|REEL FACE:||REAL FACE:|
Born: May 3, 1968
Queens, New York City, New York, USA
Born: June 22, 1964
Death: July 23, 2016, Ellenville, New York, USA (stabbing)
Born: May 12, 1950
Police Commissioner Richard Dormer
Born: October 24, 1986
Birthplace: Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA
Death: 2010, Near Oak Beach, Babylon, Suffolk County, USA
Born: July, 2000
Wellington, New Zealand
Born: August 1, 2002
New York City, New York, USA
Born: January 17, 1989
Sentenced to 25 years for murdering her mother in 2016.
Born: September 11, 1954
Alexandria, Virginia, USA
Dr. Peter Hackett
Born: January 24, 1956
Mari Gilbert filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him in 2012.
Born: September 27, 1990
Westminster, London, England, UK
Sister of victim Amber Costello
James Hiroyuki Liao
Born: February 6, 1976
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Shannan Gilbert's Driver
Yes. Her life, along with the lives of four other sex workers murdered by the Long Island serial killer (LISK), is recounted in Robert Kolker's New York Times Bestseller Lost Girls, on which the Netflix movie is based. The Lost Girls true story reveals that, like in the movie, the real Shannan Gilbert was an escort who advertised through Craigslist and had been meeting with a client in the gated community of Oak Beach prior to her death.
Yes. Shannan (pictured below) made the 911 call from inside the house of the man who hired her, Joseph Brewer, at 4:51 a.m., but police didn't arrive in the community of Oak Beach until 5:40 a.m., almost an hour later. Amy Ryan's character blames the Suffolk County Police Department for this, as did the real Mari Gilbert. However, the police department said that it couldn't respond because Shannan wouldn't tell the 911 dispatchers where she was when they asked her. In fact, because they didn't have a location, the dispatchers supposedly transferred the 23-minute call to the New York State Police. According to the former Suffolk County Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone, they knew nothing about Shannon's call for almost a month. It was then that Shannan's call was connected to the missing persons report that her family had filed in New Jersey.
In researching the Lost Girls true story, we learned that in addition to Shannan, Mari had three other daughters, Sherre, Sarra and Stevie, though only Sherre and Sarra are depicted in the Netflix movie. The real Mari Gilbert and her daughter Shannan are pictured below.
The real-life killings took place over a span of roughly 15 years, from approximately 1996 to 2010, but possibly as late as 2013.
The unidentified killer is believed to have murdered 10 to 16 people, mainly prostitutes. By April 2011, police had discovered the remains of 10 victims in the vicinity of Gilgo Beach, covering a distance of about seven miles along Ocean Parkway. The victims included eight women, an Asian man dressed in female clothes, and a toddler (the mother of the toddler was one of the women). Five of the bodies were identified, including Megan Waterman, Jessica Taylor, Melissa Barthelemy, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, and Amber Lynn Costello. Due to the location of the remains, the killer was also dubbed the Gilgo Beach Killer.
Yes. Despite Dr. Charles Peter Hackett's initial denial of making the call, phone records later proved it happened. Shannan Gilbert's mother, Mari, said that during the call Hackett, a former police doctor, told her that he ran a halfway house for people who wanted to get off the street and that Shannan was there but had left with her driver. Mari says that Hackett claimed he was worried about Shannan and said that he had given her medication to calm her down. When Mari asked him how he got her number, Hackett told her that he required anyone who came to his house to give him emergency contact information. However, when Shannan's sisters traveled to Oak Beach, Hackett told them a different story. Not only did he deny ever seeing Shannan, he denied calling Mari. Three days after his first call, he made a second call to Mari, this time telling her he had never encountered Shannan and that he didn't make the earlier call.
Yes. In real life, Shannan went missing on May 1, 2010. Her remains weren't found until December 13, 2011, roughly a year-and-a-half later.
No. Robert Kolker, author of Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery, says that he received a scathing email from Mari Gilbert regarding his bestselling book. "I cannot believe all the LIES you wrote about my family, and I. You should be ashamed at yourself," Gilbert stated in a 2013 email. "How dare you write such trash!! May karma slam you when you least expect it!!" Kolker had interviewed Mari for the book and doesn't know why she became so opposed to it. -The Cut
No. Dean Winters' character, Dean Bostick, who says things like, "Why don't you let the police men do the police work, huh, honey?" and "I mean, honestly, who spends this much time looking for a missing hooker?", is not based on a real detective. The chauvinistic cop was created to embody the attitudes of some in law enforcement who dragged their feet when it came to solving the case.
