Karen Vergata: Gilgo Beach Investigators Identify Victim Jane Doe No. 7 as Sex Worker Who Vanished in 1996 Before Her Remains Were Found on Long Island

At the time of her disappearance, Vergata was living on West 45th Street and is believed to have been working as an escort.

Investigators have identified a seventh victim in the Gilgo Beach murders, referred to as 'Jane Doe 7'. The victim has been identified as Karen Vergata, 34, who went missing in 1996. Vergata lived in Manhattan and worked as an escort, authorities said. She was never reported missing until recently when investigators connected her to the Gilgo Beach murders.

Rex Heuermann, 59, was arrested last month in connection with the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Lynn Costello, all of whom vanished between 2009 and 2010. He is the prime suspect in a fourth murder and is currently under scrutiny for potential involvement in other killings in the area.

New Victim Identified

Karen Vergata
Karen Vergata Twitter

Authorities from Suffolk County, New York, officially identified the victim, Karen Vergata, during a press conference held on Friday. According to Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, Vergata is believed to have disappeared around February 14, 1996.

Approximately two months later, on April 20, her legs were found inside a plastic bag at Davis Park on the bayside of Fire Island's Blue Point Beach.

At the time of her disappearance, Vergata was living on West 45th Street and is believed to have been working as an escort.

When the remains were found at Fire Island, investigators could only ascertain that the victim was a white woman with distinctive scars, including evidence of surgery on her left ankle, as reported by the Doe Network.

Vergata's skull was found on April 11, 2011, near the partial and dismembered remains of Jane Doe No. 3, also known as "Peaches" off Ocean Parkway, west of Tobay Beach in Nassau County.

Rex Heuermann
Rex Heuermann Twitter

In July 2011, Vergata's two sets of remains were connected through DNA analysis, and definitive identification was reached through genetic genealogy and a relative's buccal swab in October 2022, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said

Although Vergata's immediate relatives have been informed of her death, Tierney insisted that the three-decade-old murder case continues to be treated as "confidential."

"We are going to continue to work this particular case, as we did the Gilgo Four investigation. We are going to have no comment on what if any suspect we have developed at this time," he said Friday.

Heuermann and His Victims

Police declined to comment on whether Rex Heuermann is connected to Karen Vergata's murder but emphasized that he has not been charged in relation to her case at this time. On Thursday, authorities requested more DNA samples to be collected from Heuermann as they continue with their investigation into whether he is linked to a fourth victim's murder.

Rex Heuermann
Rex Heuermann is suspected of killing at least 10 people on Gilgo Beach more than a decade ago Twitter

Heuermann is also the prime suspect in the disappearance and murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes in 2007. Police have stated that the investigation is expected to be resolved soon.

The high-profile case was cracked after DNA from a pizza crust and a napkin discarded by Heuermann outside his Manhattan architectural firm was found to be a 99.96 percent match with the DNA profile obtained from hair recovered from the bag that transported Megan Waterman's naked body. Documents obtained by the New York Daily News revealed these details.

Despite this compelling evidence, the district attorney's office has expressed concerns that the pizza crust DNA alone might not be sufficient for a conviction.

Rex Heuermann
Rex Heuermann Twitter

The Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney has filed paperwork requesting a swab of the inside of his cheek for further DNA analysis to ensure that Heuermann, a resident of Massapequa Park, is brought to justice.

Without the sample, forensic biologists would only be able to refer to the pizza crust and napkin as having been "purportedly used/touched" by Heuermann, Assistant District Attorney Michelle Haddad argued.

"Should the defendant's DNA from the [cheek swab] not match the DNA profile from the pizza crusts and napkin submitted for Rex Heuermann, the defense would be presented with a potential trial defense.

"Thus, there is a clear indication that material and relevant evidence will be found and is crucial for that."

A cheek swab, she said, "would provide further relevant evidence of the defendant's identity as the perpetrator of these crimes."

Rex Heuermann
Rex Heuermann after his arrest Twitter

Police said that Heuermann might have murdered at least one of his victims at his home in Massapequa Park. Following his arrest on July 14, investigators spent over a week carrying out a thorough search of the house, which is situated just a few miles away from where the bodies were found over a decade ago.

As of now, investigators have not confirmed whether Heuermann is a suspect in the deaths of several other remains found in the general vicinity, including those of Jane Doe No. 7, Peaches, Jessica Taylor, and Valerie Mack.

The investigation is ongoing, and authorities are continuing to explore all possible connections and leads in these cases.