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Friday, January 11, 2013

Autumn, Winter, Missing, Dead

Without fail, The Case of the Drowning Men always involves a specific type of victim and their inexplicable disappearances. And, as can be seen from this particular kill season, these cases periodically spike every couple of years.

Below are a few I've been following since autumn of 2012 alone. These are only for the United States; there are now many more overseas and across the border with Canada as well which are not (yet) included here.

Note also that, although the first 'drowning' deaths--beginning in 1997 with 21-year-old New Yorker, Patrick McNeill--were centered mainly in America's northland, they have of late been occurring in more southerly districts of the USA, too.
This is an active, chronological post and will be frequently updated as more names are added to 2013's fast growing list, and/or whenever missing persons listed on it are finally located (dead or alive) and a ruling is made either by coroners or other state officials. Bookmarking is therefore recommended to those readers also tracking these disappearances and developments. (Use the search box feature and tag cloud on the side panel to the right to find the original posts concerning each case.)
Harsha Maddula, 19, vanished without a trace from Chicago Illinois this past autumn 2012. Indian-born Maddula was a hard-working and popular honors student at prestigious Northwestern University. A light drinker, he was downtown with his friends in late September and when they turned around he was simply "gone." He was found weeks later drowned in the harbor some miles away. The cause of death has since been ruled an "accidental drowning" but the manner remains undetermined so far.
Tyler Blalock, 19, was out drinking with some college buddies in North Carolina when he went missing on October first of 2012. His body was found in a shallow creek shortly thereafter with a prominent head wound. Blalock's drowning was ruled "accidental." 
Jonathan Dailey, 23, was an architectural grad student living and working in Boston Massachusetts. He disappeared on October 2nd of 2012 and was found drowned in the Charles River about two weeks later. Although his legs had been bound with heavy chains and cinderblocks to keep his body weighted to the river bottom, police still theorized he may have "committed suicide." The cause and manner of Dailey's death has yet to be announced.
Walton 'Matt' Ward, 23, disappeared from Indianapolis Indiana on October 12th 2012. Seconds before Ward vanished he was in an altercation with a bouncer from a downtown pub named Landsharks during which he placed an emergency 911 call. His body was found in the White River on October 23rd by construction workers. Police say he "accidentally drowned" and his call for help was merely a "misdial." They never interviewed the bouncer and have informed Ward's parents that the individual has since "left town."
Joshua Swalls, 22, also disappeared from downtown Indianapolis where he was visiting a friend in early November 2012. Tactical divers promptly searched a retention pond near to that apartment complex a few days later when one of Swalls' shoes was discovered on its bank, but they found nothing in the small body of water. Weeks later, the young man's corpse was spotted in that same pond, however. Police say there is "no sign of foul play" in either his disappearance or death and have ceased investigating it.
David Gerken Jr., 26, was attending a Bills/Dolphin game at the Bills' stadium complex in New York mid-November 2012 when he was evicted at halftime while en route to the mens' room. He then arranged by cellphone to rondezvous with his brother and a friend at Tailgaters bar close by, but never made it. He was found by his father the next morning drowned in a creek at the bottom of steep ravine without a mark on his body. This case is quietly being investigated by the Bills' team and those findings have not yet been publicized.
Jack Culolias, 19, was out with his ASU college mates on the last night of November when he too vanished without a trace. Minutes before then, Culolias was observed being physically removed by bouncers from the Cadillac Ranch bar-and-grill in Tempe Marketplace Arizona, allegedly because he'd urinated from a balcony. His drowned corpse was finally retrieved weeks later from the Salt River basin, a waterway that had already been extensively scoured by members of his family, the community, and tactical divers armed with state-of-the-art sonar and other high-tech search capabilities. He "accidentally drowned" authorities claim.

