Shannan Gilbert was an escort who used Craigslist to advertise her services. Her aspirations for a brighter future were indisputable, notwithstanding the unpopularity of her occupation. Her intelligence was exceptional, and by the time she was sixteen, she had graduated high school early.
Shannan held a variety of positions following graduation, including hostess at Applebee’s, hotel receptionist, and snack maker at a senior facility. In addition, she was enrolled in online courses at Phoenix University. She desired to relocate to New York in order to pursue acting, singing, and writing careers.
Shannan shifted her focus to escorting due to the lack of pay she obtained from her previous occupations. This was intended to be temporary until she had the finances to move to a more permanent residence.
In May of 2010, Shannan was accompanied by her escort driver, Michael Pak, to the gated community of Oak Beach to meet her client, Joseph Brewer. She arrived at around 2:00 a.m. Shannan contacted 911 three hours later and told the dispatcher, “They are attempting to kill me!” as she departed her client’s residence. The twenty-three-minute conversation lasted, but the whole transcript has never been made public.
At five o’clock in the morning, Shannan rushed to the nearest neighbour, Gustav Coletti. He was in the middle of shaving when he suddenly heard strange screaming and door pounding. Gustav responded to her pleading, prompting her to dash inside with a terrified expression. Gustav stated he was going to contact the police out of fear for Shannan’s safety. Strangely, these statements increased her distress, causing her to flee his residence.
After after, Gustav observed a black SUV gently travelling down the road. He then went to approach the driver, Michael Pak, and inquire about his aspirations. He said, “I’m searching for Shannan.” Gustav was unaware of Shannan’s profession, so he told Michael Pak that he had called the police, leading him to flee.
Shannan went to another member of the society, Barbara Brennan, among this activity. She refused to answer her front door out of security concerns. However, she contacted the police and her neighbour, Tom Canning, who went outside to investigate the noise, but Shannan had already fled.
Tom claims to have witnessed Shannan communicating with Dr. Peter Hackett, who remained in the area. Shannan has never been seen alive again after that point. Mari Gilbert received a surprise phone call from Dr. Peter Hackett, asking if Shannan was safe and feeling better, two days after Shannan’s mother went missing, but her family had no idea that anything was wrong.
The dialogue between Dr. Peter Hackett and Mari Gilbert continued over the telephone. He related the events that transpired in the wee hours of the morning and stated that he gave Shannan medication to ease her nerves (the type of drug is unknown, although it is likely to be a benzodiazepine). In addition, he mentioned that he ran a halfway house for ladies in need.
Mari finally inquired as to how Dr. Peter Hackett obtained her phone number. In response, he informed Mari that it was policy to gather the contact information of anyone who entered his residence to obtain a prescription.
Mari Gilbert shared this information with detectives, and once news coverage began, Dr. Peter Hackett was questioned by reporters, who he denied having a phone call on live television. Shortly thereafter, call logs were made public, which confirmed his deceit.
After retracting his earlier remarks, Dr. Peter Hackett did confess his culpability, but he remained insistent about never discussing halfway houses or Shannan Gilbert’s treatment with an unidentified component of the medicine (s).
Six months after Shannan Gilbert went missing, in December 2010, a police officer conducting a routine training exercise with his cadaver dog discovered the skeletal remains of a lady wrapped in a burlap sack. Two days later, three other women’s remains were discovered in the same region, but none of them were Shannan.
Megan Waterman was the first female to be fully recognised by name. She was a 22-year-old mother from South Portland, Maine who was residing in a hotel in Hauppauge, New York on June 6, 2010, when she disappeared after meeting a client who responded to her Craigslist escorting ad. When she left to meet the mysterious male, she left behind her phone and wallet.
Maureen Brainard-Barnes, a mother-of-one from Norwich, Connecticut who was on vacation in New York, was twenty-five years old. Her disappearance occurred in July of 2007, during which time she was also utilising the internet for prostitution.
Amber Lynn Costello resided within five minutes of Gilgo Beach in North Babylon, New York. She was twenty-seven years old when she vanished on September 2, 2010, after meeting with a client who repeatedly offered $1,500 for her business.
Melissa Barthelemy was a twenty-four-year-old Erie County, New York-based internet escort. When her family reported her missing on July 12, 2009, officials failed to initiate a search until many days later, when Melissa’s younger sister, Amanda, began getting close to a dozen phone calls from Melissa’s cell phone.
Unfortunately, the caller was not Amanda’s older sister, but a man who caused her pain by asking, “Do you know who your sister is?” She is a harlot. I murdered her was his final statement to Amanda. I am aware of your whereabouts and am able to murder you. During the multiple phone conversations, the police made several attempts to identify the caller’s position, which led them to Manhattan, but it was practically hard to pinpoint the caller due to the dense population.
Even more important was the caller’s knowledge of police techniques. He restricted his phone calls to less than three minutes, and his ability to conceal his identity in a heavily travelled area from day to night was remarkable. This led the authorities to believe that the caller was an active or former law enforcement officer, while others feel that the information was easily gathered by television programmes like CSI and NCIS.
