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Identity of Long Island serial killer victim has finally been revealed after nearly 30 years
Featured Image Credit: Suffolk County DA / Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Identity of Long Island serial killer victim has finally been revealed after nearly 30 years

Police were able to identify the victim after finding parts of her remains decades apart

Authorities in New York have been able to confirm the identity of a woman who lost her life to the Gilgo Beach serial killer nearly 30 years ago.

The skull of the newly identified remains was among nearly a dozen sets of human remains uncovered along Ocean Parkway on the South Shore of Long Island between 2010 and 2011, when police also identified four women who became known as the 'Giglo Four'.

Through DNA analysis, authorities were able to determine that the skull had belonged to the same person as legs and feet which had been found on 20 April, 1996, on the bay shore of Fire Island, to the east of Gilgo Beach.

A number of bodies were discovered along Ocean Parkway.
John Paraskevas/Newsday RM via Getty Images

The legs, found to belong to a female, were discovered wrapped in plastic at Davis Park. She was determined only to be a white woman aged between 18 to 50 years old, and had several notable scars including evidence of surgery on her left ankle.

The remains were dubbed Jane Doe 7 and went unidentified for decades, but in August 2022 authorities were able to develop a DNA profile suitable for genealogical comparison.

The following month, the FBI identified a woman through genealogy review, and they were able to use a relative's DNA to confirm whether she was the victim.

Now, police have confirmed that the victim was Karen Vergata, a 34-year-old escort from Manhattan who went missing on Valentine’s Day in 1996.

No missing persons complaint was filed when Vergata went missing, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

Karen Vergata was 34 when she went missing.
Suffolk County DA

Announcing Vergata's identity today (4 August), Tierney said: “Prior to disclosing, we needed to contact all Vergata’s family members and around the same time we were beginning the grand jury confidential investigation into the murders of the victims known as the Gilgo 4.

”So we decided not to make it public... until the results of that investigation became public and we had made notice to Vergata’s family.”

“Today we are here to announce that as part of the Gilgo taskforce’s reexamination of all evidence in the case we are able to identify Fire Island Jane Doe as Karen Vergata. I think it’s important that we remember and honor not only Ms. Vergata but all the victims on Gilgo Beach."

The Gilgo Beach case began with the search for a missing woman in 2010, which led to the discovery of the remains along Ocean Parkway.

Following the identification of Vergata's remains, investigators are continuing to work on the case, which last month was linked to New York architect Rex Heuermann through DNA on a pizza crust.

Rex Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges.
Suffolk County Sheriff's Office

Heuermann has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder for three female victims in the case; Melissa Barthelemy in 2009, and Megan Waterman and Amber Costello in 2010.

He is also the prime suspect in the 2007 disappearance and death of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

Heuermann has denied the charges against him. Prosecutors are now seeking to obtain a swab of DNA from Heuermann.

Tierney did not link Heuermann to Vergata’s death when he announced her identity today. No one has been charged in connection to Vergata's murder, and her cause of death is unknown.

Topics: US News, Crime, True crime