Rex Heuermann’s lawyer shifts blame for Gilgo Beach murders on to corrupt former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke: ‘He is involved in this’

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Written By Maya Cantina

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  • The 60-year-old architect was arrested last year and charged with the murders
  • All four alleged victims were sex workers whose bodies were found in 2010
  • Heuermann’s ex-wife, Asa Ellerup, has arrived at the courthouse for his hearing 

Rex Heuermann’s lawyer is attempting to shift the blame for the Gilgo Beach murders on to the corrupt former police chief who was previously in charge of the case. 

Speaking outside the Long Island courthouse where his accused serial killer client had a hearing Wednesday morning, attorney Michael Brown said disgraced PC James Burke is ‘involved’ in the sordid affair. 

‘We received approximately almost 3,000 leads on this case,’ he told reporters outside Suffolk County Supreme Court in Riverhead. 

‘There were numerous leads that came into the Suffolk County Police Department, suggesting that Chief Burke was involved in this.’ 

Burke allegedly led a double life involving crack, cross-dressing and relationships with prostitutes. He is serving jail time after being convicted of several offences including assault, public lewdness and unlawful solicitation after flashing in a park. 

Heuermann, 60, has spent most of his days since his July 2023 arrest in a small windowless cell at the Riverhead Jail as he awaits trial. (Pictured: Heuermann in court Wednesday)

Pictured: Former Suffolk County police chief James Burke (center) is escorted to a vehicle by FBI personnel outside the FBI office in Melville, New York on December 9, 2015

Pictured: Former Suffolk County police chief James Burke (center) is escorted to a vehicle by FBI personnel outside the FBI office in Melville, New York on December 9, 2015

His ex-wife, Asa Ellerup (pictured) was also spotted pulling up in a black Mercedes outside the Long Island courthouse

His ex-wife, Asa Ellerup (pictured) was also spotted pulling up in a black Mercedes outside the Long Island courthouse

Speaking about the former cop’s involvement with the Gilgo Beach murders case, Brown said: ‘Chief Burke would not let the FBI in to the investigation back then, with their expertise.

‘It’s problematic for us that the chief of police who was running the investigation had this very checkered past and was involved in criminal activity.

‘He recently served a four or four-and-a-half year prison sentence in the federal system.

‘Just recently he was arrested on some allegation of being very deviant sexually. We want to see those records.’

Brown’s comments came after his client, Heuermann, appeared in court wearing a black suit, white shirt and navy blue tie on Wednesday morning. 

He listened intently to the hearing, which centered around troves of potential evidence seized from various devices related to the case. 

The 60-year-old father-of-two is charged with murdering four female sex workers whose bodies were found buried on a remote stretch of Gilgo Beach more than 10 years ago. 

His ex-wife, Asa Ellerup, was also spotted pulling up in a black Mercedes outside the Long Island courthouse. 

The 60-year-old father-of-two is charged with murdering four female sex workers whose bodies were found on Gilgo Beach more than 10 years ago

The 60-year-old father-of-two is charged with murdering four female sex workers whose bodies were found on Gilgo Beach more than 10 years ago

Alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann, right, appears in Judge Tim Mazzei's courtroom next to his attorney Michael Brown at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Wednesday

Alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann, right, appears in Judge Tim Mazzei’s courtroom next to his attorney Michael Brown at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Wednesday

Asa Ellerup, left, the estranged wife of Long Island serial killing suspect Rex Heuermann, arrives at court in Riverhead, N.Y. on Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Asa Ellerup, left, the estranged wife of Long Island serial killing suspect Rex Heuermann, arrives at court in Riverhead, N.Y. on Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Ellerup, left, who also shares two children with Heuermann, filed for divorce six days after he was charged with the first three murders

Ellerup, left, who also shares two children with Heuermann, filed for divorce six days after he was charged with the first three murders

Speaking outside the Long Island courthouse where his accused serial killer client had a hearing Wednesday morning, attorney Michael Brown said disgraced PC James Burke (pictured in August 2023) is 'involved' in the case

Speaking outside the Long Island courthouse where his accused serial killer client had a hearing Wednesday morning, attorney Michael Brown said disgraced PC James Burke (pictured in August 2023) is ‘involved’ in the case

It comes just weeks after she claimed her partner of 27 years is ‘not capable’ of murdering the four women. Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Ellerup, who also shares two children with Heuermann, filed for divorce six days after he was charged with the first three murders. 

But she still visits him in jail because she believes he ‘deserves the benefit of the doubt’ and attends his hearings with a documentary camera crew. 

Ellerup reportedly signed a controversial seven-figure deal with NBC Universal, Texas Crew Productions and G-Unit to feature in a series about the case. 

During Wednesday’s hearing, attorneys discussed troves of potential evidence held on hundreds of devices. The judge said he wanted the discovery phase of the case to by completed by July. 

Suffolk DA Ray Tierney said prosecutors have ‘a tremendous amount of material’ to contend with.

‘When you are talking about terabytes upon terabytes upon terabytes on information – it doesn’t happen overnight,’ he told reporters outside court.  

Heuermann last appeared in court early February for an update on the progress of his case, during which he stayed silent.

He was brought into a silent Suffolk County Courthouse in Riverhead, Long Island, New York, for a procedural hearing not attended by Ellerup. 

It marked the first time the architect had appeared in court since January 16, when he pleaded not guilty to killing Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, in 2007.

Pictured: Asa Ellerup in court on Wednesday ahead of Heuermann's latest hearing

Pictured: Asa Ellerup in court on Wednesday ahead of Heuermann’s latest hearing 

The alleged victims known as the 'Gilgo four' - Maureen Brainard-Barnes; Amber Lynn Costello, 27; Megan Waterman, 22; and Melissa Barthelemy, 24

The alleged victims known as the ‘Gilgo four’ – Maureen Brainard-Barnes; Amber Lynn Costello, 27; Megan Waterman, 22; and Melissa Barthelemy, 24

Heuermann was earlier charged with three counts of first-degree murder over the deaths of Melissa Barthelemy in 2009, and Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello in 2010. 

He has spent most of his days since his July 2023 arrest in a small windowless cell at the Riverhead Jail as he awaits trial. 

His attorney earlier revealed to DailyMail.com that the accused murderer was still being held in solitary confinement and was ‘lonely and depressed’. 

Officials at the high-security New York prison said he has been isolated because he would otherwise be a ‘major target’ for inmates.

‘We have very good information that he would be a target of violence if he was not in a secure location,’ Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon Jr. told Newsday previously. 

‘There was an individual that did say if he was able to get into close contact with him, ‘I’m going to do something.’ 

Alleged victims Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, Melissa Barthelemy, 24, Megan Waterman, 22, and Amber Lynn Costello, 27 went missing between 2007 and 2010.

They were all sex workers who advertised their services on Craigslist and Backstory The women were found tied up in burlap sacks within a few miles of each other.  

Long Island architect Heuermann was arrested outside his Manhattan office last year after DNA evidence linked him to their disappearances.

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