Avalanche of evidence: how a Chevrolet, a lock of hair and a pizza box led the police to a suspect in Gilgo Beach

Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney revealed details of the investigation into the arrest of 59-year-old Rex Heuermann, saying it included more than 300 subpoenas and search warrants.

“This case is not over, it’s just getting started,” Tierney told reporters Friday afternoon about the investigation into the long-unsolved murders of women whose bodies were found on Long Island’s Gilgo Beach more than a decade ago. “We are continuing to execute search warrants and expect to receive more evidence.”

In court Friday, Hoyermann of Massapequa Park pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello, according to the indictment. The three women, along with Maureen Brainard-Barnes, were found in close proximity to each other in 2010 and were named the “Gilgo Beach Four”.

Heuermann was ordered to be held without bail. His next court appearance is set for August 1.

In the bail application, prosecutors described how investigators were reviewing old evidence that led to the suspect and developing new evidence to get closer to him after so many years.

Tracking an alleged serial killer

In January 2022, a group of federal, state, and local investigators joined forces to create the Gilgo Beach Homicide Task Force. Investigators have launched a “comprehensive review of all evidence” in the case, according to court documents.

Avalanche and “cannibal”

About two months later, Heuermann, an architect and married father of two, was first named as a suspect. In March 2022, detectives linked Heuermann to a first-generation Chevrolet Avalanche pickup truck registered to him at the time of the murders, similar to the one a witness said he saw when one of the victims, Amber Costello, disappeared in 2010.

A police witness described Heuermann as a “cannibal”.

Pizza crust and hair

According to court documents, on or about January 26, 2023, a surveillance team found a pizza box thrown by Heuermann into a trash can on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The pizza box was sent to the Suffolk County Crime Lab for analysis.

On April 28, 2023, a detective personally delivered a portion of the male hair found on Megan Waterman, which was kept as evidence, to the same lab where the pizza crust was tested.

According to the lawsuit, on or about June 12, 2023, a forensic science lab compared mitochondrial DNA from pizza and hair and determined that “the DNA profiles matched” — specifically, that 99.96% of the North American population would be ruled out as a hair match.

“Importantly, (Heuermann) cannot be excluded from the male hair found near the ‘bottom of the burlap’ used to hold and transport the naked and deceased body of Megan Waterman,” prosecutors wrote.

Retesting Hair Samples

Authorities restored the hair found on each of the victims, which were too degraded to be tested for DNA with the methods available at the time. But technology has improved, Tierney said, and researchers have been able to test the hair with more advanced methods.

In July 2022, 11 bottles were collected from a trash can near the Heuermanns’ house and sent for mitochondrial DNA analysis. The DNA profiles obtained from the bottles were tested on previously tested hair samples found on the remains of Megan Waterman and Amber Costello. The results showed that Heuermann’s wife could not be excluded from any of the female hairs found on the remains of Waterman and Costello. It was believed that the hair was transferred from her husband’s clothes. According to court records, Heuermann’s wife was out of state at the time of each of the murders. She was not charged.

Standalone phones, selfies and Tinder

The investigation also uncovered cell phone connections and other telephone data believed to be related to the suspect. Tierney said the FBI analysts were able to compare data from the victims’ mobile websites and data from seven prepaid anonymous disposable phones that the suspect allegedly used to contact each of the victims.

“Then, shortly after the victim died, he would dispose of the disposable phone,” Tierney told reporters.

Heuermann used a disposable mobile phone to contact the three women, according to court documents.

During the investigation, investigators uncovered a number of online accounts and disposable phones linked to Heuermann, which belonged to him under false names and were used for illegal activities, according to court records.

A search warrant conducted on a fictitious AOL account turned up “selfie” photos that appeared to have been taken by Heuermann of himself and sent to incite and orchestrate sexual activity. American Express records obtained by subpoena showed recurring payments via Google Pay that Heuermann made to the dating app Tinder, which was linked to a disposable phone.

An analysis of call records from two additional disposable mobile phones showed that both mobile phones were widely used between 2021 and 2023 for prostitution-related contacts.

On May 19, 2023, law enforcement observed Heuermann at a downtown Manhattan mobile phone store, where they said he purchased additional minutes for a disposable mobile phone.


Heuermann was arrested by Suffolk County police at his Manhattan office on July 13, 2023. At the time of his arrest, Heuermann had a mobile phone with a backup phone that was linked to the Thawk email account that was used to conduct the online search. court document.

Authorities say that in 14 months, Heuermann had more than 200 Google searches for the Gilgo investigation, as well as additional searches for photos of the victims and their families.

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