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Kevin Gannon: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Kevin Gannon
Kevin Gannon

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Kevin Gannon

Kevin Gannon is a retired New York Police detective and murder investigator whose Smiley Face killers principle is the topic of a brand new Oxygen Channel collection.

Gannon, and a gaggle of different investigators, consider the deaths of younger males who have been discovered deceased in rivers and lakes all through america might actually be the work of a gang of serial killers. For at the least a decade, Gannon has argued that a few of the dozens of deaths of younger males – from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania to Minnesota – is probably not accidents. Nevertheless, authorities in native jurisdictions and, years in the past, the FBI, have attributed the deaths to alcohol, saying they haven’t discovered proof of a serial killer smiley face gang. If Gannon and his group of investigators have particular names to put to suspects, they haven’t revealed them publicly.

The Oxygen channel collection concerning the concept is known as Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt For Justice.

The deaths, which have occurred since at the very least 1997, contain comparable victimology. The victims are younger, athletic, good-looking males, sometimes of their 20s and sometimes Caucasian, who vanish after nights out in bars with pals, solely to flip up deceased in rivers or lakes. Generally, the deaths have been both dominated unintentional or undetermined. The investigators declare the killers left scrawled smiley faces at a few of the scenes.

Right here’s what you want to know:


1. Gannon Says a Harmful ‘Domestic Terrorist’ Group Is Concerned within the Deaths

In 2008, Gannon took his principle a few smiley face serial killer gang public, and, with the launch of the Oxygen collection, he’s finished so once more.

“To me, this is one of the most dangerous domestic terrorist groups in the United States and somebody needs to pay attention to them,” Gannon stated to the Every day Beast. “The level of sophistication of the group is a lot greater than we’d imagined. Now we know they communicate with each other on the dark web. We know there’s surveillance and counter-surveillance.”

The Oxygen collection’ first episode will premiere on January 19, 2019 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Dakota JamesDakota James

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The Oxygen collection has chosen six instances to function out of an inventory of many dozens. The deaths featured on the Oxygen channel present are these of Dakota James of Pennsylvania; of Tommy Sales space, additionally in Pennsylvania; of Lucas Homan in Wisconsin; of Todd Geib in Michigan; of William Hurley in Massachusetts; and of Brian Welzien in Illinois. Dakota James is the topic of episode one. You can see movies and extra particulars relating to that case right here on the Oxygen Channel’s web site.

The dying of Dakota James follows the sample of many of those deaths. Age 23, he disappeared round 11:30 p.m. on January 25, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“James was walking back to his apartment after a night out drinking with friends and co-workers. He never made it home. The last known sighting of the Duquesne University graduate student was caught on a surveillance camera in the downtown area,” studies Oxygen. “The footage captured James entering a dark alley, and that was the last time he was seen alive.”

The next morning, his household filed a lacking individual’s report when he didn’t present up for work. “James’ parents later hired a private investigator who organized a massive citywide search, which led to the discovery of James’ body in the Ohio River on March 6, 2017, 40 days after he had disappeared,” the channel reviews. “The Pittsburgh police theorized James fell into the river while crossing a bridge near the city center and drowned. They believed his body traveled for almost 10 miles and even went through a dam before its discovery.”

Nevertheless, claims Oxygen: “James’ body, however, had almost no visible damage, which was highly suspicious because it had traveled through heavily trafficked river. A smiley face was found spray painted on an underpass near where James’ body was discovered.”

The opposite deaths are comparable. Tommy Sales space “disappeared on January 19, 2008 from a bar in Woodlyn, Pennsylvania. That night, he had been celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday with a group of friends. Surveillance footage captured Booth entering the bar where the celebration took place, but there is no video evidence of him leaving,” says Oxygen. “About two weeks after he went missing, Booth’s body was found facedown in a creek behind the bar.”

Lucas Homan was discovered lifeless in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the place there was a cluster of deaths. “On September 29, 2006, 21-year-old Lucas Homan vanished from La Crosse, Wisconsin,” says Oxygen. “The day of his disappearance, Homan had been celebrating Oktoberfest with his friends. After a night of barhopping, Homan headed home at around 10 p.m. with a friend. Homan and his friend somehow got separated during their walk home, and his friend ended up at the ER detox with a head injury after being picked up by police. He told investigators he could not remember anything that happened that night.” Homan was discovered close to the Mississippi River and his dying was dominated an unintentional drowning.

Todd Geib, 22, vanished on June 12, 2005, “at a bonfire party in an orchard close to his home in Casnovia, Michigan,” studies Oxygen, which says he made a cellular phone name saying he was in a area. He was “found three weeks later in a lake that had previously been searched. His death was ruled an undetermined drowning,” reviews Oxygen.

