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Who is Long Island serial killer Rex Heuermann?

Many people who knew Rex Heuermann are shocked by his arrest, while others are not.

Left photo, Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images, Heuermann photo via Suffolk County NY Sheriff’s Department

Rex Heuermann, 59, an architect from Manhattan, is accused of three murders related to Long Island’s infamous Gilgo Beach serial killer case. Heuermann’s mocking calls from the victims’ cell phones helped solve the case by leading police to his whereabouts using cell tower information. Heuermann, according to the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, is not as intelligent as the media portrays serial killers to be; instead, he is easily deceived and impetuous.  

There, authorities found the arsenal of weapons and disposable phones that Heuermann used in each of his murders. His research on sex workers, sadistic pornography, and child pornography, as well as his selfies, were all conducted on these devices. Somehow, pizza crust played a role in connecting Heuermann to the deaths on Gilgo Beach.

Who is Rex Heuermann, the Long Island serial killer who eluded capture for over a decade?

The arrest of Rex Heuermann has shocked many who knew him, including interior designer Dominique Vidal, who, despite her amazement, described Heuermann to The New York Times as “arrogant, sweaty, and creepy.” She also described a strange encounter in which Heuermann brought up an unidentified serial killer from his hometown.

The newspaper reveals that Rex Heuermann, an architectural consultant with an office near the Empire State Building, proclaimed himself an expert in New York City’s construction regulations. His precise instructions wowed some customers and drove others mad. Some of Heuermann’s Massapequa Park, Long Island, neighbors simply saw him as another business individual, while others viewed him as a creep. 

Mr. Ferchaw, his neighbor, told The New York Times

“I wasn’t surprised at all — because of all the creepiness.”

After being detained on the evening of 13 July, Rex Heuermann made a brief court appearance in Suffolk County on Friday, when he was charged with three charges of first-degree murder and remanded to jail without bail. According to his attorney outside the courthouse, he has denied involvement in the murders.

What to know about the Gilgo Beach Murders

The Gilgo Beach killings, frequently considered an unsolved American mystery, are a terrifying series of crimes on Long Island’s tranquil coastline involving a serial killer who preyed on sex workers and dumped their bodies across Long Island and Nassau County. On 11 December 2010, the first set of human remains was found by the side of Ocean Parkway in Oak Beach. The inquiry began with the hunt for 24-year-old Shannan Gilbert, who went missing in May after making a 23-minute 911 call in which she screamed, “They are trying to kill me.” 

After several unsuccessful searches, an officer looking for Gilbert with a trained cadaver dog detected a scent in the dense underbrush and light snow, and the two of them followed it to a decomposing skeleton in a burlap sack. Just two days later, the remains of three other women — Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello — were discovered near the first discovery. Homicide was determined to be the cause of death for all victims aged 22 to 27. 

The public’s interest and concern in the unsolved case grew as the years passed. At a public safety hearing in May 2011, Suffolk County Police Department Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone suggested that the killer targeted a particular sort of victim — sex workers. This statement sparked debate and exacerbated the victims’ stigma. Unfortunately, the societal prejudices towards sex workers highlighted by the Gilgo Beach murders remain despite the case’s recent breakthrough. 

The victims’ relatives refuse to let their loved ones be defined by their work. As one victim’s mother put it, her daughter was more than simply a sex worker; she was a mother who meant everything to her family. While the case is tragic, it has opened a much-needed dialogue on how society views sex workers and the importance of providing them with safety. 

Faith Katunga
About the author

Faith Katunga

Faith is a freelance writer with an insatiable curiosity for all aspects of current events, from the global economy and fashion to pop culture and travel. She watches an absurd number of cat videos on Instagram when not reading or writing about what is going on in the world.