MASSAPEQUA PARK, NY — Investigators were digging in the backyard of suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann on Sunday.in the case more than ten years ago.
CBS New York’s John Dias spoke to experts about what detectives might be looking for and what comes next on the case.
Heuermann is accused of murdering three women and is the prime suspect in another murder.
Suffolk County Police say they will be at his home in Massapequa Park for a few more days.
“This kind of one-to-two-week period is about comparable, especially with the complexity of a case,” said Paul Bleakley, an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven.
On Sunday, drone video captured an excavator digging a large hole in Heuermann’s backyard as detectives in white safety suits took photos and collected evidence with ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs at work.
“This is a very disorganized killer and that’s why the police are spending a lot more time,” Bleakley said. “They have reason to believe that if this person has made a mistake before, from a traced evidence point of view, there may be other pieces of evidence in their home.”
Legal experts say police may be looking for a murder weapon that the alleged killer may have buried in his yard or evidence to prove this is so.. Experts say they could also try to lock out the house.
“It appears they are gathering some important pieces of evidence that may have been overlooked,” says Herbet Ellis of Ellis Law.
This is all because the question arises whether detectives dropped the ball at the time of the murders more than a decade agowho described Heuermann and his car after an interaction.
“What you have to understand is when they get that, that gets lost in a sea of other tips and information that they get, and at that point there wasn’t really any coherent leadership,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.
A major setback in the case came in 2012 when former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke was sentenced to four years in prison for conspiracy to obstruct justice and violating a victim’s civil rights in a separate case.
Tierney inherited the research when he took office in 2022.
“From a leadership perspective, I can’t say what happened before January 2022, but I can tell you what we did from February 2022. And that’s what we did, and six weeks later we had a suspect,” Tierney said.
Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison says the description didn’t easily match the area of interest: Massapequa Park, where the murdered sex workers were last called.
“We may have gotten that information a few years ago, but we weren’t able to tie it to the Massapequa box, which I’m sure you’re very familiar with, but the one thing I’m not going to do is knock someone who was before me,” Harrison said.
Check out John Dias’ report
Meanwhile, Harrison calls the search for home in Heuermann’s Massapequa Park “fruitful.”
“There are items that we’ve taken possession of that make it fruitful,” Harrison said.
He added that every crevice in the house is being examined.
The top agent confirmed the existence of a walk-in basement with a large iron door.
‘There is no soundproof room. There’s a safe where he’s kept a lot of guns,” Harrison said.
Asked if he believes Heuermann is responsible for more homicides, Harrison added that it’s hard to say, as he said this individual has been on the loose for a long time and that the Gilgo homicide task force will be kept alive.
The lives of the neighbors are turned upside down by the massive crime scene, but they too want to know what the authorities think.
“As long as they have to stay, they have to stay. There are a lot of things that are unresolved,” said neighbor Gina Guerriere.
“Everyone wants to know what’s going on, really, what they’re going to find in that house,” said another neighbor.
Check out Carolyn Gusoff’s report
While the police have been searching the suspect’s house for eleven days, people from far and wide continue to flock to the crime scene.
“I think it’s cool to see everything in action, all the cops,” said Massapequa Park resident Erica Simone.
Neighbors fear their once quiet block will forever remain a spectacle.
“It’s going to be the horror house of Amityville. People come by and stop. It’s going to be a traffic jam,” neighbor Frankie Musto said.
On Monday, the Nassau County Police Department assured the community that when the crime scene tape comes down, the police will still be there.
“We’re monitoring the street to make sure kids aren’t climbing through yards to take some shots or shots on the property,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
Police say they will provide 24-hour surveillance in the days after the detectives leave and intensified patrols will be in place after that.
“We’re putting cameras on the block. We’re going to have enforcement, vehicle traffic enforcement, and we’re going to make sure we don’t turn this into some sort of afterthought,” Ryder said.
Nassau County plans to post “do not stand” signs outside Heuermann’s home so drivers could get a $150 subpoena if they stop.
Heuermann pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail. He is due to appear in court on August 1.