One of the many enigmatic characters in Netflix’s documentary movie Lost Girls is Dr. Peter Hackett. Portrayed by Reed Birney in the movie, Hackett painted a confusing story for investigators after Shannan Gilbert disappeared.
Hackett Called Shannan’s Mom & Then Denied Making the Phone Call
Dr. Peter Hackett (Charles Peter Hackett according to court records) is a retired emergency services doctor. The former Oak Beach resident got involved in the case shortly after Shannan went missing, CBS News reported.
Two days after Shannan made the terrifying 911 call and disappeared, Hackmann called her mother, Mari Gilbert. Mari said he told her that he ran a halfway house and Shannan had been there, but then she left with her driver and he was worried.
According to Mari, Hackett also said that he had medicated Shannan when she showed up at his house on May 1, PIX 11 reported.
Concerned, Shannan’s sister Sherre and another sister went to check up on the story, but by then Hackett was denying it all. He said he had never seen Shannan and he had never called Mari. Sherre said she thought he was lying.
Hackett later told 48 Hours that yes, he had called Mari Gilbert. But he said he called her a week later for friends who were helping with the search and never said he met Shannan or rendered “medical care of any sort.”
You can read Hackett’s letters here.
CBS News reported that phone records, however, showed that he called Mari Gilbert on his wife’s phone on May 3, the day Mari said she got a call from him. Hackett said he just couldn’t remember his story. “A person gets a lot of phone calls,” he told CBS.
Hackett Is Not a Suspect & Was Never Charged. Today He Lives in Florida.
Dominick Varrone, former Chief of Detectives, told CBS News that Hackett wasn’t a suspect. Strange calls like that were usual for him.
Varrone told CBS: “He’s an individual who likes to get involved. Some call him a storyteller and an exaggerator.” Varrone also said that police didn’t know about the nature of Hackett’s call until months later, which was why they didn’t investigate him right away.
Sherre Gilbert, one of Shannan’s sisters, still sometimes posts on a Facebook page she helped create to investigate her sister’s death. On January 16 she posted again about Hacket, writing: “I’m sorry, I’ll be the first to admit, I rarely go on Facebook let alone check this page so I often miss a lot of your messages and posts but this is exactly what I mean. How would he have gotten MY MOM’s number to call her?! Was he trying to tell us something in case he got caught?”
She was responding to a reader who asked how Hackett had Shannan’s mother’s phone number if he had never met her.
Today, Hackett lives in Fort Myers, Florida, Vice reported.
According to Vice, Hackett was formerly a surgeon for the Suffolk County Police Department. Family attorney John Ray told Vice that under oath, Hackett said Suffolk County fired him after he claimed to be at work when he wasn’t.
Mari Gilbert Filed a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Hackett
Mari Gilbert’s attorney, John Ray, ultimately filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hackett in 2013, CBS News reported. Ray claimed in the lawsuit that Hackett had treated Shannan and told Mari in a phone call that he had medicated her because she was so upset.
Two neighbors confirmed that Hackett sometimes gave prescriptions from his home to Oak Beach residents. Hackett said he had treated friends and people who lived close by in the past, but not Shannan.
Due to the statute of limitations, much of the wrongful death lawsuit was dismissed, Newsday reported in 2018.
You can read some of the court records for Estate of Shannan Gilbert vs. Hackett here. The court filing reads, in part:
The plaintiffs claim that Shannan’s belongings were found approximately 30 yards behind the home of the defendant, Dr. Charles Peter Hackett, in Oak Beach, New York, on Jones Beach Island. More than a year later, Shannan’s [badly decomposed] body was discovered approximately half a mile from there, in the heavily thicketed marsh that lies between Oak Beach and Ocean Parkway. During the evening prior to her disappearance, Shannan reportedly had been present at a party at the home of one of Dr. Hackett’s Oak Beach neighbors…
Plaintiffs claim that Dr. Hackett led Shannan – and later, her mother, Mari Gilbert – to believe that he owned and operated a home for “wayward females” out of his Oak Beach house and that he would render “aid” to her there, including medical treatment; that Shannan in fact came under Dr. Hackett’s care and control and was administered medication by him; that Shannan was in such a state of confusion and “mental derangement” at that time that she “was incapable of making any informed decisions and of understanding her own or her surrounding circumstances…”
Hackett denied all the claims. His wife, Barbara, and two adult children all signed affidavits backing up Hackett’s claims.
Hackett Said a Camera Crew Caused Him to Collapse
In 2015 when a news crew arrived at a lawyer’s office after Hackett gave his third deposition, Hackett collapsed. He blamed the camera crew for causing an issue with his defibrillator, PIX 11 reported. He then drove home a little later. You can see him collapse at about 5:23 in the video above.