How NYC Architect was Linked to Three Women’s Remains Found on Gilgo Beach

Authorities began to seriously consider Heuermann as a suspect in March 2022 after discovering that a Chevrolet Avalanche registered in his name had been linked to one of the killings. According to investigators, his cellphone records indicate he had been in contact with three of the four victims, and an email account linked to Heuermann had conducted online searches of the homicide investigation’s progress. 

As evidence was being presented to a grand jury, leaks about a possible break in the case emerged, and authorities decided to arrest Heuermann before he could flee.

New York Architect Arrested in Long Island Serial Killings (Matt Meyer and Meg Warner, CNN, July 2023)

Rex Heuermann Charged with Murder

Rex Heuermann Arrested & Charged with Murder: Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation

Rex Heuermann, 59, was charged with six counts of murder in connection with the deaths of three of four women who in death became known as the “Gilgo Four,” according to the Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. He was charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder in each of the three killings—Melissa Barthelemy in 2009 and Megan Waterman and Amber Costello in 2010—according to the indictment.  All of the women worked as escorts, according to officials.

Three Female Victims Dismembered Bodies were Found on Gilgo Beach in Long Island, New York

Officials first identified suspect Rex Heuermann, an architect who lived on Long Island with an office in New York City, in a database more than a year ago, Tierney said. 

From there, officials used “the power of the grand jury” in the form of more than 300 subpoenas and search warrants used to look into Heuermann’s background, Tierney said.

Authorities issued more than 300 subpoenas and search warrants in their long investigation into the suspect charged in three long-unsolved Long Island murders, DA Tierney said.

Investigators went through phone records collected from both midtown Manhattan and the Massapequa Park area of Long Island—two areas connected to a burner phone they had tied to the killings. In court, prosecutors later said the burner phone was identified via an email account used to “solicit and arrange for sexual activity.” The victims were escorts who advertised on Craigslist, according to officials.

They then narrowed records collected by cell towers to thousands, then to hundreds, and finally down to a handful of people who could match a suspect in the killings.

From there, authorities focused on people who lived in the area of the cell tower and also matched a physical description given by a witness who had seen the suspected killer.

In that narrowed pool, they searched for a connection to a pickup truck that a witness had seen the suspect driving, the sources said.

Investigators eventually landed on Rex Heuermann, who they say matched a witness’ physical description, lived close to the Long Island cell site, and worked near the New York City cell sites that captured the other calls.

They also learned he had often driven a green pickup truck registered to his brother, officials said. But they needed more than just circumstantial evidence.

They also noted his alleged use of “fictitious names, burner email, and cell phone accounts, and his access to and history of possessing firearms.”

Cases Related to Rex Heuermann’s Indictment

Melissa Barthelemy

The indictment alleges Heuermann caused the death of Melissa Barthelemy, with intent, “on or about July 10, 2009.” Barthelemy’s body was found in the County of Suffolk “on or about December 11, 2010.”

24-year-old Melissa Barthelemy was last seen outside her apartment on Underhill Avenue in the Bronx. She had arranged a $1,000 date with a client the next night somewhere on Long Island. On the night she went missing, she met with a client, deposited $900 in her bank account, and attempted to call an old boyfriend but did not get through. Beginning one week later and lasting for five weeks, her teenage sister Amanda received a series of “vulgar, mocking, and insulting” calls from a man who may have been the killer using Melissa Barthelemy’s cell phone. The caller asked if Amanda “was a whore like her sister.” Her body was discovered beside Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach. She had been strangled. The calls became increasingly disturbing and culminated in the caller telling Amanda that her sister was dead and that he was going to watch her rot. Police traced some of the calls to Madison Square Garden, Midtown Manhattan, and Massapequa.

Megan Waterman

The indictment said Heuermann caused the death of Megan Waterman, with intent, “on or about June 6, 2010.” Waterman’s body was found in the County of Suffolk “on or about December 13, 2010.”

22-year-old Megan Waterman was last seen in Hauppauge, NY, walking toward a nearby convenience store. She had been staying in a Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge and was captured by a security camera walking out of the hotel at around 1:30 a.m. She had been reported missing in June 2010. Her body was discovered in December 2010 beside Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach. She had been strangled.

Amber Costello

The indictment claims Heuermann caused the death of Amber Costello, with intent, “on or about September 2, 2010.” Costello’s body was found in the County of Suffolk “on or about December 13, 2010.”

