After 13 years on the run, killing 11 people on the way, Long Island serial killer Rex Heuermann was caught because he was too hungry. A DNA sample from a pizza crust helped crack the cold case, prosecutors said in court on Sept. 27, 2023.
The successful 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 killing three women whose bodies were discovered dumped on Gilgo Beach in December 2010: Megab Waterman, 22, Melissa Barthelemy, 24, and Amber Lynn Costello, 27
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 matched a hair discovered on the body of Megan Waterman, a victim of the series of Gilgo beach murders in 2010. Until now, Heuermann’s DNA on the crust had only been linked to his now ex-wife, Asa Ellerup.
“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,” Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney told reporters after the hearing. “And so the buccal swab just erases all doubt.”
This case is different from anything Long Island has ever seen before. Long Island has been known to be a relatively safe place, but this case has haunted the citizens for many years.
Prior to the Gilgo Beach incident, Long Island had no large serial killer cases in recent years. Although they had seen crime before, the murders created an unknown feeling of fear. This caused many citizens to drive their children to and from school, stay inside at night, and especially avoid going anywhere near Gilgo Beach, seeing a rapid decline in the amount of people who would visit.
Even 13 years later, the stigma lived on until the citizens were surprised by the news that the Gilgo Beach killer had been identified, defusing the feeling of fear and bringing justice to the victims family and friends.