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The legacy of Barack Obama

The legacy of Barack Obama

Obama’s eight-year presidency envisioned as a 16-episode TV series.

Photo Credit: AP / Susan Walsh

A Euphoric Beginning

Episode 1: 2008

A young senator from Illinois sweeps to a resounding victory, inspiring millions while becoming the first African-American …

… to be elected president of the United States. He brings hope and the promise of a new day in politics to Washington — while preparing to take office during troubled economic times.

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Joe Raedle
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Mantle of Power

Episode 2: 2009

The president soars into office before more than a million cheering Americans at his inauguration, but he is enmeshed …

… in two wars and the “gathering clouds and raging storms” of an economy teetering on the brink of another Great Depression. In his first 100 days he fights to push through a massive stimulus bill and is forced to choose between an expensive and unpopular bailout or letting two giant companies and more than a million jobs potentially vanish. His high-powered wife looks for a cause to champion while their two young children settle into a new school — and pick a White House dog.

Photo Credit: AP / Elise Amendola
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All in on health care

Episode 3: 2009 – 2010

Reeling Republicans unite against Obama, leading him to abandon a key campaign promise to be bipartisan to muscle through his health care overhaul. On foreign policy, Obama — who earlier became the first sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years to win the Nobel Peace Prize — makes a nuclear arms deal with Russia and holds a summit on decreasing nuclear materials.

Photo Credit: AP / Charles Dharapak

The ‘shellacking’

Episode 4: 2010

With the economy in doldrums and nearly 10 percent of the country out of work, anger about the rising tide of debt and big government health care coalesces into a tea party wave that propels a GOP takeover of the House in the midterm elections. A somber Obama ruefully calls the election “a shellacking” and scrambles with his advisers to decide what to do next.

Photo Credit: AP / Charles Dharapak

‘Minutes passed like days’

Episode 5: May 1, 2011

Obama secretly has to make one of his biggest decisions in office. Should he send Navy SEAL Team Six on a risky mission to take out Osama bin Laden? As the president and his advisers watch the consequences of his choice unfold in real time from the Situation Room, “the minutes passed like days.” Obama makes a dramatic nighttime announcement from the White House.

Photo Credit: AP / The White House / Pete Souza

The president’s picks

Episode 6: 2012

Some of the presidency is actually fun and games. Obama decompresses by proclaiming his picks for his annual NCAA Tournament bracket. He welcomes a key foreign ally, scarfing down hot dogs at a tournament game — while squeezing in a visit to a swing state he’ll need in the upcoming election.

Photo Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster

A new rival rises

Episode 7: 2012

Obama and the nation watch live as reporters rush to relay the Supreme Court’s verdict on the constitutionality of his Affordable Care Act, handing the president a major victory. He spends his summer kicking his re-election campaign into high gear as GOP rival Mitt Romney attacks his policies and argues he’d be a better leader for America.

Photo Credit: AP / Charles Dharapak


Episode 8: September 2012

The president is told the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans have been killed in Benghazi. The administration initially calls it a spontaneous street protest, but it is later found to be a premeditated attack by Islamic extremists — a mistake that engulfs Obama in political turmoil as he’s forced to answer charges he’s weak on terrorism.

Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images

What just happened?

Episode 9: Oct. 3, 2012

A rusty Obama prepares for a prime-time showdown with Romney that’s his first debate in four years. The results shock his advisers, as the polls dramatically tighten and his re-election suddenly appears in jeopardy. Can he summon a comeback?

Photo Credit: AP / Charlie Neibergall


Episode 10: Nov. 6-7, 2012

A nail-biting election goes late into the night. The president, who found his footing in the last two debates, tells the American people “we have fought our way back” and that the country’s “best is yet to come.” He and Michelle Obama look back at the past four years — as the first dad tells Ryan Seacrest their daughters will be allowed to date during his second term.

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Scott Olson

Trayvon ‘could have been me’

Episode 11: July 19, 2013

Obama makes a rare public reflection on race after a high-profile acquittal in the shooting death of a Florida teen. “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Obama says. “There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store,” he says. “That includes me.”

