Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann was back in court in New York on Wednesday to face charges for the murders of three women whose bodies were found dumped along the shores of Long Island.
In the court hearing in Suffolk County Court, prosecutors said that a DNA sample taken from the 59-year-old architect had now tied him further to the murders.
A cheek swab was taken from him following a court order last month. Prosecutors said it now matches DNA found on a discarded pizza crust – and in turn a hair found on the body of Megan Waterman.
Mr Heuermann, a married father-of-two, was arrested on 13 July and charged with the murders of Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy and Amber Costello in what marked a major development into the infamous Gilgo Beach murders. He is also the prime suspect in the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes.
All four women worked as sex workers and disappeared after going to meet a client. Their bodies were found in December 2010 bound by belts or tape and some wrapped in burlap.
In total, remains of 11 victims were found along the Long Island shores in 2010 and 2011.
Rex Heuermann appears in court for third time
New DNA evidence ties suspect to discarded pizza crust – and Gilgo Beach victim
Suspect’s family want guns returned
Who is the architect charged in Gilgo Beach murders?
PICTURED: Rex Heuermann in court
17:20 , Rachel Sharp
New DNA evidence ties Rex Heuermann to discarded pizza crust – and Gilgo Beach victim
16:50 , Rachel Sharp
New DNA evidence has tied Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann to a discarded pizza crust – and, in turn, one of the three women he is accused of murdering.
The 59-year-old architect and married father-of-two appeared in Suffolk County Court on Wednesday morning for a pre-trial conference in the case that has rocked Long Island for more than a decade.
Sporting a new shorter haircut, the suspected killer looked on as prosecutors unveiled further damning evidence linking him to the murders since his arrest in July.
A cheek swab had been taken from Mr Heuermann following a court order last month.
The pizza crust evidence
16:30 , Rachel Sharp
Rex Heuermann was tied to the murders through DNA found on one of the victims.
In court documents following his 13 July arrest, prosecutors said that a male hair had been found on the burlap used to wrap Megan Waterman’s body before the killer dumped her along Gilgo Beach.
When the hair was first retrieved in 2010, it was unsuitable for DNA analysis, according to the court documents.
But that hair was kept safely locked away and was submitted for analysis in 2020. A DNA profile came back.
Now, to check if it matched Mr Heuermann, investigators needed his DNA to compare the samples.
This January, a surveillance team watching the suspect saw him chuck a pizza box into the trash close to his office in Manhattan. They nabbed the box and found a leftover pizza crust inside.
The forensics came back: it was Mr Heuermann’s hair found on Waterman’s body, prosecutors said.
Heuermann’s cheek swab matches DNA found on discarded pizza crust – and victim’s body: prosecutors
16:09 , Rachel Sharp
In the court hearing, prosecutors said that a DNA sample taken from Rex Heuermann since his arrest has now tied him further to one of the murders.
A cheek swab was taken from the 59-year-old accused killer following a court order last month.
Now, prosecutors say the swab matches DNA found on a discarded pizza crust – and in turn a victim’s body.
The pizza crust had been seized from a trash can outside Mr Heuermann’s office in Midtown Manhattan.
It was then tested and found to be a match to a hair found on the body of Megan Waterman.
Rex Heuermann sports new haircut as he appears in court for third time over Gilgo Beach murders
15:53 , Rachel Sharp
#Breaking Appearing in court w/fresh haircut, accused #GilgoBeach serial killer #RexHeuermann tells judge he’s reviewing evidence against him: “I’ve been averaging two to three hours a day.” DA Ray Tierney told court defendant’s cheek swab matched pizza DNA. pic.twitter.com/gLDSodXjGb
— Mary Murphy (@MurphyPIX) September 27, 2023
Thousands of pages of evidence turned over in court
15:25 , Rachel Sharp
In the court hearing, prosecutors told the judge that they had handed over thousands of pages of evidence so far in the case.
Rex Heuermann is charged with the murders of three women whose remains were found along the shores of Gilgo Beach in December 2010.
His affidavit states that he was tied to the case thanks to a pimp’s tip about his pickup truck, a stash of burner phones and DNA evidence – obtained through his wife’s hair and a pizza crust.
Now, another 8,000 pages of discovery have been turned over since the last court date in August and another 5,000 pages this morning as the state builds its case against the accused killer, reported News12.
Rex Heuermann in court in Suffolk County
15:08 , Rachel Sharp
— Jenn Seelig (@jennseeligtv) September 27, 2023
ICYMI: Rex Heuermann continued to show ‘disturbing’ online behaviour in the days before arrest
14:37 , Rachel Sharp
Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann continued to show “disturbing” behaviour right up until his arrest for the murders of three women, according to the top investigator on the case.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison told Newsday in August that he also wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Mr Heuermann may have been “preparing to kill again” at the time of the arrest.
Mr Harrison said that law enforcement saw some concerning actions from the married father-of-two while he was under surveillance before his arrest last month.
