Alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer charged with murder of the last of the ‘Gilgo Four’

Rex Heuermann, right, appears in Suffolk County Supreme Court with attorney Michael Brown on Nov. 15, 2023, in Riverhead, N.Y.
Rex Heuermann, right, appears in Suffolk County Supreme Court with attorney Michael Brown on Nov. 15, 2023, in Riverhead, N.Y. | James Carbone, Newsday via Associated Press

The alleged “Gilgo Beach Serial Killer” has been charged again, this time with the 2007 murder of 25-year-old Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

This is the fourth murder charge leveled against 59-year-old Rex Heuermann, who was charged with murder in the cases of Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy and Amber Lynn Costello last year, per The New York Times.

The charges followed a decadeslong investigation of a suspected serial killer in Gilgo Beach in Long Island, New York, where 10 bodies have been found since 2010.


Who was Maureen Brainard-Barnes?

Brainard-Barnes is one of the so-called “Gilgo Four,” the first of four women found deceased along Gilgo Beach in 2010, per ABC 7.

Fox 5 reports Brainard-Barnes was a mother of two who had been living in Connecticut and working as a sex worker at the time of her death. Her daughter, Nicolette Brainard-Barnes, spoke in court Tuesday to comment on Heuermann’s charges and reflect on her memories of her mother.

“I remember she read to me every night, and now I can no longer remember the sound of her voice,” she said. “I wish she was here today, but she was taken from us.”

How did investigators link Rex Heuermann to the murder?

Investigators had publicly linked Heuermann to Brainard-Barnes’ murder since last year but refrained from charging him officially until they had completed their investigation, according to CT Insider.

Heuermann was linked to Brainard-Barnes through DNA evidence and was officially charged Tuesday with second-degree murder, ABC 7 reports. According to court documents, some of the DNA in question was recovered when investigators trailed Heuermann’s daughter and collected a sample from a can she had been drinking from.

Investigators have also used DNA evidence to link Heuermann to the murders of the other Gilgo Four women. The New York Times reports that the DNA profile from hair found on Megan Waterman’s body in 2010 is a match to DNA obtained from a pizza slice Heuermann discarded.

Additionally, ABC reports that hair from Heuermann’s now-estranged wife, Asa Ellerup, was found on some of the remains. Prosecutors have clarified that they will not be charging Ellerup with any involvement in the murders, as bank records have confirmed she was out of town at the time of Brainard-Barnes’ death.

Her hair is being presented as evidence that Heuermann committed the murder; namely, that he must have inadvertently picked up her hair and transferred it to his alleged victims’ bodies.

Ellerup has filed for divorce and is expected to appear in a Peacock series documenting the ongoing court case, per CBS.

It is unclear whether police are investigating Heuermann for any other murders. NBC reports Heuermann has been connected to three other women found deceased on Gilgo Beach: 24-year-old Valerie Mack, 24-year-old Shannan Gilbert and 34-year-old Karen Vergata.

Heuermann is expected back in court on Feb. 6, per CBS.