Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Long Island Ripper

Shanan Gilbert


Shannan Gilbert
Shannan Gilbert
Craigslist escort and aspiring actress Shannan Gilbert, 24, disappeared May 1, 2010. The New Jersey resident was last seen in Oak Beach, a gated residential community a few miles from Gilgo Beach.

Early that morning, Gustav Coletti had been woken by someone screaming for help at his front door, "He's trying to kill me!" Coletti said he'd call police, but the person fled. Minutes later, a sport-utility vehicle pulled up alongside Coletti's house. The driver said he was looking for a woman who'd become upset and run out of his party.

Joseph Brewer hosted a nearby party that night. And he had made arrangements with Gilbert through one of her Craigslist ads. Brewer later told police just about the same thing that the SUV driver had told Coletti: Gilbert had been at his house, but she had run out of the party "in hysterics" and disappeared into the night.

Brewer, 46, a former financial advisor, has told the New York Daily News that he thinks Gilbert must still be alive—after all, he says, she couldn't have just disappeared. He calls his involvement in the case "a surreal nightmare." Brewer has since left his Oak Beach home and moved back into his mother's West Islip house with his daughter and her mother; his family owns rental properties across Suffolk County.

Gustav Coletti
Gustav Coletti
Cell phone and emergency services records show that Gilbert herself called police several times that night. Unfortunately, she wrongly told dispatchers that she was at nearby Jones Beach. Police didn't straighten out that fatal discrepancy in time, and they haven't gotten any closer to finding her since.

Still a mystery, or maybe a lead: A 48-year-old man known to patronize prostitutes was staying with Joseph Brewer at the time. He's not been named publicly, and police won't say whether they've questioned him. The unknown man's mother told the New York Post in April that she believed he was now in Georgia.

Time may tell whether Shannan Gilbert was the victim of the same fiend who seems to have killed a series of women and left them on a Long Island barrier beach, but the search for the missing New Jersey woman kicked off the case: Cops looking for her found the remains of Megan Waterman and a growing list of others instead.

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