Photo Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster

4th-quarter points

Episode 12: 2014 – 2015

Democrats lose the Senate in the midterm elections and Obama prepares to go it alone in the “fourth quarter” of his presidency. In a flurry of executive actions and foreign policy maneuvers he tries to forestall the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, restore diplomatic relations with Cuba and reach a nuclear deal with Iran.

Photo Credit: EPA / Jim Bourg

Twin threats

Episode 13: 2015

Shortly after Obama and more than 150 world leaders meet in Paris to try to hammer out a climate deal, he’s forced to turn his attention back to the immediate threat of terrorism as an attack in San Bernardino, Calif., leaves 14 dead. He prepares to address the nation from the Oval Office.

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kevin Frayer

Powerless on guns

Episode 14: Jan. 5, 2016

The president is often called the most powerful man in the world.

But he can never get Congress to act on gun control, even as one mass shooting after another — with victims ranging from school kids to veteran police officers — happens during his tenure. More than three years after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Obama hosts an event at the White House on gun violence and sheds rare public tears. “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” he says. The NRA slams his latest plan as “ripe for abuse.”

Photo Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster
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Challenge to his legacy

Episode 15: 2016

His approval ratings surge and the unemployment rate drops, but voters reject his chosen successor and turn …

… to Donald Trump, a man who’s his polar opposite in policy and temperament, leaving his legacy in jeopardy. The president pushes himself and his staff to the finish line, fighting a losing battle with Republicans over a Supreme Court nominee and trying to prevent Obamacare from being dismantled — while facing challenges from Russia, terrorists, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the waning days.

Photo Credit: AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais
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An end and a beginning

Episode 16: 2017

Obama’s presidency comes to a close, but this is not the end for him and Michelle.

Though cornerstones of his policy record hang in the balance and his political legacy is still to be determined, his place in American history is firmly cemented and they vow to remain actively engaged. Obama is only 55 and Michelle a few years younger — with much of their story still left to be written.

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Aude Guerrucci
Read more


35 images from Obama’s presidency to remember

See memorable and unforgettable images from the Obama presidency.

Obama pop culture moments: Like, dislike or don’t care?

Obama has been more comfortable in a wider variety of pop culture settings than perhaps any of his predecessors.

What will you remember most about President Obama?

Share your thoughts about President Obama on our reader interactive.

Our most memorable Obama covers

Forty of Newsday’s most memorable covers on Barack Obama as a presidential candidate and president.

A guide to spotting fake news

In mid-October, Eric Trump tweeted an article about a man who claimed the Clinton campaign paid him to protest at a rally for Donald Trump in Arizona. The article was from the website “” – with “ABC News” displayed prominently on its homepage.

But ABC News did not report that story. The story shared by Eric Trump to his more than 600,000 Twitter followers was false, and from a known fake-news website.

Incidents like these have become more commonplace, according to Richard Hornik, a lecturer at Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy. With so much information available to readers online, it’s now more difficult than ever to discern what’s reliable and what isn’t.

“The internet and social media has given everyone the capability to publish information,” Hornik said. “That’s empowered a lot of people, but that also carries with it great problems, and those problems have become more prevalent especially in the most recent election.”

Keep scrolling for advice on spotting fake or unreliable news sources. Clicking on the dots will reveal tips related to actual fake stories found on websites and social media.

1Watch out for websites that end in “” as they are often fake versions of real news sources. In this example, the entire site is branded as ABC News, a real news agency, but the URL is different.

2Check the “About Us” tab on websites for more information about the source. The contact page on this site shows a small building in Kansas and a description about the site and its founder uses language that would not be published by a veritable news organization.

3If a story makes you “really angry,” that can be a tactic used by a fake news organization to generate shares and ad revenue, wrote Melissa Zimdars, an associate professor of communications at Merrimack College.

