SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y. (TCD) — Officials positively identified a woman who was found dead in 1996 in Gilgo Beach, the same location where several other women were killed in the early 2000s.
According to NBC News, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney spoke at a news conference Friday, Aug. 4, and said the woman known as “Fire Island Jane Doe” and “Jane Doe 7” has been identified as 34-year-old Karen Vergata. Some of her dismembered remains were discovered near Fire Island in April 1996, and in April 2011, officials found her skull. DNA technology confirmed the remains belonged to the same woman.
NBC News reports the FBI “presumptively” identified Jane Doe Seven as Vergata in July 2022 and confirmed the identity in October.
The New York Times reports Tierney said at the press conference Vergata was last seen alive Feb. 14, 1996, but no one reported her missing. She was last known to be living in Midtown Manhattan.
Vergata reportedly worked as an escort, like some of the other victims of the Gilgo Beach killings.
On July 14, Suffolk County Police detectives announced they arrested 59-year-old Rex Heuermann at his office in Manhattan on suspicion of murder. So far, he has been charged with three counts of murder for the deaths of 24-year-old Melissa Barthelemy, 22-year-old Megan Waterman, and 27-year-old Amber Lynn Costello.
NBC News reports he is the main suspect in Maureen Brainard-Barnes’ death as well, but he has not been formally charged. The same applies to Vergata’s case.
Tierney said regarding Vergata’s death, “There are no charges at this time. We’re going to continue to work this particular case as we did the Gilgo Four investigation.”
Those victims became known as the “Gilgo Beach Four.” Suffolk County Police said all four worked as escorts who advertised their services on Craigslist. They disappeared between July 2007 and September 2010.
According to The New York Times, investigators have been sifting through Heuermann’s home since his arrest and discovered a trove of weapons, including almost 300 firearms and a basement with a large vault.
Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
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