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Missing prostitute's family visits Oak Beach

May 1, 2011 3:57:43 PM PDT
Police on Long Island are preparing to expand their search for more possible victims of a serial killer.

Monday, State Police will be searching for evidence of Shannan Gilbert's body, or that of other crimes along the Southern Wantagh State Parkway from Merrick road to Ocean Parkway.

Gilbert has been missing for a year.

There's no set amount of time for this search, it all depends on what investigators do or do not find.

When her mother Mari Gilbert arrived in Oak Beach she didn't know what she'd find but she knew what she was looking for.

"This is not her ending it's her beginning. It's her legacy," Gilbert said.

One year ago Sunday, her daughter Shannan vanished into the reeds in this desolate beach community.

And no one has seen her since.

So wearing her daughter's sneakers and joined by other family members, Mari came to visit one of the last places anyone saw Shannan alive.

When asked what it is like to be in Oak Beach today, Gilbert said, "Creepy. Really creepy. It's not pretty. It's not beautiful. This place is really evil."

The 24-year-old prostitute met a client the day she vanished and was last seen running down the front stairs of his home and up the street screaming that someone was trying to kill her.

Police have said the client, Joseph Brewer, is not a suspect.

Police opened a missing persons case and in December, a cadaver dog looking for Shannan a few miles away found the skeletal remains of four women.

They were also Craigslist prostitutes and were all wrapped in burlap.

The spring thaw yielded another four bodies, including a baby.

And later two more discoveries of human remains. But still, no sign of Shannan Gilbert.

As her painful pilgrimage continued, Mari Gilbert stopped by the home of Dr. Peter Hackett, a former Suffolk County police surgeon the Gilberts claim called them the day after Shannan disappeared.

"A man identified himself as Hackett, said she was there. And from there she disappeared," Gilbert said.

But in an interview with Eyewitness News, Hackett vigorously denied making that call and police say he, too, is not a suspect.

It's the lack of answers the Gilberts say frustrates them the most and even on such a bright, brilliant day, Mari says Oak Beach is a very dark place.

And for now she's left with handmade posters, prayers and a stark promise; her search will never end.

"No matter how long it takes or what it takes, I'm going to bring her home, I'm going to bring her home," Gilbert insists.

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