Mari Gilbert, 52, who had led an aggressive effort to find the killer of Shannan Gilbert, whose body was found in 2011, was found dead Saturday morning in an Ellenville, Ulster County, apartment belonging to her younger daughter, Sarra.
“She’s a real symbol of what’s right about motherhood. It’s the ultimate horror of your own child putting you to death,” an attorney for the Gilbert family, John Ray, told the Daily News.
Ray said Sarra Gilbert, 27, is “an extreme schizophrenic” who heard voices telling her to carry out the bloodshed. “She’s a very sick, sick woman,” Ray said. “There’s something wrong with her. She’s not all there.”
Sarra Gilbert asked her mother to her apartment Saturday morning and repeatedly slashed her with a knife, Ray said. When police arrived, the daughter still had the murder weapon.
She has been charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon and is being held without bail.
The Gilbert family believes 24-year-old Shannan, a Craigslist escort living in Jersey City, was the victim of a serial killer. She vanished in May 2010 after leaving the Oak Beach, L.I., home of a client, near the stretch where 10 bodies were found.
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A search for her remains in December 2011 led police to the grisly discovery of the 10 other victims, including several sex workers, the toddler child of one of the slain women and a man dressed in women’s clothing.
The murders shook the New York area and have confounded investigators, who have yet to identify any suspects for the serial killings.
Suffolk County police never officially linked Shannan Gilbert’s death to the serial murderer and initially reported she had drowned.
Mari Gilbert had long said her daughter’s death was due to foul play and called for the FBI to take over the local investigation.
Fund for burial of woman found dead on Long Island in 2011
The Gilbert family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Dr. Peter Hackett, the last person to see Shannan Gilbert alive, and the Oak Beach neighbor of the client she visited the night of her death. The lawsuit alleges Hackett failed to get help for the distraught woman when she banged on his door pleading for him to call 911.
A motion to dismiss the lawsuit was filed Tuesday, just days before Mari Gilbert died.
“She continued to pursue justice for her daughter until her death,” Ray said.
A Suffolk County medical examiner conducted an independent autopsy in February at Ray’s request and found Shannan Gilbert’s death was “consistent with homicidal strangulation.”