The woman was linked to the Gilgo Beach investigation when her skull was found on Long Island in 2011; officials aren’t commenting on potential suspects.
The woman known as “Jane Doe Seven” for years finally has a name.
On Friday, the Suffolk County DA Raymond A. Tierney confirmed the identity of another victim in the Gilgo Beach murders, one of the 11 sets of remains discovered along Long Island’s Ocean Beach Parkway in 2010 after the disappearance of sex worker Shannan Gilbert launched a search of the area.
She was revealed to be Karen Vergata, who was 34 when she went missing on Valentine’s Day 1996. According to Tierney, Vergata had been living in Manhattan and was believed to be working as an escort at the time of her disappearance. At the time, no missing persons complaint was filed for her.
Vergata’s legs and feet were initially found on Fire Island on April 20, 1996, but there would be no progress in her case for another 15 years, when a skull was found in Nassau County. Genetic testing confirmed they were from the same person.
Her skull was among the many sets of remains found while police searched for Gilbert’s body from 2010-2011, the discovery coming shortly after the remains of Melissa Barthelemy, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Amber Lynn Costello, Megan Waterman — known as the Gilgo Four — and Jessica Taylor were all uncovered. Gilbert was actually the last to be found in December 2011.
Like Vergata, all five women were escorts; after her remains on Fire Island and Long Island were linked, she was dubbed both “Jane Doe Seven” and “Fire Island Jane Doe.”
It wouldn’t be until a Gilgo Beach task force was formed in August 2022 that a DNA profile “Jane Doe Seven” was developed, before the FBI was able to “presumptively” identify her as Vergata.
They were then able to “definitively identify” her after comparing the profile to a buccal swab from a relative of Vergata’s in October 2022.
Her family has since been notified of her death.
The confirmation came around the same time the task force was beginning its Grand Jury investigation into the Gilgo Four, which led to the 2023 arrest of Rex Heuermann. Heuermann has since been charged with the murders of three of the “Gilgo Four,” including Barthelemy, Waterman and Costello. He was also named as the prime suspect for the fourth, Maureen Brainard-Barnes.
At this time, the DA said there were no charges connected with Vergata’s death.
“We are going to continue to work this case … we’re going to have no comment on what, if any suspects, we developed at this time,” he added. “This is a confidential investigation … our investigation is continuing.”
Heuermann pleaded not guilty to the six charges or murder against him for three of the “Gilgo Four.” He appeared in court earlier this week, with another pretrial conference hearing set for September 27.
For a full breakdown on how authorities honed in on Heuermann, click the link below.