New book casts doubt on "Smiley Face" river killer theory
LA CROSSE, WI (WXOW)--A new book criticizes claims that a serial killer is behind the Mississippi river drownings. New York investigators returned to La Crosse last month to investigate the death of 21 year old Luke Homan.
The investigators believe the Homan death in La Crosse may be related to 40 other mysterious homicides along the Mississippi river.
But the police department, and now an area author investigating the case say no foul play is involved.
Since 1997 eight young men have died in the Mississippi river in La Crosse.
Alcohol was involved in all of the drownings, but 2 New York investigators believe thats not the only similarity.
When they were in La Crosse last month they explained their theory.
Kevin Gannon says, "We believe there's evidence that shows these young men were drugged and put into the water."
After finding 12 smiley faces painted near the drowning sites, the people responsible have been tagged the smiley face killers.
The New York investigators believe Luke Homan, the 21 year old whose body was found three years ago in the Mississippi near La Crosse, could be one of the group's victims.
For his family members, the theory could bring closure, but local police officers aren't convinced.
Chief Ed Kondracki says, "Shame on anyone who creates unrealistic expectations in the hearts and minds of vitims family and friends. Its terrible."
They've ruled the local drownings accidental.
After doing his own investigation, an area author is also trying to de-bunk the myths surrounding the smiley face killers.
Because of the controversy surrounding the investigation, he's asked us not to show his face.
C. Symon says, "There is no evidence what so ever that a serial killer or killers or cult or terrorist group is targeting these students."
Just like police, Symon says the only thing the victims have in common is that they consumed alcohol.
"There is no motive. Its non existant. Because of that its hard to determine why the group would harm anyone."
As for the smiley faces, Symon writes "its just graffiti."
"They are not alike, they are written by different people, different sizes and different colors and different styles."
While the La Crosse police department was hesitant to comment on the book, they link the local drownings to binge drinking, and high suicide and depression rates among young adult males.
"Its not a matter of if there will be another drowning its a matter of when."
Without any suspects, that is something both sides could believe.
C. Symons book is titled Smiley Face Killers... Coincidence... Conspiracy...or Coverup.