A Long Island architect accused of murder near his home is ‘traumatized’ by his arrest, his attorney says – he fears the massive publicity surrounding the Gilgo Beach killings will deny his client a fair trial.
Rex Heuerman, 59, was arrested Thursday and charged in the 2010 slayings of three sex workers in coastal New York and appeared in court Friday.
His defense attorney, Michael Brown, told ABC News he believed his client was ‘traumatized’ by the allegations when he was brought before a judge.
Heuerman, a married father of two who ran a Manhattan architecture firm, pleaded not guilty. Brown spoke with his client in his jail cell.
‘There was nothing unusual about him to me. He was articulate, he was intelligent, he was soft-spoken,’ the lawyer said.
Alleged serial killer Rex Heuerman, 59, reportedly asked wardens if there was news of his arrest when he arrived at the prison. His attorney, Michael Brown, said his client was composed and ‘lucid.’
Brown said he feared his client would not receive a fair trial because of the publicity surrounding the case
Heuerman is currently being held without bail in the Suffolk County Jail in what the judge called a ‘gross distortion of the charges.’
When Heuerman arrived at the Suffolk County Jail after his arrest, he asked the warden: ‘Is this in the news?’
He has been placed on a suicide watch, according to Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Vicki DeStefano.
He added that the decision was made by the prison’s medical staff, not unusual in cases like Humane’s.
Brown said he was concerned about a fair trial, because Heuerman “has already been vindicated in the media and media public opinion.”
Brown continued: ‘When you have a high profile case like this, the first thing you have to worry about is getting a jury that isn’t biased, that didn’t convict him, just based on what they read in the newspaper and what they heard on social media.
‘So it’s going to be a challenge.’
Brown said the arrest was based on ‘circumstantial evidence’, noting there were no witnesses and his client insisted he was innocent.
Heuerman has been charged with the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello and has been called the ‘prime suspect’ in the death of Maureen Brainerd-Barnes.
The first victim, Melissa Barthelemy, 24, was discovered by Suffolk County police on Dec. 11, 2010. Megan Waterman, 22, was found two days later.
Maureen Brainard-Barnes was 25 when she disappeared (left). Amber Lynn Costello was 27 years old. Their bodies were found near Barthelemy on the same day
Four women were found tied in the same fashion in the same area of a beach on New York’s Long Island, police said.
However, their cases went cold for more than a decade and no arrests were made — until Human was indicted last week.
Over the weekend, police removed more than 200 guns from the home, which was compared to a dungeon due to its run-down appearance.
Heuerman lived in Massapequa Park, Long Island, with his wife Asa Ellerup and their two children since 1980.
He was tracked down for DNA discovered on a hair, wrapped next to a corpse.
Police started looking for him last year.
In documents filed in Suffolk County Court, it was revealed in March 2022 that homicide investigators linked a Chevrolet Avalanche to Costello’s murder after a witness saw the vehicle in the area.
From there, police were able to link that car to Heuerman’s cellphone records, which tied him to locations related to the murders, which ultimately led to DNA samples.
Heuerman was shown buying extra minutes for another burner cellphone in May of this year. He paid in cash
In January of this year, after watching Heuerman and his family since last March, detectives on the case seized a pizza box that he had trashed outside his Manhattan office.
Evidence was removed from Heuerman’s home on Tuesday
Investigators have been searching the house since Friday. They were pictured at the property on Tuesday
Curious locals are pictured watching investigators work inside Heuerman’s home on Tuesday
Media crews were seen outside Heuerman’s home on Tuesday
In addition to his cluttered home, Heuerman kept two storage units in Amityville that were searched
Police say Heuerman used Melissa Barthelemy’s phone to make harassing calls to her family — calls that were made from his Manhattan office.
After Heuerman was identified as the owner of the Chevrolet, police issued more than 300 subpoenas, search warrants and other legal processes to obtain more evidence.
Heuerman’s colleagues mourned his arrest, most describing him as quiet and unassuming.
But one, interior designer Kathryn Shepherd, who worked with Heuerman on projects, recalled how he once refused to let her into a locked room in his basement while appraising the property in 2005.
Heuermann planned to renovate the kitchen but also wanted precise measurements of the rest of the house, for which he enlisted Shepherd.
He went into the room to take measurements and she followed him downstairs.
‘In the basement, this one room was locked, and he said I couldn’t go into that room,’ she told Newstimesuk.com.
‘I was – what the hell? It’s boring. And he kind of joked, like, oh you can’t go there because there’s stuff. And then he said, “I’ve got a bunch of guns.”
‘He was weird about it, and I was, like, fine,’ Shepherd told Newstimesuk.com. ‘I could measure around it.’
At the time he thought his reaction was strange and now wonders what else he could have hidden in the 12-foot by 15-foot space.
‘I couldn’t understand why she was so weird about it, and now I’m wondering ‘what was she hiding?’ ‘ said the shepherd.
‘It was a big room. What was happening in that room? Is that where he took the women?’
Shepherd describes how he developed a friendly, working relationship with the architect who even once took him to a firing range in the Bronx where he taught him how to fire a 9mm handgun.
On another occasion when she fell on the ice, Heuerman took her to a hospital and then back to his apartment in Manhattan where he gave her medicine.
Shepherd worked with Heuerman from 2002 to 2007 and shared office space with him for those two years in Manhattan.
As a freelance interior designer she regularly traveled with him to job sites.
At the time she found him smart and mostly friendly and called him ‘socially awkward’ like many of his peers.
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