Death of Shannan Gilbert: Family criticizes police handling of case

Shannan Gilbert's family attorney John Ray disputed Suffolk County law enforcement's ruling that the escort's death was a tragic accident.  

"I think Shannan Gilbert was murdered," Ray said. 

The Gilbert family and their attorney are now calling on Lt. Kevin Beyrer, the Suffolk Police Department's head of homicide, to resign from the case. They believe he has tampered with evidence and compromised himself by not revealing the fact that for years he lived across the street from a person the Gilbert family still considers a top suspect in the case. 

"Lt. Beyrer isn't new and isn't a fresh set of eyes in the saga," Ray said. 

They're also pushing for the New York Attorney General's Office to appoint an independent advocate to investigate the police department and help find the killer or killers responsible. Gilbert's sister, Sherre, is speaking out.

"I feel like they dropped the ball from the beginning," Sherre Gilbert said. "They didn't allow the FBI come in. I think we definitely need somebody independently to review this case."

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After a decade-long fight between police and the Gilbert family, last week officials released three 911 calls made the night Gilbert disappeared in 2010. 

Investigators remain consistent with the theory that Gilbert's case is different from the bodies that were found along Ocean Parkway in the search for her and her death was noncriminal. 

"Based on the evidence, the facts, and the totality of the circumstances, the prevailing opinion in Shannan's death, while tragic, was not a murder and was most likely noncriminal," Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said last week.

"Something is really wrong with the way the police handled this one," Ray said. "Willfully wrong." 

On Wednesday morning, a spokesperson for the Suffolk County Police Department refuted these claims - upset at Ray’s attempt to besmirch a senior detective. 

When Harrison took office he created a special task force, which includes the FBI, to work on the case and the department remains open to partnering with any agency to help solve it. 

Anyone with any information is still urged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.