Dan G. Thomas, 29, hasn't been seen or heard from since December 18th 2012 after departing from his family's home in Butte Montana for his own residence in Portland Oregon. It is not yet clear as to whether he was traveling by car, train or plane to get there, but the young man was last sighted in Missoula which is less than a hundred miles from Butte via Interstate-90. Dan Thomas is described as a Caucasian male, six-foot-two and 170 pounds, with brown hair. He was wearing a green Carhartt jacket and dark jeans when he disappeared. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is urged to call police detective Rhonda Staton at (406) 497-1151, or to email her at rstaton@bsb.mt.gov.
Prescott Wright, 23, and his friend Zachary Wells, 21, were last seen drinking beer together at Wells' apartment in Kennebunkport Maine on the evening of December 20th 2012. They've never been sighted again. Police say they found the young men's clothing strewn on a nearby island which is only a few miles away from the Bush compound on Walker's Point, but there's no clue as to how the articles might have gotten there. Both victims' families have already posted obituaries despite that they'd only been gone for two weeks. As a result, the case of these missing young men has now become one of Maine's biggest mysteries, at the moment second only to the question of whether Kennebunk prostitute/private-eye Alexis Wright, 29, will be convicted of the 100+ charges currently pending against her there. Wrights' list of arrested johns include many prominent male citizens and statesmen throughout the area, and even one client known only as "a cattle rancher", but, despite public disclosure laws, police are keeping most of those names confidential. It is not yet known whether Prescott Wright and Alexis Wright are related because no one will answer my inquiries.
Manuel "Antonio" Guevara, 26, was reported missing from Plainfield New Jersey a few days after Christmas. He was last seen alive around three in the afternoon on December 26th, 2012 at a Watchung lakeside establishment called Water & Wine where he was employed as a waiter. The young man's shoes and wallet were then discovered on Watchung Lake's shore on January 2nd 2013, so police drained the body of water to search for Guevara but found nothing in it they say. On January 5th, however, the young man's body was found frozen at the bottom, and an investigation immediately launched to determine if his death was a murder, suicide, or accident. Authorities are asking that anyone with information about this case call the Watchung Police Department at 908-756-3663, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Squad at 908-231-7100, or the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS.
Robert Steinbrecker, 24, went missing from the Milwaukee area on December 27th 2012 as he and his friends were walking home along Cedar Creek Road from a pub in Cedarburg at 2:00 AM. Those two friends say the young man ran up ahead of them and then completely vanished, but that about a half hour later they all made contact again via cellphone, whereupon a "confused" Steinbrecker admitted he was lost. At that point the three arranged to meet up again at Sheboygan Road, but Steinbrecker never made it there. Police are asking anyone with information to call 262-284-7172 or their own local law enforcement agency. Officially they have ended their search for him but, acting on a tip, renewed the effort on January 11th 2013 by sending a dive team in to explore the partially frozen waters of Cedar Creek. (Note: From the start there have been conflicting reports as to whether Steinbrecker walked onto the creek voluntarily which, if so, would indicate this is not a 'Smiley Face' scenario. Nevertheless, I advertised his disappearance on this weblog because it had very little coverage otherwise.) BREAKING NEWS January 11, 2013:  The body retrieved by tactical divers from Cedar Creek today is that of Robert Steinbrecker, police state. Allegedly a passerby spied the young man's gold and green cap in the water and recognized it from his missing-persons poster. An area newpaper has also reported that at approximately 3:45 in the afternoon one of their photographers "watched divers pull a body in a bag out of the creek." The corpse has been taken by authorities for formal identification and an autopsy. No official explanation has been provided for Steinbrecker's disappearance and drowning yet.
Nick Wilcox, 24, went missing from Milwaukee Wisconsin on New Year's day after being hauled out by bouncers from a downtown pub called the Irish Rec Room, a controversial pub already slated by December 2012 to lose its liquor license due to a sundry of neighborhood complaints and business failings. A massive search effort conducted by the missing young man's family and friends is still underway. Milwaukee police have recently announced that the body they fished out of the nearby Milwaukee River on January 10th "is not Nick Wilcox," but rather that of a middle-aged male. Any information concerning the Wilcox case should be phoned in to the MPD at 414-933-4444, or to their Sensitive Crimes Division at 414-935-7403.   
Ben Coffey, 27 and the son of Terry Coffey the CEO of Virginia Urology, is a Richmond Virgina resident. He too went missing on New Year's day and his van with his dog in it was discovered a few days later parked at the side of Tappahannock Highway in a well developed section of town that also contains a swamp. The vehicle was out of gas, police say, and Coffey had provided his pet with a supply of food and water before leaving it, but, oddly enough, he also left behind his cellphone and keys. Although the young man is said to live in that van from time to time, he is not believed to be a threat to himself or to others, and his lack of contact with friends and family is considered unusual. Ben Coffey is described as 5’6” and 150 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes. Anyone who has spoken with or seen him is urged to contact the Tappahannock Police Department at 804-443-3992.

