A New Jersey woman who authorities were searching for when they discovered the Long Island Serial Killer’s dumping ground may have been murdered, contrary to Suffolk County investigators’ findings, her family’s attorney said.
Shannan Gilbert, a sex worker who was reported missing in May 2010 and found dead near her last client’s Oak Beach home 20 months later, appears to have been choked to death, according to a second autopsy performed by Dr. Michael Baden, a retired New York City coroner and current Fox News Channel contributor.
“There is insufficient information to determine a definite cause of death, but the autopsy findings are consistent with homicidal strangulation,” Baden wrote in the report of his autopsy performed before Gilbert was buried in Amityville last year. His findings are based on two missing “horns” on Gilbert’s u-shaped hyoid bone in her throat.
The Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office had said that her cause and manner of death was “undetermined.” Police have theorized that she was disoriented, wandered into the marsh her last client’s home, and drowned. Authorities have said the client, Joseph Brewer, is not a suspect in her death, but her family suspects that she is a victim of foul play by one of his then-neighbors, Dr. Peter Hackett, who has denied the accusations and since moved.
“The police actually refused to pursue the investigation of the death of Shannan Gilbert,” her family’s attorney, John Ray, of Ray, Mitev & Associates, told reporters while flanked by Shannan’s mother and three sisters during a news conference Friday at his Miller Place office. “We think that that position needs to change.”
Newly appointed Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini announced recently that he is asking the FBI to take a fresh look at the case that Gilbert’s disappearance sparked—the discovery of 10 sets of remains along Ocean Parkway dumped by up to three killers. In response to Ray, Sini said his investigators will review Baden’s findings.
“Suffolk County detectives investigating the Gilgo Beach homicides requested to review the report supporting any contrary conclusion reached by Dr. Michael Baden, and the department is awaiting documentation,” Sini said in a statement.
Later the same day, after receiving a copy of the report, Sini release a second statement.
“It provides no additional information, and concludes, as did the Suffolk County Office of the Medical Examiner, that there is insufficient information to determine a definite cause of death,” Sini said.
Ray said that he is hopeful that Sini’s tenure will be more helpful than the past two police commissioners that have led the department since the case broke. But Ray said that Homicide Squad detectives still refuse to meet with him and his private investigator to discuss the evidence they’ve collected. Ray noted that the FBI has met with him to discuss the case.
Police did not to respond to questions about Ray’s allegations that detectives have told witnesses not to talk to him. Ray noted that, barring a legal challenge from the county, he hopes to acquire the recording of Shannan’s 911 call next week.
Shannan’s mother, Mari, said that her daughter did not know how to swim and would not have waded into a marsh on her own. She and her surviving daughters said that their frustration with how the case was handled prompted them to file a lawsuit against police and Hackett.
“She was not perfect…but she does not deserve to be forgotten,” Mari said. “There’s too many coincidences to say that they’re not all related.”
Suffolk County police ask anyone with information relating to this investigation to call 1-800-220-TIPS or visit www.tipsubmit.com. A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in the Gilgo Beach murders.