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July 21, 2023

Accused Gilgo Beach killer to be investigated for possible ties to unsolved Atlantic City homicides

The 2006 'Eastbound Strangler' case and others in the U.S. are being revisited to determine whether New York architect Rex Heuermann was involved, police say

Authorities in New York are examining a number of unsolved homicide cases that they believe could be connected to Rex Heuermann, the man charged in the Gilgo Beach killings in Long Island from more than a decade ago.

Suffolk County police told ABC7 that the 2006 deaths of four women — all sex workers in Atlantic City — are among the cases being investigated by the Gilgo Beach Task Force in light of Heuermann's arrest.

The four women were found dead behind a motel along Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township, just outside Atlantic City in December 2006. Three of the bodies were placed faced down in a row, about 60 feet apart from one another in a drainage ditch, and a fourth was found directly behind the motel. They were all clothed with the exception of socks and shoes. 

The women – Barbara V. Breidor, 42; Molly Jean Dilts, 20; Kim Raffo, 35 and Tracy Ann Roberts, 23 – are believed to have been strangled to death. When police found their bodies, they were in varying states of decomposition, suggesting they had been killed at different times.

Authorities have investigated a number of suspects over the years, but no one has ever been charged. At one time, investigators explored whether the homicides might have been linked to the Long Island serial killings, including the Gilgo Beach Four, but never found evidence to support a connection. The unknown suspect in the case has sometimes been referred to as the Eastbound Strangler because the women's bodies were placed in the ditch facing east.

In addition to the Egg Harbor Township case, investigators plan to examine crimes that fit a similar pattern of targeting sex workers in Las Vegas and South Carolina.

"Shame on us if we don't look into Las Vegas, South Carolina, even Atlantic City, we've got to make sure if anyone has any information," Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison told ABC7.

Heuermann, 59, an architect from Massapequa, was charged July 14 with killing three of the four women whose bodies were found in Gilgo Beach in December 2010. He also is considered the prime suspect in the death of the fourth woman. The bodies were discovered along Ocean Parkway during a search for another woman, whose disappearance led New York investigators to uncover the remains of 10 people in the year that followed. Some of the remains were found in a marsh near Heuermann's home.

Many of the victims of the Long Island killings were strangled and most of them were sex workers, investigators have said. 

Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney said last week that Heuermann was identified  through a combination of cell phone records, DNA evidence and witness testimony regarding a vehicle linked to the crimes and the suspect's physical description.

At this time, authorities have not tied Heuermann to any of the other women found dead in Long Island, including Valerie Mack, an Egg Harbor native who went missing in 2000 and had been living in Philadelphia around the time of her disappearance.

Heuermann had been on the radar of the Gilgo Beach Task Force since 2022, when investigators got a break in the case and began gathering evidence about him.

In a 14-month period, Heuermann's internet search history allegedly included more than 200 Google queries on the investigation of the Gilgo Beach homicides and the activities of the task force, Tierney said. His search history also allegedly revealed "torture porn" and compulsive queries for the victims and their family members.

Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the charges filed last week in Suffolk County. 

A spokesperson for the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office declined to comment specifically on Heuermann and the Gilgo Beach investigation, but said the 2006 case in Egg Harbor Township remains open.

"Our office continues to investigate the Black Horse Pike homicides as we do all unsolved matters, and we follow all leads," the spokesperson said. "Since this remains an open investigation, we cannot comment further due to its potential to compromise the investigation."