Rex Heuermann, the suspected Long Island serial killer, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, prosecutors in New York said on Tuesday.
Brainard-Barnes — a woman who worked as a sex escort — disappeared in 2007 and is believed to be the first victim of the “Gilgo Four.” Heuermann was charged in connection with the unsolved murders of Megan Waterman, Amber Costello and Melissa Barthelemy, all of whom were sex workers in their 20s.
Heuermann, a 60-year-old married father and architect on Long Island, was arrested in July 2023 and charged with first-degree murder for the deaths of Waterman, Costello and Barthelemy. His lawyer, Michael Brown, said Heuermann pleaded not guilty on Tuesday morning to Brainard-Barnes’s death and maintains his innocence for all charges against him. He is being held without bail. His next court date has been set for Feb. 6.
“This indictment marks a change in the investigation,” Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney said Tuesday during a press conference announcing the charges. “The grand jury investigation of the so-called Gilgo Four is over and has been concluded, and we will proceed with those cases in court.”
All of the bodies of the women were found over a decade ago, bound in a deserted spot on the north side of Long Island’s Ocean Parkway, near Gilgo Beach.
Here’s a look back at the details of the case.
Brainard-Barnes, a 25-year-old Connecticut mother, disappeared on the night of July 9, 2007, while working as an escort. According to Suffolk County police, Brainard-Barnes told a friend she was meeting up with someone outside the motel she was working from for an “out-call,” or a visit by an escort to a person soliciting sex.
Investigators say a friend reported her missing five days later to the Norwich Police Department in Connecticut. She was found on Dec. 13, 2010, wrapped in a belt that bore the initials of Heuermann’s father.
“There was hair recovered from Maureen Brainard-Barnes from a belt buckle that was around her legs,” Tierney said, describing Maureen as an intellectual and artistic person who “fiercely protected” the people she loved.
According to ABC, prosecutors cited travel and cellphone records they found in a storage unit leased by Heuermann that revealed that his now-estranged wife, Asa Ellerup, and children had traveled out of town around the time of Brainard-Barnes’s disappearance. This follows a pattern of the circumstances around the disappearance of the three other women.
Megan Waterman was 22 years old and the mother to a 3-year-old girl when she was last seen on June 6, 2010, by her family on the way to New York on a Concord Trailways bus.
Waterman, a resident of Scarborough, Maine, was a sex worker who advertised on Craigslist and Backpage. Suffolk County police say Waterman left a Long Island Holiday Inn Express at 1:30 a.m. on the day she went missing to see a client and called her pimp to tell him she was on her way to a nearby convenience store.
Two days later, family members reported Waterman missing to the Scarborough Police Department. Her skeletal remains were found on Dec. 11, 2010, near marshy grasslands on Gilgo Beach.
Costello, a 27-year-old Clearwater, Fla., native, was living in West Babylon on Long Island and working as an escort when she was last seen leaving the house she shared with roommates on Sept. 2, 2010, to meet up with a client. According to Suffolk County police, she had just completed drug rehab for heroin addiction but had relapsed right before her disappearance.
Costello was found three months later, on Dec. 13, 2010, the same day as Brainard-Barnes’s remains were found. Police believe she is the fourth victim.
The 24-year-old woman — a sex worker who advertised on the website Adult Friend Finder — was last seen at her Bronx home on July 12, 2009. According to police, Barthelemy told a friend she was meeting up with a man and would be back in the morning. Cellphone records reveal she traveled from the Bronx to Manhattan. Her mother reported her missing to the New York Police Department on July 18, 2009, after not being able to contact her.
Suffolk County police say that after Barthelemy had been reported missing, her sister received phone calls from someone believed to be the killer using Barthelemy’s phone near New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal and near Penn Station.
“Do you think you’ll ever see her again?” the unidentified male caller asked Barthelemy’s sister on Aug. 26, 2009, Steve Cohen, who was an attorney for Barthelemy’s mother, told CNN. “You won’t. I killed her,” thee caller said before hanging up.
In another phone call, the man called Barthelemy a “whore,” Cohen said. He also detailed what he had done to Barthelemy sexually during a phone conversation.
On Dec. 11, 2010, a police officer and his dog discovered Barthelemy's remains during a training exercise along Ocean Parkway, according to the Associated Press. It was the same day that Waterman’s remains were found.