TAMPA, Florida (TodayNews) — Nearly 13 years ago, Long Island Police made a series of disturbing discoveries after the remains of 11 people were found along a beach highway.
Among those victims was 27-year-old Amber Lynn Costello, who police said moved to New York from Clearwater, Florida before she died.
Architect found suspect in Long Island serial murders, AP source says
According to a 2011 article in the Tampa Bay Times, Costello was originally raised in North Carolina but lived in Pinellas County for several years.
Costello, like many victims of the so-called Gilgo Beach murders, was a sex worker who met with clients through Craiglist and Backlist.
Amber Lynn Costello, one of the victims of the Gilgo Beach murders (Photo provided by the Costello family via Suffolk County Police)
She lived with three other people in a house in West Babylon, New York. According to the Suffolk County Police, Costello and her housemates were battling a heroin addiction, and although she completed a 28-day rehab program, she relapsed shortly before she disappeared.
Despite her personal problems, people who knew her called her a good person who got mixed up in the wrong company.
“She was hyperactive, happy and energetic,” Cheri Malpass, Costello’s cousin, told the Tampa Bay Times in 2011. “She never caused trouble or anything like that.”
Police said Costello was last seen alive on September 2, 2010, when she went to meet a client who was supposed to pick her up from her home. However, authorities said that Costello did not take her mobile phone and did not go missing.
No trace of the 27-year-old girl was seen for two months until December 13, 2010, when her remains were found along the Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach while authorities searched for another missing woman, Shannan Gilbert.
Gilbert’s disappearance led to the discovery of many other murders along the boulevard. Her body was found about 3 miles from another 10 sets of human remains, authorities said.
Among these victims:
- Melissa Barthelemy – went missing on July 12, 2009.
- Maureen Brainard-Barnes was last seen alive in early June 2007.
- Amber Lynn Costello – last seen alive on September 2, 2010
- Megan Waterman – last seen alive in June 2010.
- Jessica Taylor. Her remains were first found on July 26, 2003, and the rest on March 29, 2011, along Ocean Parkway.
- Valerie Mack – her remains were found in Manorville in 2000 and in Oak Beach in 2011.
- Originally a Jane Doe, her remains were identified by genetic genealogy in 2020.
- John Doe, described as an Asian man whose skeleton was found on Ocean Parkway.
- An unidentified female toddler whose remains were found next to Mack’s.
- The baby’s mother, another Jane Doe, was called “Peaches” because of “a tattoo of a peach in the shape of a bitten heart on her body.” Her remains were first found in Hempstead Lake State Park in 1997.
The serial killings stunned authorities until July 14, 2023, when officials announced the arrest of a suspect in their deaths.
At Friday’s press conference, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney said architect Rex Heuermann, who lived across the bay from where the victims’ remains were found, was charged with the murders of Costello, Barthelemy and Waterman.
“When I took office in 2022, I made Gilgo my priority,” Tierney said.
According to the district attorney, the women disappeared between July 2007 and September 2010. Tierney said the women’s remains were tied at the head, chest and legs with camouflage burlap, commonly used for hunting, to hide them.
He said DNA evidence taken from abandoned samples was also instrumental in identifying Heuermann as a suspect.
The district attorney also said that Heuermann had a disposable phone that he used to contact each victim and threw away the cell phones after each murder.
However, after studying cell phone pings during four mobile tours, they were able to track the suspect to Massapequa Park, where he lived. Tierney said that each murder took place while Heuermann’s wife and children were out of state.
Further investigation revealed that the architect had over 200 Google searches regarding the Gilgo murders, which Tierney said led to the investigation being conducted in secret so as not to alert the defendant.
“In addition to who Gilgo is looking for, he also impulsively looked for photos of the victims, but not only photos of the victims, photos of their relatives, their sisters, their children, and he tried to find these people,” he said.
Heuermann also had torture pornography and images of sexual assault in his search history, according to authorities. Tierney said the architect was still using sex workers, which unnerved investigators.
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