His manner of speech suggested that he is a Caucasian man between the ages of 20 and 40. In addition to his calm demeanor and correct use of language, his unique eloquence in speech lent credence to his intelligence. After this incident, he never contacted Amanda again, and his personality remains unknown.
At the time, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer told ABC News that he believes a female serial murderer is on the lookout.
In March and April of the following year, the police moved their search for Shannan Gilbert to Nassau County. Six further sets of skeletal remains were discovered to their shock, but this discovery caused much greater trouble.
These fragmentary remains, unlike those of the first four victims, show dismemberment. In an intriguing turn of events, one particular set of skeletal remains was linked to a pair of severed legs wrapped in plastic that washed up on the shore of Fire Island in 1996. Her name remains undetermined.
Additionally, one of the victims was an Asian man who dressed women’s attire. The database of missing Asian males from Long Island was searched by law enforcement, but no explicit matches were found. The general belief is that the man was misidentified as a woman who likewise exchanged their body for sex.
In July of 2003, Jessica Taylor was last seen in Manhattan at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Three weeks after her disappearance, a woman walking her dog discovered a torso and a pair of legs, but the skull, hands, and hip-to-waist tattoo were missing. Jessica’s head, hands, and other partial bones were found among the numerous other victims, and DNA testing confirmed that they belonged to her.
About 200 yards away from the recently discovered remains of Jessica Taylor was a young girl between 18 and 24 months old who was wrapped in a blanket. Without a given name, she was known as Baby Doe. She was later identified as the daughter of an unidentified woman nicknamed “Peaches” based on a tattoo of a heart with a peach in the centre discovered in 1997 at Hempstead Lake State Park.
This discovery led to two hypotheses: either two killers were disposing of their victims in the same region by coincidence, or a serial killer has been active for at least twenty years. In six months, eight bodies were discovered, but it wasn’t until December 2011 that Shannan Gilbert’s bones were discovered — virtually in Dr. Peter Hackett’s backyard.
The Suffolk County medical examiner waited four days to complete an autopsy, but Richard Dormer characterised Shannan’s death as an unexpected drowning based on the placement of her body prior to receiving the results, which angered Shannan’s surviving relatives. As a result, Shannan’s death was deemed inconclusive because an official verdict could not be reached.
The Gilbert family felt convinced Shannan was the victim of foul play. They retained the services of attorney John Ray, who then engaged an unaffiliated coroner to obtain a second opinion. The fragmented hyoid bone from Shannan’s neck, which is typical of people slain in this manner, suggests that her death was compatible with strangling by a perpetrator.
The Gilbert family openly accused Dr. Peter Hackett of being responsible for Shannan’s death and alleged murder due to contradictions and false information provided by local governments regarding Shannan’s death.
These claims supported Tom Canning’s testimony that he observed Shannan communicating with Hackett, as well as Hackett’s phone calls to Mari Gilbert two days after Shannan’s disappearance, in which he claimed he administered medication to calm her nerves — a claim he initially denied, but later recanted after the phone logs confirmed his misunderstandings.
In 2012, Mari Gilbert and her attorney John Ray filed a lawsuit against Dr. Peter Hackett for wrongful death; however, he was not charged with any misconduct. Subsequently, he relocated to Florida and is not believed to be a suspect in Shannan’s death or the discovery of ten victims near his former residence.
However, the horrific case of the Long Island Serial Killer continues. In 2015, Leanne, a Long Island escort who worked with Gilbert family attorney John Ray, came forward with an intriguing narrative.
Leanne met James Burke at a house party in Oak Beach a year after Shannan Gilbert vanished, months before he was promoted to Suffolk County’s Chief of Police. He consumed the cocaine and booze that were freely available. In addition, he became violent and muffled her, compelling her to have oral sex while calling her a “bad whore.” She even stated that other Suffolk County law enforcement officers were her clients and was willing to undergo a polygraph test to validate her allegations.
James Burke resigned as Suffolk County’s police chief in November 2015 after serving a 46-month federal prison sentence for barely beating Christopher Loeb when he stole a duffel bag full of sex toys and pornography from his SUV. Loeb then compelled other members of law enforcement in his jurisdiction and many surrounding jurisdictions to cover up his indecencies over a three-year period.
Even more intriguing was the fact that James Burke refused the FBI’s help when they were brought in to take over the Long Island Serial Killer case. Although Burke’s motives are not entirely obvious, the mere fact of his decision led many to believe he had a personal connection to the LISK case that he needed to keep secret. However, there has been no clear evidence connecting him to the serial killer.
Shannan Gilbert’s mother, Mari, was brutally murdered in July 2016 by her youngest daughter, Sarra, who repeatedly stabbed her with a huge knife. Sarra, a schizophrenic, informed the authorities that voices in her head were responsible for her violent attack. She remains incarcerated till further notice.
Regarding the investigation into the Long Island Serial Killer, everyday work is still being performed. Unfortunately, not a great deal of evidence has been presented to propel the case ahead.
People frequently compare the name “Shannan Gilbert” to the LISK when they hear it. Was she a bodyguard? Yes, but she was much more than that, as were the other victims murdered by one or more assailants. Shannan’s death was tragic, but she is also the trigger for shedding light on events that have forever altered Long Island.