LONG ISLAND— Unhappy with the work of the Suffolk County Police Department, the family of Shannan Gilbert, one of the women found dead near Oak Beach, agreed when a famed medical examiner offered to perform a secondary autopsy.
On Friday, family attorney John Ray revealed the report’s “disturbing” new findings, which directly contradict SCPD detectives, who listed the cause of death as drowning.
“There is no evidence whatsoever that Shannan Gilbert died a natural death,” former New York City medical examiner Michael Baden wrote in the report. “There is no evidence whatsoever that Shannan Gilbert died from a drug overdose, and there is no evidence whatsoever that Shannan Gilbert died from drowning.”
Baden said the evidence was consistent with homicidal strangulation, but insufficient to release an official cause of death.
Unlike the other victims found in 2010 and 2011, Suffolk County police did not investigate the 24-year-old Craigslist escort’s death as the work of a serial killer after labeling it a drowning.
That theory, Ray said, came from a former police surgeon, Dr. Charles Peter Hackett, who lived near the marshy area where Gilbert’s body was found. Hackett ran a home for wayward girls, according to neighbors, and although he claimed never to have met Gilbert, a neighbor’s affidavit contradicted that statement.
Detectives interviewed Hackett multiple times but never charged him. He has since moved to Florida.
“I know there’s a lot of coverups I don’t know who’s involved . . . I believe it’s all connected,” said Stevie Smith, one of Gilbert’s sisters. “I’m angry at the cop who took so long to get to the scene, I’m angry at the residents of the gated community, I’m angry at the driver who was hired to protect her and I’m angry at anyone who knows the truth and isn’t saying anything.”
Since Gilbert’s body was discovered in May of 2010, the Suffolk County acting police commissioner and chief of detectives have both resigned. Former Chief of Department James Burke was forced to resign and is now facing federal charges for his alleged role in another case.
The new acting police commissioner has called in the FBI to investigate the suspected serial murders in the Gilgo Beach area. The family is calling for the case to be reopened as a homicide and for a full review of the evidence.