Accused Gilgo killer indicted in murders of 2 more women, including previously unknown victim

What to Know Rex Heuermann, 60, was first arrested in July 2023 in the deaths of three of the four women whose remains were found in burlap sacks along a remote stretch of Gilgo Beach’s Ocean Parkway in 2010; the fourth murder was added in a superseding indictment in January 2024

The architect from NYC pleaded not guilty in their cases; other sets of remains were found amid that investigation. He is charged with murdering one of those women — Jessica Taylor — and a previously unknown victim, Sandra Costilla, whose case dates back to 1993

Heuermann pleaded not guilty to the new charges against him; a planning document for his alleged kills was seized at his home during a recent search, according to the bail application

The New York City architect arrested last year in connection with a string of cold case bodies found on Long Island’s Gilgo Beach has been charged with murder in the deaths of two more victims, including one whose name hadn’t been publicly associated with the investigation prior to Thursday, according to a superseding bail application.

Accused serial killer Rex Heuermann pleaded not guilty to the new charges, his lawyer said. They include the killings of Jessica Taylor, whose hands and forearm were found along Ocean Parkway years after her torso turned up in the Manorville woods; and Sandra Costilla, who allegedly died a violent death by his hands in November 1993.

He is suspected of killing a seventh woman, Valerie Mack, prosecutors said; no charges have been filed in that case.

A superseding indictment unsealed Thursday adds second-degree murder charges involving Taylor and Costilla to a list already accusing Heuermann of murdering four other women more than a decade ago.

“His intent was to locate these victims, hunt them down bring them under his control and kill them,” Suffolk District Attorney Raymond Tierney said during a press conference.

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The DA also revealed for the first time that it was possible Heuermann allegedly committed some of the murders inside of his Massapequa Park home he shared with his wife and kids.

Read the bail application

The 60-year-old was first arrested in July 2023 in the deaths of three of the so-called “Gilgo Four,” whose remains were found in burlap sacks along a remote stretch of Ocean Parkway in 2010. Heuermann was later charged with the fourth.

The bodies of Maureen Brainard-Barnes Amber Lynn Costello, Melissa Barthelemy and Megan Waterman were discovered during a search for a missing escort, Shannan Gilbert, who later was found dead in a marsh. Her case was ruled an accidental drowning, though attorneys for her family maintained the autopsy was inconclusive.

Investigators say Gilbert’s case is not tied to the others.

Additional sets of remains turned up in that search for Gilbert, too. Jessica Taylor was an escort like the others. Map of Gilgo Beach victims

The new charges come after two recent searches tied to the case, which baffled investigators for more than a decade. Investigators returned to Heuermann’s single-family Massapequa Park home not long after they scoured a wooded area in Manorville in connection with the case. A lawyer for Heuermann’s wife said investigators focused primarily on the basement when they returned to the home with a search warrant last month.

According to the bail application, that’s where they found a hard drive. They had to make the data on it accessible (after Heuermann allegedly tried to delete it) and once they did, they discovered a document to “plan out” kills. The discovery of that document, viewable in the court filing above, is what prompted the new search of the woods last month, according to the bail application. Read the full bail application.

The all-caps document, which prosecutors described as Heuerman’s “blueprint” for murder, was allegedly written between 2000 and 2002. It reads like a grocery list with disturbing tasks to complete before, during and after killings. One chilling note reads, “more sleep and noise control equals more play time.”

Under the heading “things to remember,” it reads “gets sleep before hunt” and “consider a hit to the face or neck next time.” A “body prep” checklist includes a note to “remove ID marks [like] tattoos” and “remove head and hands.” Another section lists potential “problems,” citing things like DNA, tire marks, finger prints, possible witnesses and “hair.”

Nothing was found in that April 2024 search, leading investigators to believe the “kill plan” had been intended for Taylor, according to the bail application.

Suffolk DA Tierney said at a news conference Thursday that he hoped the families had received some measure of justice. He thanked multiple agencies at various levels of government for their collaboration and said the investigation, with some deaths still unsolved, would be ongoing.

“Every person that was tragically murdered in Suffolk County is in play,” Tierney said. “We can’t stop. We owe it to the victims.”

Prosecutors said Heuermann is responsible for the murders of Jessica Taylor in 2003 and Sandra Costilla a decade earlier, bringing the total number of murders he has been charged with to six. The DA added that it’s possible the murders may have been committed inside Heuermann’s Massapequa Park home. NBC New York’s Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

Heuermann’s attorney, Michael Brown, said outside court that he couldn’t immediately discuss the new charges.