Check your biases

“Most of us would prefer to look at news that confirms something we already believe,” Hornik said.
That’s what makes getting information strictly from your social media feeds so perilous, he added. On Facebook you’re more likely to see posts and updates from likeminded people, creating an “echo chamber” in which most of the information shared and discussed is ideologically congruent with your beliefs, Hornik said.

To escape the echo chamber, experts recommend consuming information from a diverse array of sources.

“It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames,” Melissa Zimdars, an associate professor of communications at Merrimack College, wrote in a widely circulated list of unreliable media sources to avoid.

The image below is a screenshot of the fake story on Trump protesters from

1If you’re skeptical of a story, try looking up someone quoted in the story. Not everyone is listed publicly, but most people have some kind of information about themselves on the internet. If you search for Paul Horner, of Arizona, it’s instantly clear that he’s actually a writer of fake news and not a legitimate source for this story.

2Be cognizant of opinions that are presented as facts. Even if an opinion appears as a quote, it should be supported by facts in the article.

3If an image is the evidence on which an entire story is based, you can often verify whether it is fake through programs like Google Image search and

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

“If something seems too weird, too funny, too perfect, take a step back and ask yourself could this really be right?” Hornik said, referring to a doctored picture of what appeared to be sharks swimming in the New York Stock Exchange that went viral after superstorm Sandy hit.

If you come across something that could be a hoax, Hornik suggests utilizing fact-checking websites like Politifact or Snopes, a site that recently tracked down the source of a rumor that 3 million noncitizens voted illegally during the election.

There are also several websites that can help you determine if an image is fake, such as Google Image search and

1If you only like Facebook pages that are in line with your views or only follow likeminded people, that creates a Facebook “echo chamber,” in which you’re missing out on alternative perspectives.

2Language like “shocking” and “unprecedented” should make you take a more critical look at the facts of the story and the trustworthiness of the publication. Some fake websites use “distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits,” Zimdars wrote.

3Remember that when you spot something that has been shared on social media, you need to analyze both sources — the person or group that shared and the publisher.

4Just because something has been shared thousands of times does not make it true. Hornik also warns about stories that show up at the top of search engine results — the ranking does not equate to reliability.

“Rank does not equal reliability”

Even though a story may appear high in a list of Google search results, it may not be a dependable source, Hornik said.

For instance, Hornik notes that the sixth result in a Google search of “Martin Luther King Jr.” is a website whose homepage links to stories such as “Why the King Holiday Should be Repealed!” and “Black Invention Myths.”

The site is hosted by Stormfront, a white supremacist group.

“Don’t trust information from strangers”

If you see a questionable news story or headline, experts recommend checking out the social media accounts or websites that posted the information, and see whether there’s a listed author.

Check the “About Us” tab on suspect websites, do a quick Wikipedia search, or search on

“If information is reliable, it shouldn’t be difficult to figure out who the author is. As I always tell my students, ‘Children are always told not to take candy from strangers, and you shouldn’t take information from strangers,’”Hornik said.

1Sites with reputable-sounding names can still post misleading headlines and stories, even alongside real news. Make sure to compare stories from very left- or right-leaning websites and blogs with other well-known news sources.

2Look for the name of the story’s author. “Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification,” Zimdars wrote.

3If a story is based on reporting by another news source, click on the link to that story. Check to see how well the two stories – and their headlines – line up.

Was that photo taken out of context?

Reporting real photos and videos out of context has become common practice for some hyperpartisan websites, Hornik notes.

In April, Occupy Democrats posted a video that allegedly showed police in North Carolina removing a woman from a bathroom for not looking feminine enough. The post went viral during the “bathroom bill” controversy, which aimed to block transgender individuals from using the public bathrooms of the sex with which they identify.

But found the same video was posted to Facebook in 2015, and there was no evidence that it was shot in North Carolina.

1A quick way to fact check stories that are based on photos or videos is to check for dates, said Hornik, who added that hoax sites commonly recycle old photos and present them out of context. In this video, the recycled footage of a woman being thrown out of a bathroom is not dated and turned out to be old.

