Exclusive: Incoming Suffolk DA has plans for Gilgo Beach investigation

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Monday, December 13, 2021
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Ten years after Shannan Gilbert's remains were found at Gilgo Beach, incoming Suffolk County DA Ray Tierney has plans on handling the case. Kristin Thorne reports with the latest o

SUFFOLK COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- On the 10-year anniversary of the discovery of Shannan Gilbert's remains at Gilgo Beach, Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne sat down exclusively with the incoming Suffolk County district attorney to talk about how he plans to handle the case.

Ray Tierney said his first order of business will be meeting with the victims' family members to reassure them that he is committed to solving the murders of their loved ones.

"We're going to start from the beginning," he said. "And we're going to work our way up."

On December 13, 2011, police discovered Gilbert's remains in a marsh in Oak Beach. Gilbert was a sex worker from New Jersey who had gone missing in 2010.

In total, 10 bodies were discovered in and around Gilgo Beach -- the majority of them sex workers. Several of the bodies have still not been identified.

RELATED | Gilgo Beach murder victim identified as 24-year-old Valerie Mack

Suffolk police have been notoriously tight lipped on the case and have said very little throughout the years.

The last time the department spoke on the Gilgo murders was in January 2020, when they released a picture of a leather belt imprinted with the letters WH or HM, which they said was located at one of the crime scenes along Ocean Parkway at the initial stages of the Gilgo investigation.

Tierney said he plans to conduct interviews with all of the investigators who ever worked on the Gilgo case.

"A case file can tell you so much, so you want to get as much information as possible," he said. "Things that were done and things that were not done."

Tierney said he will move all of the Gilgo case files out of the DA's office to a place where they can be accessed by all investigators, including the FBI.

He also said he has not paid close attention to the media hype around the case because he does not want to make any assumptions.

"My mindset is open," he said. "Completely open."

Tierney said he will also make a determination on whether to release part of the 23-minute 911 call that Gilbert made the night she was killed.

"There are investigative reasons why you wouldn't disclose such things," he said. "There are investigative reasons why you should."

Gilbert family attorney John Ray has Gilbert's 911 call in his possession on two CDs, and he battled the Suffolk County Police Department in court for years to get them. However, he is legally not allowed to release the audio to the public.

"I've asked the court recently to allow the public to hear the 911 calls, because they'll be shocked when you hear them," he said.

RELATED | Photo shows initialed belt handled by suspected serial killer

Ray said he is disappointed that in the last decade, police have not made more inroads on the investigation.

"There should be more progress on the law enforcement end of this," he said.

Current Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said he invested more than $300,000 in advanced technology to analyze old phone data in the case.

He believes that while the killer used a "burner" phone to contact the victims, he or she also probably carried a regular traceable phone.

Sini said when he took office in 2018, he assigned 23 people to work on the investigation.

Eyewitness News reached out to Suffolk police for a statement Monday on the current state of the Gilgo investigation. We did not receive a response.

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