Gilgo Beach murders: A timeline of the investigation | Daily Dodge (2024)

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(NEW YORK) — Police have called the Gilgo Beach murders “one of the most consequential homicide investigations” in Long Island’s history.

The search for missing sex worker Shannan Gilbert led to the grisly discovery of 10 other bodies on a stretch of beach along the island’s South Shore.

Now, nearly 13 years after the first victim was discovered, a suspect has been arrested in connection with the case.

New York City architect Rex Heuermann has been charged with the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello, whose bodies were found covered in burlap in December 2010, according to court records.

Heuermann, 59, a married father of two, was later charged in the death of a fourth victim, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, who was also found that month, according to the court document.

The four victims have become known as the “Gilgo Four”; the Craigslist escorts were found along the beach about 500 feet from each other, and all died by homicidal violence, according to officials.

In June 2024, the case took an even more shocking turn when Heuermann was charged with two more murders, including one dating back to 1993, well before the others were killed, and whose remains were located in Southampton, an hour east of Gilgo Beach.

Here’s a timeline of the investigation.

July 9, 2007

Brainard-Barnes, 25, is last seen alive in New York City, according to prosecutors.

July 10, 2009

Barthelemy, 24, is last seen alive in New York City, according to prosecutors.

May 1, 2010

Gilbert, 23, goes missing after fleeing from a client’s home in Oak Beach, near Gilgo Beach, according to police. Her disappearance prompts several searches in the area.

June 6, 2010

Waterman, 22, is last seen alive at the Holiday Inn in Hauppauge, New York, according to prosecutors.

Sept. 2, 2010

Costello, 27, is last seen alive at her home in West Babylon, New York, according to prosecutors.

Dec. 11, 2010

An officer conducting a search for Gilbert with his police K9 along Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach — near her last known location — discovers a set of human remains that are later identified to be those of Barthelemy, police said.

Dec. 13, 2010

During a search of the area, police find the remains of Brainard-Barnes, Waterman and Costello within a quarter mile of where Barthelemy’s remains were recovered, police said.

March 29, 2011

Amid the continued search for Gilbert, police find partial skeletal remains several miles east of where the Gilgo Beach Four were found belonging to Jessica Taylor, a 20-year-old sex worker. Other remains from Taylor were previously discovered in Manorville, in eastern Long Island, in July 2003.

April 4, 2011

Police find three sets of remains along Ocean Parkway while searching for Gilbert.

The remains of Valerie Mack, a 24-year-old escort who disappeared while living in Philadelphia, are found about a mile and a half east of Taylor’s remains and a little over 2 miles east of the Gilgo Four. Mack’s partial remains were previously discovered in Manorville in September 2000, and police have suggested there may be a connection to Taylor’s remains.

The remains of an unidentified female toddler are also located in the same area.

The remains of an unidentified man are also discovered closer to the remains of the Gilgo Four. Authorities said the person was about 17 to 23 years old, Asian, and had died five to 10 years before being discovered.

April 11, 2011

Two sets of remains are located off of Ocean Parkway in Nassau County, seven miles west of Gilgo Beach.

One set of remains is determined to be the mother of the female toddler discovered on April 4, 2011. The mother’s partial remains were first discovered in 1997 in Hempstead Lake State Park.

The second set, known as Jane Doe Seven, is confirmed to belong to an unidentified victim whose remains were located on Fire Island in 1996.

Dec. 13, 2011

Gilbert’s remains are found in marshland near Oak Beach. Her death is later ruled as an accidental drowning, though her family maintains they believe she was murdered.

January 2022

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office creates a task force to conduct a comprehensive review of evidence in the investigation.

March 14, 2022

Heuermann first comes up as a suspect in the investigation, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. Heuermann was tracked through his car, a Chevrolet Avalanche, according to court documents. A witness to Costello’s disappearance reported seeing a Chevrolet Avalanche at Costello’s home, court records stated.

July 13, 2023

Heuermann is arrested in Manhattan at his midtown office. Investigators matched DNA from hair recovered from the burlap used to wrap Waterman’s body to leftover pizza crust Heuermann threw into a Manhattan garbage can in January 2023, according to court documents.

Detectives also tracked Heuermann through cellphone records, according to court records. Tierney said cellphone mapping led investigators to zero in on areas in midtown Manhattan and Massapequa Park, where Heuermann lives.

July 14, 2023

Defense attorney Michael Brown enters a not guilty plea on Heuermann’s behalf at his arraignment for three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree murder. Heuermann was ordered held on no bail.

Aug. 4, 2023

Authorities announce they have identified Jane Doe No. 7, whose remains were first located on Fire Island in 1996, as 34-year-old Karen Vergata. More of her remains were found on April 11, 2011, on Long Island’s Tobay Beach.

There are no charges at this time, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney says.

June 6, 2024

Heuermann is charged with two more murders after investigators spent months combing through evidence taken from his family home and following searches of a wooded area in Manorville.

He is charged with the 2003 murder of Taylor, whose remains were found on Long Island in Gilgo Beach in March 2011, and in Manorville in July 2003, and the 1993 murder of Sandra Costilla, whose remains were found in North Sea, Long Island, in 1993, according to court documents.

