The unsolved Gilgo Beach murders becomes the story of a mother seeking justice on behalf of a dead daughter in the first trailer for the Netflix true-crime movie "Lost Girls." The movie, a 2020 Sundance Film Festival selection, premieres March 13 on Netflix.
Released Thursday, the two-minute trailer opens with Mari Gilbert ("The Wire" and "The Office" actress Amy Ryan) of upstate Ellenville stapling multiple copies of a missing-person flyer to a police station's bulletin board. "This is my daughter, Shannan Maria Gilbert," she announces to a Suffolk County police detective (two-time "In Treatment" Emmy Award nominee Gabriel Byrne). "There's one here for every day that she's missing."
Police are skeptical. "What was she doing in a gated community a hundred miles away from home in the middle of the night?" a detective played by Dean Winters ("Oz," "Rescue Me," the character Mayhem in Allstate commercials) asks Mari, who insists to him, "My daughter didn't run away. She's missing."
The search for Jersey City Craigslist prostitute Shannan Gilbert, reported missing in May 2010, led police that December to Gilgo Beach, where they eventually discovered the remains of 10 victims of suspected serial killings. Shannan, found dead in an Oak Beach marsh on Dec. 13, 2011, became the most high-profile of the victims — almost all women, at least four of them prostitutes. A toddler's body was also found.
Investigators initially concluded Shannan had drowned or otherwise died accidentally. Prodded by Mari Gilbert's efforts, police reopened the case as a murder investigation.
"They're always talking about our girls. When they do, it's prostitute, hooker — never mother, daughter," Mari in the trailer tells some family-members of other victims. "It's our job to make sure these girls are not forgotten." Elsewhere she states, "It's time for accountability," and at one point asks, "Is this some kind of coverup?"
On the same day as the trailer's release, Suffolk County Police unveiled a website, GilgoNews.com, as a public clearinghouse of tips and new information related to the murder investigation.
"Lost Girls," based on Robert Kolker's nonfiction book and directed by two-time Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus, began shooting Oct. 29, 2018, on the East End, with filming taking place on locations including Kenney's Beach in Southold; Leeton Drive and Kenneys Road nearby; and the Mattituck Motel in Mattituck.
Mari Gilbert was stabbed to death in July 2016 by another daughter, Sarra Gilbert, who the following year was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison despite defense assertions that she was schizophrenic.