Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning director Liz Garbus is doing a three-part Netflix docuseries about the serial killings of Gilgo Beach on Long Island, for which Rex Heuermann of Massapequa Park was arrested in July. Between 10 and 16 women were killed on Long Island in the ’90s and 2000s, with many of their remains being found on Gilgo Beach, but it was thought to be a cold case until Heuermann was arrested and charged with three of the murders. He has pleaded not guilty.
Garbus — known for directing the Oscar-nominated “What Happened, Miss Simone?,” “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” and many others, including 2022’s “Harry & Meghan” for Netflix — directed the 2020 film “Lost Girls” for Netflix as her first narrative feature, revolving around the Gilgo Beach murders. In the movie, Amy Ryan (pictured above with Garbus) played Mari Gilbert, the enraged mother of a missing young woman who was a sex worker — the serial killer targeted escorts. The film was adapted from Robert Kolker’s 2013 nonfiction bestseller “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery,” a book that chronicled how police negligence had hampered the investigation for years.
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In an interview for the movie’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020, Garbus said she hoped “Lost Girls” could bring renewed attention to the case. “I’m hopeful it might be solved,” she said. In February 2022, a task force was formed to investigate the murders, which eventually led to the arrest of Heuermann. (For a timeline of what happened, this New York Times compendium is helpful.)
Garbus’ company Story Syndicate, which she founded with her husband, filmmaker Dan Cogan, will produce the docuseries. According to Netflix’s release, “The series will foreground the stories of the victims’ lives, with exclusive access to their families, and examine the history of the police investigation and recent breakthroughs that led to the identification of Rex Heuermann, who had been hiding in suburban Long Island in plain sight.”
“With the arrest of suspect Rex Heuermann on July 13 of this year, a new chapter began in the decades-old investigation of the missing and murdered women found in Gilgo Beach and beyond. And yet, just as some questions start being answered, new ones emerge,” Garbus says, going on to then list the victims. “I am incredibly passionate about this story and am grateful to Netflix for supporting the continuation of my work in remembering Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, Amber Costello, Maureen Brainard-Barnes and also Shannan Gilbert, whose disappearance led to the discovery of the Gilgo Beach victims, and the other potentially connected cases.”
The executive producers of the untitled docuseries are Garbus, Cogan, Jon Bardin and Mala Chapple for Story Syndicate, as well as Anne Carey of Archer Gray. Elizabeth Wolff and Kate Barry are producers.
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