Have you ever heard of the Smiley Face Killer? No? Perhaps that’s because we don’t actually know if they even exist but there’s a whole mystery surrounding the deaths of 45 young men across the US.
The theory began following the death of a 21-year-old college student, Patrick McNeill in February 1997. On the evening of February 16th 1997, Patrick was drinking with friends at the ‘Dapper Dog’, a bar on Manhattan’s Upper East Side which was frequented by many under-age drinkers. By the early hours of Feb 17th, Patrick had decided he was going to make his way back to his Fordham College campus via subway after vomiting in the bar’s bathroom. After waiting for a friend outside who failed to show, witnesses from that evening recall seeing a highly intoxicated Patrick stumble up Second Avenue with a van following behind, which happened to stop when Patrick stopped and continue to turn down the same street as him when he walked off again. He wasn’t seen again until his body was discovered floating near a Brooklyn pier over a month later.
The medical examiner who performed Patrick’s autopsy determined his death as ‘unexplained’ and NYPD suggested it was very likely that Patrick had drunkenly made his way towards the East River, fell in and inevitably drowned. The NYPD detective investigating Patrick’s death, Kevin Gannon, was convinced this wasn’t the case and believed the 21-year-old had actually been murdered.
Ever since Patrick’s death, Gannon along with his team of investigators, travel from city to city investigating individual cases of the proposed Smiley Face Killer after 45 young, white male college students have died in circumstances eerily similar to Patrick McNeill. Gannon’s theory suggests an individual or group chooses highly intoxicated college-aged men to abduct and kill. The most chilling part of this mystery comes in the form of graffiti; a painted smiley face found near where almost every body has been discovered.
While this could be a mere coincidence and each case could be completely unrelated, evidence from McNeill’s death suggests otherwise. Gannon believes Patrick was abducted, held for an extended period of time, murdered and then disposed of. Not only is it suggested that it’s near impossible for someone to walk from Patrick’s last known location to the East River due to obstructions and a limited-access expressway. Findings from his autopsy also suggests Patrick was bound and burned before ending up in the river.
Fly larvae were also found on Patrick’s body, flies do not lay eggs in cold temperatures and therefore if Patrick was in the river from the night he was last seen, no fly larvae would have been found.
Exactly one year on from Patrick’s body being discovered, another young, white, college-aged man, Larry Andrews was found dead in the exact location where Patrick’s body had been found previously. Since then, so many college-aged men have been found dead in bodies of water across the Northeast and Midwest US with causes of death being ruled as either accidental or unexplained, and of course, a smiley face painted nearby.
So, what do you think? Does the Smiley Face Killer really exist or could this all just be a very strange coincidence? Let us know what you think!