William Hurley, a Navy veteran, was 24 when he “went missing after leaving a Bruins hockey game in Boston, Massachusetts,” stories Oxygen. His physique was discovered within the Charles River, and authorities dominated the trigger undetermined drowning.

Brian Welzien disappeared on January 1, 2000, reviews Oxygen, which describes him as a “Northern Illinois University junior” who “went missing from Chicago, Illinois, after a night of celebrating Y2K with his friends.” Seventy-seven days later, stories Oxygen, his physique :washed ashore on a seashore in Gary, Indiana.”


2. The Drowning Deaths Have Occurred Since 1997 & a Dying in New York First Gannon within the Sample

The dying of Patrick McNeill, a New York man, sparked Gannon’s curiosity within the instances. In accordance to The New York Submit, McNeill 20, was a Fordham accounting main. In a 2008 article, The Publish stated Gannon and the opposite investigators alleged he “was killed by what they are calling the Smiley Face Gang, which they say has struck in 25 cities in 11 states since 1997.”

The New York Publish studies that McNeill “disappeared Feb. 16, 1997, after drinking at a bar on East 92nd Street. His body was found April 7, 1997, near the 69th Street pier in Brooklyn.” Gannon was on the NYPD then, was assigned to the case, and “promised McNeill’s parents he would never give up,” The Submit reported.

On the time, the Submit quoted Gannon as saying, “They’re psychopaths. They have no remorse. Some of the victims were held for a while until they were put in the water.”

Through the years, Gannon began an investigations company. “G.D. Investigations was officially established in 2007. However, the spirit of the agency was born back in 1997 when Kevin Gannon promised the parents of a victim of a mysterious drowning in Manhattan that the perpetrator(s) would be caught. The team’s investigative strength grew with the addition of Anthony Duarte & Mike Donovan in 2005. Technical expertise in the areas of crime mapping and criminology were added in 2006 when D. Lee Gilbertson joined the team,” its web site says.

In a information launch and e mail, the Oxygen Channel laid out the core of the smiley face serial killer concept.

“Since 1997, hundreds of college-aged men have mysteriously drowned, and their bodies have been found in clusters around the country, and the victims are eerily similar – they’re all athletic, academic achievers,” in accordance to Oxygen.

“In addition, near where many of the bodies are recovered is one distinct mark: graffiti of a smiley face. The series follows an active private investigation spearheaded by retired NYPD Detective Kevin Gannon and his veteran team of investigators as they work with victims’ families and top forensic experts to further investigate.”

The smiley face principle has been round for greater than a decade, when the lads first staged a media blitz to reveal the idea. In 2008, CNN reported, “Nine of the deceased attended the University of La Crosse, in Wisconsin. Three attended colleges in New York state. In all, the investigators say they’ve connected the bizarre drowning deaths of at least 40 college-age men across the country…The cases spanned 25 cities in 11 states.”

In 2013, ABC 7 in Chicago reported that the variety of drownings of younger males had reached 200 across the nation. Jerry Snyder, a former regulation enforcement officer who runs a non-profit group referred to as “Find Me,” informed ABC 7 that his group had additionally researched the deaths, saying, “It was time after time, Caucasian male, 18 to 26 years old, good looking, athletic, very intelligent. Every one of these kids were ending up in a river, pond, lake or stream and that just really caught our attention.”

In accordance to ABC 7, “Some investigators said that they think victims were rendered helpless either by injection or a spiked drink but that medical examiners and coroners don’t routinely test for those drugs.”

Oxygen calls the drowning deaths the “country’s most notorious string of mysterious, accidental drownings” and alleges that they will not be accidents, “but homicides; and they could all be connected to a larger theory of The Smiley Face Killers.”

The lads vanished after “a night out drinking with friends,” studies Oxygen. Together with Gannon, the investigators embrace Anthony Duarte, Mike “Mikey” Donovan and D. Lee “Doc” Gilbertson, “who have dedicated the past 12 years of their retirement to finding justice for these cases.”

Oxygen acknowledges that “all of the drownings have been individually classified as accidental or undetermined and have not been investigated as possibly related crimes. There are grieving families of these young men who are convinced that there is something more sinister at play, and desperately search for answers with Gannon and the team. Their goal is to gather enough evidence to convince local authorities to reclassify and investigate these deaths as homicides. Only then can the team attempt to establish a possible connection between these deaths to further their theory that the young men are victims of a calculated group known as The Smiley Face Killers.”

The FBI appeared on the instances in 2008 and launched a press release that there was no proof to help the smiley face serial killer principle. As an alternative, wrote the FBI, the instances appeared to be “alcohol-related drownings.” That assertion was launched earlier than some, however not all, of the instances featured within the Oxygen collection.

