Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann is being investigated in the 1989 murder of prostitute – whose body was found just miles from his New York home
- Heuermann, 59, is charged with first- and second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of three victims and the prime suspect in a fourth
- He is now being investigated in connection with the 1989 murder of sex worker Carmen Vargas
- Vargas’ family said there are ‘too many similarities’ to the deaths of the other Gilgo Beach sex workers
Suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann is now facing an investigation into whether he’s responsible for yet another murder of a prostitute near his Long Island home – one that dates back to 1989.
Heuermann, 59, is charged with first- and second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of three victims, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello. Authorities say he is the ‘prime suspect’ in another killing, Maureen Brainard-Barnes.
He is now being investigated in connection with the 1989 murder of sex worker Carmen Vargas, whose body was found bound near Heuermann’s home.
The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office confirmed the inquiry.
Vargas’ family said there are ‘too many similarities’ to the deaths of the other Gilgo Beach sex workers.
Suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann is now facing an investigation into whether he’s responsible for yet another murder of a prostitute near his Long Island home that dates back to 1989
He is now being investigated in connection with the 1989 murder of sex worker Carmen Vargas, whose body was found bound near Heuermann’s home
‘I believe he did it. I believe he did it when he first started killing,’ Felicita Figueroa, Vargas’ niece, told The Sun Wednesday.
Figueroa was just 12 years old the last time Vargas was seen being picked up by a man outside the family apartment in East Harlem that night in 1989.
‘She got into a dark car,’ Figueroa told PIX11 News. ‘I could tell it was a white man with glasses.’
Vargas was later found dumped on the side of the Meadowbrook Parkway, just seven miles from Heuermann’s Massapequa Park home, her body beaten and bound.
The suspect was thought to be Long Island serial killer Joel Rifkin, who denied it in 1993 despite copping to 17 other killings.
‘Joel Rifkin said, ‘That’s not me. That’s not my work.’ But we thought it was him, so we let it die,’ Figueroa said.
She got in touch with an investigator at Murder Inc. who has looked into the Gilgo Beach killings, publishing findings under a pseudonym.
‘Always for me, location is the most important factor,’ the publisher said. ‘It’s far more important than M.O. A serial killer can change the way they do things. There’s no rule that serial killers have to do things the same way every time. They can change it up.’
After starting his architecture firm in 1994, Heuermann built a successful career in Manhattan before his dramatic arrest in July
The 59-year-old allegedly made taunting phone calls to his victims’ families from his architecture offices in Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue (pictured)
Heuermann’s dramatic arrest outside his offices in Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on July 13 came as a result of a decade-long hunt for the infamous Gilgo Bach serial killer.
Heuermann counted Nike, American Airlines and Target as clients during his three-decade architecture career, while allegedly also strangling three women and taunting their families with phone calls – often allegedly made from his New York office.
The first set of remains were found along the strip of coastline in December 2010, when the body of Melissa Barthelemy, 24, was discovered during a search for another missing woman, Shannan Gilbert, 23.
Two days later, cops realized they may have a manic serial killer on their hands when three additional sets of remains were discovered – those of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Amber Costello and Megan Waterman.
The bodies were found along a half-mile stretch on Gilgo Beach, where several other bodies have been found – some of which police are still determining if Heuermann had anything to do with.
The three women he has been charged with killing and the one he is suspected of murdering were all found wrapped in camouflaged burlap, and worked as escorts on Craigslist, officials said.
Heuermann’s arrest in July outside his Manhattan offices came after a decade-long hunt for the Gilgo Beach serial killer. He first landed on investigators’ radar in March 2022
A map showing where the victims remains were located along the barren stretch of Ocean Beach Parkway in Gilgo Beach, located on the South Shore of Long Island
Following his dramatic arrest, Heuermann’s ramshackle home in Massapequa Park, Long Island, was combed through by forensic investigators
Crews scoured the home, including the backyard, for days for further evidence. Heuermann’s family have recently criticized cops for tearing apart their property
Investigators claimed following Barthelemy’s disappearance, taunting phone calls were made to her family where a man described in grim detail how he sexually assaulted and killed her.
