Police have finally made an arrest in a case that looked like it’d never be solved. In July 0f 2023, Rex Heuermann was arrested for the murders of three women who are thought to be victims of the Long Island Beach Killer. Though Heuermann has been arrested, he is still presumed innocent until proven guilty. Currently, Heuermann maintains his innocence and has hired an attorney. Here’s what we know as of July 20, 2023.
What Were the Long Island Beach Killings?
The Long Island Beach Killings, also referred to as the Gilgo Beach Murders, commonly refer to a series of murders that occurred from 1996 to 2011. At the time of this blog, there is no way for the public to know how many victims found in Long Island Beach were murdered by one person. However, it is commonly believed that there were ten victims of the Long Island Beach Serial Killer, and there are an additional eight possible victims. Until the killer confesses, there will be no way to know with any certainty how many victims there are. And even if a serial killer confesses, their confessions aren’t always reliable as some serial killers have been observed to confess to crimes they didn’t commit in order for personal gain such as postponing an execution or increasing notoriety.
How’d They Crack the Case?
Police had been looking into Long Island resident Rex Huermann for quite some time. Apparently, they’d been collecting evidence against him since March 2022. After reviewing the evidence, police were able to hone in on vehicle information and cellular data. Once they identified Rex Huermann as a suspect, they surveilled him both physically and electronically. Heuermann discarded some pizza boxes in a public trash can outside of his office, from which authorities were able to obtain a DNA sample and match it with DNA found on the victims. Heuermann’s wife’s hair was also found on multiple victims. Currently, police do not suspect that the wife is involved in any capacity, as it appears she was out of state at the time of the murders.
Many of the victims of the Long Island Beach Serial Killer were sex workers. Sex work is a career that many men and women do not enter in lightly, or willingly. A large number of sex workers may feel as though they do not have other options due to homelessness, substance abuse, and other socio-economic issues. Issues such as mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness, tend to impact the stability of a person’s life. It’s very common for sex workers, especially ones who struggle with homelessness or substance abuse, to move around from location to location. In some cases, they lose contact with friends or family. Due to the aforementioned, there’s often a delay in filing a missing persons report. Furthermore, due to the stigma of being a sex worker, police tend to take missing persons reports less seriously, and perform a less thorough investigation.
Victim blaming hasn’t gone out of style in 2023. It’s still not uncommon to hear someone say something along the lines of, “Well, she shouldn’t have been a prostitute, it’s obviously dangerous.” Unfortunately, such comments are unhelpful, reductive, and miss the larger issue entirely: sex workers who have been murdered are still human beings. To deny them the basic dignity, compassion, and respect, simply based on the fact they’re human beings, is to show a callous lack of empathy that is not entirely dissimilar to those who murder sex workers. While a man may be in the news, the families of his victims are surely still grieving their loss of a loved one. Currently, it is believed that the following are victims of the Long Island Serial Killer: Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, Amber Lynn Costello, Valerie Mack, Jessica Taylor. The following are currently unidentified: “Peaches” also known as “Jane Doe No. 3”, “Baby Doe”, “Asian male”, and “Jane Doe No. 7” / “Fire Island Jane Doe”.
These are real people with real families who are grieving a tremendous loss.
There’s More We Don’t Know
Though solved cold cases are always exciting, there’s still a lot we don’t know. We don’t know how many victims there are, or even if Rex Heuermann really is guilty of the crimes.
Although an arrest has been made, it’s still possible that the police have arrested the wrong guy. Without a confession or a trial, we won’t be able to say whether or not we’ve actually caught the killer. While more information will doubtlessly be released, it’s difficult to say what kind of person Heuermann was at home, assuming he actually is the perpetrator. Wives and children of convicted serial killers often recount tales of emotional abuse, physical abuse, and even financial abuse. Many of them have no idea that their father or husband is a serial murderer.
If you, or someone you love is struggling with issues related to homelessness, mental health, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Additionally, you can dial 211 to find out about resources that are available to you.