by Jared Keever

It didn’t take much, just a morning news story.

I was back in the Midwest visiting family for the holidays. We were all in my parents’ living room, getting ready to leave the house for the day. The television was on. I had other things on my mind but the story caught my ear. A Pennsylvania college student, 21-year-old Shane Montgomery, had gone missing.

MontgomeryHe was last seen by friends at a bar in downtown Philadelphia. That was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I was catching this news story just a few days before Christmas, so Montgomery had been missing for almost a month. Police were searching along the banks of the Schuylkill River.

All the details called to mind a brief piece I had written earlier in year about a theory called the “Smiley Face killer.”

I grabbed my notebook and jotted down Montgomery’s name and the details of case: Philadelphia, Schuylkill River, white male, college student, bar.

I didn’t know much about the theory but I knew enough to know that the particulars of the case so closely matched those of dozens of other cases I almost couldn’t believe it wasn’t mentioned in the news story.

I promised myself I would look into once I returned home and to my writing desk.

Smiley CollageBy the time I had, police had recovered Shane’s body. The West Chester University student was found in the Schuylkill River Jan. 3, more than a month after he had disappeared. The Philadelphia medical examiner ruled the death an accident. Montgomery likely stumbled from the bar drunk, made it to the banks of the river and had fallen in, police said.

And that has been the ruling for dozens — some say hundreds — of similar deaths across the Northern part of the U.S. since the 1990s. Such a string of “accidents” is improbable according to those who believe in the Smiley Face killer theory.

To understand the theory one needs to go back, at least, to Halloween night, 2002 in downtown Minneapolis.

JenkinsThat’s the last time anyone saw 21-year-old Chris Jenkins alive. Just as with Montgomery, there are few details about the night Jenkins disappeared. What police and his friends do know is that the University of Minnesota student was kicked out of the Lone Tree Bar & Grill sometime around midnight. His coat, keys, wallet and cell phone were all left behind in the bar. It was 20 degrees that night.

Hennepin BridgeHe wasn’t found until four months later. His body was discovered, floating face up in the Mississippi River. His arms were crossed across his chest. Police ruled the death an accident or possibly a suicide. He either fell in or jumped off the nearby Hennepin Bridge, police told his parents.

But a surveillance camera on a nearby building never captured an image of Jenkins on the bridge. And a police dog, during the initial investigation, reportedly picked up the young man’s scent and followed it into parking lot adjacent to the bar. There, police found a few droplets of blood and a red feather which might well have come from an Halloween costume Jenkins was wearing that night.

His family refused to accept either the suicide or the accident theory. And Jenkins’ father eventually reached out to a retired New York City police detective.

kevin-gannon-qa-300x400Kevin Gannon was a likely candidate to work with Jenkins’ family. Just five years earlier, when he was still with the New York Police Department, he had promised the mother of 19-year-old Patrick McNeill he would never rest until he brought her son’s murderer to justice.

But few believed McNeill had been murdered. Just like Jenkins’ death, McNeill’s was ruled an accident because the teen disappeared after leaving a bar, presumably dunk. He disappeared Feb 17, 1997 and police fished his body out the East River 50 days later. He was floating face up, a position most investigators say is rare in accidental drowning cases.

McNeillGannon never believed the boy simply fell into the river. The body was recovered 12 miles from where he disappeared, for one. He also had ligature marks on his neck and, Gannon believed, the body showed signs of torture — mainly small black spots on the body Gannon thought were burns but the medical examiner dismissed as early stages of decomposition.

Others facts detailed in the autopsy report also troubled Gannon. Fly eggs, found in the young man’s pubic hair, suggested his body had spent some time on land before it was slipped into the river. And the absence of “skin slippage” suggested the body had only been in the water for about 24 hours.

Gannon would later admit he became obsessed — to the point of being unhealthy — with the McNeill case. He never caught his man and its unclear if he was ever able to get the medical examiner to change the cause of death to homicide.

But what is clear is that in 2006 Minneapolis police changed reopened Jenkins’ case and began investigating the death as a murder.

GannonDuarteBy that time Gannon, and his partner Anthony Duarte were both retired from the NYPD and working together as private investigators. In that capacity they had continued to work on the McNeill case and were investigating other drownings in New York State and other states as well. They had spoken to the Jenkins’ family as early as 2003.

In 2006 they went back to Minnesota and continued their work, and their Smiley Face theory began to emerge.

