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Gilgo Beach serial killing suspect charged in deaths of two more women

Rex Heuermann, the suspect in the Gilgo Beach serial killings, was charged Thursday in the deaths of two more women as prosecutors also accused him of maintaining a “planning document” to track his crimes.

The New York architect pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges related to the killings of Sandra Costilla, a 28-year-old whose body was found in 1993, and Jessica Taylor, 20, whose remains were discovered in 2003. Eight years later, more of Taylor’s remains were found along Ocean Parkway in Suffolk County, N.Y., less than a mile from where the bodies of four other women, known as the “Gilgo Four,” were discovered, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney told reporters Thursday. Heuermann previously pleaded not guilty to charges related to the other four killings.

The new charges expand the timeline in a case that remained cold for more than a decade, muddied by conflicts between the officials working it, before investigators began making significant headway in 2022. While authorities have long suspected the Gilgo Beach killer in Taylor’s death, the charge related to Costilla suggests the person responsible for the slayings may have been killing for longer than previously believed.

Heuermann’s attorney, Michael Brown, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post on Thursday. Outside court, Brown told reporters that his client was “obviously in a bad place in terms of the new charges,” the Associated Press reported.

The accusations bring the number of killings that Heuermann is accused of to six, including the Gilgo Four. Over the years, authorities have found the remains of 11 people, many of whom were involved in sex work, in the Gilgo Beach area. Tierney told reporters Thursday that it “would be fair to say” that Heuermann is a suspect in the death of 24-year-old Valerie Mack, whose remains were found in 2011.

In a court record filed Thursday, investigators allege that a search of Heuermann’s home after his July 2023 arrest turned up a document he used to “methodically blueprint and plan out his kills with excruciating detail,” Tierney said. The electronic document contains lists with headers including “problems,” “supplies” and “DS,” which investigators believe is shorthand for “dump site,” the court filing says. At the top of the “DS” list is “Mill Rd,” where remains of Mack and Taylor were found, prosecutors wrote.

DNA, blood stains, finger prints, shoe prints and other items were all listed under the header “problems,” which prosecutors wrote was a “guide on issues to avoid apprehension,” according to the court record. That document, Tierney said Thursday, showed that “his intent was specifically to locate these victims, to hunt them down and to bring them under his control and to kill them.”

After police discovered four bodies near Gilgo Beach, N.Y., mismanagement and infighting let a potential serial killer to elude authorities for over a decade. (Video: Jackson Barton, Sarah Hashemi/The Washington Post)

Taylor was last seen around July 19, 2003, and spoke to her mother by phone two days later, Tierney said. On July 25, 2003, Taylor’s family reported her as missing when she didn’t go home to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., for her mother’s birthday. Costilla was from Trinidad and Tobago and was living in New York before she was killed, prosecutors wrote in the court filing.

Testing linked a male hair found on Costilla’s body and one found underneath Taylor to Heuermann, according to the filing.

The remains of the Gilgo Four, who went missing in the late 2000s, were found in 2010 when police were searching for Shannan Gilbert, a 23-year-old sex worker who disappeared while working in Oak Beach, N.Y. Gilbert’s remains were found in a marsh in December 2011. Police also discovered the remains of six more people — four women, one male and a toddler — in the Gilgo Beach area.

Though officials told the public at the time that the slayings appeared to be the work of a serial killer, they made little progress in identifying a suspect. Tensions between investigators, coupled with a crucial tip from a witness that no one chased for years, kept the case largely cold, The Post reported in August.

But the killings remained of interest to the public. A book, podcasts and a Netflix documentary series all chronicled it.

In 2022, Tierney formed a new task force dedicated to solving the crimes. A break in the case came in January 2023, when investigators collected Heuermann’s DNA from a pizza box and linked it to a sample found on Megan Waterman, a 22-year-old whose body was found in December 2010, according to court documents.

Officials arrested Heuermann seven months later and charged him in the deaths of Waterman; Amber Lynn Costello, 27; and Melissa Barthelemy, 24. In January, prosecutors charged him with in the death of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, after DNA tests of hair from a belt used to restrain her allegedly connected him to the crime.

Maham Javaid, Alexandra Heal and Gus Garcia-Roberts contributed to this report.

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