smiley face killers
A student gone missing from U of P fits the profile for these missing young men.
link to media.www.universitychronicle.com
By Marli Stewart
If you are a white male between the ages of 17 and 27, attending a major college or university, have a GPA above 3.0, are athletic, clean cut and good looking, some people think you may be a target.
There are hundreds of college-age men who have mysteriously disappeared since 1997.
They vanish from a bar, their friends lose track of them and they end up in a river nearby a few days, weeks or months later.
These accidents all happen close to Interstate 94 and Interstate 90, with Minnesota and Wisconsin having the most victims.
Most of these cases have been ruled by police as accidental drowning - case closed.
But when Chris Jenkins went missing and his body was found in the Mississippi river in Minneapolis, the investigation took a new turn. Jenkins' death was ruled as a homicide.
He was abducted, driven around in a cargo van and tortured, then placed in the Mississippi river.
Retired New York detectives, Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, have been investigating the cases and believe they are connected.
They have teamed up with SCSU professor Lee Gilbertson to find answers to the many questions that the families of the victims are left with.
Gilbertson did an exhaustive examination of the cases after SCSU student Scot Radel went missing in 2005. He looks at time and space, as well as crime mapping to find connections between the victims and patterns in the data.
Two of Gilbertson's students, Amanda Pressenger and Jessica Claeys, found many mysterious similarities between the victims and the cases themselves, leading
Gilbertson to believe that these were coordinated attacks on precise, set and prescribed dates -- attacks on victims that fit a distinct profile.
"Because of the way the dates fall out, we believe that these cases are involved with a group of 200 or so individuals who have the same ideology and are planning these 'murders,'" said Gilberston.
Currently, Gannon, Duarte, Gilbertson and Carlson (a former SCSU graduate student) are working on this investigation.
Why are the police not getting involved? The cases spread across 10 of the northern United States. Local police departments do not have the jurisdiction to investigate murders outside their local area.
"With a local police perspective, there's really nothing within our jurisdiction that has our level of suspicion, there's different facts online and some people believe that this wasn't just an accident.
I think that any story like this is going to get some media attention, and people are going to wonder," said Sergeant Martin Fayre, public information officer.
Gannon, Duarte and Gilbertson are the only investigators who have gone to all the crime scenes and looked at the big picture.
There are two rational explanations for what is happening to these college students. The first is that these men are drinking too much and end up, accidently, in the river. The second is that they drink too much and someone abducts them.
"We want to get the word out and warn people," said Gilbertson.
The chilling evidence that leads Gilbertson to believe that these were murders is a map of where the evidence is found compared to the path the victim actually took and the destination the victim was headed for. In many cases, the victim was going home or to another party or bar.
"The evidence is not leading in the same direction that the body was found and often times, the path of where the victim was supposed to be heading hardly matches up with the path the body was found in," said Gilbertson.
The professor can also predict when the next victim will go missing with pretty good accuracy and he can generally get the region that it's going to happen in, but he can't predict the city.
Most the cases happen during the school year, in-between the months of August and May, during peak drinking hours on weekends between Thursday night and Sunday night.
He also has made a chronological map of the cities that these accidents happen in, which shows a pattern that repeats itself twice along I-94.
"It's frustrating because I know someone is going to die and there's nothing I can do about it," Gilbertson said.
After a body is found in the river, investigators try to find out where the body entered the river. In most cases, where the body entered the river is where Gannon and Duarte have found graffiti, the most common symbol -- smiley faces.
"The ideology is coming from the graffiti, which are symbols that most people wouldn't recognize; it's that unique and that bizarre. It's not gang graffiti," Gilbertson said
For now, the investigators are working to prove the cases were homicide, then look at the murders and look at patterns in the data.
So far they have 12 solid cases with all the evidence and autopsies but the murders are still in clusters, and they have to go back and investigate those clusters to find out what it is about the victims that this group is going after.
There are still many gaps in their investigation that the detectives and professor Gilbertson are trying to work through, but they lack the man power and funds to be able to work diligently on this case.
They have requested the help from the FBI but were told that there was not enough evidence to prove foul play.
"Scot's case was ruled as an accident because there was nothing to lead the police to believe that it was nothing more than a tragic accident," Fayre said.
"We deal with quite a few incidents where people end up in the river. We rewarded cops a few months ago for someone that wandered into the river, they went in there with a life vest and a rope and that person would have died also. In that case we knew the circumstances, because the person survived. And it involved alcohol; the person was having suicidal thoughts."
When a body ends up in the river there is always an autopsy done.
The problem is that the body is found in the water, the current and water temperature determines where the body is going to end up and erases most of the evidence. With ice it's even more difficult.
The police department did not have any comment on the national investigation that Gannon, Gilbertson and Duarte are working on.
There are many websites that offer information about these cases.
Gannon, Duarte and Gilbertson's website is: www.nationwideinvestigations.us, where you can blog or contact the investigators and see videos of the detectives and Gilbertson in the media.
Other websites: link to footprintsattheriversedge.blogspot.com.
Page 1 of 1
contribute to this article
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion
view discussion from this article