“I can’t talk about if he was preparing to kill again,” he said.
“He’s somebody that was still engaging in activity that was disturbing, be it his internet searches, be it engaging in other activities that he shouldn’t be engaging in.”
Commissioner Harrison added that he was “very, very passionate” about keeping eyes on Mr Heuermann up until his arrest because “we need to see what his lifestyle is”.
The accused killer had been on the radar of Long Island police for months – not long after the newly-appointed commissioner launched a new taskforce to crack the unsolved Gilgo Beach serial killer case back in January 2022.
After surveilling him for months, officers swooped on the architect as he left his office in Manhattan on 13 July.
What to expect in court today:
14:10 , Rachel Sharp
Rex Heuermann will return to court in New York today where he faces charges for the murders of three women whose bodies were found dumped along the shores of Long Island.
The 59-year-old architect is scheduled to appear in Suffolk County Court for a pre-trial conference at 9.30am on Wednesday morning.
At the hearing, Justice Timothy Mazzei could rule on a motion seeking to return the accused killer’s stash of guns to his family.
Prosecutors and the defence will also discuss other matters surrounding evidence in the case.
WATCH: Gilgo Beach murders victim Jane Doe 7 identified as Karen Vergata
13:54 , Rachel Sharp
Manhattan architect, family man and accused serial killer: Who is Rex Heuermann?
12:30 , Rachel Sharp
His Manhattan business describes him as a registered architect with over 30 years’ experience.
His neighbours describe him as a “family man” living with his wife and two children in a tight-knit community in Suffolk County.
But now authorities are describing him as the suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer who unleashed terror along the shores of Long Island more than a decade ago.
WATCH: Moment Gilgo Beach suspect arrested in crowded New York street
11:50 , Rachel Sharp
Who are the ‘Gilgo four’?
11:20 , Rachel Sharp
The remains of at least 11 victims were found in the Gilgo Beach area though it remains unclear if they are all the work of the same killer. Many were sex workers who offered escort services on Craigslist or worked in New York City.
The first victim found was Melissa Barthelemy, whose remains were discovered along Ocean Parkway on 11 December 2010 during the search for Shannan Gilbert – a 24-year-old sex worker from New Jersey who vanished after visiting a client in Oak Park and making a chilling 911 call where she revealed fears for her life.
Two days later on 13 December, the remains of three other victims – Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello – were found close by.
All three women were known to advertise escort services on Craigslist.
Brainard-Barnes – known as one of the Gilgo Beach Four – was last seen alive in early June 2007 in New York City while Costello was last seen leaving her North Babylon home one day in early September 2010.
Waterman was last seen alive in early June 2010 at a Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge.
Brainard-Barnes, Waterman, Costello and Barthelemy are together known as the “Gilgo Four”.
Mr Heuermannis charged with the murders of Waterman, Barthelemy and Costello but is yet to be charged with Brainard-Barnes’ murder.
How the Gilgo Beach serial killer turned the Long Island shore into a graveyard
10:50 , Rachel Sharp
For around two decades, the sands and marshes of Long Island’s Gilgo Beach kept a dark secret.
A killer or killers roamed the locality, luring in escorts and sex workers and brutally murdering them.
Body after body was dumped along the shoreline, hidden for months and even years without being discovered.
Then, in 2010, a chilling 911 call made by a woman in fear for her life led police to search the area.
What they discovered was far more horrifying than anyone could have imagined.
Over the next year, the remains of 11 victims – mainly female escorts – were discovered dumped in the area, plunging the Suffolk County community into terror.
But, the case went cold and no arrests were made, no suspects were named and there was no justice for the victims and their families. That is, until now.
In July, local married father-of-two Rex Heuermann was arrested on suspicion of being the infamous serial killer. The 59-year-old has been charged with the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello and is also the prime suspect in the murder of a fourth woman Maureen Brainard-Barnes – who was last seen alive in New York City in early June 2007.
Now, the question is: now an arrest has been made, is the hunt for the Gilgo Beach serial killer finally over?
HAPPENING TODAY: Rex Heuermann due back in court
10:40 , Rachel Sharp
Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann will return to court in New York where he faces charges for the murders of three women whose bodies were found dumped along the shores of Long Island.
The 59-year-old architect is scheduled to appear in Suffolk County Supreme Court for a pre-trial conference on Wednesday morning.
At the hearing, the judge could rule on a motion seeking to return the accused killer’s stash of guns to his family.
Mr Heuermann’s wife Asa Ellerup has asked that the trove of around 200 guns seized during a search of their home in Massapequa Park be given back.
Prosecutors and the defence will also discuss other matters surrounding evidence in the case.
Mr Heuermann is expected to appear in person for the hearing.
Welcome to The Independent’s liveblog
10:29 , Rachel Sharp
Follow updates as Rex Heuermann appears in court for a pre-trial conference in the Gilgo Beach murders case.