Rex Heuermann, the alleged serial k*iller at Gilgo Beach, was connected to a pizza crust that helped solve the cold case and at least one of the women he is accused of ki*lling 13 years ago through a DNA sample, the prosecution said in court on Wednesday.
Heuermann, 59, complied with the court order to provide a swab last month. Suffolk County prosecutors have since announced that the sample matched DNA from a pizza crust discovered outside Heuermann’s Midtown Manhattan office in July — which matched a hair discovered on the body of Megan Waterman, a victim of Gilgo Beach, in 2010.
Prosecutors claim that up until this point, the DNA on the discarded crust had been linked to Heuermann’s estranged wife, Asa Ellerup, rather than to him specifically.
After the hearing, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney told reporters, “The surveillance team had observed the pizza box and were confident that that was the DNA, that the DNA profile would be consistent with the defendant because he left that material inside the box.” Therefore, the buccal swab simply dispels all uncertainty.
The bulky architect, who showed up in court sporting a new haircut with a comb-over and dressed in tan pants, a white shirt, and a jacket, is accused of ki*lling three women who were discovered dumped on Gilgo Beach in December 2010: Waterman, 22, Melissa Barthelemy, 24, and Amber Lynn Costello, 27.
In addition, he is the main suspect in the mur*der of a fourth woman, 25-year-old Maureen Brainard-Barnes; the four victims, all former sex workers, are collectively referred to as the “Gilgo Four.”
Heuermann only spoke once during the brief proceedings, telling Justice Timothy Mazzei of the Suffolk County Supreme Court that from behind bars he had been able to review the evidence presented by the prosecution for “2 or 3 hours” at a time.
Heuermann’s attorney disputed the significance of the alleged match from his client’s DNA sample outside of court.
“There is nobody on the face of the earth that is credible is going to say that hair is my client’s hair,” defense attorney Michael Brown said.
According to scientific standards, it is impossible, he said. What they can say is that he might be a donor for that hair, but tens of thousands more people just in our area might also be, so take that for what it’s worth.
On the South Shore of Long Island, more than ten sets of human remains were discovered in 2010 and 2011, and their deaths remained a mystery for 13 years.
In January 2022, newly appointed Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison, a decorated former NYPD chief, vowed to reopen the Gilgo investigation — and identified Heuermann as a suspect within three months.
To support their case, police used cell phone records, testimonies from former witnesses, and a DNA match between hair from up to two of the Gilgo Beach victims and the pizza that was discovered at Heuehermann’s Manhattan office.
Soon after Costello vanished on September 2, 2010, a witness named David Schaller, who identified himself as the architect’s roommate, gave police a description that fit Heuermann and even described the architect’s distinctive Chevy Avalanche. However, police did not follow up on the tip for more than a decade.
The hulking architect was taken into custody outside his office on July 13, with investigators then turning their attention to the Massapequa Park home where he grew up and still lived with his family.
Heuermann purchased the house from his mother Dolores in 1994, just before she passed away. Heuermann was residing there with his wife Asa Ellerup, their daughter Veronica Heuermann, who worked as a receptionist in her father’s office, and her son Christopher Sheridan, who had developmental disabilities.
Investigators spent 12 days searching the house for body parts or other evidence, even digging up the backyard, before evicting Ellerup and her children.
Ellerup told The Post on July 31 that police left the house in utter disarray and that the family was so traumatized that they had trouble sleeping when they got home. This was her first interview since her husband’s arrest.
“I woke up in the middle of the night, shivering,” she recalled. “My kids cry themselves out of bed. They aren’t children, after all. Even though they are adults, they are still my children. My son, who has developmental disabilities, sobbed himself to sleep.
After his arrest, Ellerup, who wed Heuermann in 1996, requested a divorce.
Authorities claim that Heuermann regularly advertised for escorts on Craigslist and other websites, and that his computer contained videos with pornographic and violent sex content.
At his July arraignment on the mur*der charges, he entered a not guilty plea; he is currently being held without bail at the Suffolk County Jail.
The discovery of the Gilgo Beach bodies stemmed from the search for 23-year-old Shannan Gilbert, a New Jersey escort who vanished on Long Island on May 1, 2010.
The first of the Gilgo Beach bodies was discovered by investigators looking for Gilbert in December 2010. Over the course of the following year, the other bodies were found, including Gilbert’s, which was discovered on December 13, 2011, in a marshy area in Oak Beach, about 7 miles from the Gilgo Four.
The cause of death of Gilbert and the other victims discovered along Ocean Parkway is still unknown.