Photo enhancement by The Sope-BocksTruthfully, it sounds (to me) like a bad translation from an Asian language to English. "Evil Happy Smiley Face Man" appears to have been spray painted on a concrete barrier near where one of the "Smiley Face murders" took place.
"It's not just a smiley face. He’s evil, happy and he drew horns which are synonymous with the devil. He’s telling you he knows murder is evil," Nationwide Investigations' Kevin Gannon says, "I believe we're looking at an organized group that has a hierarchy and is involved in murder and other criminal activity ... If this was a random thing, we’d have a wider range of victims,” he said.
As the team of investigators offers additional information to the media, we learn more and more about what could be called the Smiley Face Murder Club. For instance, the original image of the red smiley face on a non-descript blue background was not the complete image. Above, you can see the (mostly) complete image -- one of TWELVE found at crime scenes in five states.
The scrawl on the right hand side says, "Evil Happy Smiley Face Man". There is also a lower case letter "r" and something below the letter (cut off in the photos I've been able to dig up). It's interesting to note that the writing looks like that of a female -- and the lowercase letters "e" (in Smiley and Face) are both written backwards. The smiley face has a cross or X on the forehead and horns on top of the head. Creepy!
Gannon and Duarte have been investigating river drownings for more than a decade. They say while not every scene had the evil smiley face, all the deaths are the work of serial killers. That includes seven deaths in La Crosse and three in Eau Claire. It’s an "organized killer which hunts his victims and takes real pride in what he does," Gannon says.
The detectives say the men are all young, athletic and smart. Two victims' names offered by the Gannon/Duarte team are:
- Lucas Homan - 21 years old when he died after drowning in the Mississippi River in La Crosse.
- Josh Snell -22-year-old from Hastings, Minnesota, disappeared in Eau Claire in June of 2005. His brother says he was in town for a wedding and later went to the bars. Snell was found four days later, pulled from the Chippewa River. Jon Snell says he doesn't believe his brother wandered into the water. He says he's glad someone else looked into his brother's death. “I can't thank Kevin and Tony enough,” Jon Snell says. “They’ve been amazing." But, he says he knows his search for answers isn't over. He wants an outcome.
"I would like to take this opportunity to once again remind and assure our community that the eight river drownings which occurred between 1997 and 2006 have been thoroughly investigated... The La Crosse area river drownings are tragic and unfortunate accidents."In the statement, Chief Kondracki also says there is no evidence at this time to connect La Crosse area drownings with any other deaths around the country.
Across the border in Minnesota, Minneapolis police spokesman Jesse Garcia said the case of at least one suspicious drowning death is currently active, and police are open to new hard evidence. "They [Gannon/Duarte/Gilbertson/Carlson] didn't come up with any new evidence that wasn't already there," Garcia said. "They basically came up with a new theory. We can't go forward with theories as evidence."
Steve Jenkins (father of homocide victim, Christopher Jenkins) said the graffiti represents concrete physical evidence and that the investigators also corroborated the accounts of alleged witnesses from other disappearances. Additionally, Jenkins said the investigators have identified suspects, although they've declined to release names. "There's a lot more evidence that they did not share (with police)," Steve Jenkins said. "They showed just enough to get the (authorities') interest in collaboration." [I told you yesterday there was a major holdback!]
Sources: WEAU, Red-Alerts.com, NY Daily News