The Unraveling of the Long Island Serial Killer Case: Interview with Billy Jensen

image pp
Source: Billy Jensen

Aug. 4 2023, Published 4:11 a.m. ET

Link to FacebookShare to XShare to Email

In the wake of Rex Heuermann's arrest, alleged killer of the Gilgo 4 - Amber Lynn Costello, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Megan Waterman, and Melissa Barthelemy - the nation turns its attention to the Long Island Serial Killer case. Two major questions emerge, demanding thorough examination: Could Heuermann be responsible for the deaths of the six other remains found along Ocean Parkway, and why did it take twelve long years to identify the killer?

The canonical list of victims includes the Gilgo 4 and six others, namely Jessica Taylor, Valerie Mack, Peaches, Fire Island Doe, and the unidentified Asian male in women's clothing. While the Gilgo 4 shared victimology as petite, white sex workers who advertised online, the six other victims do not display such common traits. Connecting these dots and establishing whether Heuermann is linked to all these deaths requires meticulous investigation.

Article continues below advertisement

According to true-crime investigative journalist and New York Times Bestselling Author, Billy Jensen, "All of the victims were determined to have been killed prior to the Gilgo 4. Unlike the Gilgo 4, who share the same victimology—they all were petite, white sex workers who advertised on the internet—the six other victims do not share many of the same traits. Jessica and Valerie are most likely connected, having both worked in the sex trade, and their torsos having been found in 40 miles away in Manorville, Long Island. But the unidentified Peaches (named for the Peach tattoo) was a black female whose torso was found in a plastic container in Hempstead State Park and whose baby was found alongside Ocean Parkway, Fire Island Jane Doe and the Asian Male in women’s clothing are all unknowns. Could Heuermann be responsible for all of their deaths? It remains to be seen.”

Heuermann's movements during the twelve-year gap between the murders of the Gilgo 4 and his arrest raise further questions. With property in South Carolina and Las Vegas, what transpired during this period? It remains unclear whether he committed other crimes elsewhere, making it essential to continue scrutinizing his activities.

The second major question pertains to the prolonged time it took to identify the killer.

While most of the press has focused on the photos of the pizza crust which verified Rex Heuermann DNA matched that of a hair found on one of the victims, they are not asking the question of why did it take so long to arrest him when the pieces were in front of them all along.

At the press conference announcing the arrest, Suffolk County DA Ray Tierney stated that Heuermann’s name was identified in a database by a New York State Investigator in the spring of 2022. And he alluded that the name came into the database via the Amber Costello investigation.

“According to court documents,” Jensen says, “the client arrived around September 1-2, 2010 at Amber’s house in Amityville. She and her “boyfriend” committed the ruse, the client said he was “just a friend” and left. The client was described as a large,white male, approximately 6’4’ to 6’6” in height, in his mid-forties, with “dark bushy hair,” and“big oval style 1970’s type eyeglasses.” And he drove a first generation Chevy Avalanche pick up truck, which has a distinctive plastic triangle design in between the cab and the payload.”

Article continues below advertisement

Jensen says that the next day, a burner cellphone that had been communicating with Amber sent a text message stating, “That was not nice so do i [sic] credit for next time.” The message was sent from Massapequa Park.

Later that day, Amber was contacted by the same burner phone. The man told her he wanted to see her, but wouldn’t come back to the house because of her boyfriend,” according to witnesses.

“This seemed like a very good lead,” says Jensen. “An incredibly good lead. Police should have been looking for all the owners of dark, first generation Chevy Avalanches. And then cross referenced that list with men 6’4” and up. The list wouldn’t be too long. They could have then shown photos to the friends of Amber’s to positively identify the john.”

Article continues below advertisement

Additionally, police could have explored Heuermann's connection to the area, considering his wife and children were out of town when the murders occurred and noting his workplace’s proximity to where some of the taunting calls originated.

While there were allegations of corruption within the Suffolk County Police Department, Jensen credits the current regime for ultimately piecing together the evidence and successfully making the arrest. He continues to urge a retrospective examination of past law enforcement practices to determine if the prolonged investigation contributed to further victims.

As the Long Island Serial Killer case unfolds, the public awaits answers to the lingering questions. The dedication of investigative minds like Billy Jensen, who tirelessly focus on solving murders and finding the missing, remains paramount in the pursuit of justice for the victims and their families.

About Billy Jensen

Billy Jensen is a true-crime investigative journalist, author, and podcaster who focuses on unsolved murders and missing persons cases. After seventeen years writing hundreds of stories with no endings, Jensen dedicated his time to solving murders and finding the missing. To date, he has contributed to solving ten homicides and locating numerous missing persons. He contributed to the completion of the 2019 New York Times bestselling book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark and authored Chase Darkness with Me: How One True Crime Author Started Solving Murders. Mr. Jensen served as an executive producer and co-host of the multi-part series, Unraveled on Discovery+ and senior producer on the Warner Bros. show, Crime Watch Daily. He has contributed regularly to The New York Times, Boston Magazine, and Los Angeles Magazine.


Want OK! each day? Sign up here!

Opt-out of personalized ads

© Copyright 2024 OK!™️. A DIVISION OF MYSTIFY ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK INC. OK! is a registered trademark. All rights reserved. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services. Offers may be subject to change without notice.