MILLER PLACE, N.Y. (PIX11) — In a jaw-dropping claim that took the Suffolk County district attorney by surprise, lawyer John Ray appeared with Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison at a Wednesday press conference and said he had four witnesses that tied Rex Heuermann to two other victims in the Gilgo Beach investigation.
“He was a serial user of sex workers,” John Ray said of Heuermann. “They would sometimes come to his house, sometimes two at a time.”
Ray said the first witness made a claim that Heuermann belonged to a “swingers club,” Le Trapeze, which was based in Midtown Manhattan, not far from where Heuermann worked as an architect. The witness said Heuermann had posted on a wall at Le Trapeze 27 years ago, asking for a sexual encounter at his Massapequa Park home.
The woman said her boyfriend in 1996 was an NYPD detective, referred to in a sworn affidavit as R.W.
“In February 1996, R.W. picked up a woman I believe to be Karen Vergata in New York City, on the way to the Heuermann house,” the alleged witness said. “She was hungry and homeless.”
Vergata was identified this year as Jane Doe #7, whose legs had washed up on Fire Island in April 1996. Her skull was discovered in 2011 in Tobay Beach, during the Gilgo investigation.
The witness said she, her date and the woman called “Karen” entered the Heuermann home and she met Heuermann’s wife.
“Karen went downstairs,” the witness wrote. “I stayed upstairs. My partner, who I believe was bisexual, kept disappearing. I believed he was elsewhere in the house, having sex with Rex. I believe I had sex with Rex as well. I never went downstairs.”
The witness said when she and the off-duty detective left Heuermann’s house, “The woman I believe to be Karen suddenly ran outside, naked, and ran about by the garage. RW had gone to the back of the house to look for his belt, but he was then back in the car. RW told me not to worry about her, that she was okay, they were only playing a game. We left without her. I felt uneasy that we left without the woman.”
When PIX11 News asked Commissioner Harrison if this allegation made Heuermann a prime suspect in the dismemberment murder of Vergata, he responded, “We have the information. We’re working on it.”
The police commissioner said he actually sat down and listened to the affidavit of a second Ray witness, a female taxi driver who believes she encountered Heuermann twice — and Oak Beach victim Shannan Gilbert once — in the fall of 2009.
In one instance, the cab driver said she was dispatched to pick up a woman at the Sayville Motor Lodge on Sunrise Highway, a notorious location for prostitution which was recently shut down by the federal government.
“I saw a dark, apparently greenish-grey SUV on a side street close to the motel,” the second witness said in a sworn affidavit.
The witness said “a very large man came out. He tried to block his face with his arms. Then a girl ran out. She was petite. She was crying and shaking.”
The taxi driver said the scared woman got into her car and said she was glad to get away, claiming the man filled up her envelope with cut-up paper instead of the $1,000 she was promised.
“I saw her on TV when she was identified as Shannan Gilbert,” the second witness said. “I am certain that the girl was Shannan Gilbert.”
The taxi driver said she later encountered Heuermann a second time near Exit 59 on the Long Island Expressway when she responded to a call.
“When I arrived at the bar, I observed an extraordinarily large man wearing an army-like fatigue jacket,” the second witness said.
The driver said the passenger wanted to go for “a long drive into the woods” with a woman.
The driver said the man got agitated when she refused and said “he wanted to kill me if I would just give him a reason to do so.”
The cabbie said she then heard the click of a gun, before her dispatcher called the cops.
Ray said a third witness currently living in Oklahoma City contacted him and said she performed sexual services for Heuermann at a Queens park and he had threatened to kill her at one point. This woman did not sign a sworn statement.
A fourth witness said she, too, had been hired for sex by Heuermann, but he was always nice to her.
Commissioner Harrison said he was willing to listen to tips received by Ray because “people don’t always want to use our Crime Stoppers hotline.”
Harrison said the cab driver who spoke of two alleged encounters with Heuermann “had no stake in this,” referring to the criminal case.
But Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, who is personally prosecuting Heuermann for three murders of women discovered on Ocean Parkway, was taken aback by the press conference and issued the following statement.
“Without providing any advance notice to the prosecutors pursuing this case in court or the Gilgo Beach Homicide Task Force members investigating these murders day in and day out, we watched today’s press conference not knowing what was going to be reported. We will continue to investigate this case through the Grand Jury process and not through press conferences. No private attorneys are or have ever been members or agents of the Task Force.
Any citizen who believes that they have relevant evidence regarding the Gilgo Beach investigation should report it to the investigative agencies that comprise the Task Force. Those agencies are the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the Suffolk County Police Department’s Homicide Bureau, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Any attorneys representing victims or their families, by definition have a conflict of interest and should not be a part of the investigation. Accordingly, private attorneys are not part of the Task Force and potential witnesses should not be reaching out to a private attorney with an interest in the outcome of the case.”Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney