Over a timespan of more than 20 years, around 350 young men drowned in lakes and other bodies of water in Midwestern American states. It became known that police officers had come across graffiti in the form of smiley faces near at least 12 locations where drownings occurred. Several people including NY detectives, Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, believe these drownings to be murders committed by either a lone serial killer or a group of serial killers.Their theory is that the men were most likely drugged after being abducted and then murdered before being disposed of by dumping them in lakes and rivers. The detectives also believe that the serial killers include both men and women.
Victims include 21-year old Brian Welzien who disappeared on New Year’s Day in 2000. His decomposing remains were found 8 weeks later in a lake in Indiana. In 2009, 24-year old William Hurley was missing for 6 days before being found dead and floating in a river in Boston. One of the smiley faces were spotted near the river.
While the FBI is not convinced and say that the drownings are most likely alcohol-related, private investigations continue. A documentary on the drownings saw the light in early 2019. Whether the detectives will ever find serial killers lurking in the periphery and bring them to book, remains to be seen.