New York

911 Tapes in Shannan Gilbert Case Must Be Turned Over in 20 Days, Court Rules

Suffolk Police have opposed the release of the 21-minute 911 call, citing the ongoing investigation

What to Know

  • Shannan Gilbert was an escort from Jersey City who vanished on Long Island in 2010 after fleeing a client's home
  • The search for Gilbert led to the discovery of 10 sets of remains in the area, nine of which belonged to prostitutes
  • Gilbert's remains were found in 2011, a half mile from where she disappeared. An autopsy was inconclusive

The State Supreme Court has ordered authorities on Long Island to hand over tapes from the 911 call a New Jersey escort made the night she vanished in 2010, a disappearance that would lead to the discovery of nearly a dozen sets of human remains near Gilgo Beach over the months to follow.

In its ruling Tuesday, the court directed the Suffolk County Police Department to deliver all Shannan Gilbert-related 911 records to John Ray, the Gilbert family attorney, within 20 days.  

Suffolk County police have opposed the release of the 911 calls, citing the ongoing investigation.

The State Supreme Court ruled this week that the department "fail(ed) to provide even the slightest intimation of how or why affording plaintiffs access to the 911 calls made by Shannan and others over a brief, three-day period would compromise any aspect of their protracted investigation."

Gilbert, 24, disappeared on May 1, 2010 after meeting a client on Oak Beach. An officer and his cadaver dog on a training mission searching for her seven months later, in December, happened upon what would become, by spring of the following year, the remains of eight women, one man and one toddler. Most of the victims were prostitutes. Some had been dismembered. Several were found in burlap sacks on the side of a highway. 

Gilbert's remains were found about a year later in a swamp a few miles away. Investigators have said she likely died of exposure or accidentally drowned in the marsh after running away from the Oak Beach home. 

The medical examiner's autopsy proved inconclusive, though an independent assessment found possible signs of strangulation. Gilbert's mother, Mari, had been fighting to get her daughter's case reopened as a homicide. Mari Gilbert was stabbed to death in 2016. Her daughter Sarra, Shannan's sister, has been convicted. Authorities said she had been stabbed more than 200 times

The family had also been involved in civil litigation.

"We have waited three years for this result. Several judges have had the case," Ray said in a statement Thursday. "We have been relentless in our pursuit of the murderers. We will continue to drive forward in pursuit of everyone involved in the murders."

Cops have said the other 10 sets of remains may have been the work of a serial killer. No arrests have been made in connection with the other sets of remains found along Ocean Parkway. But prosecutors have said a New York man convicted over the summer in 1990 prostitute murders may be linked to at least one of the deaths. 

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