Rex Heuermann, the suspect arrested for the Gilgo Beach murders is an architect who has been married twice and is currently living in the rundown Long Island house he grew up in. He is also a father, taking care of two children, one of whom has special needs. Heuermann, 59, was arrested on Thursday evening and arraigned Friday in the deaths of three women.
Heuermann was arrested from his Manhattan office, more than a decade after 11 bodies were found on Long Island and a year after he came onto officials' radar as a potential suspect. He is also suspected in the disappearance and death of a fourth woman, according to police.
Leading a Different Life
Heuermann led a normal life for years before he was busted on Thursday. Detectives say they matched DNA from pizza that the suspect ate to genetic material found on the women's remains. However, his arrest has left his neighbors in shock as they never saw anything suspicious about Heuermann.
On Thursday, the same neighbors in Massapequa Park, including actor Billy Baldwin, were taken aback when they came to know that their Heuermann, was a suspect in the Gilgo Beach murders.
Most of the neighbors described him as a reserved businessman and a "regular family man." Baldwin, 60, who graduated from Berner High School in the class of 1981, tweeted his disbelief at learning that the Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect was a classmate of his.
"Married, two kids, architect. 'Average guy... quiet, family man.' Mind-boggling," the local-born actor wrote.
"Massapequa is in shock."
Raised alongside his brother Craig, the 59-year-old architect grew up in an untidy house built in 1956 on 1st Avenue. Interestingly, this house is located directly across the bay from the area where 11 bodies were discovered between 2010 and onwards.
He bought the house from his mother, Dolores, for $170,000 In 1994, as indicated by property records. That same year, he started his own company, RH Architecture Design, which is located on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, where he was arrested on Thursday night.
Neighbors mention that his daughter worked with him at the company, and he is believed to have also raised a son with special needs.
According to neighbors, he also raised a son with special needs while his daughter was among his staff at his office.
Making It Look Normal
According to neighbors and reports, Heuermann is married to Asa Ellerup, who is said to have Icelandic heritage. Ellerup, 59, is listed as residing in the same Massapequa Park residence. There is a single photo on her Facebook page where Heuermann can be seen looking in her direction.
Not much information is available about Ellerup. According to their next-door neighbor, Etienne DeVilliers, who is a retired New York City firefighter, Ellerup is described as "quiet."
On Friday, when she appeared at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead before Heuermann's scheduled arraignment, she remained tight-lipped.
"Please leave me alone. I will not be saying anything," she told Newsday, which did not confirm her name but said she told court personnel she was Heuermann's wife.
Heuermann was just 26 years old when he got married for the first time in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as mentioned in a wedding announcement from 1990. The announcement features a photo of him wearing glasses and smiling on his wedding day.
His first wife, Elizabeth Ryan, was described as a graduate of St. Peter's High School in New Brunswick and Montclair State College, where she earned a degree in business administration.
At that time, she worked as a junior planner at an office supplies company in New Jersey. Heuermann was still an intern at an architecture firm back then, four years before he established his own company. His brother, Craig, was his best man during the wedding.
The specific details regarding the end of Heuermann's first marriage to Ryan are not immediately available, including the reasons behind the separation.
However, according to neighbors, Ryan has been living in her current home for almost 15 years, and they mentioned that she has been separated from Heuermann for at least that length of time.
Heuermann's 26-year-old daughter, Victoria, was prominently featured as one of the key members of his "team" on his company website until it was taken down shortly after he was identified as a suspect.
In the photo, Victoria can be seen smiling while wearing sunglasses, although her specific role within the company was not mentioned.
Based on her LinkedIn profile, it appears that Victoria had a relatively new position at her father's company. Prior to that, she worked as a sales associate at Macy's and simultaneously pursued her studies at the New York Institute of Technology.
She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Fine Arts in 2019, as indicated on her profile.
"I know 3D/2D Animation, Modeling, Sculpting, Autodesk Maya/Mudbox, ZBrush, ToonBoom Harmony, Photoshop, Illustrator, and editing in After Effects and Premier," she wrote — saying she was "looking for a job in animation," rather than her dad's architectural business.
Heuermann also has a special needs son. Neighbors had less interaction with him, and there were suggestions from some sources that he might be his stepson.
"He has a partially disabled kid. A very nice kid," DeVilliers said of the boy, who does not appear to be listed on the property records.
"We spoke frequently, every day. And his kid is a nice kid, a special needs kid," DeVilliers also told CBS News.
"The guy's been quiet. Never really bothers anybody. We are kind of shocked."
Heuermann often spoke proudly of his father, Theo, stating that he worked as an aerospace engineer involved in building satellites, while also pursuing a career as a cabinet maker.
Heuermann inherited his father's skills and expressed his own passion for furniture making, claiming that he continues to create furniture. Through his father's teachings, he learned the importance of reliability and likely applied that principle to his work.