27-year-old Amber Costello was last seen by her roommate leaving her home in North Babylon to meet a client. The client had called three or four times and offered Amber $1,500 for her services.  Her family believed that she was in a residential drug rehabilitation center, so she was not immediately reported missing when she stopped responding to messages and phone calls. Her body was discovered beside Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach. She had been strangled. The police revealed her identity on January 24, 2011.

Rex Heuermann Linked to Victims

In January 2022, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office assigned an experienced team of investigators, analysts, and prosecutors to work jointly with law enforcement partners from the Suffolk County Police Department, New York State Police, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. A comprehensive review of every item of evidence and information in this investigation was undertaken by the team.

On March 14, 2022, approximately two months into the renewed joint investigation, this comprehensive review led to the discovery of a first-generation Chevrolet Avalanche that was registered to Rex A. Heuermann at the time of these murders.

This was significant because a witness to the disappearance of Amber Costello identified a first-generation Chevrolet Avalanche as the vehicle believed to have been driven by her killer.

This discovery led to a comprehensive investigation of Heuermann, which consisted of over 300 subpoenas, search warrants, and other legal processes to obtain evidence. Among the items uncovered were cellphone billing records for Heuermann corresponding to cell site locations for 1) the burner cellphones used to arrange meetings with three of the four victims, 2) the taunting calls made to a relative of Ms. Barthelemy, 3) a call made by a detective to Ms. Barthelemy’s cellphone while looking into her disappearance and 4) calls checking voicemail on Ms. Brainard-Barnes’ cellphone after her disappearance.

Heuermann lived in Massapequa Park, where the victims were believed to have disappeared from, and he worked in Midtown Manhattan, in the vicinity where the taunting calls were made to the sister of Ms. Barthelemy. Rex A. Heuermann is believed to be the person who used the burner cell phones to communicate with each of the four victims before their disappearance and who used Ms. Brainard-Barnes’ cell phone and Ms. Barthelemy’s cell phone after their deaths. Both Heuermann and these burner cellphones had significant connections to both Midtown Manhattan and Massapequa Park, New York.

During the times of the disappearances and murders of the victims, Heuermann owned an architectural business located in Manhattan, and this business was the named subscriber of Heuermann’s cellphone, which was active during the times of the victims’ disappearances and subscribed to Heuermann’s home address in Massapequa Park. Although cell-site records from that period no longer existed, investigators obtained cellular billing records that showed general location information for Heuermann’s cell phone. A review of these records, as well as Heuermann’s American Express records, showed numerous instances where Heuermann was located in the same general locations as the burner cellphones used to contact victims Barthelemy, Waterman, and Costello, as well as the use of Brainard-Barnes and Barthelemy’s cellphones when they were used to check voicemail and make taunting phone calls after the women disappeared. Significantly, investigators could find no instance where Heuermann was in a separate location from these other cell phones when such a communication event occurred.

Additional Burner Phones and Online Account Activity Linked to Heuerman. Throughout the comprehensive investigation of Heuermann, investigators located several online accounts and burner cellphones linked to Heuermann, which he held in fictitious names and used for illicit activities. American Express records obtained via subpoena revealed recurring “Google Pay” payments made by Heuermann to “Tinder,” an online dating and geosocial networking application used to find “dates” or “hookups” within a user’s immediate vicinity. Records were then obtained from Tinder, which revealed that the Tinder Profile was set up in the name “Andy” (Heuermann’s middle name is Andrew), with links to a burner cellphone 347-885- 1697, subscribed in the fictitious name of “Andrew Roberts,” using an email account, [email protected]. The [email protected] account was established with AOL on January 15, 2011, in the fictitious name “John Springfield” with an Astoria, Queens, New York zip code, using another burner cellphone, 347-304-2671, which records show has no named subscriber.

Records obtained from Verizon showed that Heuermann’s cellphone was used on December 11, 2022, for over three hours to access the fictitious Springfieldman9 AOL Account. Similarly, records obtained from T-Mobile show that burner cellphone 347-304- 2671 was used on multiple dates, including November 8, 2022, to access this account. A review of call records for these two additional burner cellphones revealed that both cellphones were used extensively between 2021 and 2023 for prostitution-related contacts (either with sex workers or massage parlors). In addition, cell site warrants for these burner cellphones revealed that just like the burner cellphones Heuermann used to contact the victims prior to their disappearances, these additional burner cellphones had frequent cell site activity in Midtown Manhattan and Massapequa Park. Specifically, the records revealed that these burner cellphones consistently had activity on the cellular towers that provided coverage to Heuermann’s residence in Massapequa Park and his business in New York City.

