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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Gilgo beach suspect’s house draws avid onlookers: ‘I’m so into this’

Onlookers gather alongside media to watch the heavy police presence at the house of Rex Heuermann in Massapequa Park, N.Y., on Friday, July 14, 2023. In Massapequa Park, the curious and obsessed come to gawk at the house where Rex Heuermann lived; some bring the children.

By Corey Kilgannon and Nate Schweber

Scarlett Fascetti approached the dilapidated red house as if it were a shrine.

“I couldn’t wait to see it. I’m so into this thing,” said Fascetti, 51, a teacher who had traveled 30 miles from her Long Island, New York, town to a section of Massapequa Park that has become an instant tourist attraction for a dark reason: It is the home of Rex Heuermann, the architect charged last week in the Gilgo Beach serial killings.

Fascetti could already reel off details about the killings and had quickly gotten up to speed on the three murder charges against Heuermann. She knew everything from precisely how 11 bodies had been found along Ocean Parkway to the vehicle Heuermann had in his driveway.

Heuermann, who is being held without bail at a Suffolk County jail, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he met women who were working as escorts, then killed them and wrapped them in burlap to bury them along a stretch of barrier island on the South Shore.

Since his arrest July 13, hundreds of wide-eyed people from across Long Island and beyond have come each day to the home, about 5 miles from Gilgo Beach, where Heuermann lived with his wife and two grown children. They have clustered outside police tape on the edge of his block.

The site on the otherwise unremarkable corner of First and Michigan avenues in this sleepy bedroom community allows a vantage into the red house, a crime scene that for days has been searched by investigators, while Heuermann’s family has not been seen at home. His wife, Asa Ellerup, has filed for divorce, her lawyer, Robert A. Macedonio, confirmed Wednesday.

Some bike over or walk the dog from nearby blocks; some trek from distant towns or other states. Once-near-empty streets are lined with cars from sunup to sundown, parked by true-crime addicts, serial killer aficionados and some people obsessed specifically with the Gilgo Beach murders.

“It’s part of history,” said Lidia Feldman, 26, who lives several towns away. Her 2-year-old daughter cheerfully rode her plastic toy car into the yellow crime-scene tape.

“It sends chills down your spine,” Feldman said.

Some couldn’t care less about Gilgo Beach, the red house or the arsenal of guns being carried out of it by investigators in white jumpsuits. One group of women showed up Tuesday evening to announce they were there only to meet police officers to date.

This offer was met with a mix of grins and stern stares from a phalanx of officers standing sentry.

Some parents viewed the house as an educational site. Mayra Urema of Farmingdale brought her daughter Veronica Medina, 14, because, she said, “I wanted to teach my daughter that there’s scary people in this world.”

As for herself, Urema said. “I’ve been following this story since day one.”’

She stared past the crime scene tape and murmured, “I’d love to go inside there, just to see.”

Onlookers seemed both horrified and fascinated.

“Coming here makes it real for me,” said Lori Gargiulo, who mentioned her own coincidental connections to notorious crimes. Serial killer Joel Rifkin was a classmate at East Meadow High School, she said, and Colin Ferguson, who shot 25 people, six fatally, on a Long Island Rail Road train in 1993, was a co-worker at a burglar alarm company in Syosset.

For Michael Iavarone, of Huntington, New York, visiting this neighborhood of modest, well-kept houses in neat rows drove home the idea that “this guy was living amongst the people.”

Iavarone, a co-owner of the champion racehorse Big Brown and a surpassingly flashy internet personality, looked toward the red house, absorbed in watching investigators cart out evidence.

“I feel horrible for the neighbors,” he said. “It’s become a tourist spot.”

Marianne Patino, 59, who lives in Babylon, likened the Heuermann house to the Dutch colonial 2 miles away made famous by the “Amityville Horror” films, which were based on the true story of a young man who killed six members of his family in 1974.

“This will be the next ‘Amityville Horror house,’ it will stay in history,” she said — a prospect dreaded by neighbors. Decades after the Amityville crimes, gawkers still drive by and take photos, to the consternation of the current owners.

On Tuesday, a reporter who visited the original Amityville house was met by a woman on a balcony who shouted, “private property!”

Nick Marsi and Jake Goodhart, both 18-year-olds from Hauppauge, New York, had parked in front of the house to chat about the films. They enjoy exploring serial killer points of interest, they said.

The young men said they were unaware of the Gilgo Beach slayings, but were amazed to learn that the suspect lived only 2 miles away.

“Sounds awesome,” Marsi said.

They drove off.

Back at the Massapequa Park house, Bernadette Paredes, 53, an office manager from Levittown, New York, had brought her 18-year-old daughter, Brooke, who had watched a Netflix documentary, “Lost Girls,” about the Gilgo Beach case.

“It was just weird to watch it and come here and see it in real life,” Brooke Paredes said. “It’s creepy.”

Her mother took photographs for Facebook.

“I guess now I’m cool,” she said. “I got to see Rex’s house.”

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