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“These people are trying to kill me,” Gilbert told the 911 dispatcher in the 22-minute-long audio clip, released by the Suffolk Police Department on Friday. They also released two other 911 calls made by neighbors.
Gilbert, a 24-year-old sex worker, had made panicked calls to 911 on May 1, 2010 while seeing a client out on Oak Beach, Long Island.
The subsequent police search for her led to the grim discovery that a serial killer had been dumping bodies along Long Island's south shore. Ten sets of remains in the area have been attributed to an unknown killer, or killers, known as the "Long Island Serial Killer," the "Gilgo Beach Killer," and the "Craigslist Ripper" because many of the women found dead had advertised sex work on Craigslist.
"Somebody's after me. There's somebody after me. There's somebody after me!" Gilbert repeated in the phone call. Male voices can be heard in the background. At some points, Gilbert interacts with them and talks to one man, seemingly named “Mike.” At some points, Gilbert seems incoherent; she appears to be frightened and hysterical at others.
Toward the end of the call, there is screaming and the sounds of running, as well as heavy breathing.
Police also released a video in which they gave context for the audio: Suffolk Homicide Section Commanding Officer Kevin Beyrer stated that audio shows Gilbert’s driver, Michael Pak, as well as her client, identified by police as Joseph Brewer, were trying to get Gilbert to leave Brewer's home. Gilbert then ran out of the home and to the house of a neighbor, Gus Colletti. Colletti then called 911 and stated Gilbert was "running around here screaming and there's some guy trying to follow her."
Gilbert then ran to another home. Barbara Brennan, called 911 to report a woman knocking on her door. "She says she's in danger," she said, adding that she wasn't going to let her in.
Gilbert estate lawyer John Ray, who fought for years to get the 911 calls released, previously told Oxygen.com that he was under strict court-implemented orders not to speak about the contents of the 911 tapes, which he heard previously.
"All you have to do is know some of the relevant facts, listen to the tape, listen to the blood-curdling screams, it is overwhelmingly the case that this is a murder," he told Oxygen.com by phone on Friday. "Shannan acted in a perfectly rational way throughout. If you thought you were going to be murdered, you wouldn't identify them."
He added that "her voice, her demeanor, everything about her tells her that she was a rational being."
Gilbert's remains weren't found until December 2011, in a remote marsh in Oak Beach, about half a mile from where she was last seen. Authorities said at the time that they believed she ran into the marsh, became stuck and either drowned or succumbed to the elements.
A medical examiner's autopsy was inconclusive, NBC News reports.
Gilbert's family, however, commissioned a private autopsy, which found injuries to her neck "consistent with strangulation," though there was insufficient evidence to make any definitive determination, according to NBC News.
Beyrer said that authorities remain skeptical Gilbert was murdered.
“Based on the evidence, the facts, and the totality of the circumstances, the prevailing opinion is that Shannan Gilbert’s death, while tragic, was not a murder and is most likely an accident,” he said in the accompanying video.
While she is not officially considered a victim of the Long Island serial killings, Gilbert is included on the victim list of the Suffolk County Police Department's site dedicated to the investigation. Ray has long disputed authorities' position that her death was accidental, calling the notion "absurd" in his phone call with Oxygen.com Friday.
Since Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison came into position late last year, he vowed to release more information on the case, including the 911 calls as long as their release did not impede on the investigation. He said in a Friday press conference that his staff determined the release would not hinder the investigation. He encourages the public to listen to the entire calls.
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