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Father-of-two charged with multiple murders in Long Island serial killer case

 Law enforcement officials are seen at home of a suspect (Getty Images)
Law enforcement officials are seen at home of a suspect (Getty Images)

A man has been charged in connection with the long-unsolved killings of women whose bodies were found on Long Island’s Gilgo Beach.

US media identified the suspect as Rex Heuermann, 59, of nearby Massapequa Park, New York.

Detectives pursuing a new lead say they matched DNA from a pizza he ate to genetic material found on women’s remains.

CBS News said documents show that married father-of-two Heuermann has been accused of three counts of first degree murder and three counts of second degree murder in the deaths of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello.

The trio and Maureen Brainard-Barnes were all found close to one another in 2010.

In total, the remains of at least 11 victims were found in the area and are believed to be the work of the so-called “Long Island serial killer”.

Heuermann was arrested at his home late on Thursday night by Suffolk County Police and is being arraigned in Suffolk County Court, Riverhead.

At a news conference, Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone said the “developments take us a major step forward” in securing justice for victims and families.

A renewed investigation tied him to a pickup truck a witness reported seeing when one of the victims disappeared.

In March, detectives tailing Heuermann recovered his DNA from pizza crust in a box that he’d discarded in a Manhattan bin and matched it to DNA from a hair found on a restraint used in the killings, authorities said.

At the time, detectives were searching for missing woman Shannan Gilbert when they found the remains of four others wrapped in burlap sacks.

Police released audio last year from an emergency call made by Ms Gilbert just before she vanished.

The following spring, six more bodies were found around near Gilgo Beach.

Most of the victims were sex workers. Their deaths long baffled investigators, a mystery that fuelled immense public attention and led to a 2020 Netflix film Lost Girls. But no arrests had ever been made.

Heuermann’s lawyer Michael Brown entered a not guilty plea on his behalf Friday in the state court, saying they’d just learned about the charges that morning.

Speaking to reporters after the arraignment, he said Heuermann told him: “I didn’t do this.”

Residents living near Heuerman told CBS News they were “stunned”.

Neighbour Etienne DeVilliers said Heuermann, who has a wife and two children, worked as an architect.

“We’ve been here for about 30 years, and the guy’s been quiet, never really bothers anybody. We were kind of shocked, to tell you the truth,” she added.

Long Island victims Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello (REUTERS)
Long Island victims Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello (REUTERS)

"Like I said, we’re shocked. Because this is a very, very quiet neighbourhood. Everybody knows each other, all of our neighbours, we’re all friendly. It’s never been a problem at all.”

Actor Billy Baldwin, younger sibling of Alec Baldwin, tweeted on Friday that he went to high school with Heuermann.

“Woke up this morning to learn that the Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect was my high school classmate Rex Heuermann,” adding they went to Massapequa’s Berner High School and graduated in 1981.