Gilgo Beach murder victim identified 27 years after she disappeared

Officials in New York have identified one of the 11 bodies found over a decade ago in Gilgo Beach.

The woman previously referred to as the ‘Fire Island Jane Doe’ has now been identified as Karen Vergata, a 34-year-old woman from Manhattan who went missing 27 years ago.

Vergata’s family last heard from her on Valentine’s Day in 1996. Two months later, her severed legs were found inside a plastic bag on a Fire Island beach.

Almost 15 years later, the search for Shannan Gilbert, a missing Long Island sex worker, lead investigators to a swampy area of Gilgo Beach.

From December 2010 through 2011, investigators located the remains of 11 people in Gilgo Beach, including four that could not be identified.

One of those bodies was matched to the legs that washed up on Fire Island in 1996, but her identity remained a mystery.

Although six of the women discovered in 2010 and 2011 were identified, their case remained unsolved for over a decade.

In July, prosecutors finally announced the arrest of a suspect. Rex Heuermann, a Long Island resident who worked as an architect in Manhattan, was arrested for the murders of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Lynn Costello.

Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

It is unclear if prosecutors plan to charge Heuermann for Vergata’s death as well, but investigators have requested an additional DNA swab from the suspect.

‘We are going to continue to work this particular case, as we did the Gilgo Four investigation,’ Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said on Friday. ‘We are going to have no comment on what if any suspect we have developed at this time.’

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