Rex Heuermann’s DNA Swab Officially Linked to Pizza Evidence

Rex Heuermann
Accused Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuermann appears in Judge Tim Mazzei’s courtroom at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. His lawyer, Michael J. Brown, is at left.
James Carbone/Newsday via Pool

DNA from Rex Heuermann’s court-ordered buccal swab matched the DNA found from a discarded pizza box that authorities used as evidence before arresting the alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer, prosecutors said during his Sept. 27 court appearance.

Police had initially pulled Heuermann’s DNA off of pizza crust that investigators saw him throw away in a trash can while they were tailing him near his office in Manhattan. That DNA had matched a hair on one of the victims found off Ocean Parkway in 2010, which was the final piece of evidence authorities needed to arrest the suspect.

“As everyone knows, there was an abandonment sample obtained from the defendent via the pizza box,” Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said. “The buccal swab of the defendant matches the DNA profile from the pizza box.”

The DNA from Heuermann’s swab has not yet been directly compared to the hair found on Megan Waterman’s body — but Tierney added that it will likely be consistent as well, given that the hair and the DNA from the discarded pizza were used to arrest Heuermann.

Michael Brown, Heuermann’s defense attorney, said this still does not mean that Heuermann’s DNA is the killer’s DNA.

“We’re talking about one hair that was found on one victim,” Brown said. “When we say ‘it’s his DNA,’ you have to remember that with mitochondrial DNA, they have an exclusion pool and an inclusion pool. They exclude a significant amount of the population, and include a small percentage, and they have said that my client is inclusive in that small percentage. But when you look at the metropolitan area, where there’s 25 million people, the included pool is still pretty significant.”

Rex Heuermann 2
James Carbone/Newsday via Pool

What Else Happened At Rex Heuermann’s Court Date?

Heuermann, handcuffed behind his back this time and with a haircut since his last appearance, spoke in court for the first time today. Judge Mazzei asked Heuermann if he was reviewing court documents as well as how much time he was allowed to spend reviewing them.

“Yes,” Heuermann told the judge. “Up to four hours, I’ve been averaging two or three.”

The prosecution announced that there were two more terabytes of evidence against Heuermann, which consisted of camera footage, search warrants executed, reviews of Heuermann’s online accounts, and more.

Heuermann appeared to glare at the prosecution as they announced this, and unlike his last court date, did not turn to the gallery as he left the courtroom.

Rex Heuermann 3
Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney looks on during a court appearance with accused Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuerman in Judge Tim Mazzei’s courtroom at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.James Carbone/Newsday via Pool

No New Charges for Heuermann, But An Expanded Investigation

Heuermann still remains charged with the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Lynn Costello, and is considered a prime suspect in the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, the four women found dead in Gilgo Beach in December 2010.

But the investigation is continuing, according to Tierney, and has expanded.

“We initially said that our investigation is centered around the Gilgo Four,” he said. “We’re prepared to bring charges with regard three out of the four, and we’re working on the fourth. Now we have expanded our investigation to include other bodies that were recovered in that area. We’ll speak about that when and if we’re prepared to bring charges.”

The other remains found on either Gilgo Beach or other parts of Ocean Parkway include the partial remains of Jessica Taylor, Valerie Mack, Karen Vergata, and the still unidentified “Peaches,” her daughter, and a male victim known as Asian Male Doe.

Peaches’ partial remains had first been found at Hempstead Lake State Park in 1997 before more were found along Ocean Parkway on Jones Beach in 2011. Taylor and Mack’s partial remains had been initially found in 2000 and 2003, respectively, in Manorville before each of their skulls were found near Cedar Beach in 2011. Baby Doe and Asian Male were also found off Ocean Parkway in 2011.

Tierney did not directly confirm if all of those victims were being investigated as the work of Heuermann, but said “We’re investigating other instances where individuals were left on Gilgo.”

Rex Heuerman 6
Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, far left, looks on during a court appearance with accused Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex A. Heuerman, far right, in Judge Tim Mazzei’s courtroom at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.James Carbone/Newsday via Pool

What Heuermann’s Defense Claims

Michael Brown said to reporters that, having looked at some of the evidence since the Aug. 1 hearing, most of what he has seen is pole camera footage — which shows Heuermann going to and from work, and nothing else. He also claims to have seen video from the police car after Heuermann was arrested.

“My client, unless he is a tremendous actor, he was complete shocked,” Brown said. “Had no idea why he was being taken into custody. The government doesn’t tell you these things, but these things we will bring out in the course of a trial.”