NEW YORK (AP) — The wife of Rex Heuermann, the man charged with killing at least three women and burying their bodies on a remote coastal highway, is living in a “waking surreal nightmare,” her attorney said Friday, struggling to pay for cancer treatment while living in a house trashed by investigators.
At a news conference on Long Island, attorneys for Heuermann’s estranged wife, Asa Ellerup, and his two adult children complained police left the home in shambles while searching for possible evidence.
“Their valuables were shattered, their places were destroyed, the places they laid their heads no longer exists,” said Vess Mitev, an attorney who is also representing Heuermann’s 26-year-old daughter, Victoria, and 34-year-old stepson, Christopher Sheridan. “They’re going through a horrific emotional time that none of us can imagine.”
Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney has said police followed standard procedure during their 12-day search of the house.
Ellerup is scrambling to find a way to pay for her skin and breast cancer treatment once her medical insurance, which is tied to her husband’s employment, runs out later this year, her lawyers said. Ellerup filed for divorce last month.
The family has raised more than $40,000 through a GoFundMe started by Melissa Moore, the daughter of serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson, known as the “Happy Face Killer.”
That crowd-funding campaign drew complaints from John Ray, an attorney for Shannan Gilbert, a woman found dead in a coastal marsh on the same barrier island as the women Heurmann is accused of killing. He urged the public not to donate to the family.
Suffolk Police have concluded that Gilbert drowned accidentally — a finding her family has not accepted, believing she was also killed.
Heuermann, 59, was charged last month in the deaths of Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Costello and Megan Waterman. He is the prime suspect in the death of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, prosecutors have said. All four of the women were believed to be engaged in sex work prior to their disappearance. Heuermann has pleaded not guilty the charges.
Bob Macedonio, an attorney for Ellerup, said Heuermann was living a “complete double life,” with his wife and children totally in the dark about his alleged crimes. The attorneys shared a photo of the Heuermann household on Christmas in 2011, a little over a year after his final victim went missing, showing wrapped gifts sitting under an adorned tree in the family’s living room.
Authorities have not reached out to any family members, the lawyers said. Ellerup has spoken to her husband by phone, but has not visited him.
Heuermann is due back in court Sept. 27. His estranged wife’s lawyers have said they plan on suing law enforcement agencies over the damage to the house.
This story has been corrected to show Gilbert’s first name is spelled Shannan, not Shannon.