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Suspect In Long Island Serial Killer Case Arrested And Charged With Murder

A man who appears to have been hiding in plain sight in a small seaside community for more than a decade while a serial killing gripped the nation was arrested and on Friday charged with murder in connection with several grisly deaths.

Police in Suffolk county, New York, arrested the 59-year-old local architect Rex Heuermann, in a significant breakthrough in the so-called Gilgo Beach case in Long Island.

The arrest, first reported by News 12 Long Island, was said to have occurred in the early hours of Friday morning as video footage from local reporters showed law enforcement vehicles gathered in Massapequa Park, a Long Island neighborhood.

Later on Friday, the county police commissioner, Rodney Harrison, said a male suspect was arrested at 8.30pm on Thursday. He did not immediately identify the suspect but Heuermann was officially named when a grand jury handed down an indictment on Friday afternoon. Heuermann was arrested in Manhattan in New York City.

Police officers stand guard near a cordoned-off area in Long Island, New York, after the suspect was taken into custody. Photograph: Eduardo Muñoz/APProsecutors on Friday, in efforts to prevent Heuermann being granted bail, cited DNA evidence and calls from burner phones to victims that were linked to Heuermann’s office.

Eleven sets of human remains were found in 2010 and 2011 along an isolated stretch of remote Gilgo Beach on a barrier island on the wild Atlantic coast about 40 miles east of New York City.

In February 2022, Suffolk county police launched a joint taskforce focused on investigating the so-called Gilgo Beach murders to search for whoever was responsible for the killings from 2010 and 2011.

The mystery surrounding the killings began when Shannan Gilbert, who had worked as a sex worker, vanished in May 2010 after she met a client at Oak Beach. Gilbert made a 22-minute 911 call where she reportedly said: “They are trying to kill me.”

Police found her body in a marshy area along Ocean Parkway. Soon after, they discovered four other women – Melissa Barthelemy, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello – in the same area, with each body covered in a burlap cloth.

Investigators then found six more sets of remains, including more female sex workers, a man and a toddler, setting off a decade-long inquiry into the killings that went cold for a time and had been mired in questions of “law enforcement failures rooted in incompetence or, worse, institutional disregard”, the Guardian reported in January 2022.

John Ray, an attorney who represents the families of victims Shannan Gilbert and Jessica Taylor, delivers remarks at a press conference on 14 July. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesThat changed last year after Commissioner Harrison inherited the case and moved forward with the taskforce with FBI and state law enforcement agencies. Police released evidence ranging from maps to images at the time to Gilbert’s 911 call.

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At the time of Gilbert’s disappearance, police initially said that she probably died by accident. And in 2022, Harrison said in a press conference that “based on the evidence, the facts and the totality of the circumstances, the prevailing opinion of Shannan’s death, while tragic, was not murder and most likely not criminal”.

Police had since said that one person might be responsible for all the murders.

On Friday, Heuermann pleaded not guilty to the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Costello and Megan Waterman, facing six charges in the three women’s deaths.

The Suffolk county district attorney, Ray Tierney, said in court on Friday that the authorities had been monitoring Heuermann since last year and would have continued but they moved in when it appeared he might be preparing to move overseas. Heuermann has been labeled the prime suspect in the death of Maureen Brainard-Barnes and is under investigation in connection with the other deaths in the case.

Tierney’s office, in pleading for bail to be refused and Heuermann to be kept in custody, cited many elements that led to the man’s apprehension, including DNA evidence and tracing calls made to victims from burner phones that were traced to his architecture offices.

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