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‘Killing Machine’ - Inside the Dark, Meticulous Mind Behind the Gilgo Serial Murders

By Belal Awad · July 23, 2023

In brief…

  • Low-key ealtor and family man Rex Heuermann turned out to be the brutal Gilgo Beach serial killer.
  • Criminologist Scott Bonn explains the duality of serial killers, who maintain a facade of normalcy while concealing a sinister alter ego.
  • Heuermann's ability to keep his family unaware of his murders is a common trait among meticulous serial killers.
  • Heuermann's emotionless demeanor in custody points to a psychopathic nature characterized by narcissism and sadism.
Rex Heuerman  Suffolk County Sheriff's Office

Since the shocking July 14 arrest Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann, a steady stream of disturbing details have emerged of the realtor, family man and seemingly ordinary resident of Long Island who, in reality, turned out to be an insatiable, cold-blooded murderer.

Criminologist and author Scott Bonn provided CNN an unnerving glimpse into the shadowy realm of serial killers, disgourging the chilling duality of individuals who maintain a façade of respectability while harboring a malevolent alter ego.

Bonn, author of “Why We Love Serial Killers” and host of the podcast, “The Killing Hour,” drew comparisons between Heuermann and infamous serial killers, including Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy. Bonn characterizes this breed of serial killer as someone who seamlessly integrates into society, appearing as an ordinary, well-adjusted individual, yet concealing a sinister second self. “These killers,” Bonn said, “possess an uncanny ability to compartmentalize, metamorphosing into an entirely different entity. This enables them to perpetrate horrific acts without experiencing emotional repercussions such as guilt or anxiety.”

A particularly eerie aspect of this case was Herman’s ability to keep his family unaware of his murderous activities. Bonn said the phenomenon is not uncommon among meticulous serial killers, citing cases such as Dennis Rader - the infamous BTA - who led a seemingly normal life while brutalizing his hand-picked victims. “Serial killers like Herman prefer to operate within their comfort zones, where they feel in control,” said Bonn. “For Heuermann, his home became a macabre burial ground, a location that offered him both convenience and a chilling thrill, reinforcing his sense of dominance over his victims.”

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon’s observation of Heuermann’s emotionless demeanor while in custody casts a light on the psychopathic nature of the suspect, according to Bonn, who describes the killer as a mix of “narcissism with sadism thrown in for good measure … barely human. He’s more of a killing machine. He’s like a great white shark that is just below the surface. And you don’t see them until the last second when they when they attack. So the fact that he would be so cool, calm and collected in custody doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Bonn said serial killers often operate with meticulous planning and precision. “Herman’s selection of such a desolate area for the disposal of the bodies might seem paradoxical, but to him, those bodies were invisible in plain sight. It was close to his home, within his comfort zone, and likely provided an additional thrill as he revisited the scene to relive the fantasies of his heinous acts.”