Cause of Death for Shannan Gilbert Ruled Inconclusiveon May 2, 2012 in Unsubs by Brian Combs
The Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Tuesday that Shannan Gilbert’s cause of death as inconclusive. As a result, the homicide investigation officially remains open.
The investigators’ leading theory, at least publicly, is that she accidentally drowned after running into a quicksand-like marsh in a panic.
Shannan’s family continues to reject that theory, and believe that she was killed by a serial killer related to the ten victims who were found several miles away.
If she did die by accidental drowning, it’s unlikely that any signs of cause of death would be detectable on a body that had laid in a marsh for so long.
On the other hand, a violent death is much more likely to leave marks on bone.
This isn’t to say she couldn’t have been murdered, but Occam’s Razor still points towards an accidental death.
The Long Island Press article on the finding has an illustrative Google Maps image showing Joseph Brewer’s house (the john who hired her the evening she disappeared, the last place she was seen alive, the location where her personal effects were found, and the location where her body was found.
I had heard that there was considerable separation between her personal effects and her body, and the map makes this clear. The accidental drowning theory can’t explain this, of course.
But the serial killer theory doesn’t explain how she was dragged several hundred yards through a swamp. One can only assume that after dropping her clothes and personal effects, she wouldn’t have been going with the unsub willingly.
In addition, if she was murdered, it’s difficult to see how Joseph Brewer wasn’t involved in some way. If, by extension, he was involved in the death of the other ten people, one would think a connection would have been made by now.
Unfortunately, if she did drown accidentally, it’s unlikely that it’s ever going to be proven to the satisfaction of her family (or some of the public). Unless she was murdered, no additional evidence is likely to be found.