“Heuermann’s attorney, Michael Brown, entered a not-guilty plea on behalf of his client. Outside of court, Brown said he could not immediately discuss the new charges, but said Heuermann is “obviously in a bad place in terms of the new charges.”

“It’s hard for me to comment without looking at documents and without speaking to my client and looking into the evidence,” Brown told reporters. “It wouldn’t be fair for me to comment at this point in time…You’ve already made that assumption that he’s the one who drafted it, he’s the one who put it out. I don’t know that.”

Heuermann has been held without bail since his initial arrest and was remanded after his arraignment Thursday. No trial date has been set.

Who is new Gilgo victim Sandra Costilla?

In late November 1993, two people out hunting in a wooded area of Southampton, near Old Fish Cove Road and North Sea, found the remains of Sandra Costilla. The victim, who was 28 at the time, was lying on her back with her arms outstretched over her head. There were indications of sexual assault. She also had multiple sharp-force injuries.

A Trinidad and Tobago native, Costilla had been living in New York prior to her disappearance and death.

Three hairs, including a male hair, were recovered from her body during the investigation. After excluding another local now-convicted murderer, John Bittrolff, via DNA evidence, investigators used DNA evidence generated from Costilla’s case in 2014 and compared it to DNA evidence associated with the Gilgo case.

The lab determined that 99.96% of the North American population could be excluded as a contributor of the male hair on Costilla. Heuermann wasn’t in that group, the bail application says.

Suffolk District Attorney Raymond Tierney said at a news conference Thursday that he hoped the families had received some measure of justice.

Another lab independently confirmed the findings.

As in the other cases, the alleged killing happened while Heuermann’s family was away, giving him “unfettered time to execute his plans for each victim” without fear of being caught by his wife or kids, according to prosecutors.

If the charges are true, Costilla is the first known victim.

Costilla’s family couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

What happened to Jessica Taylor?

Jessica Taylor, 20, vanished in July 2003 while working as an escort in midtown Manhattan. Her mother reported her missing when she didn’t show up for a planned get-together in Poughkeepsie. A woman walking her dog in the Manorville woods found some of Taylor’s remains that same year. Her head, hands and forearm were missing.

In 2011, eight years later, Taylor’s missing body parts were found along Ocean Parkway just east of Gilgo Beach, on the same side of the road and less than a mile from where the “Gilgo Four” were found several months earlier, in December 2010. All five of the bodies were dumped within 50 feet of the edge of the parkway, according to the bail application.

Taylor had been decapitated, and someone tried to mutilate one of her tattoos. Investigators allege Heuermann was trying to conceal her identity in the event of facial recognition, fingerprints or tattoo identification. They say he worked in the same area where Taylor was known to “street walk” at the time. Records show Heuermann was also in midtown Manhattan on July 25, 2023, the day Taylor disappeared, according to the bail application.

Court papers indicate he would have been in possession of a vehicle matching the description of one a witness reported at the scene, by the dump site, that July night. Once Taylor’s body was found, Heuermann allegedly tried to cover up an internet search for a new pick-up truck, despite the fact his vehicle was barely over a year.

A male human hair was recovered on Taylor — on a surgical sheet her torso had been on. At the time, in 2003, all investigators knew was that it likely belonged to a white man. Last year, investigators tested that hair against Heuermann’s. As in the Costilla case, 99.96% of the North American population can be excluded. Heuermann, however, cannot be excluded, the bail application says. His family was out of state at the time Taylor disappeared.

Taylor’s family was in attendance for Tierney’s press conference on Thursday. They are being represented by Gloria Allred.

“This year has been 21 years since she was taken from us, longer than the chance that she got to be alive. I can’t express what this day means after waiting and hoping for answers,” said Jasmine Robinson, a cousin of Jessica Taylor.

Heuermann’s two adult children had said, through an attorney, that they were awaiting word on Thursday’s development. They say they stand by their father. They had no immediate comment after Thursday’s hearing.

The attorney for Heuermann’s wife Asa Ellerup said that the latest indictment “further illustrates that [she] has no involvement in any of the alleged crimes that her estranged husband” has been accused of.

“Ms. Ellerup married Rex Heuermann in 1996. She was not residing with Rex Heuermann in the Massapequa Park domicile in 1993, the year Ms. Costilla was murdered,” attorney Robert Macedonio wrote in a written statement. “At the time of the death of Ms. Taylor, Ms. Ellerup was, once again, not in the jurisdiction. As we have previously stated, if Mr. Heuermann committed these homicides, he was living a double life that Ms. Ellerup was unaware of.”

The attorney noted that his client still maintains Heuermann “is not capable of committing these heinous acts.”

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