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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Has Jack Culolias been found?


UPDATE December 28, 2012: Body of Jack Culolias has officially been identified this week. Police claim the young man "accidentally" drowned in the area of the nearby river that had already been thoroughly searched when he first went missing. They also say there is "no signs of foul play" in either his disappearance from the Cadillac Ranch in Tempe Arizona or in his subsequent death. Use the search box to find all posts concerning Culolias. [NOTE: I'd like to interview parties involved in this case for the VOICES OF THE DEAD feature. Please make contact via the comment section below or here if interested.]

UPDATE December 16, 2012: A dead body was spotted in the water this morning in the vicinity of where Jack Culolias first disappeared from Tempe Marketplace in Arizona on November 30th. Police are currently on the scene and attempting to retrieve the corpse, but have not confirmed if it is that of the missing ASU student.

However, Sgt. Mike Pooley issued this statement to the media: "We believe there's a good chance this is Jack Culolias," he said. "Right now, there are no signs of foul play."

That remains to be seen though, since the area in question was thoroughly searched before, not only by large search parties but with tactical dive teams equipped with sophisticated sonar, and Culolias wasn't there.

Asked about that Sgt. Pooley quickly answered, "What we're thinking is because of all the rain we've been getting, the water level has significantly risen just in the past couple of days...So, we're thinking if this is indeed Jack and if this body was down there it was obviously lodged in between something and the water level has brought it up quite a bit."

Of course, that's not exactly how it works--a submerged body "refloats" to the surface once putrefaction begins to set in, the gases in the gut literally lifting it up like a helium ballon. How quickly this happens depends on the water temperatures. Read more drown forensics here. 

This is the second corpse discovered in water in this area in as many weeks. Earlier last week, body parts and skeletal remains were found in a Phoenix storm drain located less than 10 miles from the Cadillac Ranch, the bar and grill where Culolias was reported to have been ejected by bouncers before vanishing. Last heard, medical examiners were trying to identify those remains too, but there has been no word on whether they've achieved this as yet.  (Updates, if any, will be added here again.)


Arizona State University student Jack Culolias, 19, is still officially listed as missing ever since the evening of November 30th when he vanished after being ejected by bouncers from the Cadilla Ranch bar-and-grill in downtown Tempe.
And, despite intense searches for him in and around the waters of the Salt River and the Tempe Town Lake where his sneaker was found, there have been no substantial clues as to his sudden disappearance and fate.
However, authorities have just found human remains in a Phoenix storm drain situated very near the Tempe water basin and less than 10 miles from the Cadillac Ranch where Culolias was booted from two weeks ago.

Maintenance workers spotted the body (and bones) at the bottom of an access shaft early Wednesday, and Maricopa County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Brandon Jones said police had to wait a few hours while crews determined if it was safe before homicide detectives could climb down 30 feet to the bottom of it.

Jones said detectives did not recover an entire corpse as yet and planned to re-explore the shaft again shortly. Investigators think it's not very likely the victim accidentally fell in there and may have been dumped at 43rd Avenue and Broadway Road.

If it is Culolias and perps relocated him to this site from the area a helicopter pilot had reported seeing a body floating in the water last week, then this is exactly why police are NOT supposed to publicize a crime tip BEFORE they actually investigate it themselves. (As the Tempe police seem to have done before thoroughly searching that remote locale in the Salt River basin.)

*This story is developing; more updates, if any, will be posted below.

Update #1 - December 13, 2012: Sources say body from storm drain is not intact and is that of an adult.  (NOTE: this does not necessarily imply that the deceased was dismembered--corpses submerged in water decompose rapidly, and when such a waterlogged body is additionally exposed to air it will begin to deteriorate at an accelerated rate.  See Drowning Forensics for complete analysis.



  1. Has there been anymore updates on this case?

  2. No, there doesn't appear to be--this is one of the cases I check on regularly and have found nothing new of substance concerning Culolias OR the body found not far from where he was last seen.

    I did *hear* a rumor that the bouncer who threw him out that night went "on vacation" recently. Haha--guilty thug--but I can't confirm this.

    Can you?


  3. I doubt I can confirm it either. It would take some doings. LOL I am researching two cases now and have my hands full. LOL Ha!! Not including a family, and college too. I have been looking on the internet and such and I haven't found any updates either. I'm sure you have better resources than I do though so I was just curious. I wouldn't doubt the bouncer though, muscle man used a bit to much muscle. Common enough. I am on pins and needles to know if the body is that of this young man. Not that I want it to be at all, but it would fit the M.O. Sadly, but surely!! I just finished your book read it in 2 days would have finished it earlier if I hadn't had homework due. Great read, look forward to buying a few more.

  4. The body found is Jack.

  5. OMG, thank you for letting me know. As I said before I hated for it to be and my heart goes out to his family. But at least they can have half the closure of knowing where he is at. Now for the closure of what happened. Let me guess, accidental drowning, due to alcohol as usual??

  6. Hazing consists of humiliation and alcohol use. He probably urinated over the bacolny as part of the initiation. (humiliation) drinking of course. Intent to be thrown out as part of it all. This was all part of the initiation. What happened next? Someone or people know and have not yet come forward. When the guilt sinks in. One will come forward.

  7. @ "Anonymous, December 22..."

    No. More than anything hazing "consists of" secrecy. Obviously then a public area such as the Cadillac Ranch would not be chosen as the site for staging such a ritual.

    You're right that humiliation is an integral part of it, though. But again, you're wrong if you think urinating over a balcony would be perceived by either Culolias or his future frat mates as anything more than a prank.

    Speaking of "someone or people" coming forward "when the guilt sinks in"...did you investigate those bouncers who threw the boy out? If so, do any of them have ties to the local police department? I ask because it's fairly standard practice for cops and ex-cops to moonlight as bouncers, particularly at establishments where a lot of young patrons tend to congregate. (Cops have the largest, most secretive fraternity in the world, by the way, and with that respect *secrecy* is the understatement of the day.)

    I want to also add here a curious anecdotal account of Cadillac Ranch's rather infamous security staff, just so you can measure the probability of what actually happened the night Culolias disappeared. It was provided in April 2011:

    "The drinks were expensive by AZ standards and weren't right half the time, in addition to being pretty weak. Place was pretty busy and a good amount of potential for a good night out. Then about midnight they started throwing people out left and right. We were celebrating a birthday and the birthday boy brushed up a against a 'security' person and was ejected. I've been going out a long time and have never seen anything like it."

    Watering down drinks as a policy makes it also seem improbable that the victim, ejected at only 11PM was all that intoxicated.

    Thanks for posting; I look forward to your replies to those questions--

  8. Hello I'm the Identical Twin brother of Jack Culolias. You guys have some interesting theories on how Jack died and I was wondering if you guys had any more cases like this happen in the tempe area since Jack.

    1. Messaged you back, Alex, via gmail on 11/18/15 -- below is a similar disappearance and *drowning* in Tempe Lake during same time-frame (not my reporting, but rather PhoenixTimes Inc.):

      “The Tempe Police Department has confirmed that the body pulled from the Tempe Town Lake this morning matches the description of missing Tempe man Willie Jigba...

      “Investigators returned to the lake this morning after suspending the two-day search of the lake for Jigba last night. In the lake this morning, investigators found a body floating about 30 feet off shore.

      "Jigba was last seen leaving a party in the 600 block of East Weber Drive in Tempe on January 15. Jigba couldn't find a ride and left the party alone...Jigba was supposed to start a new job the next day, but never showed up...”

      (Also peruse "Voices for the Dead" interviews tab via the Killing Killers site.)