Police release 911 calls in Gilgo Beach case, say Shannan Gilbert's death was 'tragic accident'
Police on Friday released three 911 calls related to the death of Shannan Gilbert and called her death a "tragic accident."
Suffolk County Commissioner Rodney Harrison released the tapes to the public and said they believe releasing the tapes will not impede the Gilgo Beach murders investigation.
During a news conference, police revealed that it was determined following the investigation that Gilbert’s death was not a murder and most likely an accident.
Police say the 911 calls revealed difference between Gilbert's death and Gilgo Beach murder victims.
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An autopsy done on Gilbert concluded her cause of death as undetermined – meaning no causes can be included or excluded, according to police.
However, a private autopsy report that her family had done determined the cause of death to be strangulation.
Police released a 911 call made by Gilbert on the night of her 2010 disappearance, as well as audio from two additional 911 calls made by other homeowners within the Oak Beach Association after they interacted with her.
Police say Gilbert was a sex worker who was with a client at Oak Beach and accompanied by a driver who was also security for her. Gilbert can be heard in the 911 call talking to that driver, Michael Pak, who repeatedly asked her to leave with him.
Gilbert then ran to several homes in Oak Beach and asked people to help her, according to police.
"I live at Oak Beach Association, and there's a girl about 14 screaming, saying there's some guy trying to follow her," a homeowner said in one of the 911 calls.
The call lasted more than 21 minutes and contained some inaudible parts.
The lawyer for the Gilbert family says the full audio tells a different story than what police are saying
He believes that Gilbert was murdered.
"The breaking of Shannan's neck is consistent with the deaths of the four girls that are found along Ocean Parkway and the unidentified John Doe," Ray says. "They died by either strangulation or asphyxiation."
After going to several homes, police say Gilbert continued to run into the marsh along a trench and her body was found north of that trench the following December.
"Unfortunately, Shannan suffered from a mental illness, and she had issues with substance abuse," says Lt. Kevin Beyrer, of the Suffolk County Police Department. "This resulted sometimes in getting lost, violent outbursts and irrational behavior."
Gilbert's disappearance led police to uncover 10 sets of remains along Ocean Parkway, all believed to be victims of a serial killer.
Police say the purpose of releasing the tapes to the public is to understand the circumstances surrounding the call and to understand where Gilbert was at each moment.
Harrison says he is committed to transparency and giving as much information to the public as possible.
Ralph Cilento, of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says the 911 calls don't offer much into what happened to the 10 murder victims, but that transparency is key for a case that has been going on for more than a decade.
"I do not believe that I heard on the 911 tapes could in and of itself could assist in the investigation," Cilento says. "I just think it's good for transparency and you might jar loose a witness, which is always a possibility."
Ray says he plans to hold a news conference Monday where he will reveal previously unreleased evidence.
Police say they are open to evaluating any evidence for additional facts that can help them solve the Gilgo Beach murder cases.
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