Since 1997, hundreds of college-aged men have died as the result of undetermined or accidental drownings across the US. While local police departments have closed these cases, a group of former detectives and a professor of criminal justice are investigating a handful of the deaths as homicides. Kevin Gannon, Michael Donovan, Anthony Duarte and Dr. Lee Gilbertson believe the "drownings" are the work of an organized group of serial killers dubbed the "Smiley Face Killers."
The team alleges that the serial killers target and murder college-aged men before dumping their remains into local waterways and painting smiley face symbols near where their bodies are discovered. Most of the young men disappeared after a night drinking with friends and were never heard from again. The serial killers reportedly form a highly sophisticated interstate network that uses the dark web for communication, and their supposed kill zone stretches from East Coast cities to Midwest college towns.
During "Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice," which airs Saturdays at 7/6c on Oxygen, the investigative team searches for key evidence in the hopes of reopening six potential Smiley Face murder cases — Dakota James, Lucas Homan, William Hurley, Brian Welzien, Tommy Booth and Todd Geib. While many of the drownings are part of large clusters throughout the country, some are isolated deaths in quiet towns such as Woodlyn, Pennsylvania, and Casnovia, Michigan.
To see where the victims were discovered and read more about the "Hunt for Justice" cases, click on the interactive Smiley Face Killers map below.
[Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Lee Gilbertson]
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