By 2008, a Minnesota television reporter named Kristi Piehl,had picked up on the theory and begun reporting what the detectives were up to.

ReturnThrough the course of their investigations into the deaths of Jenkins and McNeill, Piehl reported, the detectives had come across 40 other drownings in which the victims were white, college-aged, males who were last scene leaving a bar or party, possibly drunk, only to disappear and have their bodies turn up weeks or months later floating in a body of water, usually a river.

Using GPS and river current information the detectives tracked backwards, from where the bodies were found, and attempted to pinpoint the location where they might have been dumped into the river.

Smiley1At many of the sites, often times a park, they found graffiti of a smiley face. That was a sign, a calling-card, left behind by the killer or killers Gannon suspected. They found other links too. For instance at a number of sites they found the word “sinsinawa” spray painted nearby.

And with Piehl’s reports a killer was born. Rather the theory of a killer — or gang of killers — was born and it quickly took on a life of its own. The strange trajectory of the theory’s life is reminiscent of some of the best police stories — something that could be straight out of HBO’s True Detective.

In short, Gannon believes that 40 deaths are the work of a gang of killers working in conjunction, taking victims across the Northern U.S. They nab these young men from bars, possibly by drugging them, or possibly just picking vulnerable ones who are observed stumbling away from their friends, alone. The men are then tortured, possibly for days, then killed and dumped in the river. The killers leave behind bizarre graffiti, like the smiley faces, to taunt the police, Gannon says. Placing the bodies in the rivers has the advantage of destroying evidence.

MapGannon and Duarte found graffiti smiley faces at theorized crime scenes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. In all they found victims in 25 cities, across 11 states, along the Interstate 94 corridor that they believe were killed by the gang.

The FBI investigated the theory and dismissed it.

Smiley2An academic paper from the Center for Homicide Research examined it and found no scientific evidence to support continued belief in the theory. There was the trouble of chronological succession with the spray paint, for one. There was no proof that the graffiti had been placed nearby when the the bodies were dumped, the paper argued. The graffiti could be years old. Not too mention that, as graffiti goes, a smiley face is a pretty common thing. But what about “sinsinawa” that strange word that turned up at some of the scenes? It’s a Native American word, common across much of the Midwest the paper argued.

That was 2010. But the theory persisted. Gannon and Duarte never backed away from it.

But Gannon did suggest he and Duarte were running out of money to work on the case. As private investigators and businessmen they went to cases that could pay. Internet research suggests Gannon’s work on the cases, or at least his media appearances, began to slow by 2012.

But the theory’s persistence — or perhaps it’s our persistence in clinging to it — is what’s interesting.

Smiley3A simple Google search for “Smiley Face killer” will turn up countless blogs of amateur web detectives, convinced they are the trail of a gang of killers. Many of the blogs are created by family members of some young man who disappeared from a bar and was found in a river. The blogs tell stories of slap-dash police investigations, that hurriedly arrived at the answer of an accidental drowning. Unable to accept the police determinations, family members start searching for a killer.

That might be chalked up to a distraught loved one attempting to cope with an accidental death. That would be understandable. But it doesn’t account for the countless others who remain convinced that Gannon and Duarte are — or at least were — on to something, and are determined to find the proof.

It is as if the existence of a torturous gang of killers, hunting midwestern bars for victims is somehow preferable to a rash of accidental drownings. Is that possible? Or do people just love a good mystery? Or perhaps, the search for a killer that may or may not exist is tied to a human desire to be scared. Knowing that a gang of monsters lurks in the shadows, is indeed frightening and strangely, somehow, affirms life.

WilcoxJust as the sad news of the disappearance of Shane Montgomery stirred all those old feelings in me, so too did the 2013 death of Nick Wilcox for one Milwaukee journalist.

Wilcox, a college-aged, white male, disappeared from a bar in Milwaukee, only to be found later in the river. Police said he got drunk and fell in.

kaneThis happened a year after Gannon seemingly backed away from media appearances. But one Milwaukee columnist, Eugene Kane, against the advice of editors and police, brought the Smiley Face killer theory back into the spotlight. It’s too early to discard the theory he argued. There are still too many unanswered questions.

Kane’s column is among the most recent, and stark, examples of the theory’s ability to terrorize us. While coming very close to accepting that the deaths could be just what the police say they are — accidents — Kane kept the possibility of a monster alive in his readers’ minds.

Many in the city argued that the Smiley Face theory was distracting people from a serious problem of binge drinking, he wrote.

