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Gilgo Beach murders: Suspect Rex Heuermann in court as his adult children ‘cry themselves to sleep’

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A US architect charged with murdering three women and suspected of killing a fourth has appeared in court – as his estranged wife said the pair’s adult children “cry themselves to sleep”.

Asa Ellerup, who has filed for divorce from 59-year-old suspect Rex Heuermann, said she has “no answers” for their son and daughter when they ask about his arrest.

Heuermann, who was detained on 13 July, faced court in Riverhead, New York, on Tuesday.

The suspect wore a suit jacket and khaki trousers for the hearing, and reportedly rocked back and forth on his heels as his lawyer and a Suffolk County prosecutor spoke.

The defendant, from Long Island, is charged with killing Melissa Barthelemy, who went missing in 2009, and Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello, who disappeared in 2010.

(L-R) Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello. Pic: Suffolk County Police
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(L-R) Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello. Pic: Suffolk County Police

Heuermann is also suspected of killing a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, who vanished in 2007.

Her remains were found buried along the same stretch of highway near Long Island’s Gilgo Beach as the other women in December 2010.

The spot is across the bay from Massapequa Park where Heuermann grew up and lived for decades in his childhood home.

The group of women, all sex workers, were known as the Gilgo Four, and the discovery of their bodies raised fears about a serial killer in the area.

The story of a mother looking for her missing daughter, who may also be a victim of the same murderer, was the basis for a Netflix crime series called Lost Girls.

A total of 11 bodies were found by investigators dumped along Gilgo Beach over the space of about two years.

'Selfies' appeared to have been taken by Rex Heuermann, say prosecutors
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Selfies which appear to have been taken by Heuermann. Pics: Suffolk County Court

‘Treated like animals’

Speaking about the trauma of the ordeal since Heuermann’s arrest, Ms Ellerup, 59, told the New York Post: “My children cry themselves to sleep. I mean, they’re not children. They’re grown adults but they’re my children, and my son has developmental disabilities and he cried himself to sleep.”

She also said she herself had been experiencing “anxiety”, adding: “I woke up in the middle of the night, shivering.”

Both adult children live in the family home. The Post said her son is 33, while her daughter, Victoria Heuermann, 26, said she felt “not human” in the aftermath of the arrest.

Ms Ellerup’s lawyer Bob Macedonio added: “She meant what they’ve done to them and the family is not even human. They were just complete animals. They treated them like animals.”

Authorities carry out an investigation at Rex Heuermann's home in Massapequa Park, New York. Pic: AP
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Authorities carry out an investigation at Heuermann’s home in Massapequa Park, New York. Pic: AP

Investigators spent 12 days searching the property for evidence, and Asa Ellerup told the Post that when the family was allowed to return, the residence was almost unliveable.

The police search included digging up the yard, dismantling a porch and a greenhouse and removing many of the house’s contents for testing.

She said belongings were piled up in heaps, part of her bath was cut away and furniture was broken up.

“My couch was completely shredded. I don’t even know if there’s any parts to the couch,” said Ms Ellerup.

Prosecutors share ‘eight terabytes of material’

A lawyer for Heuermann’s adult children, Vess Mitev, said they were mulling taking legal action against police for the “deplorable and roughshod handling of the investigation that turned upside down their lives, their home, their very status in the social hierarchy”.

“In the haste and zeal to arrest Mr Heuermann, we believe certain things were done that shouldn’t have been done,” he added.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said at the court hearing they have given Heuermann’s lawyer eight terabytes of material – that is the equivalent of about 2,500 pages of records, along with about 100 hours of surveillance video recorded outside the suspect’s home and office.

Rex Heuermann was seen on CCTV at a mobile phone shop in Manhattan on 19 May 2023. Pic: Suffolk County court
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Heuermann was seen on CCTV at a mobile phone shop in Manhattan in May. Pic: Suffolk County Court

District Attorney Ray Tierney said it was a fraction of the evidence gathered since the bodies of the four women were discovered.

Heuermann pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance last month and was ordered to be detained without the possibility of bail.

His lawyer said the defendant denied committing the crimes.

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