Meet your new PSEG bill

Hundreds of thousands of electric customers this week have begun receiving newly designed PSEG Long Island bills as the company works to address a major complaint that old bills were difficult to read and understand. Click on the numbered points below for more information about the changes.

Front of bill

1Amount dueThe amount due is bigger and highlighted in orange three times on the front and back of the bill. The pay by date is also featured in the orange box, slightly higher than it appeared on the old design.

2Account summaryInformation about current charges and billing period are featured higher on the page.

3Your energy usageThe new bill offers a more in-depth look at a customer’s energy use, including current and historical energy use, and details like the average daily temperature.

4ContactsThe list of contact numbers is more specific so customers can find the department they need.

5Pay stubThe pay stub is now located at the bottom of the page instead of the top. The new pay stub includes detailed information about payment options.

Back of bill

6More detailsCharges are broken into three sections with definitions located directly under each charge as well as percentages representing each segment.

7DefinitionsThe bill definition box explains energy-related terms and the reasons for taxes and adjustments.

Chris Weidman. The fighter and the father


Chris Weidman The fighter and the father

Explore the professional and personal lives of the former UFC champion from Long Island through this parallel video experience ahead of his title shot at UFC 199 against Luke Rockhold on June 4 in Los Angeles.

Fighternow playing

Swap Video

Father now playing

Credits: Jeffrey Basinger, Anthony Carrozzo, Matthew Cassella, Robert Cassidy, Mark La Monica, TC McCarthy, Arnold Miller

The Perfect Workout

Dreaming of getting picture-perfect arms or iconic six-pack abs? With the help of fitness specialist Brian Dessart, we’ve selected a core group of exercises that target six key muscle groups and enlisted WWE wrestler Zack Ryder to show the proper technique for performing each move. Use these exercises to build your perfect workout plan.

Gilgo Beach murders

On Dec. 11, 2010, a Suffolk police officer and cadaver dog were conducting a routine exercise and searching for a missing person, Shannan Gilbert, when they found a woman’s body several feet north of Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach.

Two days later, police found another.

And another.

And another.

By April 2011, authorities had found a total of 10 sets of remains in the area.

Gilbert’s body was found in December 2011. Though her disappearance prompted the initial search, police said Gilbert’s cause of death was undetermined and not tied to the other bodies.

The discovery of the initial four Gilgo Beach bodies sparked a massive inter-agency search that spanned several miles. FBI profilers based out of the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the bureau’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime in Quantico, Virginia assisted Suffolk police in coming up with a possible profile of the killer.

A law enforcement source who is familiar with the case but asked not to be identified said when Suffolk investigators met with them, the group theorized that the killer is perhaps a white male who has a family.

The investigation has endured as one of the most high-profile cases on Long Island and has been the subject of a novel, a true-crime thriller and a “48 Hours” investigation.

Still, it remains unsolved.

Authorities have released very few — if any — new details in the case in recent years, and the families of the women found there have grown frustrated with the lack of new information.

A day before the fifth anniversary of the discovery of the first body, police announced the FBI will take a more prominent role in the homicide investigation to take a “fresh look” at the case.

“Anniversaries create opportunities,” Deputy Police Commissioner Timothy Sini. “We’re here today because we think it’s important to let the public know we are doing everything we can to solve these murders.”

Complete coverage

Why is Gilgo so challenging?

Differing theories, rough terrain

It has been…

0 days

since the first body was found by Ocean Parkway at Gilgo Beach.

Rough terrain slows investigation

The weed- and garbage-choked terrain complicated police officers’ search for the victims.

Officers had to use ladder trucks to peer down over the area, dense with bramble and brush. With such limited visibility on foot, a searcher who was already having trouble finding a clear spot to place his boot would have to all but stumble on a body in order to discover it.

The area where the remains were found not only made it difficult for humans but frustrated the Suffolk Police Department’s cadaver dogs as well.