“More than a few people I’ve discussed this issue with insist the real problem is that drunken young whites males go out on a bender and get separated from friends who apparently aren’t looking out for them,” Kane wrote.

“But I’m still intrigued why black males who drink a lot don’t end up in the river and why that particular racial angle seldom gets discussed,” he added, on his way to making a point about a Milwaukee serial killer everyone knows.

“Years ago, black and Hispanic men of a certain background started disappearing from the lives of their families and friends but nobody paid attention until it was too late,” Kane wrote. “That killer’s name was Jeffrey Dahmer.”


Shane Montgomery:

Chris Jenkins:

Patrick McNeill case from Gannon’s own PI site:

Kristi Piehl Story:

Theory Debunking

This is the research paper mentioned in Mr. Keever’s article:

Eugene Kane column:


Click here to view Jared Keever’s previous posts:

Up Close and Personal: Tracking the Daytona Beach Serial Killer

The Secret at Fox Hollow Farm: Herb Baumeister Murdered and Buried 11 Gay Men on His Indiana Country Estate

About Jared Keever: Jared is a full-time writer and journalist living in southeast Georgia. He has lived in Indiana, Montana, Washington state, and Florida. His interests include history, literature and true crime. When he isn’t reading or writing he is usually on a bike or spending time with his family. 


80 Responses to The “Smiley Face Killer” Theory Refuses to Die

  1. Rick says:

    Very interesting post, Jared. The apparent lack of murder sites and forensic evidence makes this theory quite dubious. However, one never knows if these numerous “accidental” drownings aren’t somehow connected. One would think that the cause of death of drowning could be ruled out if the dead did not have any water in their lungs. . .

  2. brandee myers says:

    Have you been following the Kelly Nash case? I see so many similarities with this case… thoughts?

  3. Ralph Snart says:

    Good stuff. Far superior writing to the standard drivel normally found on these types of sites.

  4. […] recently, the Smiley Face Killer theory was invoked this February in regards to the reputed drowning death of 21-year-old Shane Montgomery, who had last been seen drinking with friends the day before […]

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      One definitely has to give credence to the theory that a cabal of shadowy killers is targeting these victims…

  5. […] recently, the Smiley Face Killer theory was invoked this February in regards to the reputed drowning death of 21-year-old Shane Montgomery, who had last been seen drinking with friends the day before […]

  6. Rubie says:

    There’s been another 4 college students in the last month that have turned up in a river after a late night of drinking that I’ve seen on the news in East/central Minnesota and west/central Wisconsin with the lasted in the college town River Falls, Wisconsin. He was out drinking until closing time Thursday night (May 1, 2015)and they searched and found his body in a river Sunday afternoon (May 3, 2015) There’s also been 3 college men in the last year found in a river in Wisconsin Dells after a night of drinking. This is very disturbing.

  7. I like to know was Patrick J.McNeil body check for rape because from my insight more meet the eye than some can see and now I can see why Shane M.Montgomery spirit ask me for help because the killers are getting to be more careful,not to leave marks because they are clues on the body and the spirit world know this and my insight showed me a needle use on Shane at a white moving truck and vision ( flames of fire )!!! clues I guess Jim, fire station, Timonthy F. burn in hell and be dam your soul because the Blood Of Jesus will Destroy and Stop the devil and his freak ass demons!!!

    • Shirley says:

      I just found this on another blog…
      I heard last night from a neighborhood kid with a source close to the investigation that there is unreleased footage of shane meeting with a man wearing a hoodie in the parking lot with the 18 wheelers down past mad river. Then was seen leaving with two females from the camera frame. Also his cellphone was found by the steel steps on roxborough ave last night, the ones that go down from roxborough/cress on to Manayunk near pretzel park. Has anyone else heard the same? These 3 individuals you think would have come forward by now!

      • Criminal take down says:

        We have been working on the case ,and yes the motive of the same, you must remember that the ( killers) are indeed what we call non geographical. Most serial killers will stay with in a 14.3 mile radius of the 1 St victim.
        But with this case the SAA pin point’s them closer along the I94 corridor.
        But unlike most killers these work with a drug calls devil’s breath. We have tracked it to Brazil.
        This case is far from over.and the death toll will only keep going up.
        The thing is we can profile one killer but a gang of killers is much the head of the gang changes so does the MO.

