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Judge: Cops must make case for keeping Gilgo 911 tapes from public

Lawyer for family of sex worker who made frantic calls says investigators are holding recordings close because “there are problems with those tapes.”

Shannan Gilbert, who worked as an escort, disappeared

Shannan Gilbert, who worked as an escort, disappeared in Oak Beach after being summoned to a client's home, on May 1, 2010. Photo Credit: Gilbert family

A judge in Riverhead ordered Suffolk County on Monday to explain why police investigators should not share 911 recordings made by a woman whose 2010 disappearance led to the discovery of multiple human remains near Gilgo Beach.

County Attorney Elaine Barraga told Judge Sanford Berland the recordings are part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the 2010 disappearance of 24-year-old sex worker Shannan Gilbert and should remain in sole possession of the Suffolk police department. Gilbert’s remains were discovered in Oak Beach in December 2011.

Authorities have said the cause of her death is undetermined.

Berland’s ruling angered an attorney for Gilbert’s family, John Ray of Miller Place, who said the county had refused to comply with the judge’s March 6 order to bring a transcript or a copy of the recording to Monday’s hearing. Ray asked the judge if he intended to sanction the county for not complying with the court order.

Berland said he would give Barraga until Monday to file papers explaining why the county should not hand over the 911 recordings to Ray, who will have a week respond.

“I suspect that there are other problems with those tapes,” Ray told reporters after the hearing. “One, there are things that are very damaging on these tapes that the police do not want us to hear or two, they don’t exist at all or have been destroyed or erased.”

Gilbert made a panicked 911 call from the home of her last client the night she disappeared. She told dispatchers during the 23-minute call that somebody was trying to kill her.

Police were searching for Gilbert when they found 10 sets of human remains in the Gilgo Beach area between December 2010 and April 2011.

Ray filed a lawsuit against Dr. C. Peter Hackett, the last person known to have seen Gilbert alive, in 2013 on behalf of Gilbert’s family. The suit said Hackett claimed his house was a refuge for wayward girls and he took her in, improperly gave her narcotic drugs to calm her, then let her leave in a helpless state.

Hackett has denied the allegation and much of the lawsuit was dismissed because of statute of limitations issues.

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