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How pizza crust DNA led to the arrest of Gilgo Beach murders suspect

Investigators say Heuermann could be connected to as many as 11 murders dating back to 2010 across two Long Island counties.
Posted at 8:16 PM, Jul 15, 2023

New York investigators cracked open a 13-year-old cold case as they revealed how they pieced together the clues to arrest the suspect in the investigation into the murders of several women believed to have been carried out by a serial killer in Long Island, New York.

"We used the power of the grand jury to issue over 300 subpoenas and search warrants looking into this individual's background to bring us to this day," said Raymond Tierney, the Suffolk County District Attorney. "On March 14, 2022, the name Rex Heuermann was first mentioned as a suspect in the Gilgo case."

59-year-old Rex Heuermann, a Manhattan architect and father of two, is the man, investigators say, behind the slayings of at least three women.

Heuremann lived in a quiet suburb, not far from the beach highway where the bodies of the so-called "Gilgo Four" were found.

The victims’ bodies were wrapped in burlap and were discovered within days of each other. The women were all sex workers.

Investigators say Heuermann could be connected to as many as 11 murders dating back to 2010 across two Long Island counties.

"Rex Heuermann is a demon that walks among us, a predator that has ruined families. And if not for the members of this task force, he would still be on the streets today," said Rodney Harrison, the commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department.

Since 2010, the Gilgo Beach case has garnered intense public interest and made national headlines.

The unsolved murders were also the subject of the 2020 Netflix special Lost Girls.

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Authorities connected Rex Heuermann to the crime after matching his DNA from a slice of pizza to genetic material found on one of the victims.


So, how were investigators able to break the case open?

"A New York State investigator was able to identify him in a database," said Tierney.

In March 2022, detectives linked him to a pickup truck that a witness reported seeing when one of the victims went missing back in 2010.

After connecting him to the pickup, investigators linked him to other evidence, including burner phones used to arrange meetings with the victims.

And they linked taunting calls that a person claiming to be the killer made to one of the victims’ families.

"For each of the murders, he got an individual burner phone, and he used that to communicate with the victims. Then, shortly after the deaths of the victims, he then would get rid of the burner phone," said Tierney.

The most damning piece of evidence came in March, when detectives tailing Heuermann recovered DNA from pizza crust he discarded in a Manhattan trash can; his DNA matched samples found on the remains.

Heuermann was arrested late Thursday near his midtown Manhattan office.

Heuermann pleaded not guilty in court on Friday.

His attorney says Heuermann was in tears upon meeting him and told the attorney he "didn't do it."

"This is the beginning of the case. Everybody is presumed innocent in our country. There is a presumption of innocence, and we're looking forward to fighting this case in a court of law," said Defense Attorney Michael Brown.

While authorities say he could be connected to nearly a dozen murders, he is considered the prime suspect in the death of a fourth woman, whose body was bound and hidden along a remote beach highway. The fourth member of the "Gilgo Four."