        • Hamsa says:

          I saw a show on VICE channel and it was all about Devil’s Breath. I believe it was called the most dangerous drug in the world…because it can’t be detected. It comes in powder form and Alls you have to do is blow a pinch of the powder into someone’s face and they lose their memory for a span of time and are under some sorta hypnosis spell (for lack of a better term) where they will do WHATEVER they are told to do, say whatever you want them to say, and they won’t have any recollection of it. Some people lost DAYS to this drug and have NO IDEA what happened. It’s scary!

          I’m not sure where the VICE episode was filmed at (but I wanna say it was either in Mexico or somewhere in South America—perhaps Brazil like you said)…..but maybe you can find the episode on Vice’s YouTube channel if you want to see it for yourself and find out a lot more info about it…hope that helps!

          • Criminal take down says:

            Thank you I will look it up.
            And yes Devil’s breath can not be detected.
            It come from Brazil. They have over 500 cases that they know of.could be a lot more.thank you for the information.

      • Hamsa says:

        Wait…they JUST found his cellphone the other day???? A year and a month after he went missing?? I did not hear about the CCT footage of him being found on it talking to anyone…
        It makes sense for him to be lured there or away from there by 2 women…I had a feeling that somehow women were involved and being used to lure these guys away.
        I wonder what their motive is for wanting these college age athletic males (the killers)??? Like…is it for sexual purposes?? Do they target a specific person or do they just randomly get the first dude who walks by and is solo?
        I just really don’t understand how anyone could drown in 4 feet of water…especially in a city like Philadelphia/Manayunk, without ANYONE either seeing him or talking to him…

        I used to live in Manayunk and AK quite familiar with Mad River bar…so basically Manayunks Main Street is the one that runs along the schuylkill (skoo-kill) river…at one end is Mad River (it’s literally one of the last bars on the street)…but that wasn’t the bar that Shane got kicked out of earlier in the night, was it?? I tried searching thru the posts but couldn’t find mention of it, because I thought when I first heard about it, that Shane was at another bigger type bar (it’s like an Irish Pub type bar but for the life of me I cannot remember the name of it!!)…and THAT bar is more towards the beginning of the street where all the bars are….
        Soooo…if he was seen on unreleased footage way past Mad River, how in the hell could NO ONE have seen him or spotted him??? It’s the biggest drinking night of the year! And it’s a popular section of philadelphia known for its night life…

        It just doesn’t make sense. And then to end up in 4 ft. Of water over a month later when searchers combed the banks…right there the river is NOT very wide…you can see to the opposite side of it with just your eyes…sooo if a persons body was in there when people were searching, someone would’ve seen it. Let alone the THOUSANDS of people who sit in traffic everyday on I-76 which runs parallel to the Schuylkill river would’ve def seen a body in there because it’s THAT close! And that was like the MAJOR news story of that time period too…so pretty much everybody in the city and the surrounding suburbs were aware of the search for Shane Montgomery…
        Doesn’t add up!

        • Criminal take down says:

          A M.O is much like a fingerprint.
          It does lay out a type.of people serial killers may go after.
          Most the time they do not go out side their ethnic background.
          This leads a profile to be done on the killers.
          In this case.
          The leader is according to profiling. A white male, in his 50’s has a job near or at the collage. The dump sight means more then the abduction site.
          The dump sight of the 1st victim would have significant value to the perpetrator. Aka a place his father took him fishing etc.
          He is well educated.
          And well liked by people that know him.
          He is not married.and has trouble in relationships.
          According to the profilers Bible.
          He does run a large out reach.
          Aka church, occult, etc.
          And believes that he is saving the victim’s. From a hard shit.
          We all ways do a perpetrator profile before we do a victimology profile.

  8. I want the Love to flow from all over the World for all the souls that lost their body by them being killed and please God bring the rain and JUSTICE FOR PATRICK J. McNEIL NOW.R.I.P in Heaven with Love & God angels forever xxooxx

  9. scott says:

    Has there been any more drownings with the same scenario since Shane Montgomery? I find this subject matter very interesting. I think there is something more to this than drunk guys of only a certain age group falling into the river. Why aren’t there cases of older guys binge drinking ( we all know some ) and falling into the river???

    Come on, in the middle of winter its cold and you are drunk and can walk and know the area you are not going to walk toward a river or a pond unless it is in the direction of home. So many of these cases the river isn’t any where near the route home. I assume these guys have made it home many times in the past when they are drunk. Some of the reports say they weren’t even drinking or had very little to drink and ended up in water. Enough of these kind of cases points to a pattern.

