Gilgo Beach Homicide Task Force Expands Search to Other Unsolved Long Island Cases

Suffolk County's Gilgo Beach Homicide Task Force, which solved the murder of four women, is expanding its search to include other unsolved cases involving human remains. The task force is re-examining cases, including the 1993 death of Sandra Costilla, using advanced investigative techniques and collaboration.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Gilgo Beach Homicide Task Force Expands Search to Other Unsolved Long Island Cases

Gilgo Beach Homicide Task Force Expands Search to Other Unsolved Long Island Cases

The Suffolk County District Attorney's Gilgo Beach Homicide Task Force, which successfully led to the arrest of Rex Heuermann for the murder of four victims found on Gilgo Beach, is now expanding its search to include other unsolved cases involving human remains found throughout the county.

Since 2022, the task force has utilized New York State, local, and federal enforcement agencies to investigate the cases of 10 bodies found along Ocean Parkway on Long Island. The task force's efforts led to the arrest of Rex Heuermann, a 60-year-old married father and architect, who was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, a sex worker who disappeared in 2007. This brings the total number of murder charges against Heuermann to four, including the deaths of Megan Waterman, Amber Costello, and Melissa Barthelemy, all of whom werekilling, suspectworkers in their 20s.

Why this matters: The expansion of the task force's search to other unsolved cases highlights the potential for law enforcement to revisit and solve cold cases using advanced investigative techniques and collaboration. This development also underscores the importance of continued efforts to address violence against women, particularly in the sex worker community, and to bring justice to victims and their families.

The bodies of the four women, dubbed the "Gilgo Four," were found over a decade ago, bound in a deserted spot on the north side of Long Island's Ocean Parkway, near Gilgo Beach. Prosecutors cited travel and cellphone records found in a storage unit leased by Heuermann that revealed his now-estranged wife and children had traveled out of town around the time of Brainard-Barnes's disappearance, following a pattern of the circumstances around the disappearance of the three other women.

The task force is now taking a fresh look at other unsolved cases involving human remains, not just those on Gilgo Beach. Recent searches by the task force have focused on an area in North Sea, Southampton, where 28-year-old Sandra Costilla was discovered dead in November 1993. John Bittrolff, who was convicted in 2017 of murdering two other women, is long suspected but never charged in Costilla's death.

"When the arrest was made on Heuermann, the Gilgo Four, you immediately look at the other remains that were found, those other ladies," said ABC News contributor Robert Boyce. "You go from partnerships into the task forces and what do the task forces bring, experience, investigative tools, data systems that not everyone shares and that's the key here."

The task force's methodology used to solve the decades-long cold case of the Gilgo Beach murders is being applied to other unsolved cases. John Bittrolff is already serving 50 years to life in prison for the murders of two other women, with no apparent connection to Heuermann and the Gilgo Beach murders. Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being held without bail, with his next court date set for February 6, 2024. The Suffolk County District Attorney's office has announced that the grand jury investigation of the "Gilgo Four" is over and has been concluded, and they will proceed with the cases in court.