‘They’re Trying to Kill Me!’: Police Must Hand Over 911 Call of Escort in L.I. Serial Killer Case
Escort Shannan Gilbert disappeared in May of 2010 after calling 911 and fleeing a client's Long Island home
A New York judge ordered police to produce transcripts of the 911 calls made on the night 24-year-old Craigslist escort Shannan Gilbert went missing, PEOPLE confirms.
The request to release the tapes was made by the attorney for Gilbert’s family, who insist she was murdered despite the longtime contention of police that she was not.
Judge Sanford Berland directed the attorneys for the Suffolk County Police Department during a hearing in Suffolk Supreme Court to let him know what transcripts were available and whether they were “protected material” in an ongoing investigation, Suffolk County Courts PIO Mary Porter tells PEOPLE.
Porter says the Suffolk County attorneys have until March 19 to make the transcripts of the four 911 calls from May 1, 2010 — the night Gilbert went missing — available to the judge: Calls by Gilbert, her last client Joseph Brewer, and Brewer’s neighbors Barbara Brennan and Gus Coletti.
Gilbert vanished without a trace that night after visiting Brewer, whom she met on Craigslist, in the gated community of Oak Beach on Long Island, New York, and then fleeing the man’s home.
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Before she fled, Gilbert called 911 and allegedly told dispatchers, “They’re trying to kill me!”
Brewer, Coletti and Brennan also called 911 that night.
Coletti, who has since died, told police that Gilbert banged on his door that night asking for help before she fell down his front stairs and ran off.
Gilbert’s partially-clothed body was discovered hidden deep in the overgrown Gilgo Beach brush on December 13, 2011, near the remains of four other women, all online escorts. The four other bodies were wrapped in burlap and placed about 500 feet from one another in Gilgo Beach, leading police to believe that a serial killer, later dubbed the Long Island Serial Killer, was afoot.
Six more sets of remains were discovered in the early part of 2011. A toddler was among the dead, as was an unidentified Asian man wearing women’s clothes, who was brutally beaten.
Though it was the search for Gilbert’s body that led to the discovery of the others, police didn’t believe her case was linked and suspected she got lost in the inhospitable marshland and either died of exposure or accidentally drowned.
“I understand that’s very difficult to believe, it seems very counter-intuitive,” Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart has previously Cameron told PEOPLE. “But again if you knew all the facts you would believe it as I do.”
In May 2012, the Suffolk County medical examiner ruled Gilbert’s manner of death “undetermined.”
However, Gilbert’s family insisted that she was murdered, and hired attorney John Ray to fight for access to the 23 minute 911 tape for clues to what happened to Gilbert that fateful night.
“Shannan is on there and other voices are heard on the tape and she is saying they are trying to kill me on the tape,” Ray says. “Who are the other voices on the tape? And what was going on before she disappeared?”
During Tuesday’s hearing, Suffolk County’s defense attorney Elaine Barraga said that releasing the transcripts of the tapes would compromise the open police investigation, the Long Island Press reports.
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Barraga also denied claims by Ray that police were attempting to hide critical information about the investigation, stating that there has been “certainly no effort in trying to hide or ‘fudge’ information.”
Barraga didn’t return PEOPLE’s call for comment.
Ray says he suspects the police will most likely refuse to give up the tapes despite the judge’s order: “It is going to be a fight of all fights,” he says.
The Long Island Serial Killer case is still unsolved.