Jeremy Walker, 29, from the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania area, vanished without a trace on January 2nd 2013. An experienced hiker, Walker had informed his family he was going to trek the Ohiopyle state nature preserve on January first, a place he had frequented many times. The young man was last sighted walking in winter hiking clothes along one of the park's snowy trails, but on the following day when Walker was reported missing and his car located at the 'Train Station' rest-stop, park officials found that same hiking gear stashed in it and his cellphone...yet no clues as to where he went once he'd returned to the vehicle. Sniffer dogs traced Walker's scent on a footbridge over the Youghiogheny River a half-mile away, but the snow piled on the handrailings was undisturbed for the entire length on both sides of it. Underwater sonar has also yielded no answers to the mystery; there is apparently nothing in the waters that rush beneath the bridge. Rescue coordinators say this is the first time they've ever failed to promptly locate someone in Ohiopyle, dead or alive, and the police have no solid theory or leads either. They think the fact that Walker has been so difficult to find could mean anything, from intentionally hiding to suicide or foul play. But, they emphasize, every one of those likely scenarios leads to the river. Jeremy Walker is a white male, with light brown hair and gray eyes, and is estimated to be about five-feet-ten and 180 pounds. The quest to find him is ongoing and anyone with information that might aid searchers is asked to call the Ohiopyle State Park rangers at 724-329-8591.

Charles Geurts, 26, from Kaukauna Wisconsin was visiting the nearby city of Madison for an agricultural conference. He went missing early in the morning of January 15th after leaving his hotel room at the Sheraton. Over the past 15 years, this northern U.S. city has become a 'hot spot' for Smiley Face disappearances and drownings. Not incidentally, for that same length of time the Madison Police Department has shielded amongst its ranks a cop known for especially abusive treatment of young males he perceives to be inebriated. Sociopathic officer Stephen Heimsness has been written up a number of times for using excessive force -- beating, tasering, and even shooting to death unarmed and allegedly intoxicated men. Recently suspended for the wrongful shooting death of 30-year-old Paul Heenan, Heimsness was cleared to return to work at the MPD just this month, ominous news for men like Geurts who was last observed to be drinking with friends. Coincidentally, police say someone in the neighborhood of the Sheraton Hotel had called the police about "a prowler" in their yard only 20 to 30 minutes after Charles Geurts left the Sheraton. Police say they have a "strong reason to believe" it was the missing young man, but refuse to elaborate on the basis for that hunch. The MPD did, however, rather frantically search for the 26-year-old ASAP, which, as most people know, is an unusually swift response to a missing man report...however, they now claim Geurts "fell into" the nearby lake, but, yet again, don't say why it is they suddenly believe that's the case, and they still haven't released the names of the officers who responded to the 911 call that was made. Anyone with information about this case should contact police at 608-266-4275. Charlie Geurts is blond-haired, blue-eyed, and approximately six-feet tall and 180 pounds. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt, denim jeans, and boots when last sighted.
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  1. Check this out


    (Brant Exley,19,missing frint LA)

    there is even a voice recording he left his dad saying people were after him. he was running. But, *get this* a state trooper juat sighted him. IDK, weird.

    websleuths link:


  2. Thanks for the tip--you're right this is a strange one. I suspect there's some glaringly omitted facts here, at the very least, but I'll keep an eye on it anyway.

    Also, I checked out that facebook link you provided, and can only scratch my head in puzzlement over that as well. Why are so many posters being disagreeable there, even calling each other names? I mean, is that what people do on a missing person's page, troll and argue?!


    P.S. You think Mr. Trooper actually did sight this young man alive? (Me be doubting it, for some reason.)

  3. Exley Update: Apparently that 19-year-old man referenced above fled to West Virginia, which doesn't fully explain his elaborate and dramatic disappearance, of course. However, there are (at least) two warrants for Exley's arrest, evidently connected to unauthorized entry into a home, and quite possibly involving a younger girlfriend.

    Not a Smiley scenario. Or not yet, anyway!


  4. I found another one, that went under the radar, probably because of his age. Again, this acidental drowning victim doesn't look his age of 36.

    Ottawa, IL. April 27, 2012 Chris Strobel, 36, 5' 10" 185 lbs, brown hair brown eyes last seen between 1:30 and 2:00 am near Berta's Tap 616 Clinton Ave, Ottawa, IL. After searching the area, river and doing air searches, during a routine river search, was recovered 05/05/2012 about a mile west of the bridge, along the north shore of the Illinois River.

