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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Was Rex Heuermann’s wife sleeping next to the Long Island serial killer?

When Rex Heuermann was charged in July 2023 for the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello, authorities announced he was also the prime suspect in the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes. Finally, investigators believed they had caught the elusive murderer of the “Gilgo Four” — the women discovered buried near Long Island’s Gilgo Beach in 2010 and long suspected to be the victims of a serial killer.

After his arrest, Heuermann’s quiet neighborhood in Massapequa Park, Long Island, was overrun by investigators and media, which focused intense scrutiny on his ramshackle home and its remaining residents: his stepson, Christopher Sheridan; daughter, Victoria Heuermann; and his wife of more than 25 years, Asa Ellerup.

“Their life going forward is always gonna be the wife or the children of suspected serial killer,” said Bob Macedonio, Ellerup’s attorney.

Macedonio, as well as co-workers of the suspect and the victims’ families and friends, spoke to “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty, who has reported on the case since the beginning. Her latest report, “The Gilgo Beach Serial Killings,” airs Saturday, Sept. 16, at 9/8c on CBS and will stream on Paramount+.

Macedonio began representing Ellerup shortly after Heuermann’s arrest, when she filed for divorce. He says Ellerup was as stunned as anyone by the accusations against her estranged husband.

“She had no idea any of this was going on,” said Macedonio of the accusations against Heuermann. “Nobody wants to think that they’ve been living with, sleeping next to a serial killer for the past 25 years.”

As it turns out, Ellerup may have inadvertently helped focus the investigation on Heuermann. Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney says investigators found strands of female hair on two of the victims that they believe could belong to Ellerup.

“One hair on Waterman … comes back to his wife, or the DNA profiles are consistent,” said Tierney. “And then … the DNA profile from Costello is consistent with … the wife.”

Investigators have evidence that Ellerup was out of town when those murders occurred. Tierney says that her hair may have simply gotten on the victims thanks to transfer.

“You live at home with a spouse, little bit of your hair falls on your shoulder, as well as your spouse’s,” said Tierney. “Then you go out and you interact with the third party and that hair gets on them.”

Ellerup has not been charged or named a suspect in any of the murders. When asked if he believed she might be involved in any way, Tierney said there is “no evidence to indicate that.”

While Ellerup has received public scrutiny, she has also found sympathy —including from Muriel Henriquez, a former co-worker of Rex Heuermann’s at the architectural firm he owned called RH Consulting & Associates.

Henriquez spoke to “48 Hours” exclusively and says that Heuermann gave her a sweater in 2007 that Ellerup had picked up while she was on a trip to her native Iceland. Henriquez wonders if Ellerup’s trip out of the country might have given Heuermann the opportunity to kill Maureen Brainard-Barnes, who disappeared that same summer. Henriquez has held onto the sweater and says it is a reminder of two women she believes are victims.

“Because the wife’s a victim as well,” said Henriquez. “For him to ask her to bring back gifts for his employees, and then he’s also … betraying her.”

Ellerup has also found support from those who perhaps know all too well what she might be going through. Kerri Rawson, the daughter of serial killer Dennis Rader, who named himself BTK, tweeted: “Asa and her kids are also victims.” Another person who has spoken out is Melissa Moore, the daughter of Keith Jesperson, a serial killer known as the “Happy Face Killer” who taunted authorities with letters signed with a happy face.

“Today I have an opportunity to use my voice to help Asa,” Moore said in a TikTok video she posted.

Moore set up a GoFundMe page for Ellerup, which has raised over $50,000. It is money Ellerup’s attorney says will largely go to medical bills, since she is battling breast and skin cancer. He says that because Heuermann was the sole provider for the family, she will soon lose her health insurance.

“Asa would like me to express her thanks for the support she has received,” Macedonio said in a news conference announcing the GoFundMe page. “She is going through a very difficult time.”

Ellerup’s children have also paid a heavy price. Victoria Heuermann, who worked for her father at the architectural consulting firm, and Christopher Sheridan are both now unemployed. Ellerup struggles to support them, says Macedonio, while she is also trying to figure out how to start over.

“She has no one else to turn to at this time,” said Macedonio. “Family and friends have been hesitant to have her come over because they don’t want the media attention.”

For the moment, Ellerup and her children continue to live in the house in Massapequa Park, which the family says was excessively damaged when police searched it shortly after Heuermann’s arrest. It is a daily reminder of the unimaginable crimes Rex Heuermann is charged with, as well as of the investigation that continues.

“We’re going to prepare the ‘Gilgo Four’ case for trial,” said Tierney. “And we are going to expand our investigation.”

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