In December 2010, shortly after the remains of 27-year-old Amber Lynn Costello were found near Ocean Parkway near Gilgore Beach, Dave Schaller met with Suffolk County Police Department detectives. According to CBS News.
He told them that shortly before Costello disappeared, he witnessed a large man threatening her at their North Babylonian home. The two got into an argument and the man eventually fled in a Chevrolet Avalanche.
Schaller told detectives he was impressed by the man’s tall, “Frankenstein-like” appearance and “empty gaze”, as well as his unusual-looking pickup truck.
Costello, who advertised the call service on Craigslist, was last seen leaving her home alive in early September 2010.
Her body was found the following December near Ocean Drive near Gilgo Beach, along with three other women: Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Maureen Brainard-Barnes.
Ten bodies were linked to the case, nine of them women.
The case sat on hold for more than a decade until a new task force was established in January 2022. The team is made up of special homicide detectives from the Suffolk County Police Department and the FBI, as well as the district attorney’s and sheriff’s offices.
Their big breakthrough came the following March, when a thorough review of all the evidence pinned them on the same Chevrolet Avalanche seen in Schaller’s report.
Detectives scoured vehicle records databases and found a man who owned a Chevrolet Avalanche lived near Massapequa Park, a neighborhood police have focused on based on cell phone location data and call logs, CBS News reported.
The man was Rex Heuermann, 59, a married father of two architects working on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. He was charged with murder in Suffolk County Court on Friday, July 14, for the murders of Costello, Barthelemy and Waterman. He pleaded not guilty.
He is also a prime suspect in the disappearance and murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, though he has not yet been charged, prosecutors said.
A Chevrolet Avalanche truck was recovered from his brother’s property in South Carolina and transported to Suffolk County, police said.
Detectives obtained a trove of additional evidence against him, including cell phone records and DNA found on camouflage burlap used to restrain victims, prosecutors said.
Investigators also linked Schulman’s email account to dozens of disturbing search queries, including “girl begging for rape porn” and “torture redhead porn,” prosecutors said. He also reportedly consulted extensive news reports on the Gilgo Beach murders.
Asked why it took so long for police to follow up on Schaller’s report about the truck, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney, who took office in 2022, tell cbs news It was likely lost in the “sea of other prompts and information” they received at the time.
“At the time, there wasn’t really consistent leadership at the top. So there was no interaction between the FBI and other agencies,” Tierney told the outlet.
“I can’t tell from a leadership standpoint what happened before January 2022, but I can tell you what we did from February 2022, and that’s what we did, and six weeks later, we had a suspect.”
Police are currently trying to prove that Schulman committed the murders at the home while the family was away.
A team of investigators with dogs, backhoes and ground-penetrating radar was seen searching his Massapequa Park property on Sunday, July 23. CNN reports.
This is still a developing story. Please check back with The Daily Voice for updates.
Follow the Nassau Daily Voice and receive free news updates.