OAK BEACH, N.Y. (PIX11) — The last 23 minutes before Shannan Gilbert disappeared in the early morning hours of May 1, 2010, she was on the phone with 911 dispatchers. That phone call provides chilling details of the last minutes of her life. It has been kept in evidence by police, against the will of Gilbert’s family and attorney, who successfully sued for its release. On Friday, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison made the 911 tape public.
“[It] will not hinder this investigation,” Harrison said at a noon news conference.
There, he and his senior investigative staff played a video they’d put together that paired pertinent sections of the audio from Gilbert’s 911 call with other information related to it, including maps and aerial video of where she’d been when she contacted police that fateful morning 12 years ago.
“There’s somebody after me,” the edited call begins. The video that police assembled contains about five minutes of her emergency call.
Police made both their edited version of the events leading to Gilbert’s death and the full 911 call available to the public here.
Gilbert was a sex worker from New Jersey. The call begins at the home of Joseph Brewer, Gilbert’s client for the night. His voice is heard on the call, and so is the voice of Michael Pak, who was the driver of the livery car Gilbert had hired that night.
In the sections of the tape where the two men’s voices are heard, Gilbert shows signs of distress.
“What are you going to do to me?” she asks at one point, when Pak’s voice is heard on the tape, then, seconds later she asks, “Are you going to kill me?”
She ends up asking two more times.
Kevin Beyrer, the commanding officer of the Suffolk Police homicide squad, narrated the produced video. On it, he says what ended up happening next to Gilbert.
“Shannan then ran from Brewer’s house, at 8 The Fairway [Drive],” Beyrer says in a voiceover, “to Gus Coletti’s house at 17 The Fairway, a distance of 2/10 a mile.”
On the way, Gilbert screams very loudly. When she gets to Colletti’s home, he encounters her.
“Is somebody after you?” he asks. “Are you all right? Where are you going?” he asks her.
Coletti called 911 himself after she left.
She then runs down the street to the home of another neighbor, Barbara Brennan. Brennan called 911 without letting Gilbert in. Brennan’s call to dispatchers was also released as part of the police department’s video.
Gilbert’s banging on Brennan’s door is clearly audible in the 911 call by Brennan.
At the conclusion of that part of the video, Beyrer narrates his investigators’ findings.
“There’s a trench running east and west through the marshland,” Beyrer says. “It is believed that Shannan followed this trench. Personal belongings of hers were found just north of the trench.”
Her remains ended up being found about 3/4 of a mile from where she’d last been seen alive, but that discovery wasn’t made until a year-and-a-half after she’d gone missing.
A search for her body in the months after her disappearance led investigators to discover the remains of four other women nearby in Gilgo Beach in December 2010. Then, the following spring, six more sets of remains were found nearby.
Gilbert’s remains were found in December 2011.
As for the nature of her death, Beyrer said, at the Friday news conference, “It’s undetermined. No causes can be included or excluded.”
He also said that a variety of factors pointed to Gilbert not having been murdered: her remains were found in an isolated area, apart from the others discovered along the South Shore; unlike the bodies of some other victims, hers was not wrapped in burlap; she’d had her phone with her, and had called 911, when other victims had no apparent way of calling police; she had a driver, who could serve as a means of escape.
Beyrer said that everyone whose voices were heard on Gilbert’s 911 call, including Brewer and Pak, had been cooperative in their investigation.
However, attorney John Ray, who represents Gilbert’s estate, said that the newly released information, as well as the news conference, don’t show a complete picture of what happened.
Ray said that an independent autopsy he’d had carried out for Gilbert’s family she that she was murdered.
At a news conference of his own on Friday, Ray insisted that Dr. Peter Hackett, a former Oak Beach resident who spoke with Gilbert’s mother, is connected to Shannan Gilbert’s death.
Ray said that Hackett “called Mari Gilbert two days after Shannan disappeared, said that he’d had her in his house, he medicated her, she ran away and didn’t come back, and that he was worried.”
Hackett, who now lives in Florida, has not been charged in the case. Gilbert’s mother, Mari, was murdered in 2016 by one of her other daughters, Sarra. On Monday, another of her daughters, Sherre, is expected to join Ray, the family’s lawyer at a news conference. Ray said on Friday that he’ll present new evidence linking Hackett to Shannan Gilbert’s death.