Legal process served on Google seeking records or accounts associated with the device identifiers of these additional burner cellphones revealed a connection to yet another “burner” or “junk” email account, namely [email protected]. Google records further indicated that the Thawk Email Account was subscribed under the fictitious name “Thomas Hawk.” A search warrant revealed that the Thawk Email Account, associated with a burner cellphone 347-304-2671, was used to conduct thousands of searches related to sex workers, sadistic, torture-related pornography, and child pornography.

The Thawk Email Account was also used to conduct over 200 searches, between March 2022 and June 2023, related to active and known serial killers, the specific disappearances and murders of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello, and the investigation into their murders.

The Thawk Email Account was also used to search for podcasts and/or documentaries regarding this investigation, as well as repeatedly viewing hundreds of images depicting the murdered victims and members of their immediate families. Significantly, Heuermann also searched for and viewed articles concerning the very Task Force that was investigating him.

A search warrant conducted on the fictitious Springfieldman9 AOL Account further revealed “selfie” photographs that appeared to have been taken by Heuermann of himself and sent to other persons to solicit and arrange for sexual activity, further linking Heuermann to the fictitious email account and the burner cellphone, 347-304-2671, used to establish the account.

Heuermann was further linked to the burner cellphone 347-304-2671. On May 19, 2023, Heuermann was observed by law enforcement via video and field surveillance at a cellphone store in Midtown Manhattan and purchased additional minutes which were added to this burner cell phone.

When analyzing the usage of all devices and accounts used by Heuermann, there appears to be a clear pattern wherein Heuermann used “burner” phones and “burner”/“junk” email addresses to 1) contact sex workers and sex partners to conduct extensive searches related to sex and prostitution, violent, sadistic and child pornography and 3) seek online information about the authorities investigating his crimes.

These burner cellphones and email accounts with fictitious identities were used in an effort to conceal Heuermann’s true identity, conceal his criminal activity, unlawfully proposition sex workers, and attempt to monitor the investigation of his crimes.

Victim Maureen Brainard-Barnes

Maureen Brainard-Barnes was last seen on July 9, 2007, in New York City. At that time, she was believed to be working as a sex worker. On July 6, 2007, Ms. Brainard-Barnes’ cellphone was contacted by a burner cellphone. Between July 6, 2007, and July 9, 2007, there were sixteen interactions between this burner phone and Brainard-Barnes cellphone. On July 9, 2007, the last cell site location for the Brainard-Barnes cellphone was at approximately 11:56 p.m. in Midtown Manhattan near the 59th Street Bridge. After that, the Brainard-Barnes cellphone had no further activity until July 12, 2007. On July 12, 2007, three days after her disappearance, two outbound calls were made from Brainard-Barnes’s cellphone, checking her voicemail from a cell site location near the Long Island Expressway in Islandia.

Ms. Brainard-Barnes had been left restrained by three leather belts, one of which was utilized to tie Barnes’ feet/ankle/legs together. During the examination of the belts, a female human hair was recovered from the buckle of one of the belts by the Suffolk County Crime Lab. On or about December 18, 2010, the Suffolk County Laboratory was able to determine that it corresponded to a “Caucasian head hair fragment.” Although this hair was not suitable for nuclear DNA profiling at that time, it was subsequently submitted for further DNA analysis.

Victim Melissa Barthelemy

Melissa Barthelemy was last seen on July 10, 2009, in New York City. At that time, she was believed to be working as a sex worker. On July 3, 2009, Ms. Barthelemy was contacted by a burner cellphone. Thereafter, the Barthelemy Cellphone was contacted by this burner cellphone on July 6, July 9, and July 10, 2009, which was the last day she was seen alive. On July 10, 2009, cell site records indicate the burner cellphone traveled from Massapequa Park to Midtown Manhattan. Later that evening, the Barthelemy Cellphone traveled from Midtown Manhattan to Massapequa, with the last cell site location being in Massapequa on July 11, 2009, at approximately 1:43 a.m. On July 11, 2009, Ms. Barthelemy’s cellphone was used to make an outbound call, checking her voicemail from a cell site location in Freeport. On July 11 and July 12, 2009, the Barthelemy Phone made two more outbound calls checking her voicemail from cell site locations in Babylon. On July 17, July 23, August 5, August 19, and August 26, 2009, the Barthelemy Phone made taunting phone calls to Ms. Barthelemy’s family members, some of which resulted in a conversation between the caller, who was a male, and a relative of Melissa Barthelemy, in which the male caller admitted killing and sexually assaulting Ms. Barthelemy. The cell site locations of the Barthelemy Phone during these taunting calls were all in Midtown Manhattan.

