Gilgo Beach killings suspect due in court as prosecutors tout ‘significant development’ in case

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Prosecutors plan to announce a “significant development” Thursday in the case of a New York architect accused of killing four women and leaving their corpses scattered in the scrub along a coastal highway.

Rex Heuermann, 60, will appear before a judge days after police finished new, extensive searches of his Massapequa Park home and a wooded area on Long Island tied to the investigation of a string of deaths known as the Gilgo Beach serial killings.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney hasn’t said what development he plans to announce or discuss the purpose of Thursday’s court hearing.

Since late 2010, police have been investigating the deaths of at least 10 people — mostly female sex workers — whose remains were discovered along an isolated highway not far from Gilgo Beach on Long Island’s south shore.

The victims had disappeared over a span of at least 14 years. Vexed police officers made only halting progress in identifying possible suspects. Investigators long said it was likely that not all of the deaths were the work of the same killer. Some of the victims disappeared in the mid-1990s. Investigators concluded that an 11th person who disappeared in 2010 from the barrier island community of Oak Beach had accidentally drowned.

Heuermann, who lived across a bay from where the bodies were found, was arrested last July. Prosecutors said a new investigative task force used mobile phone location data and DNA samples to link the architect to some of the victims. He was charged with killing four of the women: Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Lynn Costello and Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

Investigators who had searched Heuermann’s home extensively and dug up his yard last summer returned to the house again last month and spent nearly a week searching it again. They focused their efforts mostly in the basement, according to a lawyer for Heuermann’s wife.

That followed a search in April of a wooded area in Manorville, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of Heuermann’s home, linked to two other Gilgo Beach victims.

Valerie Mack, 24, who had been working as an escort in Philadelphia, disappeared in 2000 and was last seen by her family in Port Republic, New Jersey. Some of her skeletal remains were discovered that same year in the Manorville woods. More of her remains were found in 2011 in the search around Gilgo Beach.

Initially known as “Jane Doe No. 6,” Mack’s remains had been unidentified for years until genetic testing revealed her identity in 2020.

Jessica Taylor, 20, vanished in 2003 while working as an escort in New York City. Some of her remains were discovered in Manorville that year. Other remains were found in a 2011 search of the beach scrub by the side of Ocean Parkway, the road where the other Gilgo Beach victims were found.

Relatives for Mack and Taylor declined to comment Wednesday.

Heuermann’s lawyer and the lawyers separately representing his wife and two adult children declined to comment.

Heuermann, who has been in custody since his arrest, has pleaded not guilty. He had been set to return to court on June 18 for a status hearing. No trial date has been set.

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Follow Philip Marcelo at twitter.com/philmarcelo.

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