Shannan Gilbert’s Family Seeks Donations for Funeral, 2nd Autopsy

Shannan Gilbert
Shannan Gilbert’s remains were found in Oak Beach in December 2011.

Famous coroner Dr. Michael Baden will perform a second autopsy on a New Jersey woman whose remains were found in Oak Beach three years ago Saturday in the case that led police to the Long Island Serial Killer’s dumping ground.

The family of Shannan Gilbert, who police were searching for when they discovered 10 sets of human remains along Ocean Parkway, is seeking donations to pay for her funeral, so the second autopsy can be conducted at the funeral home. Attorneys for the family made that announcement on the same week that they released the results of Gilbert’s first autopsy and toxicology tests—which found no trace of drugs in her system.

“I’m convinced beyond any doubt that she was murdered,” said the lead attorney, John Ray of Miller Place-based Ray, Mitev & Associates, echoing the family’s suspicion. “And the autopsy report is not inconsistent with my belief.”

The Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office had only said that the cause of death is “undetermined” for Gilbert, an online escort who was reported missing May 1, 2010 after she fled the Oak Beach home of her last client, Joseph Brewer, who police have said is not a suspect in the deaths. Police have also said suspect Gilbert—whose body was found in a marsh less than a mile from Brewer’s home—was not a victim of foul play. But Gilbert’s family believes that Shannan was killed by the same person behind the other murders, whose victims include other online escorts.

Baden, who was the host of the HBO “Autopsy” series for 13 years, agrees with former Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer’s theory that one killer dumped all 10 sets of remains. Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota has said he believes more than one killer hid bodies on the same remote stretch of beach. Baden was not immediately available for comment.

“There are lots of places to dump bodies, and I’ve investigated a number of serial murders, and I’ve never seen two different serial murders dump bodies [in the same place] at the same time,” Baden told Fox News, where he is a contributor.

Ray said Baden offered to perform the second autopsy for free, but Baden cannot perform the autopsy at the Suffolk medical examiner’s office. That’s why the family needs to raise the money to pay for Shannan’s funeral costs before that can happen. They are asking for donations via GoFundMe.

Ray is representing Gilbert’s mother, Mari, in a lawsuit against Dr. Peter Hackett, who allegedly told her that he took Shannan in and drugged her before she went missing. Hackett later denied those claims in media interviews. Hacket, who has since moved to Florida, is also not a suspect in the deaths, police have said.

Ray said that contrary to what police have said, the first autopsy suggests that Gilbert was murdered. Aside from a lack of drugs evidence in hair and tissue tests, the report found that her mostly skeletal remains were missing several small bones from her fingers, toes and throat—but no signs of trauma.

“There are very small areas of possible post-mortem animal activity,” Dr. Hajar Sims-Childs said in the report, dated Dec. 14, 2011.

No arrests or suspects have been named in the larger investigation. Suffolk County police issued their standard statement this week when asked about the case: “We are not commenting further at this time on the Gilgo investigation until/unless we have some additional information pertaining to the investigation that serves the investigation or the public by its release.”