Thursday, September 21, 2023
Google search engine
HomeNational USHow 'untraceable' burner phones helped police catch alleged Gulgo Beach serial killer

How ‘untraceable’ burner phones helped police catch alleged Gulgo Beach serial killer

The case against accused Long Island serial killer Rex Heverman hinged largely on extensive cellphone evidence — including burner phones he believed would hide his identity when contacting victims.

However, the New York architect’s efforts to remain anonymous are in the face of common myths about modern technology and device identification, experts told Fox News Digital.

“The more you use the phone, the more patterns and patterns catch you,” said Frank Thornton of Blackthorne Digital Forensics.

Haverman, 59, was arrested last Thursday for the murders of Megan Waterman, 22, Amber Costello, 27, and Melissa Barthelme, 24, whose cellphones he allegedly used to make prank phone calls to his sister.

Alleged Galgo Beach Killer Nicknamed Peter ‘Family Guy’ by Co-Workers: Source

Accused Long Island murderer Rex Haverman, center. In the background is Gulgo Beach, where the bodies of four of his suspected victims were found in 2010. (Jeffrey Simon Architecture & Design/Mega)

The married father of two is also the prime suspect in the murder of a fourth victim, 25-year-old Maureen Brainard Barnes.

Their bound bodies were discovered within two days of each other on a stretch of New York’s Gilgo Beach in 2010, but it would take more than 12 years for investigators to find their alleged killer.

Burner phones

Burner phones, also known as track phones, are inexpensive cell phones that do not require identity verification or credit checks.

They are often used by criminals to hide illegal activities and by people who cannot afford more expensive contracts.

Gilgo Beach murder victims Amber Costello, Maureen Brainard Barnes, Melissa Barthelme, Megan Waterman.

Gilgo Beach murder victims Amber Costello, top left, Maureen Brainard Barnes, top right, Melissa Barthelme, bottom left, and Megan Waterman. (Suffolk County Police Department)

Between July 2007 and September 2010, Haverman allegedly used a different Burner phone to communicate with each of his victims before he disappeared.

“I think he thought he was anonymous behind the burner phone and didn’t think about what appeared to be a pattern of repeated use,” Thornton told Fox News Digital.

“It would have been very difficult to keep any of this together, if he had immediately thrown out the burner phones after each use,” he added.

Gulgo Beach murders: South Carolina neighbors say suspect Rex Haverman, ‘Odie’ brother is circling

Although a burner phone may not be linked to a specific person, it still has an identifier and is tracked over the cellular network, explained technology expert Vaibhav Gupta.

Whenever a call is made, the details are recorded by the service provider. Specifically, a cell phone pings the nearest tower based on distance, signal strength, and other factors. As the cell phone moves, the tower it connects to changes.

Cell phone companies typically retain this data for a few months to a few years.

“People think burner phones are untraceable,” said Micah Sturgis, director of digital forensic services for Barefoot Professional Investigations in North Carolina. “If you open it on the free Wi-Fi at McDonald’s, it will show you at that date and time at McDonald’s, and you’re probably on surveillance.”

Alleged killer leaves clues in cell phone data

After the women disappeared, investigators obtained cell site dumps, which contain information about all the devices connected to specific cell towers during the time period related to the victims’ movements.

The Gilgo Beach Murders: An Investigation in Pictures

This data was not obtained after the disappearance of Brainard Barnes on July 9, 2007.

The FBI compared the victims’ phones to the burner phones and towers they were pinging.

Haverman is stationed in New York City.

Accused Gulgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuerman was captured on Google Street View images months before his arrest in midtown Manhattan. (Google Maps/Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office)

They visited a section of midtown Manhattan and the bedroom community of Massapequa Park, New York, about 40 miles east of the city and about 15 miles north of Gilgo Beach.

However, narrowing the frame in a big city like Manhattan, Sturgis said, is all but futile. While the police stored the data, there was little else they could have done with it.

Watch ‘Warm Tide’ on Fox Nation

Shortly after taking office in January 2022, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney announced the creation of a new task force, including the FBI, to address the problem known as the “Gulgo Four.”

In a little more than two months, the team identified a suspect using information obtained in 2010.

Chevrolet Avalanche

The day before Costello disappeared, he exchanged messages with a man in Massapequa Park using a burner phone.

The client went to her home in West Babylon, Long Island, on September 1 for a date, but a man, pretending to be Costello’s angry boyfriend, broke in.

