By Julia Harte and Rami Ayyub
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A man has been charged with the murders of three women in New York more than a decade ago and leaving their bodies near a Long Island beach, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office said on Friday.
Eleven sets of human remains were found in 2010 and 2011 along an isolated stretch of Gilgo Beach on an Atlantic barrier island about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of New York City.
The remains were linked to nine women, one man and a toddler girl. The killings drew national attention.
Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney told reporters Rex A. Heuermann, a 59-year-old architect who lived a 20-minute drive from Gilgo Beach in Massapequa Park, faced three counts each of murder in the first and second degree.
Heuermann pleaded not guilty to the charges, CBS News said. He was arrested on Thursday evening and is under investigation for the murder of a fourth woman whose disappearance and death resembled the others, Tierney said.
Tierney’s office requested in a bail application on Friday that Heuermann be remanded into custody without bail, noting that if convicted of the charges, Heuermann faces multiple sentences of life in prison without parole.
Detectives used DNA samples to link Heuermann to the murders, including swabbing leftover crust from a pizza he consumed after a surveillance team saw him throw it away in Manhattan in January, the bail application said.
Heuermann used a burner cellphone to contact the three women, who were in their 20s and advertised themselves as sex workers, and bound them with belts or tape before wrapping some of the bodies in a burlap-type material, according to the application.
“This case is not over, it’s only beginning,” Tierney said at a press conference where he appeared alongside Suffolk County law enforcement officers, federal agents and some of the victims’ relatives.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said his officers were investigating the other murders. He urged the public to share any relevant information with them.
At least five of the Gilgo Beach victims were identified as missing prostitutes who had advertised for clients online, including on Craigslist, police have said.
(Reporting by Rami Ayyub and Julia Harte; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Howard Goller)
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