The Smiley Face Killers: Detectives Unveil a Horrific Theory in the Mysterious Deaths of Dozens of Young men


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There is a nationwide gang of murderers operating in small cells targeting young, male, predominantly White college students. The killers have covertly murdered dozens of young men in the last decade, perhaps as many as forty, disposing of the bodies in rivers and lakes where the deaths could be explained as accidents. At each scene they leave a spray painted Smiley Face as mute witness to the unrelenting horror that they perpetrate on their fellow man for no other reason than the celebration of their own evil.

On its face it seems absurd, a theory that sounds like the plot of a bad movie or one of those delusional stories told by paranoid conspiracy theorists. It is a scenario so beyond the pale that upon first hearing it you don’t want it to be true.

But two retired police detectives have come forward with the results of their investigation into these deaths, dozens of deaths that span several states, and have provided convincing evidence that a cult of killers has been hunting young men for over ten years, and taunting the police with a bizarre and easily overlooked signature:

A spray-painted smiley face with a taunting grin could be the disturbing signature of a nationwide network of killers who target promising college students.

The chilling symbol has been found at at least 12 sites where young men fitting a distinct profile have been drowned in incidents that were ruled accidents.

Found by two retired NYPD cops, the link could be evidence that at least 40 men in 11 states were victims of a syndicate of serial killers. Four area students were among the victims – all found floating in New York City waters more than a decade ago.

“I believe we’re looking at an organized group that has a hierarchy and is involved in murder and other criminal activity,” retired NYPD Sgt. Kevin Gannon said Monday, noting that some of the deaths in different cities occurred on the same day.

Gannon, a 20-year veteran who worked homicide and missing persons cases, said trademark graffiti left at the sites where the victims have been dumped in the water reveal a pattern of intent – along with the near-identical profiles of the drowned men.

In every case, the victim has been a 19-to-23-year-old white male with high academic achievement and active in competitive sports, said Gannon.

“If this was a random thing, we’d have a wider range of victims,” he said.

Gannon, who has partnered with retired Bronx homicide Detective Anthony Duarte, said the 12 smiley faces have been found at drowning scenes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. The crude drawings vary in size, shape and color and at least one had a chilling message written next to it: “The evil, happy, smiley man.”

“They’re laughing at the police,” said Gannon. “They’re happy they’re getting away with this and they’re getting a little more brazen.”

The killings happen in regional clusters – not unlike the time four young men in the city went missing and then surfaced dead in waters surrounding the five boroughs in 1997 and 1998.

Pat Brown has gone on record before as saying signature killers are exceedingly rare. And while there have been serial rapists and murderers who have worked together in teams there has not been, to my knowledge, a network of killers this large (unless you believe the theories of Maury Terry concerning the Son of Sam “cult”) who kill seemingly for sport or pleasure. Gangs that kill do so for materialistic reason or in some cases status, and there is more variety in the victims. These killers have a definite victim profile they work from.

Almost all the victims were White, from 19-23 and were last seen in a bar. All also have some general similarities, each having a “jock” look and being the clean cut, straight laced type. All have very similar hight, weight and even grade point average.

The detectives involved say they have names of suspected gang members, so maybe they will eventually be able to shine some light onto what the motives of these murderers are.

The case has gone national but it was Kristi Piehl who worked with the families and the detectives for a year who broke this story and her reports are as in-depth as you’d expect. has the story written up and accompanied by a video report as well as a collection of evidence and reports to go through. It includes an interactive victim map and an interview with Kristi Piehl on a morning talk program where the ineptitude of the local cops is exposed as playing a part in the killings going undetected.

Fox News is reporting, and there’s a clip of Shep Smith getting details from Eric Shawn available on YouTube.

The Upstate New York town of Canton has reacted to the news with disbelief. The police there have announced they will not reopen the case and are sure Victor Falcon, believed to be one of the Smiley Face Killers victims, drowned accidentally.

Coast to Coast A.M. also has an interview with Kristi Piehl that is interesting. It’s posted on YouTube in seven parts: I, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII.

If this turns out to be true it’ll be one of the most important discoveries in criminology. A nation wide serial killing cult would be considered an urban legend until now, and their exposure would change how we view gangs, serial killers and everything we think we know about crime.

Update: MSNBC has coverage and video from The Today Show.