    Most cops don’t look at anything out of their district. One or two cases and it’s easily blamed on the drinking… closed….no more work for the police and their year end numbers of unsolved cases look good.

    • We’ve recently completed a truly terrifying documentary that proves the existence of The Smiley Face Killers gang and we’re hoping to make more people aware of it because it could save lives. It has played at several film festivals, received a lot of positive reviews and won best documentary last year at the Los Angeles Thriller Film Festival. We’ve made it completely free to watch on youtube here:

    • We’ve recently completed a truly terrifying documentary that proves the existence of The Smiley Face Killers gang and we’re hoping to make more people aware of it because it could save lives. We’ve made it completely free to watch on youtube here:

    • Hamsa says:

      Yes, check out Paul Kochu, 22 year old white male, who was at a bar called Smokey Joe’s with friends, left by himself, and disappeared Dec 16th 2014 in Pittsburgh Pa. Body was found March 26th in the Ohio River. Ruled as accidental drowning.

  10. We’ve recently completed a truly terrifying documentary that proves the existence of The Smiley Face Killers gang and we’re hoping to make more people aware of it because it could save lives. It has played at several film festivals, received a lot of positive reviews and won best documentary last year at the Los Angeles Thriller Film Festival. We’ve made it completely free to watch on youtube here:

  11. The facts says:

    Kevin Gannon is a self promoting nut.

  12. Matt says:

    Well written article. Thanks. Since your last post, there seems to have been a couple of similar instances involving two young men named William Harrison Hempy, and Robert Sontag. At least as far as I can tell. My prayers go their families as well as all the others. I’ve been fascinated by the these events as many of you have, but I think we should all be careful not to sensationalize these tragedies. Thanks again.

  13. cold case squad says:

    Okay I must say, I am taken back over all of this,I have read over the documents. and I do think this is indeed the work of an Occult.The so called smiley face is indeed what is called Emoji. and that one means, (supernatural,) (Devil) it comes from the Germanic folklore, and stands for “they mean business, do not mess with them”
    Now I know what you are thinking but let me tell you, I did go and get my certificate for death investigation and forensics pathology, as well as cold case safety net,and missing and unidentified persons. so i do indeed know a little about the way the body brakes down after death,
    I was able to go over the Pathology report on one of the cases and can tell you it was a murder,, you see blow fly’s take23 hours from fly to egg and then from fly egg to starts at 27 hours. and they do not lay eggs in the water, and can not with stand under 52 well as the there was no sings of water in his lungs, this shows he was placed in the water post- not pre-. and the time line does not match up with the stage’s of there is no way in hell this kid died in the water…
    Now the one thing I have yet to hear any one say is a thought on how they lured them out of the bar?
    So I am just going to state what I think on this,
    I fill that they used bate. by that I mean a nice looking young woman.the victims thing where left at the bar or not on his person.
    I may not know a lot but I know that this is indeed a a group of serial killers. my beat is it started in New York, and branched out. and the 1 st victim, or what they think to be , is not. and it is not even close to being over.
    I truly thing this is an Occult killings, if you tear down all we know and look at all the parts. it fits. This is just my take on it. I have not gone over all the files. If I am right this could be one of the most body count on any serial killer in the world.

    • Monkeybrainstewtartar says:

      Luis Garavito has a count of 172 possibly as many as 400. Pero Lopez 110 with as many as 350 (probably many more as he was released from prison in 1998 and his current whereabouts are unknown). Daniel Carmargo 72 possibly as high as 150. Pedro Filho 71 to possibly over 100. Kampatimar Shankariya over 70 bodies on him. Yang Xinhai at least 67. Abul Djabar 65 , but as many as 300 suspected. Even in the U.S Gary Ridgway is suspected of over 100. My point is that even if it is some kind of cult they have a very long way to go before they get the body count to be considered even in the ballpark of the highest body count of any serial killer in the world. Let’s not put them in the major leagues when they are only putting up AAA stats.

      • Carol says:

        They have a very far way to go on getting any true count of this case or these cases. But the states and cities they’re saying this group of people supposably are spending out to out is astronomical. I have only gone over brief parts of this case. And truth be told it’ll take years to dig into the full thing. But I do know one thing the pathology report and the crime scene does not add up. Did the family or investigating officer was asked that another pathologist possibly go over the findings from the first couple adjust on this case. It definitely couldn’t hurt. I wish these guys all the luck this is going to be a doozy.

