Shannan Gilbert’s disappearance and death in 2010 remain unsolved to date. But that hasn’t deterred her family from their crusade for the truth. Her mother, Mari Gilbert, fought to find out what happened to her daughter. And Mari’s battle and Shannan’s unsolved death are retold in Netflix’s cinematic dramatization, Lost Girls. Questions still remain about the young woman’s death, which we explore in this Shannan Gilbert wiki.
|About Shannan Maria Gilbert|
|Birth||October 24, 1986|
|Death||December 13, 2011|
|Siblings||Stevie Gilbert Smith, Sherre Gilbert, Sarra Elizabeth Gilbert|
Shannan Gilbert Lived in Foster Homes
Shannan Maria Gilbert was born on October 24, 1986 to Mari Gilbert and her then-partner. She is the eldest of four daughters born to New Jersey native Mari.
Shannan and her sisters’ childhood had been turbulent. But she was described as a warm-hearted girl.
Shortly after Mari left Shannan’s father and moved with her four daughters to upstate New York, the girls were separated from their mother and placed in foster care. The youngest girls, Stevie and Sherre, would be reunited with Mari, but Shannan and Sarra would be raised in foster homes.
One of her foster moms said Shannan was smart enough to fit two years of classes in one year and graduate from high school in New Paltz, Ulster County at 16 years old. Her foster mom kept in touch with her until her disappearance.
A family photo of us back in 2004 on Thanksgiving "My family is my strength & my weakness"-Aishwarya Rai
At a young age, Shannan was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She was taking medication for it but stopped during high school, saying it gave her the shakes.
After graduating from high school, Shannan did odd jobs to earn money. She was a hotel receptionist, an Applebee’s hostess, and a snack prepper at a senior center. In 2007, she moved with her then-boyfriend to New Jersey and joined an escort agency while trying to make it as a singer and actress.
Her history as an escort was as turbulent as her childhood. She was arrested at least once, and was once assaulted so severely that she needed a titanium plate in her jaw. She had also abused drugs while working as an escort, according to reports.
Shannan Gilbert Disappeared in 2010
Shannan advertised her services on Craigslist for $200.00 an hour. She kept two-thirds of the fee and the remaining third was pocketed by the driver who accompanied her to the dates and acted as security. In one night, she would reportedly earn about $600.00.
A lover of expensive things, she soon moved into a place of her own and lavished her mother, sisters, and nephews with presents. She was also taking college classes online with the hopes of quitting escorting one day. Her mother knew of her job and tried to get her to quit and move back. But Shannan kept at it for the hefty income.
On May 1, 2010, Shannan went to Joseph Brewer’s residence in Oak Beach, Long Island. He had hired her through Craigslist amid a separation from his wife. So Gilbert went there with Michael Pak, a driver she had worked with before.
Pak stayed behind in the vehicle while Gilbert went inside Brewer’s house. Hours later, Brewer called Pak for help, allegedly because Shannan was behaving erratically.
Shannan called 911 from Brewer’s home and kept the dispatcher on the line for 23 minutes. There are other voices on the call telling her to calm her down. Shannan didn’t tell the dispatcher her exact location, possibly because she didn’t know after being driven there.
Pak believed Gilbert was on drugs and claimed to have gone back to the car. Minutes later, he said, Gilbert bolted from the house and began pounding on the doors of Brewer’s neighbors.
One neighbor reportedly tried to help her, but she didn’t let him call 911. Pak had followed her in the vehicle, but at some point, she went out of sight. He looked for her around Oak Beach, but when he couldn’t find her, he gave up and returned to the city.
Brewer, Pak, and the neighbor were investigated by the police for Shannan’s disappearance. Brewer claimed that there were no drugs or sexual contact that night.
The Search for Gilbert Uncovered a Serial Killing Spree
Mari and the family were hoping that police would find Shannan. But after a few weeks, and a lack of evidence to suspect Brewer or Pak, the leads seemed to have dried up.
On December 11, 2010, a Suffolk County detective conducting a training exercise with a cadaver dog at Gilgo Beach found human remains not far from Brewer’s home. The remains were not of Shannan, as the victim didn’t have the titanium plate in the jaw as Shannan did.
