The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is working with the Sumter County, South Carolina sheriff’s office to solve the 2017 disappearance of Julia Ann Bean in light of new evidence from an eyewitness that could tie the missing South Carolina woman to a serial killer. The latest developments in this cold case were prompted by Bean’s daughter – who claims she saw her mother with Rex Heuermann in a Chevy Avalanche just before she went missing.
“I have chills … I’ve seen him,” the daughter wrote in text messages obtained by The (U.S.) Sun. “That was the last man I saw her with personally.”
Heuermann, the alleged Long Island Serial Killer, is facing murder charges in New York in connection with three women whose bodies were found on Gilgo Beach. It is predicted his list of victims will grow as investigators comb through evidence collected from his Nassau County home and several other sites across the country – including sites in South Carolina.
As this news outlet has previously reported, Heuermann owns property in Chester County – located approximately 100 miles from Red Bay Road in Sumter County where Bean was last seen.
In connection with the Nassau County murders, police seized a Chevy Avalanche last month from a Chester County property belonging to the accused’s brother, Craig Heuermann. The alleged serial killer’s brother lives in the rural neighborhood where Rex Heuermann purchased four parcels in 2021 – a place where he intended to live out his retirement.
Heuermann’s arrest has law enforcement officials and family members re-examining a number of unsolved crimes in search of answers.
“Where is she?” asked Heidi Kovas – a friend of Bean’s who has never stopped looking for answers.
Upon hearing of Heuermann’s arrest, she was stunned to see his victims “strongly resemble” Bean – a fair, petite brunette.
“There’s no doubt in my mind Rex Heuermann is behind this,” Kovas said.
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Bean, a mother of three, was 36-years-old when she was last seen by her teenage daughter on June 1-2, 2017. According to the Sun report, the two “had made plans to get their nails done together” at a Sumter salon. Activity on her Facebook account was recorded as recently as July 12, 2017 – and she was not formally reported as missing until November 18, 2017.
“The case is cold, not closed,” said Mark Bordeaux of the Sumter County sheriff’s office, adding that law enforcement has had very little to work with in the search for Bean.
Investigators in New York have not commented on the Bean case, however the local district attorney’s office indicated it “stands ready to assist outside jurisdictions with any of their ongoing investigations.”
Bean is described as a Caucasian female with light brown hair and green eyes. She has three tattoos – a tribal design, a name, and small paw prints. She was born in May 1981, which makes her 42 years old today. Standing 5-foot-6 and weighing 110 pounds, her physical characteristics are in line with Heuermann’s preference for petite women.
Bean – who sometimes used her maiden name Spring – moved often and at times was out of touch with family. Her husband died about a month prior to her disappearance, according to Kovas. She was struggling to get her life together and that may have made her vulnerable.
“Julie was always for the underdog,” Kovas said. “She was a butterfly – kind, gentle and smart. If there were more people n the world like Julie it would be a much softer place.”
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While she was struggling financially, Kovas said she has no reason to think Bean was an escort. She said she despises the negative terms being used in the media to describe Heuermann’s victims – words like sex workers and drug addicts.
Those terms “miss the point,” according to Kovas.
Kovas wants answers about Bean’s disappearance – and she wants Bean’s children to know that she did not leave them willingly.
While the case is being looked at – and information is being shared with the FBI – Bordeaux could not say one way or the other if there was a connection with Heuermann, stressing that the Sumter County sheriff’s department will chase every possible lead.
Since Heuermann’s arrest, this media outlet has attempting to ascertain his involvement with Mirror Lakes, Inc. – a South Carolina corporation – and the company’s other Chester County property holdings, including a small cemetery in the vicinity of the place where Heuermann intended to retire.
Is Heuermann a stakeholder in this company? Has he been involved since its inception in 1995? Despite many attempts to contact Mirror Lakes, no information has been provided to us thus far. Anyone with information about Heuermann’s connection to Mirror Lakes, Inc. should contact this author at [email protected].
Finally, in addition to continuing to focus on the high-profile LISK case and its ties – both actual and suspected – to the Palmetto State, be sure to check out our new Unsolved Carolinas feature. Launched by our research direct, Jenn Wood, Unsolved Carolinas focuses on missing persons cases and unsolved murders in both North and South Carolina.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher, and author whose investigative work can be found in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world – most recently in the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and a German documentary for ProSieben. Lyons also appears in Citizen Sleuth – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.
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