The distraught sister of the latest ‘victim’ of Long Island ‘serial killer’ Rex Heuermann’ wept outside of court as she said ‘losing Maureen has become a wound that never truly heals.’
Melissa Cann, 39, trembled when she spoke about the death of her older sister, Maureen Brainard-Barnes after Heuermann was charged with second degree murder on Tuesday at Suffolk County Criminal Court as he pled not guilty.
The 25-year-old Connecticut woman’s remains were found along the stretch of Ocean Parkway on December 13, 2010. The mom-of-two sex worker was last seen alive on or about July 9, 2007 when she left a motel in Manhattan to meet a client.
In July, Heuermann, was charged with first and second degree murder in the deaths of Melissa Barthelemy, 24; Megan Waterman, 22; and Amber Costello, 27. All the women worked as sex workers. Heuermann pled not guilty to all the charges.
‘Thirteen years ago, Maureen was found murdered after she went missing for three and a half years. Throughout those years, I had continued to hold onto hope that one day there would be justice for Maureen, and that whoever took Maureen’s life would be held accountable,’ she said.
‘Today is another important chapter in the long pursuit of justice for Maureen.’
Melissa Cann, 39, speaking on behalf of her sister Maureen Bainard-Barnes, who was the fourth victim in the ‘Gilgo Four,’ that was announced at today’s indictment. Attorney Gloria Allred, attorney, (pictured left) comforts Cann as she speaks
Attorney Gloria Allred speaks after Tuesday’s indictment as the representative of the alleged victims of defendant, Rex Heuermann (pictured right Nicolette Brainard-Barnes, Maureen’s 24-year-old daughter and pictured left Maureen’s sister, Melissa Cann, 39)
Nicolette ‘Nikki’ Brainard-Barnes, 24, holds up one of the last photos she took with her mother, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25. She said the last time she saw her mother was when she was 7-years-old and spoke of how much she misses having her in her life
Cann spoke about what a great big sister Maureen was and how she was always there for her and wept went she spoke about the last time she saw her.
‘It has been sixteen years since the last time I saw my sister and sixteen years since I heard her voice because sixteen years ago, she was silenced.’
She said with the loss of her sister has come ‘unimaginable pain and panic.
‘My life shattered with the confirmation of Maureen’s death due to the experience of my sister going missing and being found murdered.’
She said that she has suffered from grueling PTSD and became ‘guarded and overprotective to those she loves because she said, she ‘knew first-hand that evil exists in the world.’
She said her sister aspired to become a writer and loved to read books. When she went missing at such a young age – 25 years old – she had her whole life ahead of her.
Alleged Gilgo Beach Serial Killer Rex Heuermann walks into the Suffolk County courtroom in Riverhead on Tuesday morning dressed in navy blue suit with polka dot tie ready to face Judge Timothy P.Mazzei as his attorney Michael Brown stands nearby
Heurmann’s attorney speaks to his client in the Riverhead courtroom on Tuesday during his indictment in the death of a fourth woman Maureen Brainard-Barnes
Rex Heuremann stands with cuffs behind his back as his attorney, Michael Brown (pictured right) speaks with Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney (pictured left) in Judge Timothy P. Mazzei’s courtroom on Tuesday
Heuremann pled not guilty in the death of Maureen Brainard-Barnes
‘Maureen would never get to show the world how talented she was,’ she said.
‘My family will never get the chance to know who Maureen would have been today because her life was tragically taken.’
She spoke about the stigma her family has endured since her sister was judged and marginalized and said ‘Maureen was more than how she has been portrayed.’
She added, ‘she was first and foremost a loving mother, a caring sister, and a giving friend.’
At the time of her death, she was the mother of two young children, ‘two children,’ she said, that ‘will forever be without their mother.’
She walked away from the podium and hugged her 24-year-old neice Nicolette ‘Nikki’ Brainard-Barnes, one of Maureen’s children, who also spoke.
Nicolette said she was only 7 years old when her mother was murdered and said the loss ‘drastically changed the trajectory of her life.’
‘There are countless times I needed her, and she was not there,’ she said.
She remember as a youngster how her mother would read to her every night, but said she can no longer ‘remember the sound of her voice.’
‘I wish she was here today,’ Nicolette said as she held up one of the last photos of her and her mother together.
‘I owe so much to my mom, and I know that she would want me to speak out for her in the process and let everyone know who she really was,’ said the young woman who wants her mother to be remembered as a loving mother.
Cann and Nikki both expressed gratitude to the Suffolk DA’s office, Suffolk County Police, detectives past and preset and the Gilgo Beach Task Force for their commitment all these years the case.
‘For years it looked like there might not be charges filed against any suspect for the murder of my mother.
Though she is still suffering her loss, she said, ‘the indictment by the Grand Jury has brought hope for justice for my mom and my family.’
High-profile attorney Gloria Allred, also spoke after the indictment and was there to represent five of the six clients who are relatives or a friend of the alleged victims of defendant Rex Heuermann.
Those who were present but did not speak was Melissa Barthelemy’s sister, Amanda Funderburg; Elizabeth Meserve, Megan Waterman’s aunt, and legal guardian of her daughter, and Sara Karnes, Maureen Brainard-Barnes friend.
Allerd said she was asked to represent them as their victims’ rights attorney in the case, and that she was ‘honored to support them.’
Heuermann has been charged in the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, 24; Amber Costello, 27; Megan Waterman, 22 and now Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25
The photo that Nikki held up after today’s indictment of her and her mother – one of the last photos of the mom and daughter taken together
Ten bodies were found in total in 2010 and 2011 in stretches of Long Island beach near to where Heuermann lived
Melissa Barthelemy’s mother, Lynn Barthelemy was not able to be present today, Allred said.
Allred spoke about a sex worker from California named Rhonda DaCosta that contacted her 39-years-ago after she was raped and sodomized by a client who had also stolen money from her.
Allred explained that DaCosta performed that type of work because she needed the money to support herself and her young child.
During his criminal trial, the rapist, Daniel Zabuski was charged with rape, sodomy and grand theft, but Judge Gilbert Alston dismissed the case.
Judge Alston told the Pasadena Star at the time that the case should have never been filed and said ‘a whore is a whore is a whore.’
Appalled at the judge’s comments she said, ‘this case wasn’t about contract; it was about rape and every woman’s right to say ‘No.’
‘I mention this case today because the suggestion from Judge Alston seemed to be that sex workers are not good people,’ she said. ‘This notion is dangerous to women’s lives, whether or not they are sex workers.’
She added: ‘The courthouse door should never be shut to any woman who is victimized by gender violence.
‘It is long overdue to provide justice for vulnerable women who are missing and murdered,’ she said.
‘It will be for the jury to decide if this defendant will be found guilty of the murder of Maureen and the murder of other women for whom the defendant has been indicted.
In closing, she added: ‘We look forward to a fair trial for the defendant and justice for Maureen.’