Catfish & Serial Killers Part 2
I did not expect to be blogging about serial killers this soon. The subject needs much more discussion before jumping into how the internet is now part of modus operandi. But for reasons I am about to explain, I felt this blog needed to be done now, while it is happening. So let’s dive in, shall we?
Killers now shop on craigslist, they have Facebooks, and they may very well be reading this blog. For examples of this we could look to the cases of Philip Markoff, Richard Beasley, Christopher Jordan Dorner, Mark Dizon, and the list goes on, but as I have mentioned, the case that I want to discuss here, is The Long Island Serial Killer. It is a case that has long puzzled me. And lately it is haunting me.
From the moment I saw the news in December 2010 about bodies of 4 women being found and a possible serial killer being involved I was drawn to the story. At the time I did not know anything about Shannan Gilbert, but that soon changed. Through out the next year more bodies would be found and when 48 hours aired a story on it, I watched in disbelief. Here again is a link to that story:
Or if you prefer to read:
The story of Shannan Gilbert death is disturbing to me for many reasons. And I will get to some of them, but for those who do not know the story and didn’t click on one of the links above I also need to summarize her story. But before I do that, I feel that something needs to be said in behalf of the victims and their families. Shannan Gilbert, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, Amber Lynn Costello, and Jessica Taylor were taken from this world much to early in the course of their lives and in a way so terrible, words are at a loss. This of course is the same for the unidentified victims. Friends and families lives were also destroyed. This is often lost in all the madness involved in such cases, as I know they will be here. So as we go forward remember them all, the victims and their families. Our sympathy, prayers, and hope that this case or cases are solved, soon, is whats most important here.
The story of Shannan Gilbert is the kind of murder mystery that seems made for T.V. crime dramas. There are plenty of characters, most of them dripping in suspicion, and plenty of surprises all through it. As with the other identified victims, Shannan was an escort who listed her services on craigslist. Shortly after midnight on May 1st 2010, Shannon Gilbert and her driver Michael Pak left New York City and headed to a gated community in Oak Beach, Long Island. Around 2 a.m. she enters the house of Joseph Brewer, a client she is said to have met through craigslist. Three hours later she is running down the streets of this gated community yelling into her cell phone at a 911 operator that “They” were going to kill her. She banged on the door of a neighbor who called the police, then she ran off to another house who also called 911. Meanwhile her driver is in his SUV chasing her down. Both are gone by the time police arrive.
Shannon never returns home. Her boyfriend, Alex Diaz gets in touch with the driver who says she had run off from him and he could not find her. He had figured she had gone home. Both of them head back to the gated community where Pak last saw Shannan on May 3rd. They do not find her and Alex contacts her family to let them know she is missing. At some point someone else contacts Shannan’s family. A man named Dr. Charles Peter Hackett called her mother. What was said during this call depends on who you talk to, Shannan’s mother says the doctor told her daughter was alright and that he was going to be treating her. There is also implications that he might have given her something to calm her down that night. Dr. Hackett says he never met Shannon and though at first denied calling Shannan’s mother at all, he admits he did call her, twice, but only because he had got her number from Pak and Diaz and only called to show his concern for the missing girl. The reason this call is so important, is tha Dr. Hackett lives by the entrance/exit of the gated community right near where Shannon was last seen running.
A missing persons report is filed but it takes Shannon’s family seven months of badgering police before any real search begins. Let’s stop here because so many things already at this point in the case bother me. The police at this point had cleared both Brewer and Pak. Brewer’s story seems patchy, he says she was not there for sex. But she was there for 3 hours, 1 hour longer than was originally planed. At there are stories of infamous parties at Brewster’s house. And although the driver and him both say Shannon was acting strange and ran off for no apparent reason I can’t understand why the driver would leave her to walk home alone. Maybe he was scared of police involvement, which lots of people don’t like, and he was an escort driver. But still to leave her to fend for her self, what kind of man does that? And speaking of police involvement, they were told she ran off into a marsh. Why didn’t they look for her that night? Or more after the missing persons report? She was a missing girl who ran off frightened into a dark marshy area. Why was she not on prime time news every night while police continued to search for her? Did they truly believe she had run out into the marsh and had accidentally died, and if so, why was it not important to find her body?
Well, all that changed in December of 2010, 4 bodies were found during a search for Shannan. None of the bodies found were Shannan’s. They were the bodies of four other girls, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Lynn Costello, all missing escorts. But although police now knew they were dealing with a serial killer, they still believed Shannan’s disappearance was unrelated to the other four girls and that they were sure they would find her and her cause of death would be accidental. WTF! I don’t think I need to explain what I find so disturbing here. But I will say that 2 of the 4 girls went missing after Shannan, which means at least those 2 bodies were left where they were found during a time police, FBI, Etc. should have been searching the area for a missing girl. Get what I’m saying?
Time goes by and body parts are found of at least 5 other victims, one a child. Yet it isn’t till December 6th, 2011 that they find a pair of jeans, a pair of shoes, cellphone, a pocketbook with ID in the pocketbook belonging to Shannan Gilbert. They were not far from where Shannan was last seen. Why had they not been found earlier? You would think since it was where she was last seen near there that spot would have been searched. Then on December 13, 2011 Shannan’s skeletal remains are found. And though cause of death could not be determined the police still say her death was an accident. We are left with coincidence or conspiracy. But since this case is open and a killer or killers still may be out there, authorities may just not be letting to much of what is really known get out. I had hope this was true because I hate those C words.
Then, last month, as I searched for the latest news on this story, I found an article about Shannan’s mom suing Dr. Hackett for wrongful death of her daughter.
The Doctor had seemed suspicious to me, but then again so did Brewer and Pak. But all I knew was what I read and watched. And that is all so contradicting (another C word I don’t like, hmm that makes 3). The article was from late 2012 and the case was now beginning so I looked for more info on the court proceedings. I couldn’t find much more on it but I did find a place called longislandserialkiller.com and a group of bloggers and sleuthers who had been following this case much closer than me. All of sudden there was alot of information. So much, it was hard to tell what was real. The first thing I learned was that when a serial killer plays the “Catfish” game, it’s called “Sock Puppets”.
To Be Continued…