After 24-year-old sex worker Shannan Maria Gilbert suddenly disappeared without a trace left behind on May 1, 2010, not just the entire nation but the entire world was shaken to its very core. That’s because the ensuing search for her inadvertently uncovered the Gilgo Beach serial killings, as explored in ‘Truth and Lies: The Hunted,’ only for it to later come to light she’d died in the same area but it was accidental (contested). Yet for now, if you simply wish to learn more about her family, their experiences/mindset concerning this whole ordeal, as well as their current standing, we’ve got all the necessary details for you.
Who is Shannan Gilbert’s Family?
Although Shannon was born to Mari Gilbert and her then-husband on October 24, 1986, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as the eldest of three sisters, her early years were far from cozy, happy, or stable. The truth is not only was her father never in the picture owing to apparent heroin use, but she also primarily grew up in foster care away from her siblings — Sherre, Sarra, plus half-sister Stevie. In other words, her mother wasn’t really there either, with the worst part arguably being the fact the former was often involved in such bad situations that both Sherre and Sarra even ended up getting molested by one of her partners.
Shannan was in the system at the time of this incident, yet the Gilbert family eventually managed to settle down in Ellenville, New York, and kind of tried to reconnect in many more ways than one. They still had their fair share of issues by the mid-2000s, but the eldest was back home — though Sarra was not; she’d dropped out of school at 16 to move in with her 22-year-old drug dealer boyfriend. Then there’s the fact this couple had happily welcomed a son in 2009, unaware their lives would soon turn upside down with domestic violence, his drug imprisonments, plus her growing mental health struggles.
Coming back to Shannan, the aspiring singer gradually evolved into a sex worker for complete financial independence despite being so bright she’d actually graduated high school a year early. “My daughter was loved more than I think she realized or understood she could be loved,” Mari once said in an episode of ‘People Magazine Investigates.’ “Shannan was a good big sister… she would help her little sister Stevie with homework. She was very, very, very smart.” However, to support her dreams of stepping into the limelight, she’d initially taken up a waitressing job to make ends meet before turning to escorting.
“When we first learned Shannan was escorting, I was super embarrassed,” Sherre said in the same episode. “Like, I didn’t even want to talk to her. I’m thinking to myself, ‘You’re so smart. You graduated when you were 16 years old. You could have had a decent job, but you’re doing this.'” That’s when Mari added, “[Shannan] vehemently assured me that she was okay. She would be safe. It was only temporary till she finished her education” — she was reportedly taking communication classes at an online university. “Regretfully, I didn’t push it because I didn’t want her to have – – [I didn’t want her to] move away from me.”
But alas, by the time Shannan was in her early 20s, she’d relocated to Jersey City, New Jersey, and was working hard nights with an illegal escort service prior to going fully independent. Little did she know this would inadvertently result in her death near Oak Beach, Long Island, on May 1, 2010, following her unexpected and paranoid fleeing from a new client’s local home. Though it wasn’t until December 13, 2011, that her remains were recovered from a marsh half a mile from where she’d vanished — by this point, ten other bodies had also been found.
Where is Shannan Gilbert’s Family Now?
Shannan’s disappearance had helped uncover the fact there was a serial killer in the area, yet of course, her family primarily cared about the circumstances surrounding her strange demise. Her official autopsy did rule her cause of death as an accidental drowning, but her loved ones openly challenged this finding as well as fought to have her case be reopened as a homicide. For this, they’d even gone as far as to have an independent autopsy done, which concluded she might have been manually strangled to death — nevertheless, nothing ever panned out.
The sole thing this particular series of events did was transform Mari from a rather unavailable individual with several lulls plus dark thoughts to a full-blown activist and a murder victim advocate. But on the other hand, it shattered Sarra — she was ultimately diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, just to later refuse to comply with treatments to regularly use illicit drugs like pot and ecstasy.
In the end, things went so far that Sarra ended up killing Mari during an episode — it was July 23, 2016, when the then 27-year-old stabbed her mother to death after the latter had come to check up on her. She’s thus serving 25 years in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility at the moment, all the while her surviving two sisters are seemingly doing their best to move on from the past and focus on their own respective families well away from the limelight. It’s also imperative to note Sherre as well as Stevie still believe Shannan was actually killed.