Judge orders police to produce 911 tapes in Gilgo case

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RIVERHEAD -

The family of a woman whose body was found near Gilgo Beach eight years ago is continuing to fight for the release of 911 call tapes relating to the case.

After a two-year court battle, the family of Shannan Gilbert has yet to receive the tapes of 911 calls made by Gilbert on the night of her disappearance in May of 2010. Gilbert, a 24-year-old sex worker, was reported missing in 2010 from the Oak Beach home of Joseph Brewer, her last client. Police were searching for her when they found the remains of 10 murder victims along Ocean Parkway.

Police say the official cause of Gilbert's death is "undetermined." But her family believes she was murdered -- and that the 911 tapes may advance their case.

"I'm very frustrated at what has happened because the county has had these tapes since 2011 and they've done nothing whatsoever to advance this case, " says John Ray, the Gilbert family's attorney.

Today, Suffolk police were expected to produce the transcript of the 911 call made by Gilbert in which she reportedly told a 911 operator, "They're trying to kill me."

But the attorney for Suffolk County police told the judge a transcript of the 911 call didn't exist. The judge ordered Suffolk police to turn over the tapes at the next hearing.

Ray says this marks the third time the county has stonewalled on the tapes -- leading him to believe they were tampered with or destroyed under then-Police Chief James Burke.

Burke is serving 35 months in federal prison for beating a handcuffed man in an unrelated case and then covering it up.

"Keep in mind that Chief of Police Burke was in charge of that investigation, almost immediately after, once Shannan Gilbert's body was found," Ray says. "There's a really strong case in my mind that his investigation was hampered, was impeded, and we're going to get to the bottom of it -- slowly but surely, we're going to get to the bottom of it."

The judge has given the attorney for Suffolk police until Monday to produce the tapes in court, or provide an explanation why it can't be done.

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