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Crime & Courts

LISK: South Carolina Investigation Comes Into Focus Via Search Warrant Details

Authorities are looking for trophies, forensic evidence, records and “instrumentalities.”

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A Chester County, South Carolina search warrant is revealing significant details about what authorities are looking for at various Palmetto State properties tied to a man accused of murdering three women whose bodies were discovered on a Long Island beach in December 2010. 

No one knows how high the body count could go as investigators process multiple locations across numerous states in a sprawling effort to unravel the alleged actions of Rex Heuermann – the suspected Long Island Serial Killer (LISK). This week, it became clear that Chester County – and specifically the Mirror Lakes neighborhood – was a priority on the list of places to look for evidence. 

Earlier this week, we reported on the details of Heuermann’s 2021 purchase of four properties – consisting of about 22 acres of land – in the Mirror Lakes subdivision where his brother, Craig Heuermann, has lived for more than 20 years.   

Officials now say they’ve had eyes on the Rippling Brooke Drive properties since 59-year-old Rex Heuermann was taken into custody on July 13, 2023. The New York architectural consultant is facing murder, prostitution and conspiracy charges in the Empire State for crimes against at least three women who went missing 2007 to 2010.

Additional charges are expected in the coming days. 

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Rex Heuermann (Suffolk County Sheriff)

Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. He remains in custody without bail as the investigation moves forward in four states: New York, New Jersey, Nevada and South Carolina. Officials from several other states are reviewing unsolved murders for potential links to Heuermann.  

Over the weekend, The Chester (S.C.) News and Reporter uncovered a South Carolina search warrant signed in Chester County on July 21, 2023. The warrant provided many disturbing and curious details about the searches of Rex Heuermann’s homes, vehicles and storage facilities. 

Among the evidence seized in South Carolina earlier this week was a 2002 Chevy Avalanche owned by the suspect’s brother, Craig Heuermann. This vehicle was impounded and taken to Suffolk County, New York for forensic analysis.

The unsealed warrant explained that the truck was believed to contain contraband or evidence related to the New York murder charges. That seemed to coincide with recent revelations that a Chevy Avalanche was observed in connection with one of the three murders at the foundation of the case against Heuermann.

A witness in the investigation of the September 2010 disappearance of 27-year-old Amber Lynn Costello described an Avalanche parked outside her home  The significance of that statement appears to have only recently been realized. 

Investigatory items of interest described in the Chester County search warrant tended to fall into four categories: Trophies, forensic evidence, records and instrumentalities.

Trophies are personal belongings taken from a victim and kept by the perpetrator as a memento. The Chester County search warrant listed such items as: Clothing, jewelry, identification, notebooks, ledgers, Bibles, personal effects and or photographs or recordings depicting the victims. 

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Forensic evidence, or the physical documentation or traces of a crime, listed in the warrant included: DNA obtainable through fingernails, toenails, animal hair or fur, human hair and human skin fibers, bodily fluids as well as any latent fingerprints and palm prints. The warrant says forensic evidence may be located on furniture, mattresses, carpets, rugs, flooring, animal cages, crates, litters, playpens, beds, towers, steps or clothing.

The records sought in South Carolina by virtue of the warrant include electronic devices or computers as well as physical and electronic records – and specifically documents related to recent rentals and purchases. 

Instrumentalities are items used to commit a crime and this part of the search warrant is by far the most bizarre. As might be expected, there are items known to be used by the Long Island Serial Killer like camouflage burlap fabric, which has been found with a number of victims. But the warrant contained a lengthy list of odds and ends: Jute-like fabric, hunting blinds, restraints, belts, textile yarns, polyester fibers, cotton fibers, tape, black leather belts, devices utilized to stamp letters onto leather goods, knives, scissors, cutting implements, firearms, magazines, cases, ammunition, bullet fragments and shell casings.

The search warrant also made note of instrumentalities as hiding places like locked rooms, storage areas, vaults, cabinets, safes, closets, containers, strong boxes, desks, drawers, suitcases, briefcases, boxes, hidden compartments or other such enclosures where items can be kept, hidden or secreted.

Leading up to this part of the investigation, authorities in New York released photos of a black leather belt they found early on in their investigation. The belt bore the initials HM or WH. It is not thought to belong to any of the victims, which indicated it was not considered a trophy. Rather, the belt is considered an instrumentality. Items like the belt may have been used in the crime and/ or been touched by the killer. Authorities are likely testing such items for traces of DNA as a result. 

The one item on the list of instrumentalities that seems both oddly specific and domestic are “Bounty paper towels specifically from the Bounty Modern Print Collection.”

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ABOUT THE BROTHER …

Prior to last week’s arrest, Rex Heuermann had no criminal record. This is not the case with his brother, Craig, however. In February 1988, the younger Heuermann killed a police captain in Nassau County, New York in a horrific, drug-fueled highway accident. He was 22 years old at the time.

The accident was documented in Buskey v State of New York (pdf).

The documentation stated as follows: “On February 27, 1988, at about 9:25 A.M., Winnion Buskey was driving westbound on the S.S.P. between the Hicksville Road and Seaford-Oyster Bay (State Route 135) exits. At the same time, motorist Craig Heuermann was proceeding eastbound on said Parkway in the extreme right-hand lane when he lost control and veered to the left across two lanes of traffic onto the center median. He continued across the median, through the chain link fence and onto the leftmost westbound lane of the S.S.P. There he hit a car head on and then hit decedent’s car broadside, causing the latter to spin to the west end of the westbound acceleration  lane. The Heuermann car was then hit by another car.”

Craig Heuermann pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and one of two counts of driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to three years in prison. 

This past infraction is noted as a matter of history. As of this writing, no one other than Rex Heuermann has been implicated, arrested or charged for their involvement in the Long Island murders. 

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SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE … KNOWS SOMETHING

Over the weekend, police in Rock Hill, S.C. said they were investigating whether the disappearance of Aaliyah Bell was tied to the alleged Long Island Serial Killer. Bell disappeared two days before Thanksgiving in 2014 – at the age of eighteen – and was last seen approximately twenty miles away from a property owned by Heuermann.

She would be 27 years old today.

In a statement, Rock Hill police lieutenant Michael Chavis said investigators “have been reviewing any information to see if there is a correlation between the disappearance of Aaliyah Bell and Rex Heuermann.”

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Chavis noted there were no indications Heuermann was tied to Bell’s disappearance, but said the department was “doing its due diligence.”

Anyone who believes they may have information relevant to the case is encouraged to contact law enforcement. A website hosted by the Suffolk County, New York police department is providing constant updates on the case, along with a timeline and victim information.

It includes 911 calls, photos of evidence, and a page where anyone can leave tips …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Callie Lyons (provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher and author. Her 2007 book ‘Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal’ was the first to cover forever chemicals and their impact on communities – a story later told in the movie ‘Dark Waters’. Her investigative work has been featured in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world. Lyons also appears in ‘Citizen Sleuth’ – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.

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3 comments

Avatar photo
VERITAS Top fan July 24, 2023 at 5:56 pm

While they’re at it, might want to check Murdaugh-owned (previously or otherwise) property. I don’t think Maggie and Paul were Alex’s first. Think I’m kidding?

Reply
Flossip Top fan July 25, 2023 at 8:22 am

I hope the local law enforcement folks are going over those lots with ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs. Serial killers don’t typically just stop until something stops them, or so the criminologists say.

Reply
MaryContrary Top fan July 25, 2023 at 11:41 am

There have been quite a few young ladies who have disappeared in S.C. over the years. I hope there will be new eyes looking at these cases to see if there is a connection.

Reply

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