Suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann kept a large room in his basement locked and became skittish when an interior designer tasked with measuring his home sought to enter – telling her it was filled with guns, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Speaking exclusively with DailyMail.com, Katherine Shepherd recalled how she found Heuermann’s reaction odd at the time and now wonders what else he might have been hiding in the 12’x15′ space.
‘I didn’t understand why he was being so weird about it, and now I’m thinking “What was he hiding?” ‘ Shepherd said.
‘It was a big room. What was happening in that room? Is that where he took the women?’
Shepherd, 47, who worked with Heuermann for five years, spent three hours assessing his Massapequa Park, New York home for a renovation project in 2005 – just one of several close interactions she had had with him that have kept her awake at night since his arrest last week.
Speaking with DailyMail.com, she described how she had developed a friendly, working relationship with the 59-year-old architect who is seen mingling with the interior designers and colleagues in exclusive photos published for the first time.
She revealed Heuermann even once took her to a firing range in the Bronx where he taught her how to fire a 9mm handgun.
On another occasion when she slipped on ice, Heuermann accompanied her to a hospital and then back to her apartment in Manhattan where he gave her meds.
Shepherd worked with Heuermann, off and on, from 2002 to 2007 and shared office space with him for two of those years in Manhattan, where he ran an architectural firm.
She would regularly travel with him to job sites as a freelance interior designer. At the time she found him smart and mostly friendly, if socially awkward.
She now likens him to a real-life Dexter, the Showtime character who led a double life as a serial killer.
‘He’s just like Dexter,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘You’d never know if you met him. Dexter was also super normal and then he had that other side.’
Shepherd admitted she had never even heard of the Gilgo killings until an old boss reached out with the news via text message on Saturday.
‘I googled his name and, Jesus, there he was,’ Shepherd said. ‘There was this picture of my colleague that I remembered dearly.
‘I then spent the next eight hours reading every article I could find. I was shocked. How could this be the same man?’
‘I’m like shaking right now,’ she said as she described her relationship with Heuermann, which ended a couple of years before he allegedly began a killing spree, dumping the bodies of several women on the beach, not far from his home on Long Island’s South Shore.
He has so far been charged with the murder of Gilgo Beach victims Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello, whose bodies were found in 2010.
He is also the prime suspect in the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, and is being looked into for the murders of the other six women whose bodies were found in 2011.
Heuermann has lived at the property since the 1980s with his wife, Asa Ellerup, and their two children.
Shepherd knew the property well. On a snowy morning in February 2005, she took a train from New York City to meet him in Massapequa Park.
He picked her up at the station and drove her to his home, where she met his wife and kids.
Shepherd recalls how Ellerup had been washing dishes and the kids were hanging out at the time.
Heuermann was planning to renovate the kitchen but also wanted precise measurements of the rest of the house.
Shepherd went room to room taking measurements and he followed her downstairs.
‘In the basement, there was this one room that was locked, and he said I couldn’t go into that room,’ she recalled.
‘I was like – what the hell? That’s weird. And he was kind of joking, like, oh you can’t go in there because there’s things in there. And then he said, ”I’ve got a bunch of guns.”
‘He was weird about it, and I was like okay, fine,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘I could measure around it.’