Gilgo Beach: Suffolk County authorities identify another victim in string of killings

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, August 4, 2023
Gilgo Beach: Authorities identify another victim 27 years later
A woman known as Fire Island Jane Doe or Gilgo Beach Jane Doe #7 was identified as Karen Vergata, the latest break in the Gilgo Beach murders. Tom Negovan has the details.

HAUPPAUGE, Suffolk County (WABC) -- Suffolk County authorities have identified another victim in the decade-long Gilgo Beach investigation.

During a news conference Friday, authorities identified Jane Doe No. 7, whose remains were found on Fire Island in 1996, as 34-year-old Karen Vergata.

The remains were later linked by DNA to other human remains found along Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach in 2011.

Vergata went missing February 14, 1996. She lived on West 45th Street in Manhattan and had been working as an escort. There was no missing-persons complaint filed at the time.

Her father last talked to her that same day, his birthday. He filed for a death certificate in 2015. She was officially declared dead on Oct. 24, 2017, with a date of her death of Feb. 14, 1999.

At one point, her father hired a private investigator, but he was unable to find the daughter.

Suffolk County police contacted her father, Dominick, when body parts were found in Fire Island in 1997. But authorities had no way of knowing at that point that DNA and genealogy would one day reveal it was his long lost daughter.

There are no charges at this time in connection with Vergata's disappearance, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said.

"We're going to have no comment on what, if any, suspects we've identified at this time," Tierney said.

Tierney told Newsday that authorities believe they will soon be able to identify the remains of the three unidentified victims in the larger Gilgo Beach investigation.

Tierney also told Newsday that the previously discussed distinctive belt with the initials "WH" or "HM" was used to bound Gilgo Beach serial killing victim Maureen Brainard-Barnes' remains.

Separately, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office submitted a court request to obtain a swab of DNA from murder suspect Rex Heuermann.

They already recovered DNA from Heuermann during their investigation, but are looking for more.

Heuermann was charged with three of the Gilgo Beach murders and is a prime suspect in a fourth.

While he has not yet been charged in that fourth homicide, the investigation "is expected to be resolved soon," the document says.

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