Shannan Gilbert’s family has begun to file a lawsuit against former Oak Beach resident Dr. Charles Peter Hackett, the man who claimed to have been the last person to see Shannan alive on May 1, 2010, the night she disappeared.
UPDATE: Lawsuit Alleges Hackett Drugged Shannan Gilbert
Mari Gilbert, Shannan’s mother claims Hackett called her after Shannan disappeared, allegedly telling her he had taken in her daughter. Mari said Hackett told her that he ran a halfway house and he was going to help Shannan get out of prostitution.
Hackett later denied calling Mari, but after phone records proved he did call her, Hackett admitted to 48 Hours that he had called Mari, but that he had nothing to do with Shannan’s disappearance.
Mari Gilbert and her attorney, John Ray, will hold a press conference to announce the details of the lawsuit Thursday morning in Riverhead.
Suffolk County police have said in the past that Hackett is not considered a suspect.
Officials said last December, when they found Shannan’s remains off Ocean Parkway and some of her belongings in a marshy area not far from Hackett’s home, that Shannan most likely accidentally drowned while in a frantic state, running away in the darkness after fighting with Joseph Brewer, a client Shannan had met with that night in Oak Beach.
Police have also said that Brewer is not a suspect.
Detectives said they found Shannan’s remains about 1/4 mile northeast from where Gilbert’s pocketbook, jeans, shoes and lip gloss were found the week prior.
At the time of her disappearance, 24-year-old Gilbert, unfamiliar with the area, was running alongside the tall reeds that line Anchor Way. In the darkness, she would not have been able to see that those reeds were hiding flooded marsh that, at times, can be filled waist-deep with water. But Shannan’s remains were found only 100 feet from the roadway in shallow water, leaving many, including Shannan’s family, to believe her death was no accident.
Attorney John Ray and Shannan’s family met with officials from the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office in May 2011, hoping to get some answers regarding Shannan’s cause of death and the results of her autopsy. But they were given no new information and more than one year later, Shannan’s body still remains in the custody of the medical examiner’s office.
“The Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office has classified the death of Shannan Gilbert as ‘Undetermined,’” the police said in a statement at the time. “The Homicide Squad continues to actively investigate the circumstances surrounding Ms. Gilbert’s death.”
Investigators have said they don’t believe Gilbert’s death is related to the victims of a suspected serial killer whose remains were found several miles away along Ocean Parkway. Police were searching for Gilbert when they discovered other bodies in the brush including those of Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy, Maureen Brainard-Barnes and Amber Lynn Costello, all believed to be victims of the same killer.
Lorraine Ela, mother of Megan Waterman and Melissa Cann, sister of Maureen Brainard-Barnes have both publicly denied Shannan’s death was an accidental drowning.
Those with information on Shannan’s disappearance or any information on the victims found on Ocean Parkway can call Homicide Squad detectives at 631-852-6396, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-8477, text tips anonymously by texting “SCPD” to “CRIMES” (274637) or email information via www.tipsubmit.com
There is a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, the highest sum ever offered in Suffolk County history.