Mysterious Twist In Gilgo Beach Murders Case: Why Did Rex Heuermann's Wife Attend Court Hearing Against All Odds?

By Jennifer Wentworth | Friday, 19 April 2024 05:15 AM
Views 2.9K
Image Credit : [Photographer's Name]/The Independent

Rex Heuermann, the man accused of the infamous Gilgo Beach murders, was supported by his wife, Asa Ellerup, in court on Wednesday.

Despite the serious allegations against her husband, Ellerup has chosen to give him the "benefit of the doubt.".

Heuermann appeared in court for a discovery hearing, during which prosecutors presented a significant amount of evidence related to the case. Ellerup, who has been married to Heuermann for twenty years and is the mother of his adult children, was seen arriving at the Suffolk County Supreme Court in Riverhead that morning. When questioned by reporters about her decision to attend, she remained silent.

During the hearing, the court received additional discovery from the prosecutors, including evidence from Heuermann's properties. The judge has requested that the discovery phase be concluded as soon as possible to allow the trial to proceed.

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According to the prosecutors, there have been 15 disclosures between Heuermann's last court date and Wednesday's hearing, as reported by ABC7. These disclosures include thousands of pages of discovery, 388 leads on Heuermann, DNA lab reports, and data from 422 digital devices seized from Heuermann's home and office.

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Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney stated, "Just today alone, we provided the Barnes missing persons investigation from the NYPD which is approximately 2,500 pages. We have about a 12-terabyte hard drive with regard to the nuclear DNA. We have digital extractions from a number of the digital devices that were recovered from the defendant’s residence.”

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Heuermann's attorney, Michael Brown, demanded that a collection of FBI files related to the case also be included in the discovery process. He specifically requested files involving then-Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke, who was later imprisoned for corruption and is currently facing charges of soliciting sex. Burke has been accused of attempting to keep the FBI out of the investigation in the early stages of the case.

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Brown told reporters outside the court, as reported by the New York Post, "The Suffolk County Police Department, especially with Chief James Burke in charge, and the FBI were butting heads. And, to some extent, I think Chief Burke was suppressing the investigation and wouldn’t allow the FBI to participate in it with their expertise.”

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The Independent has reached out to Burke’s lawyer for comment.

DA Tierney stated that it would be up to the FBI to decide whether or not the defense receives the requested information. "I don’t control the FBI. The only thing that I can control is the documents in my possession, which we will certainly provide to the defense," he told reporters. "Over and beyond that, what he’s seeking, he’s going to have to take that up with the FBI.”

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Heuermann is scheduled to return to court on June 18.

Ellerup's presence at the hearing follows her statement in March, in which she insisted that her husband is "not capable of the crimes he is accused of". "I will listen to all of the evidence and withhold judgment until the end of trial," Ellerup said in the statement, which was released through her attorney Bob Macedonio. "I have given him the benefit of the doubt, as we all deserve.”

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Macedonio told ABC News that Ellerup, who filed for divorce just days after Heuermann's July 2023 arrest in the high-profile case, had visited Heuermann "several times" since he was charged with the murder of a fourth victim in January and "she doesn’t believe he’s capable of this”.

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Ellerup's attorney also stated that she wanted to extend her "heartfelt sympathies" to the victims and their families. "Nobody deserves to die in that manner," she said in the statement.

It has been nine months since Heuermann was arrested and charged with three of the murders that have haunted the Long Island community of Gilgo Beach for over a decade.

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Heuermann was initially charged in July with the murders of three women: Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy, and Amber Costello. In January, he was also charged with the murder of a fourth victim, Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

The four victims, collectively known as the "Gilgo Four," all worked as sex workers and disappeared after going to meet a client. Their bodies were discovered in December 2010 within a quarter-mile of each other, bound by belts or tape and some wrapped in burlap – all discarded along Gilgo Beach.

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Court documents outlining the case against Heuermann, a 60-year-old Manhattan architect, state that hairs belonging to Ellerup were found on Waterman and Costello, and on the belt used to bind Brainard-Barnes. Prosecutors found that Ellerup was out of town at the time of the murders, but her hair could have been transferred to the crime scene through her husband's clothing or items such as tape taken from their home. A hair belonging to Heuermann was also allegedly found on the burlap wrapped around Waterman’s body.

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Ellerup and the couple's adult children, Victoria Heuermann, 26, and Christopher Sheridan, 33, were reportedly taken by surprise by his arrest.

Vess Mitev, an attorney representing the adult children, previously told The Independent that the family was simply trying to survive after being thrust into the national spotlight due to their family member's alleged crimes.

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“The Heuermann children have been living in a constant, surreal, waking nightmare,” he said. “Just because the news coverage doesn’t continue or it’s not in the news on a daily basis each day, for them it’s every day, it’s every moment. It’s the moment they wake up to the moment they go back to sleep again. It’s a situation you wouldn’t want to wish on anyone. It’s not a reality.”

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He added: “Their focus has just been on managing their basic daily needs. We have specific, fundamental needs that we require to survive as people and that has really been their primary goal as their resources have been depleted completely or are no longer available to them. Their basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter and a safe space to sleep in have been all but obliterated. They’re trying to piece back together those very basic but yet so vital things that most of us take for granted.”

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It has since been revealed that Heuermann has transferred full ownership of the family property to his wife, and that Ellerup is collaborating with Peacock on a documentary.

In total, the remains of 11 victims were discovered along the shores of Long Island in 2010 and 2011, sparking fears of one or more serial killers.

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The case began in May 2010 when Shannan Gilbert, a young woman working as a sex worker, disappeared after leaving a client's house on foot near Gilgo Beach. She called 911 for help, saying she feared for her life, and was never seen alive again.

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During a search for Gilbert in a dense thicket near the beach, police discovered human remains. Within days, four victims had been found. By spring 2011, the number of victims rose to 10.

Gilbert's body was found in December 2011. Her cause of death is widely disputed, with authorities long claiming that it is not connected to the serial killer or killers but that she died from accidental drowning as she fled from the client’s home. However, an independent autopsy commissioned by her family ruled that she died by strangulation, and her family continues to believe she was murdered.

No charges have been brought in connection with the other victims also found along the shores.

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