|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 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. Like the character portrayed by Amy Ryan, Mari got to know the family members of the other victims. She indeed participated in a vigil at Oak Beach with them. It's also true that she at first felt superior to them, mostly because she believed that Shannan was still alive and wasn't like the other girls. She believed that Shannan would have fought back and shouldn't be labeled a victim. It seems that Mari's relationship with the women was a little more unstable at times in real life. However, she did start a Facebook page for them to communicate and support one another. Several of the family members of the victims are depicted in the movie, including Lorraine, Missy, Lynn, and Kim.
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
The movie only lightly touches on Sarra Gilbert's mental instability, showing her mother giving her medication. Author Robert Kolker, who wrote the book Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery on which the movie is based, explained that Sarra had been coping with her own issues for some time. According to Kolker, Sarra had been molested by her mother's boyfriend, later had an abortion when she was 14, dropped out of school at age 16, and then had a baby with a drug-dealing boyfriend who was older. Her boyfriend was abusive and Sarra at least once ended up in a shelter for victims of domestic violence. She counted heavily on Mari for help, both for emotional support and to help take care of the baby. When police discovered Shannan's body in 2011, Sarra was unable to handle it and started to behave erratically.
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.