DNA, including a hair found on a drape under Taylor’s body, ties Heuermann to both murders, according to prosecutors.

Costilla’s murder was initially suspected to have been the work of a different killer, John Bittrolff, but advanced DNA now points to Heuermann, prosecutors said.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky, Jon Haworth, Emily Shapiro, Josh Margolin, Mark Osborne and Mark Crudele contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Gilgo Beach murders: A timeline of the investigation | Daily Dodge (2024)


Did they find the Gilgo Beach Killer? ›

Heuermann was arrested in July 2023 near his midtown Manhattan office and eventually charged with the murders of three women, whose bodies were discovered bound with belts or tape and wrapped in burlap along a stretch of Long Island's Gilgo Beach in 2010.

Who was Valerie Mack? ›

Valerie Mack, 24, who had been working as an escort in Philadelphia, disappeared in 2000 and was last seen by her family in Port Republic, New Jersey, near Atlantic City. Some of her skeletal remains were discovered that year in the Manorville woods.

When did Melissa Barthelemy go missing? ›

July 10, 2009: Melissa Barthelemy, a 24-year-old sex worker, is last seen at her apartment in the Bronx. She tells a friend she is going to see a man and would be back in the morning. Cellphone location data puts her phone's last known location on Long Island.

When was the first Gilgo victim found? ›

Heuermann's arrest in July came more than a decade after the first bodies were discovered on Gilgo Beach in 2010. He was first identified as a suspect in Costello's death in March of 2022 when investigators linked him to a pickup that was reportedly seen by a witness in 2010.

Who was the prime suspect in the Gilgo Beach Murders? ›

What we know about Rex Heuermann, suspect in Gilgo Beach murders that shook Long Island more than a decade ago. Rex Heuermann was arrested in 2023 in connection with the unsolved serial killings of women found along a New York beach highway more than a decade ago.

Who is the serial killer in custody of Gilgo Beach? ›


-- Rex Heuermann has been behind bars for nine months since his 2023 arrest for the Gilgo Beach killings. On Wednesday, he appeared in court, where his lawyers made new requests to the judge.

Did Valerie Mack have a child? ›

Mack left behind a young son at the time of her death. Mack was never reported missing.

Has peaches been identified? ›

As of 2024, she remains unidentified, and her skull has yet to be found.

Were the Gilgo four dismembered? ›

Investigators say that the fifth and sixth bodies that were found were dismembered, unlike the "Gilgo Four." Only the head and hands of the women were found on Gilgo Beach. The rest of their bodies had been found 20 years earlier, 40 miles away, in Manorville.

What was found in Rex Heuermann's house? ›

The first search of Heuermann's property shortly after he was detained turned up more than 200 guns in a basem*nt vault. Police pored over the area between his house and nearby storage containers and dug through his yard with shovels and a yellow excavator.

Who is the suspected serial killer in Long Island? ›

Gilgo Beach Murders: Suspected serial killer Rex Heuermann charged in deaths of 2 more women, expanding timeline by some 20 years - ABC7 New York.

Who is the serial killer in Massapequa? ›

Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann was identified after his DNA was found on discarded pizza, pictured here. Massapequa Park is about 15 miles from Gilgo Beach, where a total of 10 bodies of murder victims — eight women, an Asian man dressed as a woman and a toddler — were found in 2010 and 2011.

Who was responsible for the Gilgo Beach murders? ›

In new charges unveiled Thursday, prosecutors said Rex Heuermann — the man already accused in a string of deaths known as the Gilgo Beach serial killings — was responsible for the death of one of the women, Sanda Costilla.

Did they solve the Gilgo Beach murders? ›

On July 14, law-enforcement officials on Long Island announced that, after a 12-year investigation, they had solved the Gilgo Beach serial-killer case.

How long was Leslie Mahaffy held captive? ›

Her braces and dental records confirmed her identity. Investigators immediately believed she had been raped and tortured. This was confirmed when videotapes were discovered in the home of Bernardo and hom*olka. The tapes show that she was held hostage for approximately 24 hours and repeatedly assaulted and sodomized.

When was John Bittrolff caught? ›

John Bittrolff
Span of crimes1993–1994
CountryUnited States
State(s)New York
Date apprehendedJuly 21, 2014
10 more rows

Where was Lorraine Benson found? ›

Lorraine Benson's body was found beaten and strangled at Raynes Park, Surrey, in December 1988. Considering the possibility of linked offences, a murder squad was set up to work alongside a team already investigating a rape series in the Kingston area.

Who is the Gilgo Beach Killer profile? ›

Jim Clemente profiled the Gilgo Beach Killer (based on the first four bodies that were discovered) as an organized white male in his mid-20s to mid-40s, who is married or has a girlfriend, is well-educated and well-spoken, has a stable job, owns an expensive car or truck, and is very familiar with Jones Beach Island, ...

How old is Rex Heuermann? ›

Rex Heuermann, a 60-year-old architect charged with killing four women on the South Shore of Long Island, was charged Thursday with killing two more women—one of whom was found near Gilgo Beach and one who was found in the Hamptons—marking the latest victims in an alleged killing spree that seemingly spanned decades.

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