Has the Gilgo Beach serial killer been caught? Here's why interest in the decade-old true crime has resurfaced

The case of the Gilgo Beach serial killer was the subject of a Netflix movie—has the mystery finally been solved?

Has the Gilgo Beach serial killer been caught? Pictured: A sign pointing towards Gilgo Beach on Long Island
(Image credit: Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

The Gilgo Beach serial killer made national headlines over 10 years ago when victims' bodies were discovered along Ocean Parkway on Long Island, New York. 

Those who frequently tune in to true crime documentaries know that many cases go unsolved, and for quite some time, the Long Island serial killer was believed to be one of them. Then, in July 2023, things changed. Here's what we know. 

Has the Gilgo Beach serial killer been caught?

On Friday, July 14, a 59-year-old architect from Massapequa Park named Rex Heuermann was arrested in connection to the murders that took place on Long Island in 2010. 

Though there were about 11 victims discovered in Nassau and Suffolk Counties—mostly female sex workers in their 20s, as well as one male victim and a female toddler—Heuermann is believed to have been responsible for taking the lives of "the Gilgo Four": Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, Amber Costello and Maureen Brainard-Barnes. He was charged in Barthelemy, Waterman and Costello's murders, and is said to be the prime suspect in Brainard-Barnes' death.

In total, Heuermann was charged with three counts of murder in the first degree and three counts of murder in the second degree. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, Rex Heuermann is a demon that walks amongst us, a predator that ruined families," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said in a press conference on July 14, according to NBC News. “If not for the members of this task force, he would still on the streets today."

Heuermann maintains his innocence and pleaded not guilty.

Is Rex Heuermann the Gilgo Beach serial killer?

After so much time, the public thought interest in the case had long passed. But what drew investigators to Heuermann, the alleged killer, after 10+ years? Quite a bit, in fact. 

"In a 14-month period, he had over 200 searches pertaining to the Gilgo investigation," Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said, according to CNN "He was looking at investigative insight. He was looking, trying to figure out, 'How is the task force using cell phones to try to figure out what is happening? What are the developments with regard to the task force?'"

Additionally, subpoenas and search warrants linked the suspect to burner cellphones that were used to contact three victims, according to NPR. Physical descriptions of the killer matched Heuermann's physique, and the car witnesses described the suspect to be driving matched his. Additionally, DNA discovered on the body of one victim, Megan Waterman, had been linked to Heuermann after extensive testing. 

Though this is certainly a big step in a case that rocked not just New York but the entire country, authorities insist there is still more to do. Though the 11 bodies were discovered in 2010, investigators suggested that the killings could have started as early as 1996. 

"Even with this arrest, we're not done. There is more work to do in this investigation regarding the other victims of the Gilgo Beach bodies that were discovered," Police Commissioner Harrison said. 

Heuermann's next court date will be Tuesday, August 1. 

Where to watch 'The Lost Girls':

The Gilgo Beach murders inspired a book, Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery; by Robert Kolker (See at Amazon), which in turn inspired a fictionalized Netflix series based on the events. (Similar to the Jeffrey Dahmer Netflix series, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story and Love & Death on Mx, the story of Candy Montgomery.)

2020's The Lost Girls, starring Amy Ryan, Thomasin McKenzie, Gabriel Byrne and Dean Winters, is available to stream on Netflix.

For more updates on the case of the Gilgo Beach serial killer, watch this space!

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.