Law enforcement in Suffolk County, New York, confirmed on Friday the identity of a murder victim from Gilgo Beach, previously referred to as “Fire Island Jane Doe”.
She has now been recognized as Karen Vergata, a 34-year-old woman who went missing on February 14, 1996, while working as an escort in Manhattan, Your Content is learning. Vergata marks the seventh body located on Gilgo Beach.
Her remains were discovered in 2011 near a coastal parkway during the comprehensive search operation at Gilgo Beach, and later associated with remains uncovered on nearby Fire Island in 1996.
The identity of Jane Doe 7, a victim from the notorious Gilgo Beach murders, has been revealed after over 26 years.
This significant progress comes nearly three decades after parts of her remains were initially discovered and shortly after the arrest of Rex Heuermann—a 59-year-old architect and father of two—who has been charged with the murders of three other victims.
The first trace of Vergata was discovered on 20 April 1996, when a pair of legs, wrapped in plastic, were found at Davis Park on Fire Island’s Blue Point Beach. Fast forward nearly 15 years to 11 April 2011, when her skull was discovered near Ocean Parkway during the Gilgo Beach victim search. It was found near the remains of another victim yet to be identified, known as Jane Doe 3 or Peaches. The separate discoveries were later determined to be parts of the same woman.
Before this breakthrough, the only known information about Jane Doe 7, also referred to as Fire Island Jane Doe, was that she was a Caucasian woman aged between 18 and 50 with notable scars and evidence of surgery on her left ankle.
Her remains were among the 11 discovered along Gilgo Beach’s shores in 2010 and 2011, several of whom remain unidentified.
At the press conference revealing her identity, Suffolk County officials refrained from answering questions or commenting on potential connections to the suspected serial killer, Rex Heuermann.
This development coincides with the prosecutors’ attempts to secure a DNA sample from Heuermann, who is charged with the murders of three other victims and suspected in a fourth. Prosecutors hope that the DNA will further corroborate his identity as the murderer.
Prosecutors have already amassed substantial evidence against him, including hundreds of hours of video footage from his residence in Massapequa Park and his Manhattan office, along with 2,500 pages of documents, crime scene photos, and autopsy reports related to this high-profile case.