Mother of Princeton-graduate accused of shooting dead his own father to testify against her son

The mother of a Princeton-graduate accused of shooting dead his millionaire hedge fund boss father will testify against her son, it has been revealed.

Shelley Gilbert told police about her suspicions of son Thomas Gilbert Jr just moments after discovering her husband Thomas Sr shot dead in their Manhattan apartment.

Police say that Gilbert Jr staged the scene of his father’s shooting in an attempt to make it look like a suicide – but his mother allegedly had no doubt that it was murder.

On the day of the killing in January 2015, Shelley Gilbert went to pick up a sandwich for her son at his insistence and returned to find her husband shot dead in their bedroom at the family’s $6,000-a-month rented apartment in Turtle Bay.

Prosecutors say Gilbert Jr was agitated at his hedge fund boss father for cutting his weekly allowance from $600 to $400 and for stopping paying the rent on his $2,400-a-month Chelsea apartment. 

Mrs Gilbert told the New York Post that she has to testify against her son as ‘it was obvious he’d done it’.

She said: ‘I don’t have any choice. You have to do it. It was obvious he’d done it. There was no one else around. Most trials you have to prove who did it. That’s not true of this one. What’s cruel is I have to relive it on the stand.’

While Gilbert Sr was believed to be worth as much as $200 million at the time of his death, court documents revealed he had less than $10,000 in stocks and bonds, under $20,000 in cash and retirement accounts, and some $500,000 in ‘miscellaneous’ assets.

After police had arrived at the scene of the murder, Gilbert Jr called his mother and casually suggested that ‘they get a bite to eat’.  

Gilbert Jr eventually returned to his Chelsea apartment, where he barricaded himself inside until he was later arrested by cops. 

Mrs Gilbet said she believes her son is suffering from a mental illness, has delusions claiming he is being poisoned by radioactive fallout at Rikers Island and even on one occasion ate a battery.

She told the Post: ‘Tommy, you’re far sicker than we ever knew. That wasn’t Tommy. He was always a rational thinker. He’s not an evil person.’

Gilbert Sr was once a successful Wall Street man who lived in an Upper East Side brownstone but after a bid to start his own hedge fund failed, he was forced to sell the home and start renting a Beekman Place apartment.

The family rented out a home in the Hamptons they had owned, where Gilbert Sr had been a member of the tony Maidstone Club. 

Gilbert Jr – known as Tommy – meanwhile was not working, despite an economics degree from Princeton, and relied on his father to cover the $2,400 rent on his Chelsea apartment as well as a weekly $600 allowance. 

Mrs Gilbert went on to say she thinks her son should get mental health treatment rather than a possible life sentence if he is convicted.

She told the Post: ‘He doesn’t belong in jail, he belongs in a hospital. There’s no value in sending him upstate. 

‘He’s a sick person, who needs to be in a hospital. It’s what my husband would have wanted for him if he was still here.’

At a hearing in October 2017, which was to establish probable cause in Gilbert Jr’s arrest, Detective Cirigliano testified about accompanying Shelly Gilbert to tell her daughter Claire about the shooting.

Claire was attending Mass at a nearby church. ‘Mrs. Gilbert told Claire, ‘Dad’s dead and Tommy shot him’,’ Cirigliano said.

Claire ‘let out a cry which stopped the entire Mass,’ the detective recalled.  

Before Princeton, he went to Deerfield for boarding school and the all-boys, exclusive Manhattan day school Buckley before that. 

A judge had previously rejected Gilbert Jr’s lawyer’s plea for insanity, after he said his client had been seriously mentally ill and should not stand trial. The attorney, Alex Spiro, is being paid for by his mother, Shelley Rea Gilbert.

Gilbert Jr was taking medication for his mental illness while at Princeton, according to evidence alluded to in a prior State Supreme Court hearing in Manhattan.  

In the same hearing, the court also learned that Gilbert Jr had experimented with illegal drugs while at Princeton, including LSD, magic mushrooms, cocaine and marijuana. 

He has also previously talked about people ‘infecting his mind’ and claimed skits on Saturday Night Live were attempts to mock him.

Manhattan socialite Anna Rothschild, 51, dated the accused killer in 2014 and said he was a loner with few friends who deeply resented his father and was obsessed with how he would ‘never be good enough’ for his dad.

The twice-divorced Upper East Side woman said he was jobless – and seemed to have few prospects, and little interest, for finding serious work. Instead, he spent most his time in the Hamptons, going to the gym, doing yoga and surfing.

His one professional aspiration was founding his own hedge fund – but he complained that his father wouldn’t give him the seed money to start it, Miss Rothschild said.

Miss Rothschild said Gilbert Jr was also preoccupied with how controlling his father was with his money and was convinced that he could never do anything to gain his approval

The socialite previously told that she was repeatedly warned by her friend that Gilbert Jr ‘would chop her into tiny pieces’.

The trial is not Gibert Jr’s first brush with the law. 

While a student, in 2007, he was arrested after head-butting a nurse treating him at a hospital while he was high, but the charges were dropped after he agreed to counselling.

Gilbert Jr was also reportedly ordered to undergo anger management in 2013 after assaulting his roommate and friend Peter Smith, breaking his nose during a bust-up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

In 2014 he stole a flag from the Smith family estate in Sagaponack, New York, and was charged with petit larceny.

He breached a court order later that year by approaching Mr Smith and was questioned after the Smith family home was attacked by an arsonist two weeks later. Gilbert Jr was not charged in connection with the blaze.

The millionaire heir was also banned from an exclusive club in the Hamptons after allegedly threatening to kill a member of staff there.

Gilbert Jr was a major beneficiary of his father’s will — which was written just two years before the alleged patricide – and he could receive payments he is due to help pay legal fees. He also has one sister.

The money would likely be cut off if he was found guilty of premeditated murder.


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