Jasmine Robinson sat in a Suffolk County courthouse Friday, listening intently as prosecutors defined how they’d tracked a person they suspected of killing and burying at the least three girls on Lengthy Island’s South Shore. She heard how they’d used DNA painstakingly harvested from his pizza crusts, triangulated his cell phone alerts and spent hours on old-school, shoe-leather stakeouts.
She didn’t hear who might need killed her cousin, whose head and arms had been additionally discovered close to distant Gilgo Seashore.
A Massapequa Park architect, Rex Heuermann, pleaded not responsible final week after he was charged in three killings of ladies whose our bodies had been discovered on the barrier island. Authorities have mentioned he’s the prime suspect in a fourth. However in complete, 11 our bodies had been found.
For Ms. Robinson, the listening to and the aggressive investigative methods had been an indication that the police would possibly lastly resolve the killing of her cousin, Jessica Taylor. Days after Ms. Taylor went lacking in New York in July 2003, a girl strolling her canine discovered the sufferer’s torso within the woods in Manorville, about 45 miles east of Gilgo Seashore, however virtually eight years glided by earlier than the remainder of her stays had been found at Gilgo.
The listening to bolstered her confidence, Ms. Robinson mentioned.
“I’ve had hope perpetually, and each morning I get up, it’s like, ‘Perhaps that is the day,’ ” Ms. Robinson mentioned in an interview on Saturday. “Listening to all the things yesterday, it proves that they’re working, they usually’re working laborious. I’m excited to see what comes subsequent.”
Since the police introduced an arrest within the 12-year investigation on Friday, the main target has been on the instances of the 4 girls whom investigators have thus far related to Mr. Heuermann. For the kin of the opposite victims discovered alongside the seaside, the information was a stinging reminder that they had been nonetheless awaiting solutions.
The households have watched for greater than a decade because the investigation was hamstrung by dysfunction and mired in corruption. Then, final yr, investigators joined with state and federal companies to re-examine the case.
“The duty power is continuous the investigation into the opposite deaths,” was all that the Suffolk County Police Division would say Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the county district legal professional’s workplace mentioned it could not talk about a unbroken investigation.
For among the victims’ households, final week’s arrest was a purpose to maintain the religion. For others, it merely amplified their frustration.
Investigators started to concentrate on Gilgo Seashore in 2010, when Shannan Gilbert, who had answered a name for an escort within the space, disappeared. Investigators quickly found the primary 4 buried our bodies. Ms. Gilbert’s stays had been discovered a yr later, in Oak Seashore marshlands about six miles from Gilgo Seashore. Although the police have urged that her loss of life was not a murder, her household disagrees and is aware of little about how and why she died.
“I’m so joyful for the 4 which might be in a position to get these solutions,” mentioned Sherre Gilbert, her sister, including: “I really feel like they might have completed this years in the past had they introduced the correct folks in.”
The investigation started in earnest in December 2010 when a Suffolk County officer, John Malia, and his K9 associate, Blue, had been looking out a stretch of Ocean Parkway close to the place authorities believed Ms. Gilbert had gone lacking, in response to prosecutors. Blue found human stays.
The police later decided that they didn’t belong to Ms. Gilbert, however to Melissa Barthelemy, a 24-year-old lady from the Bronx who had labored as a prostitute till she disappeared in July 2009. When the police returned two days later, they discovered the stays of three different girls — Amber Lynn Costello, Megan Waterman and Maureen Brainard-Barnes.
All 4 had been petite, of their 20s and had labored as prostitutes. They had been all additionally discovered sure on the toes or ankles and wrapped in burlap alongside a stretch of sand a couple of quarter mile lengthy.
Seven different our bodies could be discovered within the months that adopted, together with Ms. Gilbert, 4 different girls, a person who was by no means recognized and a 2-year-old woman. The our bodies, two of which had been solely partial stays, had not been sure and wrapped as these within the first group had been.
Quite a few killers have generally disposed of our bodies in a single location — components of Brooklyn and New Jersey swamps, mentioned Fred Klein, a lawyer and the previous Nassau County assistant district legal professional who prosecuted the serial killer Joel Rifkin. However that dumping, he mentioned, has typically been the work of an organized crime group or gang.
“The weird half could be for random folks to be utilizing the identical location,” mentioned Mr. Klein, who’s now an assistant legislation professor at Hofstra College. “It virtually stretches the creativeness to consider multiple completely different individual, utterly dissociated with one another, simply coincidentally occurred to dump useless intercourse employees in the identical location.”
However the search space in the end stretched for miles, and Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at John Jay Faculty of Felony Justice who ran the Police Division’s Bronx chilly case squad, mentioned a broad search can unearth sudden discoveries: “When you will have these huge wooded areas, it will depend on how far the police division needs to go and what number of our bodies they need to discover.”
When investigators launched the duty power final yr, they targeting the primary 4 girls discovered, mentioned District Lawyer Raymond A. Tierney in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“These murders: The patterns are very comparable,” he instructed the host. “That’s what this grand jury investigation was all about. We’re going to work by this case, after which we’re going to proceed to research all these different our bodies as nicely.”
Mr. Heuermann’s arrest may be vital in serving to investigators resolve the opposite victims’ instances, mentioned Mr. Klein. Previously, witnesses’ reminiscences have been jogged after seeing a information section or studying about an arrest, he mentioned.
Since Friday, officers in Suffolk County have executed warrants, seizing proof from Mr. Heuermann’s residence and a storage unit, together with greater than 200 weapons.
However as officers proceed their investigations, Ms. Gilbert mentioned that the duty of fixing her sister’s loss of life now lies primarily together with her and her lawyer.
Final yr, the police concluded her sister’s explanation for loss of life was undetermined however in all probability unintended, with substance abuse and psychological sickness probably taking part in roles, she mentioned. The household disagrees.
“Even when police say this case is closed, we’re not going to cease getting justice,” Ms. Gilbert mentioned. “We’re going to be as loud as we are able to.”