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New York City Police Department on Friday revealed new details about the Long Island Cold Case serial killings in Gilgo Beach, which went public with three previously withheld 911 calls. That includes a call from the woman whose disappearance led investigators to a gruesome trove of bodies scattered near a scenic coastal road.
The murders remain unsolved more than a decade after a search for missing escort Shannan Gilbert, 24, led police to the bodies of several sex workers and other victims along a coast road east of New York City.
“Someone’s after me,” Gilbert repeatedly told dispatchers in a call made May 1, 2010 at 4:51 am. But she didn’t give a more specific location than a house on Long Island, somewhere near Jones Beach.
“Can you understand where I am?” She asked.
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“No, I can’t,” the dispatcher replied.
Gilbert was calling from a house in Oak Beach, a gated community on the Atlantic Ocean.
A man identified as Joseph Brewer can be heard in the background 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, according to authorities, ran down the street knocking on neighbors’ doors and claiming someone was stalking her.
As the call progresses, she sounds increasingly desperate.
“What’s the matter, are you alright?” Pak is heard asking after Brewer says he’s going upstairs.
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“What are you going to do with me?” Gilbert answers.
The recording is muffled, but it sounds like he’s offering to drive her home.
“Are you going to kill me?” she says a moment later.
“Are you crazy?” he replies.
At many points in the call, she seems distractedly ignoring the dispatcher. She repeatedly tells Pak, “Mike, stop that,” prompting the dispatcher to ask for his 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 an unresponsive portion of the call — about 17 minutes later — she starts screaming. She disappeared that night and subsequent searches for her uncovered numerous other bodies in the area. But while some of them may be linked to a killer or killers, police said their relationship with the investigation could end there.
“The release of the Shannan Gilbert 911 calls will not impede this investigation,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison told reporters during a news conference announcing the release of the recordings. “I encourage the public to listen to the entire call.”
Two more calls from neighbors Gus Coletti and Barbara Brennan helped police determine Gilbert’s whereabouts, although it would be months before they found her remains.
During the briefing, police announced that they believed Gilbert’s death to be an accident. They echoed previous reports that she suffered from a mental illness and was known to use drugs, saying the side effects left her disoriented and irrational at times.
Since taking over the commissioner’s job on New Year’s Eve, Harrison has refocused the cold case investigation, formed an interagency task force and vowed to release more information and dispel myths and 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 gone the same route. Those were the four most recent murders based on how they were left in close proximity and the fact that they were wrapped in burlap,” said Joseph Giacalone, an associate professor at John Jay College in New York City Criminal Justice said Fox News Digital on Friday. “This is the case [Harrison] watches hard. He wants to solve that first, and then we’ll see where the others go.”
These four victims, like Gilbert, worked as Craigslist escorts.
“I think [Suffolk Police] have taken the right step in that direction where they are trying to quell some speculation,” said Giacalone.
Harrison, a former NYPD chief, is the latest in a line of Suffolk police commissioners to have handled the case over the years. He began his tenure by vowing to reopen the stalled investigation.
“I like what Harrison is doing and I think he has a method to his insanity,” Giacalone said. “This guy is an experienced investigator.”
However, Giacalone questioned the department’s decision to comment on Gilbert’s cause of death when the county physician’s official autopsy found it to be “undetermined.”
“When you’re dealing with an unexplained death, it’s not for the police to express their opinion,” he said. “If the coroner throws it back at you, it’s up to the police to prove or disprove what they think.”
The department’s conclusion that Gilbert did not die by homicide appears to contradict the results of a 2016 private autopsy commissioned by Gilbert’s family.
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dr Michael Baden, the famous forensic pathologist and former chief physician of New York City, was hired by the family. He found “insufficient information to determine a definite cause of death, but autopsy findings are consistent with homicidal strangulation.”
Keybones in her neck were missing, but the adjacent ones had “a roughness around the edges”. He also found no drugs in her system.
“Based on the circumstances of Shannon’s death and the materials I have reviewed, I believe there is no evidence that she died of natural illness, a drug overdose, or drowning,” he concluded. “There is insufficient information to determine a definite cause of death, but autopsy results are consistent with homicidal strangulation.”
John Ray, the attorney representing Gilbert’s estate who already had access to the records, did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
In a morning interview with Long Island News Radio before the calls were released to the general public, he disputed the idea that Gilbert’s death was not the result of foul play.
“The Police Department released a false narrative, a very seriously false narrative, about what happened that early morning on May 1, 2010, and they based it… on the misrepresentation that nothing really significant happened and that Shannan really was kind of irrational.” Ray said. “These things are definitely not true.
Suffolk Police said they based their findings on a review by the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, as well as other evidence.
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Police found Gilbert’s body south of the Parkway. The other victims were on the north side. She had her ID and was carrying money. And she had a history of mental illness and substance abuse, which detectives said could explain her apparent confusion and irrationality.
“The prevailing view is that Shannan’s death, while tragic, is not murder,” said Kevin Beyrer, Suffolk County Police Commissioner.
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.