By James Rooney
The human remains previously known as “Fire Island Jane Doe” and “Jane Doe Seven” have been identified as Karen Vergata, a 34-year-old escort who went missing sometime around Valentine’s Day of 1996. There was no missing persons report filed at the time. This break in the Gilgo beach murder case was the result of a genealogical analysis of her remains, the review giving a “presumptive match” for Vergata to Fire Island Jane Doe, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney. Vergata’s then unidentified remains were found first in 1996, consisting of what are now known to be the legs of Vergata on Fire Island, with her skull being found 15 years later at Tobay Beach in Nassau County, several miles and a county away. “I think it’s important that we remember and honor not only Ms. Vergata, but all the victims on Gilgo Beach.” said Raymond Tierney at a press conference before stating there would be no public comment on the Gilgo Beach case. The killing of Vergata has not been linked to the prime suspect Rex Heuermann.
Latest Against Rex Heuermann
Newsday reported on Aug. 8 that the lawyer representing Heuermann has opposed the prosecution’s request to take a DNA swab, arguing in court papers that the prosecutors have failed to demonstrate probable cause that he killed three women.
“The assertions contained the people’s moving papers might be construed as rising to the level of a reasonable suspicion, but that is a far cry from the standard of probable cause required to justify granting the order sought by the people,” wrote Danielle Coysh, an attorney for Heuermann.
The Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Michelle Haddad requested that State Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei ordered Heuermann to submit a cheek swab test to see if he matches DNA obtained from a discarded napkin and pizza crust.
“Should the defendant’s DNA from the [cheek swab] not match the DNA profile from the pizza crusts and napkin submitted for Rex Heuermann … the defense would be presented with a potential trial defense,” Haddad wrote. “Thus, there is a clear indication that material and relevant evidence will be found and is crucial for trial.”
But, Coysh argued that the prosecution has failed to establish that Heuermann touched the pizza crust and napkin. On Aug. 9, a Suffolk judge ruled that he must submit the fcheek swab to prosecutors, Newsday reported.
During Heuermann’s first court appearance in Riverhead on Aug. 1, it was revealed that thousands of pages and documents were turned over to Heuermann’s defense team, including crime scene photos, autopsy reports, DNA evidence and video surveillance.
He is due back in court on Sept. 27.
Since the arrest of Heuermann, it’s been speculated that the case may be tied to other cases out of state. However, a New Jersey prosecutor told the Associated Press on Aug. 1 that the case does not appear to be related to the unsolved killings of four sex workers near Atlantic City in 2006.