Gilgo Beach suspect charged with murder, police say DNA and cell phone evidence led to arrest

Investigators say DNA from a discarded pizza crust matched helped lead them to Rex Heuermann.

Krista McNally and

News 12 Staff

Jul 14, 2023, 10:10 AM

Updated 335 days ago


A Massapequa Park man has been charged with the murders of three women in the Gilgo Beach case.
Police officers arrested Rex Heuermann in connection to the murders Wednesday night in New York City.
Heuermann was charged with first- and second-degree murder for the deaths of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello.
Heuermann faces a total of six charges, all of them carrying a sentence of up to life in prison.
He pleaded not guilty and was held behind bars without bail being set. He is due back in court Aug. 1.

VIDEO: Exclusive interview with former Suffolk County Chief of the District Attorney Homicide Bureau Janet Albertson. Watch the video below:

Heuermann's neighbors tell News 12 they saw law enforcement on their street around 11 p.m. Wednesday.
According to neighbors, Heuermann lives at a home on 1st Avenue with his wife, and children and would commute to work in New York City.
According to prosecutors, Heuermann committed the murders when his wife and children were out of state.
Neighbors also say Heuermann went to Berner High School and had five or six siblings.  

VIDEO: Fred Klein, assistant professor of Law at Hofstra University, breaks down the judicial process in the case. WATCH VIDEO BELOW:

Heuermann was charged with first- and second-degree murder for the murders of three Gilgo victims: Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello. The first of 11 bodies were found along Ocean Parkway on Dec. 11, 2010.
The mystery attracted national headlines for many years and the unsolved killings were the subject of the 2020 Netflix film, “Lost Girls.”
The deaths of the 11 people whose remains were found in 2010 and 2011 have long stumped investigators. Most of the victims were young women who had been sex workers. Several of the bodies were found near Gilgo Beach.

VIDEO: Attorney for 2 Gilgo Beach victims' families speaks to News 12

John Ray, the attorney for Gilgo Beach murder victims Jessica Taylor and Shannon Gilbert spoke to News 12 this morning. WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW:
On May 9, 2011, then-Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota released details regarding the remains found along Ocean Parkway. Below is the press release from that day:
Current Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney says the investigation into Heuermann ended early because investigators felt the suspect was too much of a danger to society. They say he was incessantly looking up the victims in the case and their family members.
Tierney credited a task force that was created in March 2022. He says they all worked together to have fresh eyes on the case and that is how they were able to make an arrest.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison also gave credit to the task force for making an arrest.
"Rex Heuermann is a demon that walks among us, a predator that ruins families" Harrison says. "If not for the members of this task force, he would still be on the streets today."
Harrison says even with the arrest, police are not done with the Gilgo Beach investigation.
Prosecutors also say that Heuermann's family was away when he committed the murders between 2007 and 2010.
The investigation was helped along by tracking burner phones and finding DNA evidence.
Bail Application for Defendant Rex A. Heuermann:
A surveillance team observed and recovered a pizza box thrown out by Heuermann into a garbage can in Manhattan on or around Jan. 26, according to the bail application form. A swab was taken from the leftover pizza crust and sent to the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory on or around March 23.
The DNA from the swab excluded 99.96% of the North American population from the male hair found on Waterman's body. Authorities say it is significant that the defendant could not be excluded from the male hair recovered near the "bottom of the burlap" utilized to restrain and transport Waterman's naked and deceased body.

More from News 12