“They don’t like getting smacked in the face with the bramble,” then-Suffolk Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone said in April 2011. “We learned from that that we can’t rely entirely on the dogs.”

Scattered remains found over time

Officers did not find all of the remains in one area. Police first discovered the remains of four women in December 2010.

Two victims’ torsos were found in Manorville in the early 2000s. Authorities later found one of the women’s head, hands and forearm and the other woman’s head, hands and right foot along Ocean Parkway in 2011.

A third woman’s legs were found on Fire Island in 1996 and her skull was located near Jones Beach on April 11, 2011.

DNA analysis was delayed at first as numerous tests were needed because the human remains were incomplete and potentially combined, Varrone said in May 2011.

And the longer the case goes unsolved, the harder it is for detectives to connect all the dots and find one, or more, killers.

“Time does complicate things,” Vernon Geberth, an expert homicide investigator retired from the NYPD, said in May 2011. “People’s memories fade, relationships fade and in this case you now have to get back to gals murdered… and find out who knew them and what other clues were there that might have been missed.”

Disagreement over the number of killers

Just before then-Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer left office in December 2011, he and Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota presented contradictory theories at a legislative session about the number of serial killers in the Gilgo case.

Dormer reiterated his theory about a single serial killer and Spota openly criticized him, standing by his theory that there were at least three killers.

Dormer left the hearing before Spota spoke, and would not comment afterwards.

But days later, Spota had a lot to say about Dormer:

“Surely the homicide detectives and the prosecutors are going to be challenged by any decent… defense attorney,” he said. “That’s why we try to keep these theories to ourselves.”

After the hearing, newly elected Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said he would move to quickly stabilize a police department that had become, “in some ways, dysfunctional.” He named Edward Webber, Suffolk police’s chief of support services, as interim police commissioner effective Jan. 1, 2012.

“If you have the most high-profile case the department has had to deal with in years, maybe ever, and the district attorney’s office and the police department are not effectively working together on that, what’s happening with all the other cases that don’t get any media attention, that are just below the surface, but affect real people?” Bellone said at the time.

At a December 2015 press conference, police would not address questions about serial killer theories.

Listen: Officials talk about conflicting theories

Richard Dormer Ex-Police Chief

Thomas Spota District Attorney

Steve Bellone County Executive

Who were the victims?

8 women, 1 man, 1 toddler

Ten sets of remains were found at Gilgo Beach between December 2010 and April 2011, including eight women, one man and one toddler.

Police and family have said the five women who were identified had worked as prostitutes.

The other three women, the man and toddler were never identified.

Melissa Barthelemy

Melissa Barthelemy, 24, worked as a hairdresser in Buffalo before moving to New York City in 2007, where she rented a basement apartment in the Bronx. She later advertised her services as an escort.

The western New York woman was last seen alive July 12, 2009, around the time her regular calls to family members abruptly ceased.

After her disappearance, an unidentified man police believe was involved in Barthelemy’s death, used her cell phone on six occasions to call her sister, a family friend told the media in 2011.

The suspect disparaged Melissa Barthelemy in those calls, at one point calling her “a whore,” a law enforcement source told Newsday.

Her body was the first found along Ocean Parkway on Dec. 11, 2010 during the search for Shannan Gilbert.

Melissa was wonderful, she was the light of my life. Barthelemy’s father, Mark Szpila

Megan Waterman

After dropping out of high school, Megan Waterman worked in delis and sandwich shops, her mother said. She met Akeem Cruz at a dance club in Portland, Maine, in the spring of 2009 and they dated.

A few months later, Megan began working as a prostitute, her mother said.

She was last seen leaving a Hauppauge hotel on June 6, 2010 after traveling to Long Island with boyfriend Cruz, who also acted as her pimp, police said.

Her body was among the three sets of remains found on Dec. 13, 2010.

Waterman, 22, of Scarborough, Maine, had a young daughter. Just days before her disappearance, Waterman said Cruz wanted her to stop working as a prostitute and the two would start a family, according to Waterman’s best friend.

