Long Island Serial Killings

Crime laboratory officers arrive to the house where a suspect has been taken into custody on New York’s Long Island in connection with a long-unsolved string of killings, known as the Gilgo Beach murders, Friday in Massapequa Park, N.Y. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Associated Press

A New York architect has been charged with murder in the deaths of a Maine woman and two other victims in a long-unsolved string of serial killings on Long Island known as the Gilgo Beach murders.

Megan Waterman’s teenage daughter silently stood with her aunt Friday afternoon as Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney detailed the years-long investigation that led to the arrest of Rex Heuermann.

Megan Waterman of Scarborough went missing from Happauge, Long Island, New York, in June 2010.

Heuermann, 59, has lived for decades across a bay from where the remains of 11 people were found. He is charged with first- and second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy and Amber Costello. Authorities say he is also the “prime suspect” in another killing.

Waterman, who grew up in South Portland and Scarborough, was one of four people whose remains police found in partially buried burlap bags near the town of Gilgo Beach in December 2010. Most, including Waterman, were victims of sex trafficking.

The case has drawn immense public attention for many years, and the unsolved killings were the subject of the 2020 Netflix film “Lost Girls.”

Police arrested Heuermann at his home late Thursday, investigators said, after more than 300 subpoenas and search warrants unearthed a mountain of evidence linking him to at least three slayings.


Police say Waterman, 22, had been taken to New York by her boyfriend, Akeem Cruz, to have sex with other men for money before she disappeared in June 2010. Cruz, who Waterman’s family has said physically abused the single mother, convinced Waterman that her work would allow them to buy a house and be a family. 

Waterman’s family could not be reached Friday to discuss the arrest.

Cruz was later convicted in federal court of transporting women across state lines for prostitution, but police don’t believe he was responsible for Waterman’s death.

Waterman’s daughter Lily, who was just 3 years old when her mother disappeared, told the Press Herald in 2020 that she still held out hope that a breakthrough in the cold case would allow police to catch the person responsible.

“I still wonder sometimes about what her voice sounded like, or her laugh,” she said. “I don’t wish this on anyone, this pain I went through, and go through.”

Residents in Massapequa Park, N.Y., look on as police officers search the house where a suspect was taken into custody Friday in connection with a long-unsolved string of killings known as the Gilgo Beach murders.  Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Associated Press

Police were searching for Shannan Gilbert, 24, another trafficking victim, in December 2010 when they instead found Waterman and three other women.


Determining who killed them, and why, has vexed a slew of seasoned homicide detectives through several changes in police leadership. Last year, an interagency task force was formed with investigators from the FBI, as well as state and local police departments, aimed at solving the case.

The formation of the Gilgo Beach task force represented a renewed commitment to investigating the unsolved killings of mostly young women whose skeletal remains were found along a highway on Long Island, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said.

At a news conference Friday afternoon following Heuermann’s initial court appearance, Tierney, the district attorney, detailed the task force’s investigation and the evidence it uncovered.

Crime laboratory officers arrive to the house where a suspect has been taken into custody on New York’s Long Island in connection with a long-unsolved string of killings, known as the Gilgo Beach murders, Friday in Massapequa Park, N.Y. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Associated Press

Cell tower records linked several burner phones used by the killer – one for each victim – to two locations: one in Massapequa Park, where Heuermann lived, and another in midtown Manhattan, where he worked. Advances in forensic technology allowed investigators to reevaluate DNA evidence from the crime scene that had been unusable in 2010. These leads allowed the task force to identify Heuermann as a suspect only six weeks after its formation, Tierney said.

“The investigation proceeded,” he said. “But also technology proceeded as well.”

Over the next year, investigators used hundreds of search warrants and subpoenas to gather additional evidence linking Heuermann to the crimes, including phone, car and internet search records. In his search internet history, police found what Tierney described as “torture porn” and “women being abused,” as well as more than 200 searches related to the Gilgo case. Heuermann allegedly sought information on how authorities were investigating the case and “compulsively” searched for pictures of the victims and their relatives.


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

In talking about the bodies near Gilgo Beach, investigators have said several times over the years that it is unlikely one person killed all the victims. Tierney said Thursday that his team is continuing to investigate the case and feels good about its chances of connecting Heuermann to at least one more crime: the killing of Maureen Brainard-Barnes of Norwich, Connecticut.

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Tierney said. “I know we have more to accomplish.”

This report contains material from The Associated Press.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.