Also Huffpo put up a story using a link to the very same Pat Brown Crime Library essay I used. To make the same point. About twelve hours later. Just saying.

24 thoughts on “The Smiley Face Killers: Detectives Unveil a Horrific Theory in the Mysterious Deaths of Dozens of Young men

  1. Very creepy! Several blogs have added A LOT of info to what the Jenkins family and Gannon had to say. The Sope-Bocks blog has a list of names, a couple of theories and lots of other stuff. I’m printing it out, so I can cross-reference what that guy has written. I think he missed some things, but he does have some of the most in depth data available right now.

    Huffpo and a coupla others are developing the story, too. I think the bloggers are going to break this case wide open.

  2. Ah Yes The Laughing Man Syndicate still up to there usual hi-jinks, I’m surprised they have yet to realize the Anime/J. D. Salinger’s relationship of the murders,

    “I thought what I’d do was, I’d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes.”

    Plot summary The novella is told from the point of view of an unnamed narrator recounting his experience as a nine-year-old living in New York City in 1928, but largely takes the structure of a story within a story. As a member of a Boy Scout-like troop called the Comanche Club, the narrator comes into contact with a Scout leader called “The Chief,” a young law student at New York University (NYU) acting as caretaker in his spare time. The Chief is described as somewhat absurd in appearance, but is widely respected by his troop for his athletic strength and storytelling ability. Every day, after the troop has completed its activities for the afternoon, The Chief gathers the boys for the next episode in an ongoing story he tells them about the eponymous Laughing Man. Very much in the format of a serial adventure novel, The Chief’s story-within-a-story describes The Laughing Man as the child of missionaries but kidnapped by bandits in China,

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  5. The smiley face is a symbol used in Nite club and rave party subculture a lot. Especially in reference to acidhouse music and the drug extacy.
    I can’t help but think this might be drug traffic related.
    The clients of these drug dealers are often college kids.
    This designer drug market is not known for violence or murders like the cocaine market is, but in recent years that might have changed.


  7. Mary, First let me say how sorry I am concerning the loss of your son. Second, I am stunned that no one responded to your post. Clearly, your son’s death is very suspicious, and it fits the Smiley Face MO perfectly. The police should have opened a case, and were negligent in dodging their responsibility…an all too common outcome for SFK victims. Thankfully, this subject is finally getting some national attention, so the criminals will eventually be caught. There is a lot of good information accumulating on the net, so do some Google searching. You’ll find a great deal of new information, and (sadly) a lot of stories like your own. For some reason, the police have proven to be incompetent or impotent in this situation. The good news is that there are some good theories circulating, and arrests may be in the near future. I pray that’s the case. You should contact the two detectives in NY who finally elevated this case to a national level. Good luck.

  8. This afternoon, driving through downtown Sacramento, CA, I was shocked to see a huge, ugly, “smiley face” painted on a metal utility box on the corner of 19th and T Streets. I went around the block, came back and took about 6 photos of that and the other “graffiti” on the box. I’d like for the investigators and/or the journalist to contact me and give me an email address so I can send these pix to them. In all my years of watching graffiti (some of it is really misplaced art) I have never, ever seen a “smiley face.” That is why it was shocking enough for me to want to photograph it and try to get it to somebody who cares. I wouldn’t even consider local law enforcement. However, Gannon, the journalist, or the parents may utilize my email address privately for this purpose, but I don’t want a lot of BS-ers harassing me. The Mad Photographer.

  9. videos of the smiley face killers rituals, i found the
    information that led me to make them while searching for monks’ names
    from st johns abbey. I noticed Vance Holmes wrote on the smiley face symbol
    aspect of the sfkillers he said ;

    “When something occurs the first time, it’s a happenstance. If the
    same thing occurs again, it’s a coincidence. At the third occurrence,
    it’s a pattern. ”


    “So at this point, the sinister “smiley faces” are a mystery within a
    mystery, or more precisely — a pattern within a pattern.”

    I find it would be statistically impossible for what i have found to
    be a coincidence, are these ancient alchemy rituals the solving of the
    mystery of the reason for drowning all these young men and the leaving of
    the symbols at the scene of the crime?

