Karen Vergata (34), a woman whose feet and legs were found in 1996 on the shore of a New York beach, was identified by Suffolk County District attorney Ray Tierney at a press conference held Friday.
The DA who leads the task force that is investigating the Gilgo Beach murders declined to comment about Vergata’s connection to the accused Long Island serial killer Rex Heuermann.
The architect was arrested on July 13 in connection with the murders Amber Lynn Costello (27), Melissa Barthelemy (24), and Megan Waterman (22) whose bodies were discovered days apart at Gilgo Beach, 2010. The architect is also the main suspect in the murder of Maureen Brainard Barnes, 25.
These women are collectively known as the Gilgo Four. The remains of the womenalongside seven other victims, were discovered along Ocean Parkway in 2010 and 2011.
Tierney stated that Vergata was discovered with her severed legs on April 20, 1996 in Bay Shore. She was then dubbed as “Fire Island Jane Doe.”
In 2011, the skull of this woman was discovered off Ocean Parkway, more than 15 years after her death.
Vergata was last seen in Manhattan on Valentine’s Day, 1996, but she was never reported missing. Tierney stated that she was working as an escort when the incident occurred.
Tierney stated at the press conference that “in August 2022, about six months after our Gilgo taskforce was formed, a DNA comparison profile for Karen Vergata had been developed.” In September 2022, using a genetic genealogyreview the FBI was successful in identifying Ms. Vergata as Fire Island Jane Doe.
Investigators were able to positively identify the woman using a buccal swab taken from a family member.
Tierney explained that they delayed revealing her identity because the grand jury was already convening on Heuermann’s case at the time. Vergata’s death investigation is still ongoing.
Heuermann’s attorney has denied all allegations made against him.