HomeTop StoriesInvestigation into suspected serial murders at Gilgo Beach expands to Nevada and...

Investigation into suspected serial murders at Gilgo Beach expands to Nevada and South Carolina

Investigations into Gilgo Beach serial murder suspect Rex Heuermann are now sweeping across the country as investigators investigate his connections to Las Vegas and South Carolina, where the suspect may have owned property.

Las Vegas police are searching their list of unsolved cases for any sign that Heuermann may have been involved, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department confirmed in a statement.

Although Heuermann lived in Long Island, New York, he and his wife had purchased two timeshare apartments in Las Vegas between 2003 and 2005, according to property records obtained by CNN. The couple has since sold the first property, records show, and it is unclear whether they still own the second.

The 59-year-old architect and father of two was arrested in New York City last week and charged with murder in the deaths of three of the “Gilgo Four,” a group of four women whose remains were found along a short stretch of Long Island’s Gilgo Beach in 2010.

Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello. He remains the prime suspect in the murder of the fourth victim, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, but has yet to be charged in the case.

On Wednesday, Heuermann’s wife, Asa Ellerup, filed for divorce, her attorney Robert Macedonio told CNN. Macedonio confirmed that a subpoena and complaint to commence divorce proceedings on behalf of his client has been filed under seal with the Suffolk County Supreme Court.

As authorities search Heuermann’s home, office and storage area, they believe the suspect continued his alleged killing spree after the bodies of the Gilgo Four were discovered, a source familiar with the case told CNN.

The Chester County sheriff’s office in northern South Carolina, where tax records show Heuermann owns four large properties, says it has been gathering evidence for the Gilgo Beach investigative group since the suspect’s arrest.

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According to neighbor Steve Caston, who lives off a dirt road belonging to the brother and borders land owned by Heuermann, authorities were seen late last week driving a truck that belonged to Heuermann’s brother. Caston described deputies lining up with “assault rifles” and “the whole nine yards” as the vehicle was impounded, but he said the scene was “pretty quiet” with “no screams, no screams.”

A Chevy Avalanche truck seized at the property is being searched for evidence, sources told CNN.

FBI investigators also spoke with neighbors in the rural South Carolina neighborhood on Tuesday. While a CNN crew was talking to Caston at his home, he was approached by two plainclothes men who identified themselves as FBI agents and asked the neighbor to contact them later that day.

Melissa Barthelemy, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Amber Lynn Costello and Megan Waterman – Suffolk County Police Department

The multi-agency cold case task force is “actively investigating” whether Heuermann may have had more alleged victims as they mull over a deluge of tips and new evidence, Suffolk County Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Carter said Monday.

In New York, detectives re-interviewed two sex workers after they recently learned Heuermann allegedly proposed to them several years ago, Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon told CNN Wednesday.

The connection only came about recently after a cross-reference to one of Heuermann’s burner phone logs, the sheriff said. Authorities have said whoever killed the four victims used burner phones to contact the victims.

Neither of the two women interviewed again ever met Heuermann, who Toulon says used an alias to contact them. They described their phone conversations with him as “just like any other John,” Toulon said.

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“We are now contacting not only every woman in our custody, but we are interviewing or at least building a relationship with those who were previously in our custody to see if they know anything about him or if they were specifically related to him,” the sheriff said.

Heuermann’s family were stunned when authorities informed them of the harrowing allegations against him, Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said Monday. “They were outraged. They were ashamed,” he said.

“So if you ask me, I don’t think they knew about this double life that Heuermann led.”

Long-dormant investigations get a stream of evidence

Authorities remove evidence from Massapequa Park, Long Island, home of suspect Rex Heuermann on July 18.  -John Minchillo/AP

Authorities remove evidence from Massapequa Park, Long Island, home of suspect Rex Heuermann on July 18. -John Minchillo/AP

As detectives search Heuermann’s home, they’re primarily focused on gathering forensic evidence, but they’re also looking for things that may be mementos of the murders, including items hidden or stashed where family members wouldn’t find them, according to a source with knowledge of the case.

Any items found must then be shown to the victim’s family and friends, a process that could take some time, the source said.

The search has so far revealed a cache of between 200 and 300 firearms stashed in a safe behind a locked metal door — far more than the 92 firearms authorities knew Heuermann had registered in the state, the source said.

Prosecutors have detailed a wealth of evidence used to link Heuermann to at least three of the Gilgo Four murders, including credit card bills, cell phone records and DNA evidence.

The bodies of the four women were among a series of 11 sets of human remains found scattered along Long Island’s south coast between 2010 and 2011, sparking what police called “one of the most sweeping homicide investigations” in the island’s history.

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Striking similarities soon emerged between the cases of the four women. Each of the remains was bound in camouflaged burlap and hidden along the same quarter-mile stretch of Ocean Parkway, authorities said. The women — who disappeared between 2007 and 2010 — all worked as escorts and advertised their services on Craigslist, according to police.

But it took researchers more than a decade to match the DNA of a male hair found on the burlap wrapper with a sample of Heuermann’s DNA surreptitiously collected from a pizza crust the suspect threw out after the cases reopened, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said.

Investigators were able to use cell phone and credit card information to identify several instances where Heuermann was in the general location when burner phones were used to call the victims, according to a bail filing.

The evidence gleaned from the search warrants is being examined by criminologists at the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory, who are going through each piece “inch by inch,” Tierney told CNN Wednesday.

“This is a laborious process, it is a long process and we are going to let that process happen. We’re going to inventory all that evidence, we’re going to analyze it and then we can talk about it,” the prosecutor said.

Tierney said detectives will be interviewing “a large number of people” in the coming days as the investigation moves into a new phase.

While prosecutors have said Heuermann is the prime suspect in the fourth Brainard-Barnes murder, Police Commissioner Harrison said Monday that charges in that case “could take a while.” A hair follicle researcher has had to take a DNA test as evidence, but has been damaged, he said.

Meanwhile, he said: “It’s very good that we got this animal off the street.”

CNN’s Scott Glover, Jeff Winter, Dianne Gallagher, Wes Bruer, Lauren Mascarenhas, Brynn Gingras, John Miller and Samantha Beech contributed to this report.

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