Suffolk County police on Long Island announced a shocking development on Friday in a case that’s obsessed followers of true crime for over a decade. Rex Heuermann, a 59-year-old architect, was arrested in what’s known as the Gilgo Beach serial killings, at least ten deaths that stretch as far back as the 1990s.
Several of the victims, as well as the then-abortive search for the killer, were immortalized in Robert Kolker’s 2013 non-fiction bestseller Lost Girls: An American Unsolved Mystery. A high-profile dramatic adaptation of that book, starring Amy Ryan and Gabriel Byrne, dropped on Netflix in 2020. Though it didn’t make much of a splash at the time (the emerging pandemic overshadowed its release on March 13), with the story on the front page of every paper in the country, it’s likely Lost Girls will see an uptick in views on the platform in coming days, though police say its central figure might not be one of the Long Island serial killer’s actual victims.
A grand jury had charged Heuermann with six counts of murder for the slayings of Melissa Barthelemy in 2009, and Megan Waterman and Amber Costello in 2010, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. He’s also “the prime suspect in the 2007 disappearance and death of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, according to a bail application from prosecutors,” but has yet to be charged in that case, according to CNN.
Heuermann has denied all involvement in the deaths and entered a plea of not guilty on all charges.
To just about everyone’s surprise, actor Billy Baldwin popped up on social media to confirm that he went to high school with the suspect. “Mind-boggling… Massapequa is in shock,” he said.
In a subsequent Instagram post, Baldwin wrote that his tweeted mention of DNA test kit 23andMe was a reference to a practice known as forensic DNA, in which similar tests are used to link people via relatives to past crimes. “When people allow their 23 and Me DNA results to be posted publicly, it can often resolve a cold case crime or paternity issue because they can link someone’s child or niece or nephew to a suspect by their 23 and Me results,” Baldwin said.
Investigators say it was phone records and a distinctive pickup truck that directed them toward Heuermann, and the AP reports that the DNA evidence in question was recovered from a pizza crust discarded by Heuermann and strands of his wife’s hair that police say matched evidence found on one of the victims.
That victim, as well as others linked to the case, were found along a highway near Heuermann’s home between 2010 and 2011, only after the mother of another missing woman—Shannan Gilbert, who disappeared in 2010—pushed police to search the area. During that search, the remains of several other women, most of them Sex workers, were found along Ocean Parkway in the tony Long Island enclave of Oak Beach. Several other bodies have been found in the area in years since, many of whom police say were killed by the same person. Until Friday, no arrests have ever been made, nor were any suspects announced in the homicides.