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Man who helped find suspected serial killer wants to know why it took police more than a decade to follow his lead

Man who helped find suspected serial killer wants to know why it took police more than a decade to follow his lead

Rex Heuermann was accused of murdering three women in 2010

The man whose tip helped police find a suspect in the Gilgo Beach murders has questioned why officers didn't follow up on his lead for more than a decade.

Police arrested Manhattan architect Rex Heuermann earlier this month in connection with the deaths of Amber Costello, Melissa Barthelemy, and Megan Waterman; three women whose bodies were found along a stretch of Ocean Parkway in Long Island, New York, in December 2010.

Heuermann was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree murder, but he has pleaded not guilty.

Rex Heuermann has been charged with first and second degree murder.

One of the tips that led to his arrest came from David Schaller, who had lived with Costello before she disappeared in September 2010.

At the time, Schaller told police he believed her abductor was a man who drove a first-generation green Chevy Avalanche; someone he described as looking like an 'ogre' with an 'empty gaze'.

Schaller first encountered this man during an encounter he'd had with Costello, who was working as a sex worker at the time.

Costello had allegedly locked herself in her bathroom to escape the man, but Schaller said she went out to meet the same customer on 2 September, and was never seen alive again.

Speaking to the Associated Press after Heuermann's arrested, Schaller said: “When they told me she was dead, he was the first person who jumped into my head. I’ve been picturing his face for 13 years.”

Rex Heuermann pleaded not guilty to the murder charges.
Suffolk County Sheriff's Office

Schaller said he'd met with detectives on multiple occasions in the initial years of the investigation, at one point picking out the truck's model from a line-up of photos.

"I gave them the exact description of the truck and the dude," he said. "I mean come on, why didn't they use that?"

Though Schaller was confident in his belief, it wasn't until the investigation was reopened by the Suffolk County police department that police properly looked into the information he'd given them.

Schaller's description of the man matched Heuermann, and police have impounded two Avalanche vehicles from Heuermann’s home in Long Island home.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, who inherited the investigation when he took office last year, has confirmed the description of the truck was key to unravelling the case after the tip was found by a state investigator amid the launch of the new task force investigating the crimes.

Former Suffolk County Police Detective Rob Trotta, who is now a county legislator, criticised the apparent overlooking of Schaller's tip, saying: “This was crucial information, and I don’t know why they didn’t share it. They made serious blunders here.”

When asked about the 'blunder', Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney suggested to the AP that Schaller's tip may have got 'lost within a sea of other tips and information'.

Tierney also pointed out that other pieces of evidence also helped police find Heuermann, including new technology which helped match samples of DNA to the suspect.

"What solved this case was a lot of dedicated investigators, analysts and attorneys from a bunch of agencies getting together and collaborating," he said.

Heuermann is currently being held in jail without bail.

UNILAD has reached out to the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office for further comment.

Featured Image Credit: Suffolk County Sheriff's Office / Google Maps

Topics: Crime, US News, New York, News