanche who had visited Costello’s home the day before she was last seen alive. The witness' description of the driver matched that of Heuermann, who is 6-4 and weighs more than 240 pounds and was described as appearing like “an ogre.” Investigators also used cellphone site data and DNA through Heuermann’s discarded pizza crust to link him to the killings, prosecutors said.
While Tierney said at Heuermann’s arraignment that he had gun permits allowing him to posses 92 firearms, a Suffolk Police Department spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that authorities have removed in excess of 200 guns from Heuermann’s home. Both Tierney and Harrison said in interviews that authorities were concerned about his cache of weapons before the arrest.
“It’s over 200 guns; he had an arsenal in a vault that he hid downstairs,” Harrison said on Fox News.
Asked about the possibility that Heuermann could face additional charges based on what authorities find in his home, Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, said: “The NCDA is assisting our partners in the investigation. Any evidence of crimes committed in this jurisdiction will be investigated and charged at an appropriate time.”
Suffolk County Lt. Kevin Beyrer, the chief of the department’s homicide unit, was overseeing the search at the Sunrise Highway storage unit Tuesday but did not comment.
The Chester County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina, where Heuermann recently bought property, also announced its involvement in the Gilgo Beach investigation.
Public information officer Londa Pringle told Newsday Monday that the sheriff’s office so far has assisted the Gilgo Beach Task Force to gain a “court order to seize a vehicle in South Carolina.” Later Monday, the department issued a statement saying it assisted the FBI and Suffolk law enforcement both “during the investigation and prior to the arrest.”
“The Chester County Sheriff’s Office has and will continue to work closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Suffolk County law enforcement authorities during this very important and arduous investigation,” the statement said.
Asked if Heuermann is wanted for any crimes in Chester County, Pringle deferred comment to authorities in Suffolk County. Suffolk police declined to say if the investigation remains active in South Carolina or any other jurisdictions.
Chester County property records show Heuermann purchased four undeveloped lots on Rippling Brooke Drive in Chester for $154,000 in 2021. The secluded 23-acre wooded property is across the street from a house owned by his younger brother, Craig, who a Google Maps image shows has signs posted on a fence blocking his driveway that read “keep out, no trespassing” and “no warrant, no entry.” Both signs feature silhouettes of a skull and crossbones.
In March, Rex Heuermann paid more than $5,500 in property taxes on his Chester property, records show. Neighbors told Fox News that Heuermann had planned to retire to the community.
Property records in Las Vegas also show Heuermann has owned a 980-square-foot condo in Club De Soleil on West Tropicana Avenue just off the strip since 2005.