Victim Megan Waterman

Megan Waterman was last seen alive at the Holiday Inn in Hauppauge, New York, on June 6, 2010, at approximately 1:30 a.m. At that time, she was believed to be working as a sex worker. On June 5, 2010, Ms. Waterman’s cell phone was contacted by another burner cellphone, which had just been activated that day. After that, the Waterman Phone communicated with this burner cell phone on June 6, 2010, at approximately 1:31 a.m., which is around the time Megan Waterman was captured on video surveillance exiting the Holiday Inn in Hauppauge for the last time. Following that communication, the burner cellphone had no further phone activity. However, cell site records show that the Waterman Phone traveled to Massapequa Park, with the last cell site location being in Massapequa Park at approximately 3:11 a.m. in the vicinity of the residence of Heuermann.

Megan Waterman had been bound by clear or white duct tape. During the examination of Ms. Waterman’s body, two female human hairs were recovered, one “from outside the head area” and the other from “the tape of the head area.” Both hairs were recovered near Ms. Waterman’s head. Examination by the Suffolk County Laboratory indicated that the Two Females Hairs on Waterman exhibited Caucasian/European characteristics but were unsuitable for further DNA testing at that time. The two female hairs on Waterman were subsequently submitted for further DNA analysis.

Victim Amber Costello

Amber Costello was last seen alive on September 2, 2010, leaving her residence at 1112 America Avenue in West Babylon during the late evening hours. At that time, she was believed to be working as a sex worker. On September 1, 2010, the day before the disappearance of Amber Costello, Ms. Costello’s cell phone was contacted by a burner cellphone. On September 1, 2010, this burner cellphone had communications with the Costello Phone at approximately 11:33 p.m. and 11:34 p.m. During those communications, the burner cellphone connected to cell site towers in West Amityville and Massapequa Park. After that, the burner cellphone traveled to West Babylon, in proximity to the residence of Amber Costello, and had contact with the Costello Phone at approximately 12:05 a.m. on September 2, 2010.

According to witnesses, around the time of these communications between the burner cellphone and the Costello Phone on September 1-2, 2010, a prostitution client showed up at Ms. Costello’s residence located in West Babylon, New York. After the client entered the home, a ruse was executed on the client whereby a person pretended to be the outraged boyfriend of Amber Costello, and the client left the residence, while Amber Costello retained the money the client had brought to pay for her services. Based upon interviews, that client was described as a large, white male, approximately 6’4’ to 6’6” in height, in his mid-forties, with “dark bushy hair” and “big oval style 1970s type eyeglasses.” A witness described him to police as appearing like an “ogre.” Furthermore, a witness noticed a first-generation Chevrolet Avalanche parked in the driveway of the residence. According to the witness, following the ruse, this client said he was “just her friend,” “tell her I’ll give her a call,” and walked out the front door. At approximately 1:18 a.m., on September 2, after the ruse had been perpetrated, the burner cellphone sent a text message to the Costello Phone, which stated, “That was not nice, so do I [sic] credit for next time.” Phone records show that the burner phone was located in Massapequa Park within two minutes of this text message being sent. According to a witness, later the next day, on September 2, 2010, Ms. Costello was again contacted by the same client that had been in the house the night before with the Avalanche.

Further, “Amber told us that he wanted to see her again, but he didn’t want to come back to the house because of her boyfriend.” On September 2, 2010, at approximately 9:32 p.m., the same burner cellphone from the previous evening again communicated with the Costello Phone. During this communication, the burner cellphone used a cell site location in Midtown Manhattan. Following this communication and based upon the cell site records, the burner cellphone traveled to Massapequa Park and had contacts with the Costello Phone at approximately 10:39 p.m. and 11:05 p.m. Cell site records for the burner phone indicate that at approximately 11:17 p.m., the phone traveled to West Babylon in proximity to the residence of Amber Costello. Subsequently, Amber Costello left her cell phone behind, walked out the front door of the residence, and was seen alive for the last time. Shortly after Ms. Costello left the house, a witness observed a dark-colored truck pass the house, specifically coming from the direction Amber had walked towards.