      • Carol says:

        Monkey, thank you for the info on Pedro Alonzo. I do not get to do a lite of serial killers. With my job it is mostly cold cases,missing persons,MVA, sudden infant death,some gun shoot. I just got my certificate for forensic pathology,but have been working cult cases for.a few years.

    • Courtney says:

      I completely agree with you….I’ve had these exact same thoughts since I first started reading about this….I do have more to add…I’m going to find a way to pm you

      • Carol says:

        I am almost done with criminal profiling classes I already hold my death investigation basic pathology certificate.
        I truly think this is indeed a group of serial killers.
        I have done a criminal profile on this. And trust me it will not stop.

    • Bill Gibbons says:

      Hey Cold Case, are you a cop or a PI?

      • Cold case Justice says:

        The thing is there are many different MO one the case.this lead us to believe there is in deed multiple offenders,
        Now in the profilers Bible.most geographical killers.stay to the same root AKA Highway roads.
        Now a lot of the victims claimed do not fit the MO.or the time line,but there are indeed some that fit.
        We do think this is a case of a gang of serial killers.

  14. Katie says:

    Recent and similar case:a college-aged, white male went missing leaving a bar October 3rd in Otsego, Mn. His body was found today, October 8th in the Mississippi River. Nothing about the Smiley Face Killer was mentioned.

  15. Carol says:

    Does any one know if a MO is present on the new case? AKA did he go missing from the bar? What did the tox screen show? Along with when they believe the pathology report is due back? How far was his body found from the other victims? Was there any graffiti near the scene? We must remember to say the words serial killer will do nothing but put the public in a state of panic.

    • Shirley says:

      Shane Montgomery, out Thanksgiving Eve. Asked to leave after he bumped into the DJ at the bar however manager says was not inebriated when he walked out at 1:45 am. Surveillance video shows him crossing a foot bridge to the parking lot. He was found in 4 feet of water 40 days later. He had a Celtic Cross tattoo on his shoulder. His bar tab was only 17.00.

  16. Michelle says:

    Check out Paul Kochu as well.

  17. Hamsa says:

    I agree, please please please check out PAUL KOCHU in Pittsburgh, pa as well….things seem very similar to his case…

  18. Hamsa says:

    Shane Montgomery disappears thanksgiving eve, Philadelphia (Manayunk) pa, went to west Chester university (Chester county, pa) found in Schuylkill River Jan 3rd (about 2.5 months later)

    Paul Kochu, 22 year old white, athletic, male, who just graduated Duquesne University and recently got a job as a nurse. went missing Dec 16th, 2014, after being at Smokey Joe’s bar (about 20some days after Shane) in Pittsburgh, Pa,. Originally from Pottstown, pa (chester county, pa). Body found March 26th, 2015 (about 3.5 months later) in Ohio River. (Not known where body was dumped), but autopsy rules as “accidental drowning.” There is surveillance footage of Paul last seen on the night of his disappearance, looking as if his gait was “staggering.”
    Definitely worth checking out! Especially since it was so close to Shane’s disappearance, going from East to West.
    It’s as if it’s a person who travels a LOT for a living!

    • Jack says:

      There are some cases here in Atlanta, that seem very similar. This was around 2009. One case was north of Atlanta, in Gwinett County, Justin Gaines. The other case is Kyle Fleischmann, who disappeared around the same time in 2007.

  19. Alice says:

    another Minnesota man found in a body of water a couple days ago off of interstate 94 very close to where Joe Brunn was found a couple months ago.

  20. michelle says:

    i wasnt aware that one could just go out and acquire a forensic pathology “CERTIFICATE”…

  21. Vikulki says:

    Or is the Smiley Face Killers theory simply some implausibly grandiose delusion concocted by a pair of attention-starved former police detectives who ve woven a fairy tale around what most experts insist is a string of accidental and unrelated drownings?

  22. Joe says:

    There have been at least 9 similiar cases in Boston (&Maine)in the last few years. College aged man is asked to leave bar, leaving coat and wallet behind. Found dead in water after a period of time being missing. Students from Boston college, Harvard Business School, Boston University. One young man leaving the Boston Garden after a Bruins game, missed his train home- found dead in water days later.
    Another young man missing this Christmas was found in the Charles River in Jan 2016. And now yet another 22 year old (this one from Harvard, Massachusetts) was with cousins in a Boston bar, smoking, was not allowed back in and is now missing. All those found dead in the water had no signs of foul play. It seems that alot of these happen in the winter. google “missing man” or “missing student” in Boston for eeach of the past 5 years (or more).

