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Tragic Murder of Shannan Gilbert

Shannan Gilbert, an escort, utilized Craigslist as a platform to promote her services. Her aspirations for a brighter future remained undeniable, despite the unpopular nature of her profession. Her exceptional intelligence shone through, culminating in her early high school graduation at the age of sixteen.

Shannan Gilbert Following her graduation, Shannan held a range of positions, including that of a hostess at Applebee’s, a hotel receptionist, and a confectioner at a senior facility. Additionally, she pursued online courses at Phoenix University. Her ambitions extended to relocating to New York, where she aimed to establish herself in the fields of acting, singing, and writing.

The transition to escorting was a result of Shannan’s dissatisfaction with the meager earnings from her previous employments. This was intended as a temporary solution until she could amass the funds needed for a more permanent residence.

In May of 2010, Shannan, accompanied by her chauffeur, Michael Pak, journeyed to the gated community of Oak Beach to meet her client, Joseph Brewer. The meeting took place around 2:00 a.m. Three hours later, in distress, Shannan contacted 911, exclaiming, “They are attempting to kill me!” as she fled from her client’s abode. Although the conversation with the dispatcher lasted twenty-three minutes, the complete transcript remains undisclosed.

At five o’clock in the morning, Shannan sought refuge at the residence of Gustav Coletti, her nearest neighbor. Gustav was interrupted mid-shave by peculiar screams and pounding on his door. Responding to her distress, he allowed Shannan inside, her countenance marked by terror. Fearing for her safety, Gustav contemplated contacting the police. Strangely, his intention seemed to agitate Shannan further, leading her to swiftly depart from his abode.

Shortly thereafter, Gustav observed a black SUV slowly navigating the road. Approaching the driver, Michael Pak, Gustav inquired about his purpose. The response came, “I’m searching for Shannan.” Unaware of her profession, Gustav informed Michael Pak that he had alerted the authorities, causing Pak to hastily depart.

Shannan sought assistance from another member of the community, Barbara Brennan. However, due to security concerns, Barbara refrained from answering her front door. Nevertheless, she promptly contacted the police and her neighbor, Tom Canning. Tom ventured outside to investigate the commotion, but Shannan had already vanished.

Tom later claimed to have witnessed Shannan in conversation with Dr. Peter Hackett, a presence that lingered in the vicinity. Following this encounter, Shannan’s existence appeared to vanish. Days after Shannan’s mother went missing, a perplexing call from Dr. Peter Hackett reached Mari Gilbert. He inquired about Shannan’s well-being, despite her family’s unawareness of any issues.

Telephonic exchanges between Mari Gilbert and Dr. Peter Hackett ensued, revealing events that transpired in the early hours of that morning. Dr. Hackett mentioned administering an undisclosed medication to alleviate Shannan’s anxiety, while also mentioning his operation of a halfway house for women in need.

Mari Gilbert eventually questioned how Dr. Peter Hackett had acquired her phone number. He explained it was customary to collect contact information from individuals visiting his residence for prescriptions.

This information was shared with investigators, and subsequent media coverage prompted reporters to question Dr. Peter Hackett. Initially, he denied any telephone conversation on live television. However, the subsequent release of call logs exposed his falsehood.

Dr. Peter Hackett eventually admitted his involvement, but he remained steadfast in his refusal to discuss the specifics of the medicine or Shannan Gilbert’s treatment with an unnamed component.

Six months after Shannan Gilbert’s disappearance, in December 2010, during a routine training exercise involving a cadaver dog, a police officer discovered the skeletal remains of a woman enveloped in a burlap sack. In the days that followed, three more sets of remains were unearthed in the same vicinity, none of which belonged to Shannan.

Shannan Gilbert The list of victims expanded: Megan Waterman, a 22-year-old mother from South Portland, Maine, was the first victim to be fully identified. She had been residing in Hauppauge, New York, when she vanished after an encounter with a client who responded to her Craigslist ad. She left behind her phone and wallet before meeting the enigmatic male.

Maureen Brainard-Barnes, a mother-of-one from Norwich, Connecticut, was on vacation in New York at the age of twenty-five when she disappeared in July of 2007, engaging in internet-based prostitution.

Amber Lynn Costello, residing near Gilgo Beach in North Babylon, New York, was twenty-seven when she disappeared on September 2, 2010. Her interaction with a client offering substantial sums for her services led to her vanishing.

Melissa Barthelemy, a twenty-four-year-old internet escort based in Erie County, New York, was reported missing by her family on July 12, 2009. A series of phone calls from her cell phone, orchestrated by a man who claimed to have murdered her, exacerbated the family’s distress.

The identity of the caller remained enigmatic, and the ability to evade identification pointed towards familiarity with law enforcement practices.

Shannan Gilbert During this time, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer expressed belief in the presence of a female serial murderer.

In subsequent months, the search for Shannan Gilbert shifted to Nassau County. The uncovering of six more sets of skeletal remains sent shockwaves, exacerbated by the dismemberment displayed in these instances.

Notably, one set of remains was connected to a pair of severed legs discovered in plastic on Fire Island’s shores in 1996. The victim’s identity remained unresolved.

Among the victims, an Asian man found dressed in women’s attire added to the perplexity. Law enforcement explored the database of missing Asian males from Long Island, yielding no conclusive matches. Speculation arose that this man was misidentified as a woman, indicative of the exchange of bodies for sexual services.

In 2003, the disappearance of Jessica Taylor prompted an investigation. A torso, a pair of legs, and eventually other body parts were discovered, leading to DNA confirmation of her identity.

In proximity to Jessica Taylor’s remains, a young girl between 18 and 24 months old was found, wrapped in a blanket. Known as Baby Doe, her name remained elusive. The discovery prompted two theories: either two killers coincidentally disposed of victims in the same vicinity, or a serial killer had been active for two decades.

Eight bodies were discovered in six months, with Shannan Gilbert’s remains finally located in December 2011, in close proximity to Dr. Peter Hackett’s property.

Despite this discovery, an autopsy characterized Shannan’s death as an unexpected drowning, a conclusion contested by her family due to the presence of a fragmented hyoid bone consistent with strangulation.

The Gilbert family’s assertions led to a lawsuit against Dr. Peter Hackett for wrongful death. Although he wasn’t charged, his actions cast suspicion.

Leanne, a Long Island escort, divulged a compelling narrative in 2015. She encountered James Burke, who would later become Suffolk County’s Chief of Police, at a party in Oak Beach. Burke’s subsequent behavior, marked by violence and coercion, raised suspicions of his involvement in the case.

Burke’s refusal of FBI assistance and eventual resignation further deepened the intrigue surrounding his potential ties to the Long Island Serial Killer case. Despite these suspicions, no conclusive evidence implicating him emerged.

Shannan Gilbert’s mother, Mari, met a tragic end in 2016 at the hands of her schizophrenic daughter, Sarra. Mari’s brutal murder further complicated an already complex narrative.

The investigation into the Long Island Serial Killer case continues, albeit with limited progress. The name “Shannan Gilbert” serves as a poignant reminder of the interconnected lives that were forever altered by these events. Shannan’s tragic fate shed light on a series of perplexing incidents that continue to haunt Long Island.

About Fehmeeda Farid Khan

A freelancer, blogger, content writer, translator, tour consultant, proofreader, environmentalist, social mobilizer, poetess and novelist. As a physically challenged person, she extends advocacy on disability related issues. She's masters in Economics and Linguistics along with B.Ed.

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