OAK BEACH, NY (CBSNewYork) — Shannan Gilbert was the catalyst for what has become Long Island’s largest homicide investigation. Police now not only believe that they have found her body, but that her death was accidental.

On Tuesday, police found what they believe to be Gilbert’s remains in a marshy area on Oak Beach about a quarter-mile from where her cell phone, purse, jeans, shoes and lip gloss were found last week.

The theory put forward this week by Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer suggests that Gilbert accidentally drowned on the morning she disappeared.

Erin Moriarty from 48 Hours Mystery sat down with Dormer in his first one-on-one interview since Tuesday’s announcement.

Now, 18 months since Gilbert disappeared, many are asking could police have done a better job searching for her?

When asked if Gilbert would still be alive today if police had done a more exhaustive search the day she made a frantic 911 call from Oak Beach, Dormer said “that’s speculation.”

But friends and family don’t believe her death was an accident and insist that the fact that her clothing and purse were found far from her remains, suggests foul play.

“You know, that’s explainable because she’s hysterical,” said Dormer. “We know that and she’s discarding her possessions as she moves along. Her jeans could have come off moving in that environment. We’ve looked at this very carefully and that is a possibility, that the jeans came off and she kept running, kept running towards the lights. Obviously, she was disturbed that night.”

Gilbert was last seen running and screaming for help in Oak Beach in May 2010.

It was while searching for Gilbert on Dec. 11, 2010, that police found the first set of human remains along Ocean Parkway.

By April of 2011, police had discovered the 10 sets of remains on Gilgo Beach, all found about seven miles apart along Ocean Parkway.

Police have said the remains belong to eight women, a man and a toddler. At least five of the victims were prostitutes, including Maureen Barnes, Melissa Barthemay,  Amber Lynn Costello and Megan Waterman. The four women are the only ones police have positively identified.

Dormer has said he believes a single serial killer is likely responsible for the murders of all 10 victims, but said Gilbert’s disappearance is not connected to the serial killer case.

Dormer said a medical examiner will definitively determine if the remains do belong to Gilbert and an exact cause of death.

There’s no word on when those results will be released.

48 Hours Mystery airs Saturday at 10 p.m. on CBS 2.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

Comments (15)
  1. HunterRose says:

    Why won’t the FBI just get involved!!!

  2. rj says:

    i’m 68 years old and this is the first time i ever heard of someone running out of their jeans. that defies logic.

  3. Ann says:

    She was killed—- plain as day !! WHO is covering this up??

  4. Christen Allen Iman says:

    Dormer had made the following comment in the above article; “We know that and she’s discarding her possessions as she moves along. Her jeans could have come off moving in that environment. We’ve looked at this very carefully and that is a possibility, that the jeans came off and she kept running, kept running towards the lights. Obviously, she was disturbed that night.”WE KNOW THAT SHE’S DISCARDING HER POSSESSIONS AS SHE MOVES ALONG.” ???T That is simply an assumption , a theory, based on the manner in which her personal items had been found. This could have been the result of staging the scene to appear that way. There was too much activity going on that early morning and she had already called 911 from Brewer’s residence and ran to Gus’ residence as well. And so it would have been very risky for the killer to dispose of her body after killing her as there’d be some inquiry made by police and he didn’t want the attention/suspicion on him. This would account for the variance in the COD, if any, and the location this particular victim was recovered. He has not committed anymore homicides as he’s probably in fear he’s under surveillance.

  5. ace11 says:

    The Cops are right

    She probably wasn’t murdered

    But her family/ and Lawyer just want to make a big deal out of it

  6. Tawana brawley says:

    What waste of time and taxpayers $$$$ looking for a hooker. A very ugly hooker

    1. Dalby Jason says:

      What she is a human being first!!!!!

    2. diddy says:

      Yeah but she was a white hooker. You must remember above all else, being human, being a hooker etc … She was white. The state will spend whatever it takes to bring whitey home. LOL
      Oh well, I’m happy to be white.

  7. Dalby Jason says:

    In may at 5am its about sun up. If she runs from anyone and tells first person she sees “they are trying to kill me” then vanishes. Then about a year later you find her clothes and then find her body 1/4 mile away sounds to me its no accident. A helicopter flying over area in may with a heat image thing would of found her that day. The day before you find her personal property you say a helicopter was in the air 3 months ago and found this spot but due to poison ivy you had to wait till it got cold and died? Its sad to say but being a sex worker might of been her down fall. Because if this was a regular person/kid they would of found them that day…

  8. DanTe says:

    now why would C -B S delete their own employee’s posts? this is DanTe. as I have posted before, Dormer knows who the killer is. It’s family. That’s why the investigation is going nowhere. if this is not true, he can subpoena this site to get my IP address. I’m posting from Ukrane right now. but my other posts have a NYC IP address.

  9. NM says:

    OK, How Dormer explains how her jeans came off, just highlights the fact that this investigation will be better off withiout him. His reasoning is totally implausable. Had she not been fully dressed – then it makes more sense that she may have dropped them while trying to flee. All in all, it seems to be a huge coincidence that this was an accident , and all the other known victims just coincidentally were involved in the same trade on Craigslist. From her phone records we know that she called CVS on Montauk – has the footage from here and the surrounding ares even been checked?? One of the other victim’s ” pimp/ boyfiend” had volunteered to take police to a suspicious “john’s” house. That was never followed up according to press reports. So many leads have not been followed. Instead of wild speculation and so much enjoying the press attention maybe Dormer should get up off his butt and truly exhaust every lead in this investigation. These remains were found right by where this girl was last seen. Her items were reportedly found behind the doctor’s house who claimed not to have seen her – even though there has been reports disputing this. As someone, who lives in the area, the excuse of these areas not being accessable DO NOT FLY!! Investigators should have made themselves aware of the local tides and used drainage equipment from the get go!! Maybe if they had – these remains would have yielded much more forensic evidence. The fact that Shannan Gilbert’s sister found one of her earrings, says it all- this investigation has been grossly mishandled. The fact Michael Pak have not been charged with crimes is disgraceful, even if they were not involved with a murder. Their illegal actions still resulted in a death!

    1. NM says:

      last sentence should have read Pak and Brewer

      1. Lisa DeRenard says:

        I think what you have said is probably right on target except for Pak and I say that because phone records show he had a lot of phone contact with her and it would have come right back to him so I think maybe the people she was with said something to make her think he was in on whatever they scared her with, like maybe pics or maybe they told her there were bodies up on the Causeway and she is about to join them, because we know one contacted another victim;s sister with the victim;s cell phone and taunted her like that, like maybe that was part of the arousal quotient for them, so she thought Pak was in on their deadly intentions towards her. And after they got done with her had she not escaped and ran maybe their intention was to also kill Pak if he made a big scene when she doesn’t come out the house. He might be involved but I doubt it because there were too many phone calls with him and he went to the drug store for her, etc. just too much to tie him to her, a serial killer isn’t going to do all that.

  10. su says:

    Hind-sight is always 20/20. It doesn’t really matter if there are 1 or 2 serial killers, we can worry about that after we catch the first one. Now the big deal if why didn’t they find her sooner! Just think – if she had been found in May 2010, no one may have found all those other bodies.

    1. Lisa DeRenard says:

      I think that is a fallacy because you are assuming the killers did not taunt her or maybe show her something or say something like there are bodies up on the Causeway and she is about to join them, if they had found her that day I think she might have had just enough info for them to do a search of public land for bodies. Something scared the crap out of her and made her run towards the ocean instead of the causeway. I think they showed her pics or told her or both and her instincts kicked in and she knew their intentions to kill her were for real..

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