SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y. (PIX11) – New evidence has been uncovered that connects Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann with two more women who were found dead on Long Island, according to an attorney representing victims in the case.
On Wednesday, Attorney John Ray said new witnesses came forward with information that allegedly links Heuermann with Shannan Gilbert, 24, and Karen Vergata, 34, who were found dead on Long Island in 2011 and 1996, respectively.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said detectives are investigating the credibility of the new information provided by the witnesses.
“It’s still an ongoing investigation. We have the information. We’re working it, and we’ll see where it leads us down the road,” Harrison said.
Heuermann is already charged with murder in connection with the deaths of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello. He is also considered the “prime suspect” in the killing of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, authorities have said.
Heuermann allegedly met the women online and then dumped their bodies in the brush off Ocean Parkway. Their bodies were discovered in 2010.
Heuermann, an architect from Massapequa Park on Long Island, was arrested in July. He maintains he is not the killer.
Gilbert, a 24-year-old sex worker, vanished after leaving a client’s house on foot in Oak Beach in Suffolk County in May 2010.
The disappearance of Gilbert and the subsequent search for her body led investigators to discover the remains of four other women nearby in Gilgo Beach in December 2010. The following spring, six more sets of remains were found nearby.
Gilbert’s remains were found in December 2011, about three-quarters of a mile from where she was last seen alive.
In 2022, 911 calls were released from the night Gilbert called the police frantically asking for help. However, lead investigators in the Gilgo Beach murders case had previously said they did not believe her death was connected to the so-called “Long Island Serial Killer.”
According to Ray, a taxi driver came forward after seeing photos of Gilbert and Heuermann on television. She said she saw a man matching Heuermann’s description with Gilbert at the Sayville Motor Lodge on Sunrise Highway in the fall of 2009.
The woman said she was called to the Sayville Motor Lodge to pick up a passenger, who ended up being Gilbert, according to Ray.
“A giant man, who fits the description of Rex Heuermann, comes out and he’s covering his face with his arms so he can’t be seen. And he runs to a van or an SUV that’s parked nearby,” Ray said. “Out comes [Gilbert], crying, shaking, very upset, and gets in [the taxi driver’s] car.”
Gilbert reportedly told the taxi driver the man had seduced her and promised to pay her to help her family, but became worried when she discovered the envelope was full of paper, not money.
The family of 34-year-old Karen Vergata last heard from her on Valentine’s Day in 1996. Some of her remains were found on Fire Island in 1996, and more of her bones were discovered near Gilgo Beach in 2011.
A witness recently came forward after seeing photos of Vergata and Heuermann on television, according to Ray. She said she attended a “swingers party” with her boyfriend and Vergata at Heuermann’s home in Massapequa Park around Valentine’s Day in 1996. She said Vergata remained at the party after she and her boyfriend left.
“[The witness] says to her partner: ‘What are we doing? Are we taking her?’ And the partner says, ‘Don’t worry, they’re just playing a game. She stays there, no problem,’” Ray described the encounter at a news conference Wednesday. “With that, [Vergata] runs out of the house naked and is running in front of the garage. And now, the witness says, ‘Hey, shouldn’t we be taking her? Something’s wrong here.’ And the driver tells her, ‘Nah, they’re just playing a game. Leave it.’ And they leave.”
Vergata had not previously been tied to the case against Heuermann.
Investigators believe Vergata was working as an escort and living in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
PIX11 News’ Mary Murphy and James Ford, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.