An examination of the body of Ms. Amber Costello revealed that she appeared to have been bound by three pieces of clear or white duct tape. During the examination of Ms. Costello’s body, a female human hair was recovered, specifically on a piece of tape inside of the burlap wrapping, in the vicinity of Ms. Costello’s head. A subsequent examination of the female hair on Costello led to the determination that it had Caucasian/European characteristics; however, it was unsuitable for further DNA testing at that time by the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory. The hair on Costello was subsequently submitted for further DNA analysis.

July 14, 2023: Rex Andrew Heuermann, of Massapequa, Long Island Was Arrested

Detectives executed search warrants at Heuermann’s home and Manhattan architecture office.

July 16, 2023: Suffolk police executed a search warrant at a storage unit in Amityville as part of the investigation into Rex Heuermann

Heuermann lived in the same house in Massapequa Park he was raised in—a few miles across the bay from the beach where bodies were unearthed more than a decade ago—according to a 2018 deposition.

Authorities were able to obtain a search warrant for Long Island suspect Rex Heuermann’s Google results and watch as he tried to keep up with the investigation, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said.

“In a 14-month period, he had over 200 searches pertaining to the Gilgo Beach serial killings investigation,” Tierney said.

“He was looking at investigative insight. He was looking, trying to figure out, ‘How is the task force using cell phones to try to figure out what is happening? What are the developments with regard to the task force?” he continued.

Tierney emphasized the importance of keeping the investigation and grand jury proceedings secret “because we knew that this one person would be watching, and we didn’t want to give him any insight.”

The warrant also revealed Heuermann was “compulsively” searching for images of the victims and their families, “and he was trying to locate those individuals.”

Authorities decided to charge the man accused of murdering at least three of the four women when the need to keep the public safe outweighed the need for investigators to collect more evidence, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said.

“There was good tension among the task force formed to investigate the long-unsolved Gilgo Beach murders since its formation in 2022,” Tierney said. On the one hand, authorities wanted to build the strongest case they could against suspect Rex Heuermann. On the other, they also needed to keep the public safe, he said.

Heuermann, who authorities were closely monitoring as they were investigating him, was continuing to patronize sex workers and also using fake IDs and burner phones, Tierney said. Those factors led authorities to decide to arrest him.

Heuermann used the cell phone of at least one of the victims to taunt family members and admitted to killing and sexually assaulting her, prosecutors allege in court documents.

In one of the calls, he “admitted killing and sexually assaulting Ms. Barthelemy,” according to a bail application filed by the Suffolk County District Attorney. 

Investigators say they linked Heuermann to the locations where taunting phone calls or other activity was made on Barthelemy’s phone, as well as the phone of Maureen Brainard-Barnes—a fourth woman Heuermann was considered the “prime suspect” for killing—after their disappearances.

Rex Heuermann

Rex Heuermann Denied Bail

According to the Judge, “based on the serious, heinous nature of these serial murders, the planning, and forethought that went into these crimes, the strength of the People’s case, the length of incarceration the defendant faces upon conviction, the extended period of time that this Defendant was able to avoid apprehension, his recent searches for sadistic materials, child pornography, images of the victims and their relatives, counter-surveillance conducted online as to the criminal investigation, his use of fictitious names, burner email and cellphone accounts, and his access to and history of possessing firearms, the only means to ensure Defendant Rex A. Heuermann’s return to court is to remand him without bail.”

The People of the State of New York v Rex A. Heuermann

County Court of Suffolk County—State of New York

Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation—Suffolk County Government

State and Federal Authorities are continuing their investigation into the skeletal remains found in Long Island. If you have information on any of these unsolved cases, you can Submit a Tip to:

FBI Anonymous Tip online

Submit a Tip to the Suffolk County Police Department’s official case website:

The Task Force conducting the Gilgo Beach Investigation consists of the:

Suffolk County Police Department  | Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office

New York State Police | Federal Bureau of Investigation 

Books Available on Amazon

The Gilgo Beach Murders: The Investigation and Capture of Sinister Serial Killer Rex Heuermann by Jared F. Trent

As the investigation unfolds, Trent guides readers through the complexities of the case, exposing the horrifying depths of depravity and the trail of devastation left behind by the elusive killer.

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker.

Long considered “one of the best true-crime books of all time” (Time), Lost Girls is a portrait of unsolved murders in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.

Documentaries Available on Amazon Prime Video

ID Special Report: The Long Island Serial Killer

People Magazine Investigates: The Long Island Serial Killer

How the Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation Has Progressed: NEW DETAILS EMERGE

Human Remains Found along Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach, Long Island, New York

New York City Architect Linked to Three Women’s Remains Found on Gilgo Beach in Long Island