Megan was a loving daughter… She would do anything. She’d give the last penny in her pocket to somebody if they wanted it. Lorraine Ela, Megan Waterman’s mother

Amber Lynn Costello

Amber Lynn Costello grew up quickly – marrying and divorcing twice by the time she was 27. She developed a drug habit early in life, according to her ex-husbands.

Costello grew up in North Carolina, in Rocky Point and Wilmington. She married her first husband Michael Wilhelm after they met at a local beach – a whirlwind romance, he said, that soured when he discovered her heroin addiction.

Sometime after she divorced her second husband, Don Costello, Amber Lynn Costello moved to Long Island. Her sister, Kimberly Overstreet, lived in Lindenhurst.

She was last seen alive on Sept. 2, 2010 in North Babylon, where she rented an apartment.

Her body was among those found on Dec. 13, 2010.

When her soul left this earth, mine shattered. I’m trying to pick up the pieces. Kimberly Overstreet, Costello’s older sister

Maureen Brainard-Barnes

Maureen Brainard-Barnes was named after her grandmother.

“She was very outgoing. She had so much energy,” said Sarah Marquis, a friend from Groton, Connecticut.

She grew up in Groton and attended Fitch High School.

Brainard-Barnes, 25, of Norwich, Connecticut, was last seen alive in Manhattan on July 9, 2007, police said. Her family suspected she was dead when she didn’t show up for her brother’s funeral, friend Sarah Marquis said.

Brainard-Barnes had a young son, Dylan, Marquis said. She also had a daughter, Nicolette. The children lived with their fathers.

She wasn’t found until Dec. 13, 2010 when police located her remains by Ocean Parkway.

Police believe the killer left her body in Gilgo Beach shortly after she disappeared.

Brainard-Barnes was trusting, ‘thinking she was kind of cool with everyone. That would be why… she could get hurt.’ friend Sarah Marquis

Jessica Taylor

Jessica Taylor came from a small town in upstate New York and was estranged from her family. She had been arrested on prostitution charges in Washington, Atlantic City and New York City.

She was just 20 years old, had a tattoo on her back, wore hoop earrings and had moved on to Washington, D.C., after her release from a Rikers Island jail. But then she returned.

On July 26, 2003, days after she was seen working as a prostitute on the streets near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, her nude torso was found in the woods in Manorville, near the Long Island Expressway.

A woman walking her dog came across Taylor’s butchered remains on a pile of branches.

Then on March 29, 2011, her head, hands and forearm were discovered in the brush along Ocean Parkway, about a mile east of where the original Gilgo bodies were found.

Unidentified man

An unidentified Asian male, 17 to 23 years old and 5 feet, 6 inches tall, with close-cropped hair was found just east of the original bodies on April 4, 2011.

Police said the man was missing top and bottom molars and a front upper tooth. He was dressed in women’s clothing and was dead five to 10 years, police said.

Unidentified woman

After an unidentified white woman’s torso was found in the woods in Manorville in 2000, police discovered her head, hands and right foot on April 4, 2011 near Cedar Beach.

Police say the woman — 18 to 35 years old, 5 feet, 2 inches tall, with straight, shoulder-length hair, high cheekbones and a prominent jawline — may have worked as a prostitute in New York City in late summer or fall of 2000.

Authorities think her killing may be related to that of Jessica Taylor.

Unidentified woman

An unidentified woman’s remains turned up 15 years and more than 20 miles apart along Ocean Parkway.

Her legs were found on Fire Island in 1996 and her skull was located near Jones Beach on April 11, 2011.

Unidentified woman and toddler

A female, non-Caucasian toddler thought to be 16 to 32 months old, who was found April 4, 2011 is a relative of another woman. A bag of that woman’s remains was found 7 miles away on April 11, 2011, near Jones Beach.

Police have said it is likely they were mother and child.

How does Shannan Gilbert fit into this?

