The family of an alleged victim of the Gilgo Beach serial killer has slammed police for saying her death was a ‘tragic accident’.
Shannan Gilbert’s relatives hit out at officers for claiming her disappearance in Long Island in 2010 was not suspicious.
Their attorney released stunning new evidence the 24-year-old’s neck had been broken before she was killed and had a puncture hole in it that could have been caused by a drill.
John Ray also hinted more details would follow as he told DailyMail.com there were a lot of ‘surprises in my bag’ ahead of a press conference on Tuesday.
Gilbert’s body was found on December 13, 2011 in a swamp in Oak Beach – about a quarter mile from where she was last seen alive.
She has long been tied to the unsolved Gilgo Beach murders, with police finding four other women buried in burlap sacks when they were searching for her.
The four women would later be known as the ‘Gilgo Beach Four’, with all of them having worked as escorts using Craigslist.
Six more bodies, linked to the so-called Gilgo Beach serial killer were found months later.
But officers last week claimed Gilbert was not linked to the serial killer and her death had been an accident.
On the night of her disappearance, Gilbert was driven out to Long Island by her driver identified by police as Michael Pak. Gilbert was meeting up with a client, named as Joseph Brewer by police, who found her on Craigslist. They met at his home in the gated-community of Oak Beach Association near Gilgo Beach
A photo of the dense marsh that surrounds Gilgo Beach, located near Oak Beach Association
Gilbert’s family quickly hit back, with Ray saying: ‘There is not one jot of evidence that she died by tragic accident as Suffolk County Police Department claim.
‘This was no tragic accident. The police did not tell you how she had died. She was murdered.’
Ray had Forensic Pathologist Dr Michael Baden perform an autopsy on Gilbert which revealed her Hyoid bone was not only broken but the bone had a hole in it.
The hole in the bone Ray described had a radius of 3/16 of an inch in a bone which is about two inches.
‘A normal Hyoid bone has no holes, this appears to be some puncture hole or drill hole that went through her neck, possibly some type of medical equipment was used.’
Eight days after Gilbert’s body was discovered, Ray was hired to represent the family.
On Friday, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison released three 911 calls related to the disappearance – one from her, and two others from homeowners in the area where she vanished.
During the conference, Harrison called Gilbert’s death a ‘tragic accident,’ calling her death inconclusive, however, Ray told DailyMail.com those claims are ‘absurd.’
Gilbert’s mother Mary Gilbert kneeling over her daughter’s coffin as he is laid to rest
‘I obtained the audio tapes that were released on Friday after a long court fight that took years and many emotions and appeals and that brings us to today and how the police are still spinning the same story following a narrative that contradicts all the evidence,’ Gilbert family attorney, John Ray said
In the frantic call, Gilbert, who worked as an escort can be heard claiming someone was trying to kill her before she went missing on May 1, 2010 near Oak Beach.
At times during the audio, she appears terrified, and confused yet coherent and, which is followed at times by silence and blood-curdling screams: ‘Please stop it. What are you going to do to me?’
As the operator repeatedly interjects: ‘Hello. Hello.’
While she is on the call, she knocks on neighbor Gus Coletti’s door, and he can be heard saying ‘What’s the matter? Is somebody after you?’.
After the call ends, Coletti makes his own call to 911, saying: ‘There’s a young girl … running around here screaming, and there’s some guy trying to follow her.’
In another call released on Friday, another neighbor, Barbara Brennan, tells a 911 operator that Gilbert has knocked on her door and said she was in danger.
Brennan refused to let her in because she was home with her elderly mother.
During the press conference on Friday, police also said they interviewed Brewer and Pak and determined they were not responsible for Gilbert’s death.
A photo of Shannan Gilbert who was last seen alive on May 1, 2010 in Oak Beach, Long Island
The Gilgo Beach serial killer had a pattern of wrapping his victims in burlap to camouflage them, before dumping their bodies in the dense area of shrubs by Ocean Parkway, a 15.59 mile parkway that extends Jones Beach Island between Jones Beach State Park and Captree State Park located on the South Shore of Long Island
Detective Lieutenant Kevin Byer, commanding officer of the Suffolk County Police Homicide section appeared in a video on a website dedicated to the Gilgo Beach murders.
He explained three calls were placed – one by Gilbert, and two by other homeowners in the area. He also summed up the video by stating that Gilbert ‘died in a tragic accident’.
‘I encourage people to listen to them in their entirety portions of the call taken out of context will sound sensational.’
Gilbert’s family has been fighting for more than a decade for the release of the 911 calls in hope of bringing more transparency to the case and finally getting much needed closure for the family.
Ray said: ‘The audio tapes compellingly establish that Shannan Gilbert acted rationally and did not die in a tragic accident in a marsh that was impenetrable that the Suffolk County police are saying.’
He continued: ‘She was murdered and her body was placed there. The evidence is overwhelming.’
He added: ‘Dr. Baden’s autopsy adds credence to the obvious: Shannan’s death was consistent with homicide and with her outcry that ‘they are trying to kill me’ and with her blood curdling screams as she was confronted outside of Brewer’s house.’
In a previous interview, the family’s lawyer accused police of doing an ‘inadequate and negligent job’ in trying to track down the killer(s).
‘The reason could be there was something on there that they did not want you and I to know,’ he said, NBC News reported.
In 2021, there was a renewed interest in the case when Suffolk County Police Commissioner, Raymond Harris became appointed police commissioner.
Before Harris became chief, four other Suffolk County police commissioners worked had worked on the case but were unsuccessful in their attempts in catching the killer.
Suffolk County Police Lt. Kevin Byer pictured here speaking about the three calls, which have long been kept secret, including the 22-minute call from Gilbert
Shannan Gilbert’s cover page of Anthropological report by Chief Medical Examiner
The second page of Shannan Gilberts Anthropological report by the Chief Medical Examiner
The unsolved murder mystery has frustrated family members of the victims, who are still seeking answers all these years later.
Harris, a former Chief of Department at the NYPD, has vowed to help solve the case creating a new task force and releasing additional evidence in hopes it will develop new leads.
In April, Harris released never seen before video of 22-year-old Gilgo Beach murder victim Megan Waterman standing in the lobby at the Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge in June 6, 2010.
Investigators believe the young woman left her hotel room to meet the person who would later kill her. She was captured by a security camera walking out of the hotel around 1:30 a.m.
Her body was discovered on December 13, 2010 beside Ocean Parkway near Gilgo beach. She has been strangled.
The killer had a pattern of wrapping his victims in burlap to camouflage them, before dumping their bodies in the dense area of shrubs by Ocean Parkway, a 15.59 mile parkway that extends Jones Beach Island between Jones Beach State Park and Captree State Park located on the South Shore of Long Island.
After Gilbert’s body was found, police discovered Melissa Barthelemy’s body on December 2010, which was found in the vicinity of Gilgo Beach.
By spring 2011, 10 sets of human remains – those of eight women, an Asian man- believed to be a cross dresser, and a toddler that was linked to the child of one of the victims, were found.
Some of the remains were later linked to dismembered body parts found elsewhere on Long Island.