Mother of Gilgo Beach Victim Shannan Gilbert Found Dead, Other Daughter Charged with Murder

Mari Gilbert fought for authorities to find out what happened to her slain daughter

Photo: Frank Eltman/AP

The mother of Shannan Gilbert, the escort whose body was found in 2011 near a mass grave of prostitutes at Long Island’s Gilgo Beach, was found dead on Saturday. Police have charged the woman’s other daughter Sarra with her murder.

According to a press release by the Ellenville Police Department, officers found the body of 52-year-old Mari Gilbert in her New York home on Saturday afternoon.

Her daughter, 27-year-old Sarra Elizabeth Gilbert who also lived at the residence, was quickly located and taken into custody, according to police. She was charged with murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. She is being held without bail and is set for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday. It is not clear if she has retained an attorney or if she has entered a plea.

Mari died after being “repeatedly” stabbed by a non-serrated kitchen knife, about 15 inches long, and bashed with a fire extinguisher, according to Newsday, citing court documents.

Shannan Gilbert was a 24-year-old from New Jersey who vanished in May 2010 after meeting a client through Craigslist. The search for her body led to the discovery of mass grave of missing people on a Long Island beach. At least 11 bodies have been uncovered and a serial killer was suspected, although investigators have said Gilbert’s death was not connected to the other 10 bodies found.

Mari fought for authorities to investigate her daughter’s slaying as a murder case and insisted the FBI take over the search.

“I believe that Shannan was murdered and I believe she is part of the serial killer case,” she said in 2011. “We are tired of theories, now we need the truth.”

The mother said last year that she was not satisfied with the investigation into her daughter’s death.

“I was very angry, as any parent should be,” the mother told Newsday. “But as time went by, I kind of realized that maybe that was her destiny, to help other families.”

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