Mari Gilbert, with her daughter Sherre Gilbert, inside a marshy...

Mari Gilbert, with her daughter Sherre Gilbert, inside a marshy area where Shannan Gilbert was found dead along the westbound Ocean Parkway between Oak Beach and the Robert Moses Causeway in Babylon. (Jan. 14, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

I am writing in response to "Gilbert's mom asks feds to step in" [News, Dec. 21], in which John Ray, the lawyer who represents Shannan Gilbert's family, strongly criticized Suffolk County police detectives investigating the Gilgo Beach murders. It is quite obvious that Ray has not listened to Gilbert's 911 call nor spoken to any investigators assigned to the case. His claims are misleading and lack credibility. I have been a member of the department's homicide squad for 17 years and worked on the Gilgo investigation in its first three months.

I listened to Gilbert's 22-minute 911 call. The 911 operator tried several times to get Gilbert's location. At one point, she mentioned she was near Jones Beach. Gilbert never said she was at Oak Beach. It is hard to respond to a call when the person calling doesn't know where he or she is.

In the house at Oak Beach, Gilbert was not about to be murdered. Her demeanor on the tape was calm. You can hear male voices on the tape, and they are calm. At no time during this call was she desperate. From what I heard on the call, Gilbert was not speaking as if she were in danger. Despite this, she decided to run from the house and her driver, whom she relied on to take her back to New Jersey. During the investigation, I interviewed an individual who drove Gilbert to her "dates" in the past. He said she would leave houses and apartments in the same fashion as she did in Oak Beach. He described her as being a paranoid person and at times acting irrationally.

As we all know by now, Gilbert ran to another house seeking assistance. She was let into the house. When the gentleman in the house said he was going to call the police, she ran into the reeds across the street. I also interviewed this gentleman. Finally, she knocked on another door, but again ran away before the woman who lived there could find out what was going on.

Suffolk County has not turned down offers of help from the FBI. The FBI has provided a psychological profile of the offender and coordinated the use of a Blackhawk military helicopter to conduct an aerial search of the Ocean Parkway area, using classified equipment. In addition to the FBI, 12 other law enforcement agencies have assisted the homicide squad.

The detectives assigned to the homicide squad are some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable in Suffolk County. The units that support this squad -- such as the identification section, computer crimes section, criminal intelligence section and the crime lab -- are also the best in their respective fields.

Detectives have traveled to the hometowns of each victim many times to meet with the families, and to several states as part of the investigation. For most of 2011, the detectives assigned have set aside their personal lives, working long hours for weeks at a time. For Ray to insinuate that the homicide squad has given this case less than its full attention because of the victim's lifestyle is grossly inaccurate.

Det. Vincent Stephan, West Sayville

Editor's note: The writer is the secretary-treasurer of the Suffolk Detectives Association.


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