Gilgo Beach Murders: Victim Identified After 27 Years Who is Karen Vergata?

Karen Vergata was a 34-year-old woman who went missing from her Manhattan home in February 1996. She was working as an escort at the time of her disappearance. She was also known as “Fire Island Jane Doe” or “Jane Doe No. 7” by investigators, who found her partial remains on Fire Island in April 1996 and additional remains near Gilgo Beach in April 2011. She is the sixth victim to be identified in the Gilgo Beach murders, a series of unsolved killings that spanned from 1996 to 2011 and claimed the lives of up to 18 people, mostly sex workers.

Karen Vergata

How was she identified?

Karen Vergata was identified through DNA genetic genealogy, a technique that uses DNA samples from crime scenes and compares them with public databases of genealogical information. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said it confirmed Vergata’s identity in October 2020, but did not announce it until August 2021, after contacting her family members and conducting a grand jury investigation into the murders of four other victims, known as the “Gilgo Four”. The identification of Vergata is the latest breakthrough in the long-running murder mystery that has baffled authorities and captivated the public for over a decade.

Who is the suspect in the Gilgo Beach murders?

The main suspect in the Gilgo Beach murders is Rex Heuermann, a 59-year-old architect from Massapequa Park, Long Island. He was arrested in July 2021 and charged with six counts of murder in connection with the deaths of three of the “Gilgo Four” victims: Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello. He is also the prime suspect in the death of the fourth victim, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, but has not been charged yet. Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has denied any involvement in the killings. He is currently being held without bail at the Suffolk County Jail.

What is the evidence against Heuermann?

The evidence against Heuermann includes mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA, which link him to the remains of the three victims he is charged with killing. The DNA was recovered from burlap sacks that were used to wrap the bodies, as well as from a pizza crust that Heuermann discarded in a trash can outside his Manhattan office in January 2020. The pizza crust was collected by investigators who had been surveilling Heuermann for months, after identifying him as a potential suspect through phone records and online activity. Investigators also found terabytes of digital evidence on Heuermann’s devices, including photos, videos, documents, and encrypted files that allegedly contain information related to the murders.

What is the status of the investigation?

The investigation into the Gilgo Beach murders is ongoing, as authorities are still trying to identify the remaining victims and determine if they are linked to Heuermann or another suspect. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said it is seeking a court order to obtain a DNA sample from Heuermann, which could help them confirm or rule out his involvement in other cases. The office also said it is working with other law enforcement agencies and forensic experts to analyze the evidence and pursue all leads. The office urged anyone with information about the murders or the victims to contact them at (631) 853-4161 or

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