Long Island authorities have identified Karen Vergata as the seventh victim of the Gilgo Beach murders, 27 years after she went missing. Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney made the announcement, stating that Vergata’s remains were identified through genetic genealogy and a buccal swab from a relative. Vergata went missing in 1996 while working as an escort, and there was no missing person complaint filed for her. The investigation into the Gilgo Beach murders is ongoing, and there are currently no charges or suspects. Adeja Shivonne reported
LONG ISLAND – Karen Vergata, known as ‘Jane Doe Seven’ in the Gilgo Beach murder case, has finally been identified after 27 years of being missing. The announcement was made by Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney on Friday, alongside other members of the Gilgo Beach Homicide Task Force. Vergata’s remains were identified through the utilization of genetic genealogy and a buccal swab obtained from a family member. It was revealed by investigators that Vergata went missing on February 14, 1996, when she was working as an escort. At the time of her disappearance, she resided in Midtown Manhattan, but surprisingly, there was no official missing person complaint filed for her.
During the press conference, District Attorney Ray Tierney emphasized the importance of remembering and honoring not only Karen Vergata but all the victims associated with the Gilgo Beach murders.
The bodies of the “Gilgo Four” were discovered within close proximity to each other near Gilgo Beach in December 2010. In 2022, Suffolk County Police released new information about victims Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Lynn Costello.
According to District Attorney Tierney, female remains consisting of legs and feet were found on April 20, 1996, approximately one mile west of Davis Park Beach. Nearly 15 years later, on April 11, 2011, additional remains, including a skull, were discovered on Tobay Beach in Nassau County. The skull was found subsequent to the findings of Jessica Taylor and ‘Peaches’ on Jones Beach.
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The two sets of remains (skull, legs, and feet) were linked through DNA analysis conducted by the Suffolk County crime lab in July 2011. It was determined that they belonged to the same individual, previously known as ‘Fire Island Jane Doe.’
Finally, on Friday, the Gilgo Beach Murder Task Force succeeded in identifying the Jane Doe as Karen Vergata.
Although Karen Vergata’s family had been informed of her identification several months ago, the information was not made public until the recent revelation of the investigation into the ‘Gilgo Four.’
At present, no charges have been filed in connection with the case. Officials have stated that the investigation will continue, but they have refrained from commenting on any potential suspects or a timeline for further developments.
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Rex Heuermann, the accused serial killer linked to the Gilgo Beach murders, appeared in court on Tuesday with a stoic demeanor. This marked his first court appearance since pleading not guilty to the murders of at least three sex workers whose bodies were found buried and bound in burlap sacks along Ocean Parkway over a decade ago. Heuermann is specifically charged with the killings of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Lynn Costello, all of whom he allegedly communicated with using disposable phones. Additionally, he is considered the prime suspect in the death of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard Barnes.
In an effort to solve this cold case, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison established an interagency task force last year.
In March 2022, Rex Heuermann was initially identified as a suspect.
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Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney, who is personally prosecuting the case, has provided a substantial amount of evidence, including eight terabytes of data stored on hard drives, 2,500 pages of documents, crime scene photographs, and DNA reports.
Rex Heuermann is scheduled to appear in court again on September 27.