  23. chris says:

    This morning, a male student of the Maine Maritime Academy is reported missing from Orono, Maine, home of University of Maine. This is just 7 days after the body of James Dyer was found in the water in Portland. He was inexplicably separated from friends after leaving a bar.

  24. Harry says:

    After reading this book – I’m damn convinced these aren’t “accidental!”
    Way too many cases!

  25. chris says:

    I’m sorry, but the “accidental drowning” theory is absolutely garbage. Yes, people do accidentally drown on occasion. However, I personally have been blackout shitfaced and have walked home just over a mile several times from my tiny coastal community bar cross a bridge with a low railing and over two water galleys. The thought of “accidentally” drowning or falling into the water has never crossed my mind. This cannot, and would not happen. You would have to hit your head very hard and become unconscious and which would be determined in an autopsy because your lungs wouldn’t have been filled with water. I’m not saying the smiley face killer(s) are real, but I am saying no one that’s trashed just happens to fall in the river and wind up a month later down stream. It’s preposterous. The next time you’re drunk out at a bar and you’re within 2 miles of a river think about the idea of somehow “falling” into the river. I mean seriously, you’d come to and sober up almost immediately after touching the ice cold water. Nobody falls into streams/lakes/rivers on their own just from having too much to drink. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    • Carol says:

      As a death investigator. The thing.everyone should be looking at is the fact that there is no water in the lungs.
      As well as trust me I have do a ton of floater cases and there’s a whole list of the way the body changes and rigor mortis that causes them to float face down not right side up

    • Mark1985 says:

      Agree with post entirely. Keep in mind the only victim who had some sort of outside contact during his disappearance phoned a friend and stated on voice mail- ” Someone is following me!”
      Further, I am in the graphics industry. There are a million nuanced ways you can draw a smiley face. The visuals which are confirmed entry point to the water smiley faces have pretty consistent and compelling similarities in their drawing and construction.

  26. Sara says:

    A young mans body found in the Scioto River in Columbus, OH yesterday. He disappeared at a downtown bar after a night of drinking. Joey LaBute. This is all too common

  27. Mark1985 says:

    There is a new victim. In Columbus, found in the Scioto river. Identical circumstances. The victim disappeared several years ago and was last seen leaving a bar near the river. Police have released the fact that there was no apparent trauma to the victim or cause of death. They are presuming at this point he was dead before he was placed in the river. They have not ascertained WHERE he went into the river. College aged guy as is MO of smiley face killer.

  28. Daniel Sullivan says:

    I would like to get in touch with the two detectives. I have come across this story in pursuit of trying to understand another issue which may be a directly related to and connect these deaths.

    • scott says:

      as far as I understand the detectives that worked the case aren’t working on it anymore feel free to reach out to cold case justice we have picked up the case

      • Dan says:

        Scott, have you ever asked whether any of the persons who died participated in scientific research as subjects at any university in the vicinity of their residences? I ask because this jogged a memory of a strange personal experience in 98.

        • scott says:

          can we talk on the phone very interesting

        • Hamsa says:

          Can you please share your story and the revelation you had with the rest of us about a possible connection with Paid Research Studies?? This might be something to look into and ask around. I am from the same hometown as Paul Kochu and know his sister, and I used to live in Manayunk, so the fact that Shane Montgomery and Pauls cases are SO similar literally hits home with me.
          Did you guys come up with any interesting leads? I also want to hear about Daniel’s story in 98 about a strange experience with a paid research study!

          • scott says:

            Yes we have taken over the cases but we have a log way to go if anybody has any information no matter how big or small they may think it is it would help the victims are vast and spread out throughout the country and world we are a firm with offices in ct and va and if anyone would like to help try and solve these crimes feel free to reach out to cold case justice we are in the process of reaching out to the different police agencies and reports that cover the crimes feel free to reach out we do have a website it will be live the end of the month

          • Daniel Sullivan says:

            Hi Scott, I will call. I’ve been traveling and my sister just had a baby, so I’ve been a bit distracted. I must say that I’ve become very interested in this pattern of deaths and also a little freaked out. I came across the deaths while I was looking into the experiment I participated in back in 98 in Chicago. When I returned to Chicago recently to try to get to the bottom of what happened during the experiment (which was life-changing in terms of immediately preceding the onset of a psychiatrist diagnosed “panic disorder”), I found myself drawn to Belmont Harbor in the Lakeview Neighborhood for reasons a little bit nebulous.