    1. The medical examiner ruled cause of death "undetermined" and the B.A.C came back at 0.169. Authorities said some of the BAC could have been the result of being in the water for so long and decomposition.

      I submitted the above... under Someoneislying, sorry.

    2. Hey thanks for this data, Tuned_In. Definitely a portion of the ethanol in his body would be from decomposition. Especially so since he already had alcohol in his system at the time he died which would corrupt other organs and the blood during putrefaction.

      In fact, drowned bodies tend to accelerate BAC production. (Click on my name in this comment to see the science behind that syndrome. The info is filed on Killing Killers under 'BLOOD/ALCOHOL CONTENT'.)


  5. Eponymous, I live in Boston and think Smiley Face has been active here on at least 3 occasions in the past 5 years. What's chilling to me is that I had followed the Smiley face-type of cases and theory on the killer for a few years before I noticed the same cases started popping up in my area, even one right down the street from me! Do you have the following cases on your list? If not, please investigate further:
    Franco Garcia - last seen at popular Boston College bar Mary Ann's, (which is about 6 blocks from my apartment.) Disappeared Feb 22nd of last year, and was found in the Chestnut Hill Reservoir nearby at the beginning of April. What I've always found strange is that he was seen on surveillance camera walking up Chestnut Hill Ave, which goes by the reservoir but not directly (you have to go through a heavily wooded area for some ways before you get to the water), but was not visibly drunk, and appeared to know where he was going. There is no reason to walk around the res. to get back to campus. He was also walking straight and with purpose, with no inebriation. How he fell in the Res. supposedly is beyond me:

    Also mysterious: how Gene Losik ended up in the Boston Harbor, after stepping outside his hotel at 3 am for a cigarette.

    William Hurley was also, by all accounts, not drunk when he left a Bruins game at TD Garden. He was also waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up near the Garden and was directing her to his location by phone. He was found in the Charles River.

  6. Also, I'm really glad you mentioned the Jonathan Dailey case. It happened very recently and after the news article revealing he had been found weighted down with chains (very creepy), there has been NOTHING in the news here about it - zero followup. It's as if it never happened. I wouldn't be surprised if BPD already closed it as a suicide.

  7. @Unknown:

    Very interesting -- thanks for those article links -- Franco Garcia's high profile missing persons case I had my eye on, and am still ever eager to hear the BPD's final conclusions as to this young man's inexplicable disappearance and drowning death.

    And, yes, you're correct that Boston is a Smiley Face hot zone. As well, those other somewhat lesser known cases you've referenced above fit the killers' motif perfectly, too.

    As to Jon Dailey's more-than-obvious murder, I too have been watching and waiting and wondering what the police intend to do about this matter, which is nothing, or so it would appear.

    From the start they put forth a theory of suicide, but that's absurd because, while it isn't unusual for people to sometimes weight their bodies down when trying to deliberately drown themselves, it defies logic that a person would wrap chains and cinderblocks around their legs and feet and then try to WALK and JUMP with these heavy objects hindering them. They wouldn't get very far.

    What do Dailey's loved ones have to say about all this? These days everyone has become awfully quiet. I also hear Dailey's longtime friend and roommate immediately skipped town...

    The last person to see Jonathan alive, Miles is (or surely should have been) considered the prime suspect, as homicide stats year after year clearly show the vast majority of murders are not committed by strangers or boogiemen/serial killers, but rather by friends, family members, and (as with the Oscar Pistorius case currently dominating world news) intimate partners.


  8. (by the way that's me, "Unknown", replying as Anonymous above- but I will from hereon reply as "Lyndsay" my actual name)

  9. When you think about it, Boston is one of the perfect areas to commit this kind of crime - cold environs, bodies of water next to large campuses, lots of victims to choose from - college-aged men - who are drinking a lot.

    1. @everyone....Friends, I know who the killers are, and they work together in a team....their names are Alcohol and Stupidity...these are all just drunk idiots who drowned, I knew one of them and he was wasted when he died.

  10. Jeremy Walker's body was found in March. http://www.wtae.com/news/local/fayette/Body-found-in-Ohiopyle-State-Park/-/10931844/19260616/-/hsn6di/-/index.html