Dramatic video captured the moment that the hunt for the Gilgo Beach serial killer came to a sudden end with the arrest of suspect Rex Heuermann.
Law enforcement officers swooped on the 59-year-old married father-of-two on the night of 13 July as he left the offices of his architecture business in midtown Manhattan.
The towering architect, who lives in Long Island, was seen walking along a busy Manhattan road dressed in pants and a grey T-shirt with a bag on his shoulder.
He appeared unaware that he was being tailed by multiple officers – dressed plainclothes in dark suits – as he made his way along the street.
Passers-by also went about their nights unaware of what was going on.
The footage then shows the officers stopping Mr Heuermann, making a circle to surround him.
Mr Heuermann was charged with three counts of murder in the first degree and three in the second degree over the deaths of Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy and Amber Costello.
The three women all vanished without a trace while working as escorts. Their bodies were found in December 2011 during a search for Shannan Gilbert – a 24-year-old sex worker from New Jersey who vanished after visiting a client in Oak Park and making a chilling 911 call where she revealed fears for her life.
Mr Heuermann is also the prime suspect in the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes – who together with the three is known as the “Gilgo Beach Four” – who was last seen alive in early June 2007 in New York City.
The four women were found within one-quarter mile of each other, bound by belts or tape.
They are among 11 victims – mostly female sex workers – whose bodies were found in the Gilgo Beach area in 2010 and 2011 prompting a decade-long hunt for at least one serial killer.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said in a press conference on 14 July that the net closed in on Mr Heuermann last year when they connected him to a pickup truck seen by a witness at the scene when Costello disappeared.
Court records show that he was then further linked to the killings through DNA obtained from a discarded pizza box, a trove of burner phones he allegedly used to contact the murdered women, and his wife’s hair which was found on one of the victim’s bodies.
While he was under surveillance in recent months as detectives continued to investigate the case, Commissioner Harrison said that Mr Heuermann continued to use burner phones and patronise sex workers.
He also carried out depraved online searches including for child porn – as well as searches about the Long Island serial killer, he said.
Because of these concerns – and the fact that Mr Heuermann has permits for 92 firearms – Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said that authorities felt they needed to bring him off the streets now.
As a result, authorities decided now was the time to charge him with three of the killings “out of concern for this defendant fleeing and the danger to the community” and will continue to work towards charging him with Brainard-Barnes’ murder.
Since his arrest, investigators have been searching the married father-of-two’s home in Massapequa Park for evidence – and possible trophies – linking him to the slayings.
On Friday, authorities seized Mr Heuermann’s Chevrolet Avalanche from his driveway – a vehicle matching the description of a car a witness saw on the night when one of the victims was last seen alive.
Over the weekend, multiple other items, including a trove of firearms, were also seized from the suspect’s home – a home he has lived in his whole life and which is located just a 20-minute drive from Gilgo Beach where the killer dumped the bodies of his victims.
A plastic tub full of rifles was taken from the family property and loaded into a police van, as it emerged that the Manhattan architect owned a large gun safe and had legal permits for a staggering 92 firearms.
A source told The New York Post that investigators are looking to see if the accused killer took any trophies from his victims.
“We’re just going through his house looking to see if there’s any evidence. If he has any trophies,” they said.
On Sunday night, officers also swooped on a storage unit in Amityville – two miles from his home – in connection to the suspect.
The Gilgo Beach murders have long stumped law enforcement officials in Suffolk County who believed it could be the work of one or more serial killers who targeted sex workers and dumped their bodies along the remote beaches on Ocean Parkway.
The case began in May 2010 when Gilbert vanished 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.
During a search for Gilbert in dense thicket close to the beach, police discovered the remains of another woman.
Within a matter of days, the remains of three more victims were found close by.
By spring 2011, the remains of a total of 10 victims had been found including eight women, a man, and a toddler. Police have long thought that it could be the work of one or more serial killers.
Gilbert’s body was found in December 2011. Her cause of death is widely contested 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 mother believes she was murdered.
Like Gilbert, most of the victims targeted were sex workers while some are yet to be identified.
Investigations are continuing into the other murders.
Mr Heuermann he pleaded not guilty to the charges and was ordered to be held without bond at his first court appearance on 14 July.
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