THE SMILEY FACE SERIAL KILLER THEORY
Since the mid 1990’s, in the northern corridor of the United States where Interstates 90 and 94 merge to form a scenic route across nearly a dozen states, over a hundred young men have gone missing and resurfaced, dead, in bodies of water. Kristi Piehl, a reporter for KSTP-TV in Minnesota first broke the story in 2008 and won an Emmy for it. Retired New York City Police Detectives Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte also investigated and advanced the theory that a large number of these young men did not accidentally drown but were victims of a serial killer or killers. In at least a dozen of the cases, Gannon and Duarte discovered “smiley face” graffiti near locations where they believed the bodies were dumped. They appeared on national TV and claimed there were multiple connections in these “accidental” drowning deaths involving young men whose bodies surfaced in bodies of water near college campuses. The cases and “latest developments” are still being posted on-line at www.sfkillers.com.
Senator Jim Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin and U.S. Congressman Michael McNulty from New York submitted requests to the FBI urging the Bureau to formally investigate whether these mysterious drowning deaths were serial murders. The FBI investigated and theorized that the vast majority of the drowning deaths appeared to be alcohol-related.
In the past year, we had three students from the Boston area drown. Boston College student Franco Garcia went missing after leaving a popular pub until his body mysteriously surfaced in the Chestnut Hill Reservoir near the campus. Jonathan Dailey, an architecture graduate student from North Carolina, was allegedly found bound with chains and weighted down with a cinder block in the Charles River. These deaths occurred in the vicinity of Interstate 90. Last spring, Harvard Business School student Nathan Bihlmaier went missing until his body was pulled from Portland Harbor in Maine.
Eponomous Rox, a respected journalist and true crime author, joined me on the show to analyze the mysterious cases of the drowning men over the past decade. She has taken the scientific approach and researched many of these multiple suspicious deaths. She suggests there is evidence that many of these men were murdered, and has advanced her own theories in her book, The Case of the drowning Men.
I have looked into the “smiley face” drowning deaths from the angle of a former prosecutor, but I can’t draw any conclusions. I’m having a hard time buying the serial murder angle. For instance, I’m wondering if this is just another sensational conspiracy theory that some have latched onto? Are Detectives Gannon and Durante looking for an elusive serial killer who is make-believe? One of the victim’s fathers lashed out at Detective Gannon, claiming he was re-victimizing the victims because he kept demanding more money to continue his investigation. Were the detectives giving families false hope? I’m wondering about that as well.
If you’re interested in these cases, listen to the October 13th podcast, and let me know if you’d like me to explore this matter further on the show.