Smiley Face Killer-What’s Happening?

The cause of  the deaths of so many young adult men is the center of a dispute among theorists and police officials. If you are interested in this mystery, you’ll want to take the time and watch this video. (Not to be confused with The Happy Faced Killer)

The Smiley face murders is a theory of two retired New York City Police Detectives. Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte believe that a number of young men found dead in bodies of water across several American states  for over a decade did not accidentally drown. The detectives believe these young men were the victims of a serial killer/killers. The term smiley face became connected to the alleged murders when it was made public that the police had discovered graffiti of a smiley face near locations where the bodies were dumped. This occurred in at least twelve of the murder cases. Law enforcement, in additional to other experts, remain skeptical to Duarte’s and Gannon’s theory.

In 2008, Gannon and Duarte were looking at evidence as far back as the late 1990’s they believe connected the deaths of 45 college age males whose dead bodies were found in water in eleven states after leaving parties or bars where they were drinking. Most were white, good students. popular and athletic. The detectives theorized that the young men were murdered by an individual or an organized group of killers. There have been many more cases since their investigation.

victims of the Smiley Face Killer?

Police forces that investigated dispute the conclusion that the cases are linked. The La Crosse Wisconsin police department, in charge of eight investigations, released an official statement that concluded that the deaths were accidental drownings of inebriated men and that there were no smiley face symbols found in connection with any of these cases.

Criminal profiler Pat Brown calls the serial killer theory “ludicrous”, arguing that the evidence does not fit what is known about serial killers. Brown also believes that the smiley face images found in some of the cases are likely nothing more than coincidences based upon making a guess at where the body entered the water and searching a wide area until an example of smiley face graffiti can be found. “It’s not an unusual symbol,” she told Matt Smith of the Minneapolis-based newspaper City Pages. “If you look in an area five miles square, I bet you could find a smiley face.”

The Center for Homicide Research in Minneapolis, Minnesota has recently published a research brief that also attempts to scientifically refute the theory. In March 2009, Lee Gilbertson, a criminal justice faculty member at St. cloud State University, voiced his support for the theory on an episode of Larry King Live which discussed the alleged murders.

smiley faces from scenes of drownings

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued the following statement:

The FBI has reviewed the information about the victims provided by two retired police detectives, who have dubbed these incidents the “Smiley Face Murders,” and interviewed an individual who provided information to the detectives. To date, we have not developed any evidence to support links between these tragic deaths or any evidence substantiating the theory that these deaths are the work of a serial killer or killers. The vast majority of these instances appear to be alcohol-related drownings. The FBI will continue to work with the local police in the affected areas to provide support as requested.

Link To The Most Recent Death of Another Young Man

What do you think? You can read more about this puzzling case here.

Thanks for stopping by and please leave your comments or questions below.


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  1. Dickinson58601


    A person that I know suffered the loss of their son in 2016. He was a 21 year old college student, who went missing after leaving a bar, and his body was found in a river the following day. He was healthy, athletic, an experienced swimmer, and doing well in school, there was no reason for him to have drowned. I thought that his death was suspicious, and I remembered hearing about the Smiley Face Murders several years ago.

    Even though I knew that it would upset his parents even further during their grief, I wanted to give them the information about many other young male college students in northern states going missing, and their bodies were found in rivers, and their deaths were ruled accidental, though this may not be the case.

    Because the two retired New York police detectives who first identified that there were too many of these deaths have withdrawn from being at the forefront of this, I suggested that the family contact the retired Boston police detective James Anderson in the documentary that you have posted. The problem is, the documentary is not a documentary, and there is no detective James Anderson, he is a fictional character played by an actor.

    There are many families that have actually lost their sons after they disappeared and were found in a river. Because many families are looking for answers, I think that it is wrong for the people who made this documentary to try to make it seem like a documentary when it is not, it is fictional. Please, can you put a clear disclaimer on your post that this is not a documentary, it is a fictional movie.

    1. Donna L (Post author)

      The responsibility of any disclaimer would have to come from the creators of this video. However, it is, in fact a documentary.Fictional? Hardly.Thanks for sharing your information.


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