New York police revealed new details about Long Island's cold case Gilgo Beach serial slayings Friday, going public with three previously withheld 911 calls. They include a call from the woman whose disappearance led investigators to a gruesome trove of bodies scattered near a scenic, oceanfront highway.
The murders remain unsolved more than a decade after the search for missing escort Shannan Gilbert, 24, led police to the bodies of multiple sex workers and other victims alongside an oceanfront highway east of New York City.
"There’s somebody after me," Gilbert repeatedly told dispatchers in a call placed at 4:51 a.m. on May 1, 2010. But she did not provide a location more specific than in a house on Long Island, somewhere near Jones Beach.
"Can you trace where I am?" she asked.
"No, I can’t," the dispatcher replied.
Gilbert was calling from a home in Oak Beach, a gated community on the Atlantic Ocean.
In the background, a man identified as Joseph Brewer can be heard telling her it’s "time to go."
Another man, Michael Pak, was waiting outside. Police said he was her driver. But she refused to go with him and ran down the road, according to authorities, knocking on neighbors’ doors and claiming someone was chasing her.
As the call goes on, she sounds increasingly distressed.
"What’s the matter, are you OK?" Pak is heard asking after Brewer says he’s going upstairs.
"What are you gonna do to me?" Gilbert replies.
The recording is muffled, but it sounds like he offers to drive her home.
"Are you gonna kill me?" she says moments later.
"Are you crazy?" he replies.
At many points in the call, she appears to ignore the dispatcher, seemingly distracted. She repeatedly tells Pak, "Mike, stop it," prompting the dispatcher to ask for his last name. Gilbert does not provide it.
In another portion of the 23-minute recording, she identifies herself and tells the dispatcher, "These people are trying to kill me."
After an unresponsive portion of the call — around 17 minutes in — she begins screaming. She vanished that night, and the ensuing search for her uncovered numerous other bodies in the area. But while some of them may be linked to one or more killers, police said her relation to the investigation may end there.
"Releasing the Shannan Gilbert 911 calls will not hinder this investigation," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison told reporters during a news conference announcing the release of the recordings. "I encourage the public to listen to the entire call."
Two other calls, from neighbors Gus Coletti and Barbara Brennan, helped police hone in on Gilbert's location, although it would be months before they found her remains.
During the briefing, police revealed that they believed Gilbert’s death was an accident. They reiterated previous reports that she suffered from mental illness and was known to use drugs and said the side effects sometimes left her disoriented and irrational.
Since Harrison took the commissioner’s job New Year’s Eve, he has refocused the cold case investigation, forming a multi-agency task force and vowing to release more information and dispel myths and rumors surrounding the 12-year-old investigation.
Just last week, he revealed additional information about the "Gilgo Four," the first victims found after the search for Gilbert began.
"I would have taken the same path. Those were the four newest homicides, based on how they were left in close proximity and the fact that they were wrapped in burlap," Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at New York City’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told Fox News Digital Friday. "This is the case that [Harrison] is looking at hard. This is the one he wants to solve first, and then we’ll see where the other ones go."
Those four victims, like Gilbert, worked as Craigslist escorts.
"I think [Suffolk Police] made the right step in that direction where they're trying to put certain speculation to bed," Giacalone said.
Harrison, a former NYPD chief, is the latest in a line of Suffolk police commissioners to handle the case over the years. He kicked off his tenure with a vow to bring a fresh approach to the stalled investigation.
"I like what Harrison is doing, and I think he’s got a method to his madness," Giacalone said. "This guy is an experienced investigator."
However, Giacalone did question the department’s decision to take a stance on Gilbert’s cause of death when the county medical examiner’s official autopsy was found it to be "undetermined."
"When you’re dealing with an undetermined death, it’s not up to the police department to come up with an opinion on what they think," he said. "When the ME kicks it back to you, it’s up to the police department to either prove or disprove whatever they think."
The department’s conclusion that Gilbert did not die by homicide appears to contradict the findings of a 2016 private autopsy commissioned by Gilbert’s family.
Dr. Michael Baden, the famed forensic pathologist and former chief medical examiner of New York City, was hired by the family. He found "insufficient information to determine a definite cause of death, but the autopsy findings are consistent with homicidal strangulation."
Key bones in her throat were missing, but the adjacent ones had "a roughness at the margins." He also found no drugs in her system.
"It is my opinion, based on the circumstances of Shannon's death and on the materials that I have reviewed, that there is no evidence that she died of natural disease, of a drug overdose or of drowning," he concluded. "There is insufficient information to determine a definite cause of death, but the autopsy findings are consistent with homicidal strangulation."
John Ray, the attorney representing Gilbert’s estate who has already had access to the recordings, did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.
In a morning interview with Long Island News Radio, before the calls were released to the broader public, he disputed the idea that Gilbert’s death was not the result of foul play.
"The police department put out a false narrative, a very strongly false narrative about what occurred that early morning of May 1, 2010, and they based it … upon the misrepresentation that nothing really significant occurred and that Shannan was really kind of irrational," Ray said. "Those things are decidedly not true. And the tape certainly will show you that."
Suffolk police said they based their findings on a review from the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit as well as other evidence.
Police found Gilbert's body south of the parkway. The other victims were on the north side. She had her identification and was carrying money. And she had a history of mental illness and substance abuse that detectives said could explain her apparent confusion and irrationality.
"The prevailing opinion is that Shannan's death, while tragic, is not a murder," said Suffolk County Police Lt. Kevin Beyrer.
Tragedy struck her family again a few years later, when her sister, Sarra Gilbert, was accused of killing her mother, Mari Gilbert.
Fox News' Emmett Jones and Sarah Rumpf contributed to this report.