NORTH BELLMORE, N.Y. (PIX11) — When part of Tanya Rush’s body was discovered in a black suitcase near the Southern State Parkway in June 2008, police didn’t know the mystery of who killed her would linger for 15 years.

The Brooklyn mother of three daughters, who was 39, had turned to sex work after she developed a bad drug habit.

With the July 13th arrest of architect Rex Heuermann in the Gilgo Beach serial killer case, Rush’s unsolved murder is getting another look, along with many others.

Rush’s friend, Willie Stembridge, told PIX11 News Tanya Rush was his neighbor at Van Dyck Houses in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He said Rush used to street walk near the Linden and Galaxy hotels; she often worked near New Lots and Pennsylvania Avenues.

Police are now investigating whether she was ever picked up by the accused serial killer, who could have conceivably taken the Belt Parkway into the Southern State Parkway on his way home to Massapequa Park in Nassau County.

Rex Heuermann has not been charged in the Tanya Rush murder.

And he has pleaded not guilty to killing three women who were online escorts. The victims were found bound in camouflage burlap in the brush off Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach in December 2010.

But multiple homicide investigators we spoke with said it would be a “given” for detectives to look again at cases like Rush’s, especially since she was a sex worker like the Gilgo victims—and because her body was found near a highway on Long Island’s south shore.

PIX11 visited the site where Rush’s body part was found with state police investigators in 2014 while doing one of our Mary Murphy Mystery segments.

The investigators told us they had “no witness accounts” of anyone dropping the body on the westbound entrance ramp to the Southern State at Exit 25, Newbridge Road in North Bellmore.

If you drive several exits to the east, you reach spots like the Wantagh Highway south and others that take you to the Massapequa area, where Heuermann has lived his entire life.

When we interviewed a senior state police investigator in 2014, he told us he wasn’t convinced that Tanya Rush was killed where she lived in Brooklyn. He felt she could have been murdered elsewhere.

Tanya Rush’s unsolved “murder in a suitcase” is not the only one of its kind with a connection to Long Island.

Just a year before, in March 2007, a black suitcase with a woman’s torso washed up on a beach in Mamaroneck, Westchester County. The unknown victim’s clothing—a velvety nightgown, T-shirt, and sweatpants—was stuffed into the suitcase. 

Two weeks later, the woman’s legs were found on the other side of Long Island Sound on Long Island’s north shore, one leg in Cold Spring Harbor and the other in Cove Neck.

A police source told PIX11’s Mary Murphy investigators think the remains might have been originally dumped on the north shore before the black suitcase was pushed across the Long Island Sound to Mamaroneck during a storm.

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Gilgo Beach Murders

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When we asked New York State Police about the Tanya Rush case and its potential link to the Gilgo investigation, we received an e-mail statement:

The Tanya Rush case is an open and ongoing investigation…all leads, new and old, get fully investigated.

New York State Police spokesperson

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, who is leading the Gilgo Beach prosecution, told PIX11 News that “protocols” have now been established for sharing evidence with other jurisdictions.

Judge Timothy Mazzei recently ordered Rex Heuermann to comply with a DNA swab requested by Tierney’s office.