            Funny thing is, this is something that also happened after the experiment in 98. I felt drawn to Belmont Harbor. One time, this happened in the middle of the night. I almost went, but something told me that going to Belmont Harbor in the middle of the night was not a good idea. I just remember it was very hard to resist going.

            Anyhow, last week, I went to the harbor during the day, on two occasions During the visits, several unusual events began to unfold. I will explain late.

            Afyer these occurences, I remembered and googled the story of two young men whose bodies were recovered under mysterious circumstances in Belmont Harbor, and then I stumbled onto the Smiley Face Killer story.

            Here is the thing. As I stumbled upon the story of one of the deaths in Belmont Harbor, I remembered that I had read about it when it happened and that I had immediately experienced a sense of absolute certainty that the experiment was connected and that I was supposed to have been one of the bodies in Belmont Harbor, but had somehow escaped.

            Very weird.

            I’ve decided I am going to join in on this investigative project, as it feels like my story is somehow connected.

            I’m a little nervous, I must say (hey, I have panic disorder!)

            Also, since I started asking questions about the experiment in which I participated (which was govt. funded) I have had a weird feeling that I am being “surveilled.”

            Paranoid, of course. And yet even as I write, there are two WIFI networks adjacent to my hotel room that say NSA Surveillance Van #3451 and FBI Surveillance Van #397. Well, I am in DC. I decided to rename my hotspot Civil Rights Surveillance Van #5346.

          • Daniel Sullivan says:

            Hi all, yes, I will post this. I am still looking back at the memory and getting my thoughts in order. I have some notes from that time which I want to review. I’d like to know if we already know whether an of the deceased participated in any scientific experiments. I know that in at least one recent death in Hoboken the person whose body was found was “depressed.” There were many depression related clinical studies ongoing in that region which he could have participated in, yet I have no information suggesting that he did. I do know that people who suffer from untreatable clinical depression sometimes turn to clinical trials as last resort.

        • scott says:

          Ok what memory did it jog

    • scott says:

      as far as I understand the detectives that worked the case aren’t working on it anymore feel free to reach out to cold case justice we have picked up the case we are actively working on the case

  29. scott says:

    call me at 203-308-8456

  30. Hamsa says:

    Can you please share your story and the revelation you had with the rest of us about a possible connection with Paid Research Studies?? This might be something to look into and ask around. I am from the same hometown as Paul Kochu and know his sister, and I used to live in Manayunk, so the fact that Shane Montgomery and Pauls cases are SO similar literally hits home with me.
    Did you guys come up with any interesting leads? I also want to hear about Daniel’s story in 98 about a strange experience with a paid research study!

  31. Joe says:

    It happened again. Body recovered from Mississippi River on 5/19/16 is that of a U of M student who’s been missing for the last couple of weeks. 20 year old white male was seen leaving around 9:00 pm, didn’t show up for class the next day. He was not leaving a bar, and the weather certainly was not warm enough for him to go swimming. Seems odd that this keeps happening.

  32. Tracy Chaput says:

    Yet another Minnesota student found dead in the river. David Miller. White male like the rest of them.

  33. Joe says:

    they pulled another body out of the Mississippi today in Minneapolis. That’s 2 in two days. Something’s up.

  34. Hamsa says:

    Hey All…Paul Kochu’s family recently started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $ to hire a private investigator and forensic pathologist to reexamine Pauls death and the evidence gathered, as Pittsburgh officials are DENYING them answers to any of their questions relating to the evidence found surrounding his death. I’ve heard that the entire family is suspicious, and none of them believe this was an accident or a suicide.
    To contribute, here is the link:
    If you have an interest surrounding these strange deaths, and can afford to donate anything, make it be towards a good cause like this.

  35. Anonymous says:



    At least four men in 25-30 year old range have gone missing in Pittsburgh within last 5 years. Each turning up dead in the water.

  36. JAC says:

    There is currently another young man missing in Pittsburgh, PA. 23 year old Duquesne University student Dakota Leo James went missing on Jan. 25, 2017 and has yet to be found after numerous air, river and bank searches, as well as foot searches throughout the city.

  37. Sharon says:

    Is the smiley face picture next to the title of the blog related to site a where a body was found? If so, so you know who it was?

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