(NewsNation) — Suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann may be in jail facing murder charges, but he also ruined the lives of his family members, who have had to resort to selling their life rights to pay their bills.
Asa Ellerup, who filed for divorce from Heuermann six days after he was charged with the murder of three sex workers, is currently filming a documentary or docu-series for Peacock/NBC and, according to sources, has been paid handsomely for her time.
Two independent sources confirmed to NewsNation Ellerup and her two children, Victoria and Christopher, will receive at least $1 million for participating in the doc.
“They will be filmed throughout the trial and after the trial’s outcome,” one source said. “The family will tell their entire story and everything about their life (with Heuermann) exclusively to the (documentary filmmakers).”
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The family’s lawyers will also be receiving compensation for their participation as well.
Ellerup’s lawyer, Robert Macedonio, is said to have signed a $400,000 deal while Vess Mitev, a lawyer for Heuermann’s daughter Victoria and his stepson Christopher, is said to have been paid $200,000. When contacted, Mitev and Macedonio both declined comment.
The move was seen as a last resort for Ellerup and her children, all of whom have been unhireable since Heuermann was arrested in July.
Mitev described the hardships the children are going through to NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield saying, “Their existence now is bleak and as hardscrabble as you can imagine, there’s no Mercedes, there’s no luxury vehicles. There’s no you know, European clothes. In fact, one of the things that they’re trying to get back (are) vintage jackets and clothes that they need for the winter. This is no joke this is this is not hyperbole.”
Ellerup and the documentary crew showed up to court this week to witness her soon-to-be ex-husband’s arraignment on three counts of murder related to the strangulation deaths of Amber Lynn Costello, 27, Melissa Barthelemy, 24, and Megan Waterman, 22, whose bodies were among 11 found on the desolate stretch of coastline close to the Heuermanns’ Long Island Home between 2010 and 2011. He is also the prime suspect in the death of 25-year-old Maureen Brainard-Barnes, who was the first woman to disappear.
The case has captivated the nation — and media companies. Within weeks of Heuermann’s arrest in July, Netflix ordered up a three part documentary series by Liz Garbus — the documentarian who filmed “Harry & Meghan” — and Lifetime re-aired it’s 2021 fictionalized movie about the killer: “The Long Island Serial Killer: A Mother’s Hunt for Justice.” And Peacock dropped big bucks for access top the family for a docu-series that will air after the trial is over. Reps for NBC/Peacock didn’t return emails for comment.
“They have been offered big money, but haven’t taken anyone up on it so far,” one source said. Lawyers for the Kohberger family didn’t return emails for comment.
Kohberger was arrested in January, accused of killing four Idaho college students, Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin in November 2022. All four were stabbed as they slept and as weeks went by with no suspect, speculation and rumors ran rampant online.
To be fair, both Ellerup and the Kohberger family — who claim to have been in the dark about their relatives’ murderous activities — were all left in dire financial straits after their loved ones were accused of these heinous multiple crimes. Shortly after Heuermann was arrested, Ellerup had to rely on a GoFundMe set up by Melissa Moore — the daughter of “The Happy Face Killer”, Keith Hunter Jesperson, to pay her bills. (To date, the fund has raised over $56,000.) Ellerup and Heuermann’s daughter Victoria, who worked with her father at his architecture firm, is unemployed after the arrest as is Ellerup’s son Christopher.
In September, Heuermann signed over the deed to the family’s Long Island home, worth $530,000, to Ellerup, but the “traumatized” family is still in the lurch financially.
Meanwhile, Kohberger’s two sisters were both fired from their jobs after their brother’s arrest in March and moved back in with their parents who are retired.
“As long as they have the last name ‘Kohberger,’ no one in that family is going to be able to work,” a family friend told NewsNation.
But, despite the families purportedly having had no previous knowledge of their relatives’ crimes, many still find the monetization of murder distasteful and a disturbing sign of the times.
Colby Hall, the founding editor of media website Mediaite, and NewsNation’s media analyst said, “America’s appetite for true crime stories seems insatiable. It’s big business and as a result, media companies are paying enormous sums to families at the center of these real-life horror stories, which raises some tricky ethical questions about profiteering off murder.”
As the money goes to the family of the murder suspect, not the suspect, the money incurred is not subject to “Son of Sam” laws. The law passed in 1978, was designed to prevent criminals from receiving money from selling their stories to publishers and movie producers.