    What i have found directly links back to the only cases in this whole
    wicked mystery that pointed to possible perpetrators base, and the
    only ruled homocideIe. st johns abbey. Plus what i found via a st
    johns monk explains the meaning and purpose of both the drownings and
    the symbols left at them, it also has relevence to the removal of
    crosses and even the jacob wetterling case.

    Can you reply and encourage me to continue or stop?, do you think it
    is possible all this i have found is really only a coincidence?
    I could use a mathematicion who knows about stastical probablitlies to
    tell reassure me i am not going crazy, and yes it is true;

    “When something occurs the first time, it’s a happenstance. If the
    same thing occurs again, it’s a coincidence. At the third occurrence,
    it’s a pattern. ”

    my reasearch again is here

    and the videos are here 10 so far-



  10. recently came into contact with one of these sickos I believe. His name is EDIT. He let me stay in his garage when I needed a place to stay.He has a smiley face tatoo on his side. He spent time in Leavenworth. He lived near the Mississippi river during his youth. He bugged me to get a tattoo on my arm. He was a bartender at a bar right on the ocean in Imperial Beach Ca. He told me he had someone killed and two people he knew drowned when he was younger. My last name Forston is the same as a policeman who arressted an Indian protester in Indiana. Apparently I have ancestors who wronged the indians. He is native american. He placed a bottle of muriatic acid next to a water heater where I was sleeping. I was slowly being poisoned by the acid. This a doctor confirmed. I have tried to contact Gannon and Duarte but so far have not been contacted. I believe I could help crack this case. My email address is If any interested party would like to contact me please feel free to. I have even more information than this that might help.

  11. these killings are not confined to the east coast. in the last few years we have had several healthy young men vanish around Vancouver in British Columbia Canada. Most were leaving a pub or restraunt and a couple of there cars were found abandoned. One youth was found floating in the Fraser river this year. You can read this over google at….Vancouver Missing Men.

  12. My brother was 21 when he drowned in Newport Beach in California 11 years ago. He was a huge surfer, played water polo, he taught me how to swim. I believe whole heartedly that it wasn’t an accident. Always have and always will. He was cremated so there’s no way I will ever know for sure. Of course, like all the others it was ruled as an accidental drowning.

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  14. Most of the area these men are in is the “Bible Belt” Most common names repeated are from the bible. Baptists are against drinking. Some of the men had law enforcement affiliations. I`m thinking this guy has an agenda. He was released from prison and reinvented himself by joining a church. The last Baptist convention was this month in LaX when Craig came up missing. Who would ever think a clean cut hardly ever seen mild meek mannered person/s would ever do such a thing. Good cover don`t you think. seems to fit . Check the net for places of conventions like I did.

  15. My son and I were camping in the New Braunfels area on or around the 4th of July ….. I guess that would have been the comal river ( ? ) …around 1999-2000 maybe slight there after was July. We were in a hidden area away from other campers in a camo tent next to the shoreline of the river. You could hear a large group of men ..younger men around midnight and they started making indian battle cries at once and they were all running into the river. I could hear what appeared at first like they were dunking each other the ways kids do by holding the other persons head under water. The only problem was that after more than a few times of hearing this it was apparent that a single person was “gasping” after a while .. they realized it was not a ” fun game” …it was real, but it was ” covered” mostly by the ” indian call” they were making the battle cry at one time. I think this could have been them. I do remember police being in the area looking for somthing, but didnt ask us a thing. We were scared to death. You could feel the evil in that moment. I believe they are avenging something from the past and they are from Indian descent? Think about it .. A round happy cartoon-like image, often black-on-yellow, a symbol of peace and joy The smiley face represents the American spirit of friendship, happiness and peacemark ..when they leave their ” mark” it the happy face is sarcastic ..The original happy face .. it is orignally an American origens icon …something they obviousley dont feel good about. Indians were cheated out of the dream. American boys get to live it. If they belong to a tribe, nomadic or even a reservation …it doesnt keep them from traveling ..esp if they get a check each month just for being Indian. It makes it all the easier for them to travel. Everyone knows when researching anyone to do with an Indian descent or a reservation its almost impossible to locate them ..its like they are wiped off the map. You can put in a social security number and search records …you wont find a single thing. They are protected. I don’t anything against Indians my grandmother was half, but its obvious this is a vengence againist the all American Dream …and nothing personal with the victoms

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