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Long Island murder victim "Jane Doe No. 7" identified as Karen Vergata, 27 years after she went missing

Long Island murder victim ID’d as Karen Vergata
Long Island murder victim identified as missing woman Karen Vergata 01:49

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, whom investigators had called "Jane Doe No. 7" and "Fire Island Jane Doe," was 34-year-old Karen Vergata, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney said Friday. 

Vergata 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.

CBS New York reports that Tierney was joined by members of the Gilgo Beach Homicide Task Force, which broke the 13-year-old unsolved mystery with the arrest of Rex Heuermann last month. They say they won't rest until all 10 bodies dumped along Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach are identified. 

The investigative task force, formed last year to take a fresh look at what have become known as the Gilgo Beach murders, developed a DNA profile of the unidentified remains, 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 confirm the identification in October, Tierney said.

Vergata "was believed to be working as an escort at the time of her disappearance," Tierney said, adding that no missing persons report was filed at the time that she vanished.

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 over a decade ago 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.

Since Heuermann's arrest, his estranged wife, Asa Ellerup, has filed for divorce. Through her attorney, she asked for space for her family and her neighbors.

When the family returned to their Massapequa Park home following his arrest, in photos provided by her attorney, they discovered boxes strewn about and litter everywhere, and said they were blindsided by the charges, CBS New York reported.

"She had no idea this was going on," said Robert Macedonio, Ellerup's attorney.

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