The search that started it all

“The very last thing I said to her was: ‘I love you. Be safe,’ ” Shannan Gilbert’s mother, Mari Gilbert, said. “And, she said, ‘I am always safe, Mommy.’ And that was the last time we talked.”

Shannan Gilbert, who worked as a prostitute, was summoned via a Craigslist ad to the Oak Beach home of Joseph Brewer where she made a frantic early-morning 911 call, police say.

She then pounded on the door of Dr. C. Peter Hackett, the last person known to have seen Gilbert, 24, alive before she apparently ran into the nearby marsh on May 1, 2010 and vanished.

Neither Hackett nor Brewer are suspects in the Gilbert case.

Under mounting pressure from Gilbert’s family, the Jersey City woman’s disappearance launched the search that uncovered 10 sets of human remains between December 2010 and April 2011.

“I believe that Shannan had a destiny and God used her as a vessel to sacrifice her life so that others can be found,” Mari Gilbert said.

It was announced on Dec. 13, 2011 — a year to the day after the discovery of three sets of remains at Gilgo Beach — that Shannan Gilbert’s body had been found.

While her cause of death was undetermined, authorities have theorized that she accidentally drowned in the marsh.

They say her case is not connected to the deaths of the 10 other victims.

Mari Gilbert contests those conclusions. She’s been highly critical of the Suffolk County Police Department and even filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hackett, which was later mostly dismissed.

She says she’s still looking for answers today just like she was the day after her daughter went missing, and she has to balance that search with the rest of daily life, including her job and her other children.

“I feel like I’m frozen in time,” Mari Gilbert said. “I feel like I’m two different people.”

She says those two sides of her won’t be reconciled until there’s justice, and encourages anyone with information about the case to come forward.

“If anyone knows anything, you just gotta tell somebody,” Mari Gilbert said. “You have to tell someone.”

What happens next?

Change at the SCPD

While the future of the Gilgo Beach serial killings case is uncertain, the investigation will be the responsibility of a dramatically different Suffolk County Police Department.

James Burke resigned as Suffolk Chief of Department in October. He was indicted in December 2015 on federal charges of assaulting a handcuffed suspect and then conspiring to cover up the incident. The department also lost its commissioner, chief of detectives and two criminal intelligence officers to retirements and resignations.

The man poised to become the new police commissioner, Timothy Sini, is one of Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone’s assistant deputy county executives and a former federal prosecutor who specialized in cold case murders.

At a December 2015 press conference the day before the fifth anniversary of the discovery of the first body, Sini said the police department requested federal investigators “take a more active and prominent role.”

He declined to comment on specific details of the case or disclose any recent developments, but he said that the investigation into the murders remained active.

“As we approach the anniversary, on behalf of the Suffolk Police Department, I want to convey to loved ones and the families of the victims that we are dedicated to do whatever we can to solve this case,” Sini said. “Rest assured, this case remains active.”

But new information has been too slow to come for some of the family members of the Gilgo Beach victims.

Lorraine Ela, mother of Megan Waterman, says the police have not been responsive to her requests for updates on her daughter’s case in recent years.

“The answer is always, ‘Can’t tell you nothing. Can’t tell you nothing,’” she said. “We don’t want to hear ‘We can’t tell you nothing,’ anymore.”

Interactive Editor: Mandy Hofmockel | User Experience: Anthony Carrozzo, Matthew Cassella | Developers: Anja Kastl, TC McCarthy | Producer: Saba Ali | Additional reporting: Newsday Staff | Multimedia Production: Newsday Multimedia Staff | Editor: Tim Drachlis | Copy Editor: Caryn Eve Murray | Photo Editor: Oswaldo Jimenez


Big hits and crushing tackles have become synonymous with football throughout the game’s history. However, concussions and potential long-lasting injuries have become more noticeable as players get faster and stronger.

According to Newsday, there were 364 reported occasions among 104 schools last year in which a football player was removed from a practice or game because of a suspected head injury. As additional research brings the dangers of head injuries to light, coaches and players are doing what they can to keep everyone informed and safe.