Four years after Shannan Gilbert’s mysterious death, her exact cause of death still remains unknown.
In 2012, a Suffolk County medical examiner classified the death as “undetermined.”
The 24-year-old woman was last seen screaming and running from a home in the Oak Beach complex on Long Island on May 1, 2010, where she had met a client for sex.
She placed a frantic 23-minute call to 911 that began while she was still in the house. Her family has said that she was frightened out of the house by something or someone, and ran from the house in an attempt to flee her killer.
Detectives believe Shannan, not realizing she was entering a flooded marsh that was sometimes filled with water and quicksand-like mud, ran into the tall reeds that bordered the road.
When her body was found in December 2011, all that remained of her was her hair and her bones. The medical examiner was unable to determine the cause of her death, although investigators said that it was likely an accidental drowning.
While searching for Gilbert in December 2010, investigators found 10 sets of human remains, all of which had been strewn along several miles of brush alongside Ocean Parkway. Most of the human remains belonged to female sex workers; investigators believe a serial killer – possibly more than one – is responsible for the bodies.
Gilbert’s mother, Mari, believes that her daughter is amongst the serial killer’s victims. Gilbert’s family lawyer, John Ray, has said that the medical examiner reported that two neck bones were missing from her remains.
To date, however, no suspects have been named in her disappearance.