The sickening phone calls were used by police after he was first floated as a suspect in March 2022.
According to documents filed in court, investigators that month were looking into the murder of Costello, where a Chevrolet Avalanche was spotted by a witness at the time of the killing.
Following the identification of Heuermann as the owner of a vehicle that matched one seen at the crime scene, cops issued over 300 subpoenas, search warrants and other legal processes to obtain further evidence – including his cellphone records.
Through Heuermann’s American Express records, police were able to link him to a Tinder account in which he used a pseudonym, his middle name, Andy. That account was linked to one of his many burner phones.
He was known to go through a slew of burner phones, and as recently as this year he allegedly used one of the phones ‘extensively for prostitution-related contacts’ including sex workers and massage parlors.
In January, with police surveilling him, police recovered a pizza box that he had tossed into a garbage can in Manhattan. They were able to match the DNA from the leftover pie with a sample that was taken from the burlap sack that the killer used to conceal Waterman’s body.
Police say that the burner cell phones and the victim’s phones put Heuermann in the area where the victims were found around the times of their disappearances and around his Midtown Manhattan office when phone calls were made, including the taunting Barthelemy call.
In January, with police surveilling him, police recovered a pizza box that Heurmann had tossed into a garbage can in Manhattan that they used to obtain his DNA
Heuermann’s distraught family have returned to their Long Island home, and have criticized police for tearing it apart during their search for evidence
New York state police removed a massive haul of weapons from Heuermann’s Long Island home during their investigation in July
One of the burners allegedly used by Heuermann showed extremely sexually graphic internet searches for sexual assault and torture.
While an email address used by Heuermann saw him regularly Google in search of updates in the Long Island serial killer case, including podcasts and documentaries.
The case has drawn immense public attention. The mystery attracted national headlines for many years and the unsolved killings were the subject of the 2020 Netflix film ‘Lost Girls.’
Determining who killed them, and why, has vexed a slew of seasoned homicide detectives through several changes in police leadership. Last year, an interagency task force was formed with investigators from the FBI, as well as state and local police departments, aimed at solving the case.
The investigator charged with tracking down the killer for years, ex-police chief James Burke, has been condemned in recent months for his handling of the case.
Following his arrest, forensic investigators scoured Heuermann’s home, where they retrieved a bevy of items including a freezer and a massive haul of firearms.
Heuermann’s soon-to-be-ex-wife Asa Ellerup found her Massapequa Park home in total disarray as investigators launched an extensive search following his arrest.
She and her two adult children left the home immediately under police instruction, meaning they did not have time to find their pets amid the chaos.
They ended up having to sleep in a rental car for days until they were allowed back home – and have been living in a ‘waking horror show’ ever since.
Asa Ellerup and her two adult children. They left the home immediately under police instruction, meaning they did not have time to find their pets amid the chaos
Melissa Moore, the daughter of serial killer Keith Jesperson, met with Ellerup to offer her support – and told the Sun US that police sent the family’s cats to a kill shelter.
Rex’s son Christopher, who suffers from learning difficulties, was able to locate his service dog Stewie before they were shunned from the property – but they were unable to find their two cats.
Moore said: ‘They left assuming the police would care for the animals as they left the home without any notice.
‘Immediately, the authorities trapped the cats and sent them to a kill shelter.’
Thanks to their attorneys, Ellerup and her children were eventually able to find their cats and bring them home.
Moore added: ‘Lawyers representing Asa learned that her animals were in a shelter and arranged for them to be removed before they could be euthanized.’
Etienne de Villiers, 68, who lives next door to the family, said that since the man’s arrest, the family have been spending more and more time out on their front lawn because investigators left the house ‘uninhabitable.’
The inside is said to be covered in debris from their search, attorney Vess Mitev said.
Villiers told the NYTimes: ‘They’re having barbecues on the front lawn — they never did anything like that before. Suddenly, they’re out there all the time.’
Thankfully, they got their cats back before they were euthanized
The family have been spending more and more time out on their front lawn because investigators left the house ‘uninhabitable’
The inside of their home is said to be covered in debris from their search, attorney Vess Mitev said
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