Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison says the investigation at Rex Heuermann's home in Massapequa Park could conclude this week. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp; Peter Frutkoff

The police search of suspected Gilgo Beach killer Rex A. Heuermann’s Massapequa Park home “has been fruitful” for investigators, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said Monday, as authorities continued searching the suspect’s backyard.

“There have been items that we have taken into our possession that makes it fruitful,” Harrison said Monday, speaking at the scene. “I will say that we will go into every single crevice to make sure that there's not something that we missed and things that are beneficial to this investigation." 

Harrison declined to detail any of the potential evidence authorities have seized from the home, other than a cache of firearms from inside a vault with "a big iron door."

The police commissioner said he could not say whether any of the killings occurred inside the home. Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney has said previously that investigators are looking for trace evidence, such as blood and DNA. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The police search of suspected Gilgo Beach killer Rex A. Heuermann’s Massapequa Park home “has been fruitful,”  Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said Monday.
  • Monday marked the 11th day that investigators searched for evidence at Heuermann's home. Police first descended on the home July 13, when Heuermann was arrested and charged with first- and second-degree murder in the killings of three women whose bodies were found in the Gilgo Beach area in 2010. He has pleaded not guilty.
  • The area in the backyard that police excavated Sunday was graded over with dirt, footage from a Newsday drone showed. Later in the day, excavating equipment was removed from the backyard. 

Harrison spoke as investigators on Monday were seen using ground-penetrating radar after they dug up the backyard of the home on Sunday.

“We’re just doing a total investigation around the house to see if there’s anything back there that we need to take a closer look at,” Harrison said. “It will help us be able to identify anything in that backyard that we need to take into our possession.”

Asked Monday if he thought Heuermann was responsible for other killings, Harrison said: “It’s hard to say. This person has been at large for a long period of time. But I will say this. We’re going to keep the task force together, keep it intact, and we'll see if there are any other victims on Ocean Parkway or anywhere else throughout Long Island.”

Police and crime scene investigators dig in the backyard of...

Police and crime scene investigators dig in the backyard of Rex A. Heuermann's home on Monday in Massapequa Park. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

By Monday morning, the area in the backyard that police excavated Sunday was graded over with dirt, footage from a Newsday drone showed. Later in the day, excavating equipment was removed from the backyard. 

Tierney said the searches at the Heuermann residence had turned up items of varying "utility," but that more time was needed to analyze the materials.

Michael J. Brown, the Central Islip-based attorney who represented Heuermann at his arraignment, did not respond to a message seeking comment Monday. Brown previously called the case against his client "circumstantial" and stressed that Heuermann had no prior criminal record. 

Monday marked the 11th day that investigators searched for evidence at Heuermann's home. Police first descended on the home July 13, when Heuermann, a 59-year-old architect who prosecutors say lived a double-life as a serial killer, was arrested and charged with first- and second-degree murder in the killings of three women whose bodies were found in the Gilgo Beach area in 2010. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead. 

“I’m optimistic,” said Harrison. “As you can see, we have people from the medical examiner’s office, state police, Nassau police, and so everybody’s working together. I want to believe that we should be finished up either sometime tomorrow [Tuesday] or later on this week. … But once again, this investigation will continue once we leave Massapequa Park.”

The vault at Heuermann's home, where Harrison said previously investigators found more than 200 firearms, is not mentioned in the Village of Massapequa Park's Building and Zoning Department file for Heuermann's home. A basement, however, is included in attached architectural plans from 1955.

Heuermann applied for a variance in May 1997 to add a 4-foot chain link fence around the property.

His parents moved into the three-bedroom home, which was newly constructed, in 1956 from Oceanside, building department documents show. They added a garage and sun porch the following year.

Prosecutors have said Heuermann killed three women who worked as sex workers — Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello. While Heuermann was indicted in three of the 10 slayings collectively known as the Gilgo Beach killings, prosecutors said he is the prime suspect in the killing of Maureen Brainard-Barnes. 

Investigators said they tied Heuermann to the three victims through DNA obtained from pizza crust he allegedly discarded outside his midtown Manhattan office, cellular phone site data and a dark green 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche that he once owned. 

The vehicle helped crack the nearly 13-year mystery of who might have dumped the first bodies discovered in thick vegetation in the Gilgo Beach area. A state police investigator, working on a newly assembled "Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation Task Force" in 2022, produced Heuermann as a possible suspect after searching a law enforcement database for owners of dark-colored Chevrolet Avalanches. 

Heuermann, who stands at 6-4, also matched the physical description that a witness provided to authorities of a man who visited Costello's home on the day before she was last seen alive. 

Investigators have said that authorities in other jurisdictions, including near Atlantic City, South Carolina and Las Vegas, are examining whether Heuermann could be a suspect in any unsolved killings. 

As of Monday evening, police were taking boxes from the garage and loading them into waiting vans.

With Grant Parpan and Anthony M. DeStefano

Gilgo Beach serial killings

More than a decade after the remains of 10 victims were found off Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach, Rex A. Heuermann has been charged with murder in three cases and is a prime suspect in a fourth.

Who is Rex Heuermann? The Massapequa Park architect lived in a rundown house and had strained interactions with neighbors. His second wife filed for divorce days after his arrest.

The victims: Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello were young women who were sex workers. Their bodies were discovered after another woman, Shannon Gilbert, made a frantic 911 call from the area that set off a police search.

The case: Investigators used DNA from pizza crust and stray hairs to tie the victims to Heuermann; burner cellphone data and a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche also are key evidence in the investigation. 

The search: Police retrieved more than 200 guns from Heuermann's home and searched two Amityville storage facilities for evidence, including evidence connected to the victims.

Timeline: Key moments in the investigation, from the discovery of several sets of remains in 2010 to Heuermann’s arrest.

Full coverage of the Gilgo Beach serial killings

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

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