BONES IN THE RIVER: The Smiley Face Serial Killings

Mar 4, 2015 - 0 Comments

Those tracking the Smiley Face serial killings, including the FBI, knew the disappearance of Shane Montgomery this winter fit the pattern perfectly. That’s why they were sure he was in the river.

BONES IN THE RIVER: The Smiley Face Serial Killers update


Like nearly all of Montgomery’s unlucky predecessors, he also vanished during a night out with a group of friends, immediately after being separated from them by a bouncer who ejected the youth from a bar where they’d been celebrating his birthday.

Several weeks later, divers retrieved the 21-year-old’s battered body from the frigid depths of nearby Schuylkill River, precisely in the area that authorities expected to find the young man’s decomposing corpse.

Montgomery had “accidentally” drowned, the coroner swiftly ruled thereafter, and the multiple injuries he is said to have suffered prior to that uncommon death were “consistent with a fall.”

Case closed.

Gone without a trace

Back in March of 2001, when Michael Jansson mysteriously went missing after a confrontation with security personnel at the now-defunct Biology Bar in Chicago, the drowning men phenomena was still too new for most observers to recognize.

At that time, just two savvy NYPD homicide detectives and a handful of heartbroken parents understood something nefarious was taking shape in America’s wintry northland.

Something unprecedented in the history of crime, and truly frightening.

As to what panicked Michael Jansson himself, causing him to flee by car and adding his name to the then already growing list that season, it will probably never be fully known now, what with the standard destruction of surveillance tapes and equally dubious eyewitness testimonies.

But as with the first of the Smiley Face murders, New York undergrad Patrick McNeill in 1997, Jannson too would never be seen again. Not for twelve long years, when, by chance, an overturned vehicle was spotted half-buried in the silt and debris of the Chicago River, his skeletal remains scattered inside it.

The Smiley Face serial killings

The decade-plus that passed before Michael Jansson’s bones were finally extricated from his watery tomb and laid to rest in the family plot have been busy ones for the secret slayers of young men.

By this date, well over two-hundred such males between the ages of 17 and 30, and from every race, creed, class and educational background, have met up with a similar fate, in the United States alone.

From Chris Jenkins in Minnesota and Harsha Maddula in Illinois, to Joshua Swalls in Indiana and Damien Sewell in Wisconsin, the number of missing-found-drowned victims has kept on steadily climbing.

Often there are no solid clues left behind for their loved ones to follow up on, either. Merely belated reports concerning the actions of bouncers or their police counterparts in the moments leading up to a young man’s sudden vanishing. Merely guilty-acting bar owners avoiding the press when, weeks or months or even years later, a missing youth’s body is at last recovered not far from their establishments.

"You can't see what you're not looking for."

Sometimes, though, a freshly painted smiley face will materialize in the vicinity of where a drown victim initially disappeared or was ultimately located. Other times, there might only be an allusion to a smile.

In Shane Montgomery’s case, for instance, there’s a popular restaurant situated just a few blocks from where he fell off the face of the earth in November 2014.

It’s called Smiley’s Cafe.

Also missing in Pennsylvania

Nobody knows where 22-year-old Paul Kochu could be right now. Only that the responsible emergency room nurse, who went missing December 18th 2014 during a tumultuous evening out with two housemates, has never before lost contact with his people.

In fact, he was scheduled to work a regular shift at Allegany General Hospital on the very next morning. Yet the last sighting of him, captured by a bridge-security camera close to his home at around 3 a.m., shows a limping Kochu anxiously glancing over one shoulder and sporting a wounded hand.

He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

This year, next year, twelve years from now … will Paul Kochu’s bones also be found lying at the bottom of a river?


EPONYMOUS ROX is the author of The Case of the Drowning Men: Investigating the Smiley Face Serial Murder Theory.



Total views: 8499