NEW YORK (PIX11) – It took nearly 13 years for investigators to track down accused Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann.
A married father of two living in the house he grew up in – directly across the bay from where the bodies were found – Heuermann’s alleged ties to at least four of the Gilgo Beach murders shocked neighbors and New Yorkers from the East End all the way to Manhattan and beyond.
The details of the investigation – DNA lifted off of a pizza crust and calls taunting a victim’s family, among them – have garnered national attention.
Long before the case broke open with the arrest of Heuermann on a Manhattan street on July 13, PIX11 News has followed the Gilgo Beach serial killer case every step of the way.
The Gilgo Four
The bodies of the women who became known as the “Gilgo Four” were discovered in the brush at Gilgo Beach in December 2010.
The families of the victims – some of whom live upstate and out-of-state – had to fight for the attention of law enforcement because the women were sex workers. Relatives often held vigils at Gilgo Beach and demanded the victims be treated with dignity. Now, they’ve seen the face of their loved one’s accused killer.
How did investigators link Heuermann to the case?
The so-called Long Island Serial Killer investigation involved painstaking phone analysis, the search for better DNA technology, and the hope that a tip would come in and change everything.
So far, Heuermann is suspected in four of the deaths and he’s only been charged in connection with three of them. Many questions remain surrounding the additional six sets of human remains – including a toddler – that were found in the brush along Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach.
Shannon Gilbert, a sex worker from Jersey City, is not one of the Gilgo Four, but her disappearance led to the discovery of the bodies. Her family believes she was murdered while trying to escape a dangerous situation. But Suffolk County detectives didn’t agree that she was a victim of the Long Island Serial Killer.
Police are still focused on the six unsolved cases along Ocean Parkway.
Heuermann’s arrest also led to more evidence that has taken law enforcement across state lines. Police are paying close attention to properties in South Carolina and Nevada, and investigators are re-examining a case in Atlantic City involving four sex workers found dead in 2006.
This is a PIX11 News Special – Hunt: The Gilgo Beach Serial Killer. Watch the video player for more on this story.