HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (AP) — Law enforcement authorities said Friday they have identified a woman whose remains were found as far back as 1996 in different spots along the Long Island coast, some of them near the Gilgo Beach locations of bodies investigators believe were left by a serial killer.
The woman, who investigators had called the “Jane Doe No. 7,” was Karen Vergata, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney said Friday. She was 34.
She disappeared around Feb. 14, 1996, and had been living in Manhattan, Tierney said.
Her partial remains were first discovered in 1996 on Fire Island. More of her bones were later found near Gilgo Beach in 2011.
A new investigative task force, formed last year to investigate what have become known as the Gilgo Beach murders, developed a DNA profile of the woman, Tierney told a news conference. Then the FBI used genetic genealogy techniques to identify her tentatively as Vergata, and the task force obtained a relative’s DNA to cement the identification in October, Tierney said.
He said authorities held off releasing the information while contacting her relatives and furthering their investigation, which led last month to Rex Heuermann’s arrest in the deaths of three other women whose remains were found along a coastal parkway near Gilgo Beach. He also has been named a prime suspect in the killing of a fourth. He has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer says Heuermann denies killing anyone.
Tierney declined to comment on “what, if any, suspects we developed” in Vergata’s death.