Nonetheless, the discovery of human remains led to a more thorough search. In a couple of days, police found three more sets of bones all wrapped in burlap sacks and 50 feet from each other.
The victims were strangled to death, according to the medical examiner. The nature of the killings convinced police that a serial killer was at large in the area. The killer, unidentified to this day, came to be known as the Long Island Serial Killer, LISK, Gilgo Killer, Gilgo Beach Killer, and Craigslist Ripper.
The victims were identified, but none of them were Shannan. They, however, were of similar looks and build to Gilbert, and were also escorts who advertised on Craigslist and similar sites.
The Gilbert family believed that the similar profiles to Shannan and her behavior the last time she was seen alive connect Shannan’s disappearance to the Gilgo Beach killings. But investigators haven’t found a link to date.
Over the course of the next few months, police would conduct searches in the area and find more bodies. The total number of victims found since December 2010 reached 10, but Shannan’s whereabouts were still unknown.
Investigators Claim Shannan Drowned
A year after the first set of remains were found, Shannan’s remains were found on December 13, 2011, in a marsh located half a mile from where she disappeared. Her clothes and belongings were found nearby a few days earlier.
Authorities believed Shannan died of natural causes and theorized that she was a victim of accidental drowning when she stumbled into the marsh. A medical examiner ruled her death as inconclusive, and investigators didn’t find evidence linking her death to the Gilgo Beach murders.
But Mari and the family strongly believed that Shannan’s death was a homicide. To them, her behavior the night she disappeared and 911 calls indicated something happened to her that night.
Moreover, a surgeon who formerly worked with the Suffolk County Police Department, Peter Hackett, had become a person of interest. Mari received a call from Hackett’s residence two days after Shannan’s disappearance. He denied the same, though call records prove otherwise.
Hackett reportedly told Mari that he ran a home for wayward girls and Shannan was in his care. Hackett, however, denied he had any contact with Shannan.
Hackett was suspected of drugging Shannan the day she disappeared. Mari and the Gilbert family estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him for allegedly facilitating her death.
Investigators later ruled out Hackett as a suspect, claiming that he had a history of inserting himself into certain major events. However, he became a polarizing figure of a speculated police cover-up. Although some contend that he was an embarrassment to the police department before his termination and its unlikely the police are covering for the former employee.
Shannan’s Family Launched Their Own Investigation
Mari Gilbert and her daughters fought to have Shannan’s death investigated as a homicide. When police failed to conduct an active investigation, the family hired John Ray as an attorney to help them investigate.
They hired an independent medical examiner, Michael Baden, to conduct a private autopsy on behalf of the family in 2016. Baden wasn’t able to definitively conclude it was a homicide in the absence of soft tissue. However, he claimed that her death was not by drowning.
Baden said there were signs of homicide by strangulation on Shannan’s remains. Moreover, she was found face-up, which is unlikely in the case of drowning.
The family had a funeral for Shannan following the independent autopsy in March 2015. Her tombstone, the photograph of which is shared on the Facebook page maintained by her sisters, states she died on December 13, 2011, the day her skeletal remains were found.
So excited to share with you all the beautiful headstone my sister will finally receive at her resting place in Long…
Ray, on behalf of the Gilbert Family Estate, has been fighting to get the 911 recordings from the night Shannan was last seen alive. However, the authorities have refused to release the tapes.
The New York Supreme Court in 2018 ordered the Suffolk County PD to turn over the audio and transcripts. However, the police have appealed against the ruling, saying the recordings are part of an ongoing investigation.
Ray argues that the Suffolk police have no reason to withhold the 911 audio unless they are covering up something. So far, the tapes haven’t been made public.
Meanwhile, Mari died without getting closure in Shannan’s death, on July 23, 2016. She was found dead in her younger daughter, Sarra’s home in Ellenville, New York.
Sarra, who allegedly suffers from mental illness, stabbed her mother to death and hit her with a fire extinguisher. Sarra pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. She was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Shannan’s sisters, Stevie, Sherre, and Sarra, along with their sons survive her. Sarra is reportedly serving her prison sentence.