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The Gilgo Beach killings suspect’s wife unknowingly helped in his arrest

In her more than 27 years of marriage to Rex Heuermann, Asa Ellerup likely did not know about the gruesome double life her husband is accused of living, Suffolk County’s top cop says. “If you ask me, I don’t believe, that they knew about this double life that Mr. Heuermann was living,” Suffolk County police commissioner Rodney Harrison said of the suspect’s family.

Last week, the 59-year-old Heuermann was arrested and charged with murder in connection to the killings of three of the “Gilgo Four,” a group of four women whose remains were found along a short stretch of Long Island’s Gilgo Beach in 2010. He is also the prime suspect in the disappearance and killing of the fourth woman but has yet to be charged in that case.

On Wednesday, less than a week since her husband’s arrest, Ellerup filed for divorce, her attorney Robert Macedonio told CNN. He did not comment further on the matter.

She was shocked to hear what her husband is accused of, Harrison said. But she unknowingly played a key role in her husband’s arrest: it was her DNA, among other evidence, that authorities say helped tie Heuermann to the crimes. Here’s what we know about his wife, their life together and the unexpected role she played in the case.

Rex Heuermann was arrested and charged with murder in the killings of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello. Heuermann is also the prime suspect in the killing of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, according to prosecutors.

When the victims were first discovered, there were pieces of degraded hair recovered by authorities – but DNA testing at the time could not provide the answers investigators hoped for. Hair that is now believed to belong to Ellerup – which presumably had been unintentionally carried by the suspect on his clothes – was found on or near the three victims, prosecutors alleged in the bail application, citing DNA testing.

Though her hair was found with the victims, Ellerup and their daughter were both traveling when the killings were committed and Heuermann was “alone in the tri-state area,” Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said during a Friday news conference. “It’s very significant in as much as it then limits it down to him,” criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson told CNN’s Jake Tapper about the finding. “If the suspect’s wife is out of town, then why would her hair be there if he’s in town?” Suffolk County authorities say DNA evidence also linked Heuermann to a male hair found on the burlap sack where one victim’s remains were found.

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