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Crime News Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt For Justice

Former Boston Police Officer Finds Smiley Face Graffiti Near Site Of Suspicious Death

Joe Fisher encountered multiple smiley faces near the Charles River that he believes are associated with almost a dozen drowning cases.

By Aly Vander Hayden

Since 2009, the bodies of more than 10 young men have been recovered from the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts. While their deaths were ultimately ruled accidental or undetermined drownings by local officials, a team of retired investigators believes they could possibly be connected by a group of unknown serial killers. Known as the Smiley Face Killers, the alleged murderous gang targets college-aged men, dumps their bodies in local waterways and leaves behind smiley face symbols near the death sites.

In "Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice," which airs Saturdays at 7/6c on Oxygen, former New York Police Department detectives Kevin Gannon, Michael Donovan and Anthony Duarte and professor of criminal justice Dr. Lee Gilbertson investigate the drowning of William "Will" Hurley, a 24-year-old Navy veteran who went missing in 2009. While reexamining his death, the team discovered a smiley face had been painted near the river where his body was found. But this was not the first time law enforcement had come in contact with the eerie graffiti.

[Photo: "Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice" Screengrab]

Retired Boston Police officer Joe Fisher told Gannon that he encountered multiple smiley faces near the river's edge that he believes are associated with almost a dozen drowning cases. Fisher explained that in 2015, he found the first smiley face spray-painted on an electrical box by the Boston Harbor.

"I see the smiley face, and there's three stars above it," Fisher told Gannon. "And it occurs to me at that point three of the victims had gone missing into the Boston Harbor. Smiley face, three stars, three victims recovered by Boston police."

[Photo: Courtesy of Joe Fisher]

Fisher then searched the area surrounding 99 Nashua Street, the last known location of Will Hurley, and discovered a second smiley face had been spray-painted on a slab of concrete.

"So there is a pattern that's been growing here in Boston," contended Fisher.

Though each symbol is stylized differently, the two former investigators believe they are linked. In the past, Gannon has noted that the smiley faces often differ in shape, size and color.

[Photo: "Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice" Screengrab]

Gannon and "The Hunt for Justice" team allege the serial killers form a highly sophisticated interstate network that uses the dark web for communication. Their supposed kill zone stretches from East Coast cities to Midwest college towns, and similar graffiti has been located at sites related to other disappearances and drowning deaths of young men. 

"I had heard of the Smiley Face theory before and wasn't sure I was on board with that," Hurley's mother, Lynn Martin, told Oxygen.com. "But the more I hear and the more I talk to Kevin [Gannon], I kind of agree with their theory. But I have known about several of the other drownings. In fact, I'm Facebook friends with a couple of the other mothers [of the drowning victims] that were missing and found around the same time as my son."

To learn more about the Smiley Face Killers and the case of Will Hurley, watch "Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice," airing Saturdays at 7/6 on Oxygen.

[Photo: Courtesy of Lynn Martin]