Shannan Gilbert’s 911 Call: Why Wasn’t the Audio Released or a Transcript?

Shannan Gilbert

Suffolk County Police Department Shannan Gilbert

Shannan Gilbert’s death remains unsolved to this day. One big mystery surrounding her death is a chilling 911 call she left, along with a series of connected 911 calls. To this day, her 911 call’s audio has not been released. Here are more details about the 911 call, transcript updates, and why the call isn’t available for the public to listen to yet. Gilbert’s death is the subject of a new Netflix movie called Lost Girls. 

She Called 911 Terrified & Went to Several Neighbors’ Homes

FacebookShannan Gilbert

Shannan Gilbert went missing after a terrifying 911 call in May 2010. In 2011, her body was found in a marsh. But before her body was found, multiple other women’s bodies were found on Ocean Parkway between Gilgo and Oak Beach and authorities began to suspect a serial killer had been at work in the area. Many of the women, including Shannan Gilbert, had worked as prostitutes. Authorities never officially connected Shanna’s death with the other women’s deaths, and some still thought she might have died from accidental drowning. But questions remain, including why her 911 call wasn’t released.

Gilbert, 24, had struggled with depression after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, CBS News reported. The day she went missing, she called 911 from inside her client’s home around 4:51 a.m. She said someone was after her. “They’re trying to kill me,” she said on the call. Her driver, Michael Pak, and the man who hired her, Joseph Brewer, could be heard talking in the background of her call, CBS noted. Brewer was telling her to leave his home.

FacebookShannan Gilbert in a Facebook photo.

She didn’t say where she was. Dominick Varrone, the former Suffolk County Chief of Detectives, told CBS News that she didn’t sound coherent but she did sound scared. She went to a neighbor’s home, Gus Colletti, at 5 a.m. He heard someone yelling “help me!” and opened the door. He said she just kept saying “help me” but wouldn’t answer his questions. He called 911 and told her to come inside and sit and wait. But she ran away instead and hid under his boat outside, while her driver Pak drove slowly outside.

Later, she went to another neighbor’s home. Barbara Brennan said she was there about 5:21 a.m. and knocked on her door. Brennan called 911 but she ran away again. After that, no one heard from her again.

Her 911 Call & Other Calls Still Haven’t Been Released, Despite a Court Order

Shannan’s 911 call last 22 minutes and neighbors in the area made 911 calls too. But those calls still haven’t been released, CBS New York reported.

A court ruled that the Suffolk County Police Department must release the calls. The police appealed that decision and as of mid-January 2020, the Appellate Division Court was needing to rule on that appeal, CBS New York reported.

Family attorney John Ray said the police were doing an inadequate job and has been calling for the phone calls’ release.

In 2012, more than 300 signed a petition seeking the release of the 911 calls. Mari Gilbert wrote on the page seven years ago that she wouldn’t stop fighting until she found justice.

Sherre Gilbert, Shannan’s sister, runs a Facebook page about her sister’s case.

She wrote about the petition in 2012 and noted: “The 911 call is being hidden because SCPD don’t want to admit they screwed up. WIth your help we can get Shanna the justice she deserves & maybe we’ll be able to catch the person/s responsible for her death as well as the others that were found on Oak Beach.”

In March 2016, a judge ruled that the police must produce a transcript or recording, Newsday reported. This included not just Shannan’s 911 call but also neighbors’ calls that night, NBC News reported.

In 2018, a Riverhead judge had ruled that Suffolk County must explain why they still weren’t sharing the 911 recordings, Newsday reported. Elaine Barraga, county attorney, said the recordings hadn’t been publicly released because they were part of an ongoing investigation and needed to remain with the Suffolk police.

In 2019, police were fighting and trying not to release the 911 calls, NBC News reported. They said releasing the tapes would jeopardize the investigation and “compromise confidential information.” Because there have been no arrests, officials said the police had a “critical interest” in preserving the investigation’s confidentiality, including calls and witness statements.

Ray disagreed. He said: “The public really has a right to know to what is on those tapes as well as Shannan’s family. It will generate witnesses who are in the public who know what happened and perhaps will come forward.”

In 2020, police were still saying the calls were part of an ongoing investigation because they don’t know if Gilbert died by accident or if she was killed. Courts will make a decision about the latest appeal by police in late March, reported.


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