Gilgo Beach Kills South Carolina Two

New York State Police pulled over a Chevy Avalanche in South Carolina in connection with Gilgo Beach murder suspect Rex Haverman. (Audrey Conklin/Fox News Digital)

A witness described John’s car as a black first-generation Chevrolet Avalanche with a “very unique feature” between the cab and the bed, Tierney said at a press conference announcing the arrest Friday.

In addition, the witness described the man as being in his mid-40s, over 6 feet 4 inches tall and wearing “large oval 1970s style glasses.”

Galgo Beach Murderer Rex Haverman Seen in Google Street View Images

According to a witness, the same man picked up Costello in an avalanche the next evening, and she was never seen again.

For the first time in January 2022, a New York State investigator searched a database for a specific car registered to a driver that matched the 2010 description, which led them to Heuerman.

Rex Haverman's wife Asa Elrup and daughter Victoria Haverman walk down the street

Asa Allerp, wife of accused Gilgo Beach killer Rex Haverman, and their daughter Victoria Haverman walk through the parking lot on Tuesday, July 18, 2023. (Dario Alequin for Fox News Digital)

Not only did he live in Massapequa Park, he worked in Midtown Manhattan. His wife was also out of town when Barthelemy, Waterman and Costello disappeared. The signs were lining up fast.

How Police Link Heuerman to the Burner Phones

Although the location data for the human’s cellphone is long gone, any activity that overlaps with the original data dump, Gupta said.

“It’s a huge amount of data analysis that has to be done,” said Jim Clement, a former FBI agent and criminal profiler. “Even 10 years ago, it would have taken a lot of computers to sift through the data and see patterns that we can now do in what was previously just background noise.”

It turned out that Heuerman’s cell phone movements on multiple occasions coincided with his Amex purchases with the victims and burner phones.

Rex Heuemann's office and the victim's phone from the cell tower were blocked from the plot on the map.

Rex Haverman allegedly called victim Melissa Barthelme’s sister, seven days after she disappeared, from his cell phone, pinging a tower 2,372 feet from her midtown office. This was one of several calls he allegedly made to the victim’s phone. (Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office)

Even more telling, “investigators found no instance where Haverman was in a separate location from these other cellphones,” prosecutors wrote in the bail application.

For example, on the day Barthelemy was last seen alive on July 10, 2009, Burner’s phone called her and Heuerman’s cell phone in Massapequa and traveled to New York City together.

Gilgo Beach murder suspect Rex Haverman planned to retire to secluded South Carolina estate, neighbor says

“Subsequently, both Ms. Barthelme’s and Haverman’s phones traveled east toward Massapequa,” the bail application states.

Authorities said Haverman used Barthelemy’s phone to call and scare his family, and each time he pinged a tower near his office. He also allegedly used the phones of Barthelme and Brainard Barnes to check their voicemails after killing them.

The two subjects are pictured above by Rex Heuermann.

Rex Haverman allegedly searched for “Long Island Serial Killer” in March 2022 on a Google account linked to a Burner phone. According to police, this was one of several occasions when he saw Case and his victims. (Suffolk County District Attorney)

Clemente said Heuemann “took a tremendous risk” by using the victim’s phone but called him a “sexual sadist” who could not control his emotions.

When Haverman allegedly told Barthelemy’s sister what he had done to the young woman, he “went on to cause her pain and fear and witness it” and relive his guilt, Clement said.

Gilgo Beach Murders: 3 Serial Killers Who Lived in the World Concealed a Dark Reality

“It’s analogous to an arsonist looking at the fire department and the response to the flames and having a sense of power,” he said.

As the investigation of Heuerman deepened, investigators found additional burner phones he allegedly used to troll for prostitutes and create email accounts to view hours of torture and child pornography.

Goods were removed from the accused serial killer's house in Gigolo Beach.

Police remove items from the home of Rex Haverman in Massapequa Park, New York, Thursday, July 20, 2023. Haverman is charged with the murders of three sex workers whose bodies were discovered in 2010 on Long Island’s Gilgo Beach. (Mega for Fox News Digital)

He also reportedly met his victims, their families and the task force investigating him until the end of June 2023.

Click here to get the Fox News app.

Maybe he felt the walls closing in. He accessed a 2021 Fox News Digital article titled, “In Long Island serial killer probe, new phone technology may be key to breaking case.”

Source by [Fox News]



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments