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New York police revealed new details of the Gilgo Beach serial killings on Long Island on Friday, releasing three previously withheld 911 calls. They include a call from the woman whose disappearance led investigators to a gruesome treasure trove of bodies strewn near a scenic beachfront highway.
The murders remain unsolved more than a decade after the search for missing escort Shannan Gilbert, 24, led police to the bodies of several sex workers and other victims along a roadside highway sea east of New York.
“There’s someone after me,” Gilbert told dispatchers repeatedly during a call at 4:51 a.m. on May 1, 2010. But she didn’t provide a more specific location than at a house. from Long Island, somewhere near Jones Beach.
“Can you trace where I am?” she asked.
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“No, I can’t,” replied the dispatcher.
Gilbert was calling from a home in Oak Beach, a gated community on the Atlantic Ocean.
In the background, a man identified as Joseph Brewer can be heard telling her it’s “time to go.”
Another man, Michael Pak, was waiting outside. Police said he was her driver. But she refused to go with him and ran down the road, authorities said, knocking on neighbors’ doors and claiming someone was chasing her.
As the call continues, she seems more and more distressed.
“What’s the matter, are you okay?” Pak is heard asking after Brewer says he’s coming up.
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“What are you going to do to me?” Gilbert answers.
The recording is muffled, but it sounds like he’s offering to drive her home.
“You will kill me ?” she said a few moments later.
“Are you crazy?” he has answered.
At many points during the call, she appears to ignore the dispatcher, seemingly distracted. She repeatedly tells Pak, “Mike, stop it,” prompting the dispatcher to ask her for her last name. Gilbert does not provide it.
In another part of the 23-minute recording, she identifies herself and tells the dispatcher, “These people are trying to kill me.”
After part of the call goes unanswered – about 17 minutes – she starts screaming. She disappeared that night and the subsequent search uncovered many more bodies in the area. But while some of them may be linked to one or more killers, police said their relationship to the investigation may end there.
“The release of Shannan Gilbert’s 911 calls will not hinder this investigation,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison told reporters at a news conference announcing the release of the tapes. “I encourage the public to listen to the entire call.”
Two other calls, from neighbors Gus Coletti and Barbara Brennan, helped police focus on Gilbert’s location, even though it would be months before his remains were found.
During the briefing, police revealed they believe Gilbert’s death was an accident. They reiterated previous reports that she suffered from mental illness and was known to use drugs and said the side effects left her feeling disoriented and irrational at times.
Since Harrison took over as commissioner on New Year’s Eve, he has refocused the investigation on cold cases, forming a multi-agency task force and pledging to release more information and dispel myths and the rumors surrounding the 12-year investigation.
Just last week he revealed additional information about the “Gilgo Four”, the first victims found after the search for Gilbert began.
“I would have taken the same route. These are the four most recent homicides, based on how close they were left and the fact that they were wrapped in burlap,” said Joseph Giacalone, assistant professor at John Jay College of New York. Criminal Justice, Fox News Digital said on Friday. “It is the case that [Harrison] look hard. That’s the one he wants to solve first, and then we’ll see where the others go.”
These four victims, like Gilbert, worked as Craigslist escorts.
“I think [Suffolk Police] made the right step in that direction where they are trying to put some speculation to bed,” Giacalone said.
Harrison, a former NYPD chief, is the latest in a line of Suffolk police commissioners to handle the case over the years. He began his tenure with a wish to bring a new approach to the stalled investigation.
“I like what Harrison does, and I think he has a method for his madness,” Giacalone said. “This guy is an experienced investigator.”
However, Giacalone questioned the department’s decision to take a stand on Gilbert’s cause of death when the county medical examiner’s official autopsy was found to be “undetermined.”
“When you’re dealing with an undetermined death, it’s not up to the police department to make up their minds about what they’re thinking,” he said. “When the ME returns it to you, it’s up to the police department to prove or disprove what they think.”
The department’s conclusion that Gilbert did not die by homicide appears to contradict the findings of a 2016 private autopsy commissioned by Gilbert’s family.
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Dr. Michael Baden, famed medical examiner and former New York City Chief Medical Examiner, was hired by the family. He found “insufficient information to determine a specific cause of death, but autopsy results are consistent with a lethal strangulation.”
Key bones in his throat were missing, but adjacent bones had “a roughness around the edges”. He also found no drugs in his system.
“I am of the opinion, based on the circumstances of Shannon’s death and the documents I have reviewed, that there is no evidence that she died of any natural illness, overdose drugs or drowning,” he concluded. “There is insufficient information to determine a specific cause of death, but the autopsy results are consistent with a fatal strangulation.”
John Ray, the attorney representing Gilbert’s estate who previously had access to the tapes, did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.
In a morning interview with Long Island News Radio, before the calls went out to the general public, he disputed the notion that Gilbert’s death was not the result of foul play.
“The police department released a false account, a very strongly false account of what happened that morning of May 1, 2010, and they based it…on the false statement that nothing really significant happened. is produced and that Shannan was really a bit irrational,” Ray says. “These things are decidedly not true. And the tape will certainly show you that.”
Suffolk Police said they based their findings on a review of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit as well as other evidence.
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Police found Gilbert’s body south of the boardwalk. The other victims were on the north side. She had her ID and was carrying cash. And she had a history of mental illness and drug addiction which detectives believe may explain her apparent confusion and irrationality.
“The prevailing view is that Shannan’s death, while tragic, was not murder,” Suffolk County Police Lt. Kevin Beyrer said.
Tragedy struck her family again a few years later, when her sister, Sarra Gilbert, was accused of killing her mother, Mari Gilbert.
Fox News’ Emmett Jones and Sarah Rumpf contributed to this report.