Here's an excerpt from a May, 2006 article where Minnesotans connected the dots between young male college students drowning and a serial killer -- or killers. I kinda think Clave and Gilbertson hit the nail on the head two years ago -- and only now have we a name for the killer(s) -- Smiley Face Gang.
"Could that have happened to us? Could that have happened to one of our friends? those are the things you consider," says Amanda Pressenger, are graduate student at Saint Cloud State University, near Minneapolis."No one has taken an in-depth look at it from, all these cases," Pressenger explains.
She and fellow student Jessica Clave wondered whether Brian Welzien and Glen Leadley's deaths fit a pattern. So they looked at more than twenty cases, all midwest college students last seen drinking at parties or bars, who all vanished and turned up drowned. Among them: Ryan Getz, Keith Noble, Eric Blair, Chris Jenkins, Michael Noll, Josh Guimond, Chad Sharon, Jared Dion, Scot Radel and Brian Shaffer. The deaths, all clustered along Interstate 94 from Minnesota to Ohio.
"The one city that has the most victims is Lacrosse," says St. Cloud State criminology professor D. "Lee" Gilbertson. He noticed the men almost always went missing in the first half of the month, and only during the school year. A closer look at the map revealed a routine of sorts. "There is a cycle -- a chunk in there -- that is east, west, west, east, west, east that repeats itself twice," says Dr. Gilbertson. "That doesn't sound like an accident, either."
The data led students to suggest that it might be the work of a traveling businessman. But why? All these men were found dressed, with their wallets, cash and keys; and no signs of foul play. Professor Gilbertson has a theory. "We think that something happened to the killer when he was 21, possibly when he was drinking..."
Perhaps the killer got lost, took a ride from a stranger, was molested; and now, looks for victims that remind him of himself at that age. "There's no way he's going to touch these people or do anything to them to harm them because that's what happened to him," explains Dr. Gilbertson. So in a sickening twist, a killer may be drowning young men to protect them. "In order to keep control of the situation and to release them unharmed and pristine, the only way he can be sure of that is to kill 'em," says Dr. Gilbertson.
Saint Cloud's police chief listened to the students' presentation last week. But has his doubts, as do others, who see little more than a deadly chain of coincidences, glued together by binge drinking, darkness and hypothermia. "There may be a serial killer out there, there may not. you still don't have a concrete conclusion," says student Jessica Clave.