Yes. This is what is stated in the Lost Girls Netflix movie's epilogue, but little detail is given regarding the true story of Mari Gilbert's death. Author Robert Kolker explained that Sarra began having delusions. She became convinced that her mother and sisters were possessed by demons. In 2014, she attacked her mother and sister Sherre. She was subsequently in and out of hospitals and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her child was taken from her and instead of staying on her medication, Sarra turned to street drugs instead.
On July 23, 2016, Mari Gilbert, 52, received a desperate call from her daughter. Sarra claimed to be hearing voices and said she needed help. Mari went to see Sarra, who lived in the same apartment building. Upon arriving, Sarra stabbed her mother 227 times with a 15-inch kitchen knife, bludgeoned her with a fire extinguisher, sprayed her with the foam, removed her clothes, and took her jewelry. Sarra's attorneys tried to plead insanity but Ulster County Judge Donald Williams wasn't buying it, saying that if it was up to him, Sarra would spend the rest of her life in prison and receive the mental health treatment she needs. Neither of her sisters, Sherre or Stevie, appeared as a character witness on her behalf in court. Ultimately, Sarra received a 25-year sentence. -Daily Freeman
This is what is speculated in the movie to some degree, as it was in real life too. It was suggested that the killer might either be schooled in law enforcement or have connections in the police department, helping him avoid detection. This was mainly due to the fact that the killer had used the cell phone of one of his victims, Melissa Barthelemy, to call her family. He spoke with her 15-year-old sister, Amanda, and her mother, Lynn, saying sexually explicit things to Amanda about what he had done to Melissa and what he was going to do to her. He made eight calls in all, getting off the phone each time before he could be identified. He seemed to know what areas would be hard to trace and how long he could stay on the phone. Some of the calls came from busy locations in midtown Manhattan: close to the Port Authority, Times Square, and the Empire State Building.
In 2016, the former chief of the Suffolk County Police Department, James Burke, was convicted and given almost four years in federal prison for beating a suspect who stole his gun belt, a duffel bag full of sex toys and pornographic material, and other items from his SUV. Burke then convinced other officers to lie for him. A woman named Leanne, who said that she had worked as an escort in Suffolk County, then came forward and said that she had encountered James Burke at a party in the same neighborhood where Shannan Gilbert had disappeared, just one year after Shannan had gone missing. Leanne said that Burke made her engage in rough sex prior to throwing $300 toward her. Burke had previously turned down further FBI assistance in the Long Island serial killer (LISK) investigation and it was becoming clear why. Either he didn't want the FBI to uncover his own corruption, or he didn't want them to connect him to the murders. Burke's attorney maintains that he never had any connection to the Gilgo Beach victims.
The identity of the killer, who is also known as the Craigslist Ripper, the Gilgo Beach Killer, or the Seashore Serial Killer, remains a mystery. Due to the gender of the victims, the nature of the crimes, and the fact that he called the family of one of his victims, we know that the unidentified suspect is male. In 2011, The New York Times reported that the killer was likely a white male between his mid-20s and mid-40s. Like in the movie, it is believed that he knew the South Shore of Long Island and had burlap sacks in his possession that he put the bodies in before disposing of them. It's also possible that he's currently in prison, which is why no more bodies have been found.
The most likely suspect is Suffolk County resident John Bittrolff, who is not featured in the Lost Girls movie. Arrested in 2014, Bittrolff was convicted in May 2017 for the deaths of two prostitute homicide victims, Rita Tangredi and Colleen McNamee, whose bodies were discovered in 1993 and 1994, respectively. The remains were discovered in Manorville, Long Island, the town where Bittrolff lived. Manorville is also close to where the torsos of two of the Long Island murder victims were recovered, including that of Jessica Taylor and an unidentified woman. Parts of their bodies were also found years later on Gilgo Beach, linking the two locations. Another detail that ties him to the Gilgo Beach murders is the fact that the daughter of Rita Tangredi, one of the women he murdered, was best friends with Gilgo Beach victim Melissa Barthelemy. Bittrolff worked as a carpenter and was known to have enjoyed hunting and killing animals.
Unearth more facts from the Lost Girls true story by watching the videos below, including an interview with Shannan's mother, Mari Gilbert. Also view a Dr. Peter Hackett interview.