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The True Story Behind Netflix's 'Lost Girls' Is Seriously Disturbing

The True Story Behind Netflix's 'Lost Girls' Is Seriously Disturbing

Lost Girls landed on Netflix last week and the true story behind it is truly disturbing.

The film, directed by Liz Garbus, is all about the Long Island Serial Killer, who is estimated to have killed at least 10 people, possibly as many as 20.

It is based on the 2013 book Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker, a journalist who used to work at New York magazine, which covered the case at the time.

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He interviewed the families of five of the women who were killed. But while Robert interviewed family members of five sex workers who were killed, his book focuses mainly on one: aspiring actor Shannan Gilbert.

Shannan, who was 24 when she went missing on 1st May 2010, was working as a prostitute at the time, as were many of the women who were killed. Shannan went missing after meeting a client.

Because of her job and background, her mum Mari Gilbert, felt that police weren't taking Shannan's case seriously.

Mari Gilbert is played by Amy Ryan (Credit: Netflix)
Mari Gilbert is played by Amy Ryan (Credit: Netflix)
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Shannan's body was found in December 2011, three miles away from the location of four other bodies found along Ocean Parkway in Suffolk County, US, thought to have been left by the Long Island Serial Killer and yet police insisted her case was not linked.

Because her body was found in marshland, law enforcement suggested she'd drowned.

Mari felt differently and very strongly about how Shannan and the other girls who'd worked in the sex industry were being treated by police and press.

The film from Netflix Originals tells Shannan's story and Mari's fight for all the women killed and explores the attitudes of officers at the time towards those working in the sex industry.

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Mari Gilbert's fight for these women brought the community together (Credit: Netflix)
Mari Gilbert's fight for these women brought the community together (Credit: Netflix)

Director Liz told TIME: "It's a story about believing women, about the power of community and family.

"And it's a story about the value of human life, and the judgments that our system puts into the lives."

Of course, it won't detail every single moment in huge detail. Liz told Decider: "When you're making a 100-minute film, you compress things. But you have a north star which is your understanding of the characters of the story, and you use that north star to guide you through those decisions."

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But while the story itself may have been edited and changed for screen, the basis of the case is still in tact and is the reason it's so hard-hitting. And that is, not only has the murderer still never been identified, but the attitudes of the police at the time towards some of the women killed because of their circumstances.

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​New True-Crime 'Lost Girls' Is On Its Way To Netflix


Thomasin McKenzie, Oona Laurence, Sarah Wisser also star in 'Lost Girls' (Credit: Netflix)
Thomasin McKenzie, Oona Laurence, Sarah Wisser also star in 'Lost Girls' (Credit: Netflix)

And it's already receiving strong reactions on Twitter.

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One said: "I just watched Lost Girls on Netflix and I'm at a lost for words.."

A second added: "Watched 'Lost Girls' on Netflix. Genuinely shocked. Still no official arrests or closure either?"

Another penned: "Yall NEED to watch the movie lost girls on netflix. it just goes to show that police are seriously biased when it comes to situations and that they do not take certain cases serious. i truly feel for the mother of shannan gilbert."

A fourth explained it's ideal for true crime fans: "10/10 recommend watching Lost Girls on Netflix if you're into crime junkie it's based of the L.I.S.K killer / Shannon Gilbert".

Another social media user, who added she's a sister of one of the victims, took to Twitter to say she's pleased the film has been made.

She said: "I'm so glad Netflix's Lost Girls is about the unsolved Long Island serial murders; my childhood sister is one of the victims and I hope this sheds some light for new information. Megan you are forever missed".

We hope for these women that more information is brought to light too, because it is shocking that justice has still not been served.

The story doesn't end there though either, because in a tragic twist, in 2016, Mari's other daughter Sarra stabbed her to death. Sarra has since been convicted of murder in the second degree.

The real life Mari Gilbert ended up being murdered in 2016 by her daughter Sarra (Credit: Netflix)
The real life Mari Gilbert ended up being murdered in 2016 by her daughter Sarra (Credit: Netflix)

Reports suggest that Mari, Shannan and Sarra all suffered from mental health issues.

It's a heartbreaking tale that highlights once again prejudices against women as well as their backgrounds.

Lost Girls is available to watch on Netflix now.

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Topics: TV and Film, Netflix

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Lauren Bell

A freelance journalist at Tyla with an interest in health and fitness, travel and lifestyle topics, as well as highlighting issues for women. She graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2011 with a BA Honours Journalism degree and ever since has written for various platforms, including Mail Online, The Sun, that's life magazine and b-inspired magazine.