New findings: Shannan Gilbert's death 'consistent with homicidal strangulation'

YAPHANK, Long Island (WABC) -- A sex worker who disappeared near a remote stretch of Long Island beach highway that was later revealed to be a suspected serial killer's dumping ground for bodies might have been strangled, according to a new autopsy.

Shannan Gilbert vanished in May 2010 after fleeing the home of a client in Oak Beach, and the search for the missing woman led to the surprise discovery of 11 sets of human remains, including Gilbert's.

No suspects have ever been arrested or identified in any of the killings, but investigators believe a possible serial killer - perhaps more than one - is responsible.

"I don't even know what to say, because I'm so angry," Gilbert's sister, Stevie Smith, said.

It is the frustration of more than half a decade of unanswered questions about exactly how Gilbert died and whether or not her death was connected to the so-called Gilgo Beach murders. But to her family and their attorney, one thing is clear.

"We have been very unhappy with the behavior of the Suffolk County Police Department," lawyer John Ray said.

What they want is for Suffolk police to take notice of a new, private autopsy report voluntarily performed by Dr. Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner of New York City.

His report interprets fractures in Gilbert's neck as being "consistent with homicidal strangulation."

"It's time now for the police department to wise up," Ray said. "It's time for the police department to do the job they have failed to do up until now."

Gilbert's remains were found in a marshy area almost 20 months after she disappeared, with no evidence of trauma except for the questionable condition of the bones in her neck.

Suffolk County's new police commissioner Timothy Sini insists they are doing everything they can to solve the Gilgo Beach homicides, and he says they'll look at this latest autopsy report. But he also re-stated the reasons foul play was ruled out in Gilbert's case, that an autopsy was completed by their medical examiner who ruled the cause of Gilbert's death was undetermined.

For her family, that has never been enough.

"And we are going to continue to fight as long as we need to, until justice is done," mom Mari Gilbert said.
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