The FBI’s assertion learn:

Over the previous a number of years, regulation enforcement and the FBI have acquired details about younger, college-aged males who have been discovered deceased in rivers within the Midwest. The FBI has reviewed the details about the victims offered by two retired police detectives, who’ve dubbed these incidents the ‘Smiley Face Murders,’ and interviewed a person who offered info to the detectives. Thus far, we now have not developed any proof to help hyperlinks between these tragic deaths or any proof substantiating the idea that these deaths are the work of a serial killer or killers. The overwhelming majority of those situations seem to be alcohol-related drownings. The FBI will proceed to work with the native police within the affected areas to present help as requested.

The assertion was attributed to supervisory Particular Agent Richard J. Kolko, Washington, D.C.


three. Gannon Spent 20 Years on the NYPD & Was in Cost of a Bronx Murder Process Pressure

Gannon and St. Cloud College Professor Lee Gilbertson are authors of a ebook referred to as Case Research in Drowning Forensics. The guide explores the drowning deaths intimately.

The guide blurb on Amazon reads, “When a corpse is found in a body of water, authorities generally presume that the manner of death was either an accident or a suicide. They do not treat the recovery site as a potential crime scene or homicide, so many cases remain unsolved. Case Studies in Drowning Forensics investigates the cases of 13 bodies recovered from water in similar circumstances and one survivor. The product of intensive field investigation and archival research, this is the first book that presents and explains forensic autopsy evidence associated with the ‘Smiley Face’ murders.”

You can hear Gannon talk about the idea right here.

The blurb offers an outline of Gannon’s resume. He spent years investigating homicides for the New York Police Division.

Kevin Gannon retired as a Sergeant within the Detective Bureau from the New York Metropolis Police Division after 20 years of service, which included greater than 14 years as a supervisor. He has diversified coaching and expertise in private and bodily safety, investigation and surveillance, and catastrophe response. His background consists of management positions answerable for the private safety of quite a few worldwide dignitaries and personalities. He was an NYPD consultant on Giuliani’s 1997 ‘Operation ICE’ (Interagency Chemical Train) activity pressure, which deliberate and coordinated for an emergency response to a serious chemical catastrophe in decrease Manhattan. Participation included Division of Protection coaching associated to organic and chemical warfare. Gannon has supervised plainclothes personnel in anti-crime, narcotics and theft models, and was second in command of the NYPD’s Lacking Individuals Squad. He was in command of the Bronx Murder Process Pressure (Nightwatch) from 1999 till his retirement in 2001. Gannon has remodeled 1,000 felony apprehensions for crimes involving narcotics, burglaries, robberies, and homicides. Throughout his distinguished profession, Gannon was awarded virtually 100 medals for bravery. He was probably the most adorned member of the Particular Investigation Division of the Detective Bureau and probably the most extremely adorned Sergeants within the NYPD earlier than his retirement. He was a two-time recipient of the Medal of Valor (1994 & 1996) from Mayor Giuliani for heroism within the line of obligation. For his investigative work on gang crime, Gannon acquired the Frederic Milton Thrasher Award (2008) from the Nationwide Gang Crime Analysis Middle.

It offers this bio background on Gilbertson:

D. Lee Gilbertson holds a doctorate (Ph.D.) in Sociology (2002; with a focus in gangs and substance abuse) and a Grasp of Science in Felony Justice (1996; specializing in criminology and victimology). His background consists of 16 years of exemplary army service (infantry and alerts intelligence) from 1976 to 1992. As well as to his common duties, he additionally acquired coaching in and served because the unit Alcohol and Drug Coordination Officer (liable for substance abuse prevention coaching and supervising urinalysis collections), and because the unit Nuclear, Organic, and Chemical Warfare Protection Officer. He at present teaches at Saint Cloud State College and has consulted with regulation enforcement and offered coaching within the areas of forensic victimology, crime evaluation, and gangs. He has studied gangs, militias, and extremist teams since 1995 and is a licensed gang specialist. Gilbertson has introduced and taught at quite a few nationwide and worldwide conferences and educational establishments, and is a European polyglot. He’s a employees member of the Nationwide Gang Crime Analysis Middle and has participated in each iteration of its Worldwide Gang Specialist Coaching Convention. Gilbertson is a three-time recipient of the Frederic Milton Thrasher Award (2002, 2005, and 2008), and is an Government Editor for the Journal of Gang Analysis.

One case that stands out however isn’t featured on the Oxygen collection is that of Chris Jenkins, a Burlington, Wisconsin man who was discovered within the Mississippi River after an evening out consuming in Minneapolis.

Way back to 2002, The New York Occasions was reporting: “Young People Are Missing; Authorities Are Baffled.” That article reported that Christopher Jenkins was certainly one of 4 younger males who drowned in rivers in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The article described Jenkins as “a senior and co-captain and goalie of the lacrosse team at the University of Minnesota. Dressed as an American Indian, he had gone to a Halloween party at the Lone Tree Bar and Grill.”

What’s fascinating to lots of people is that, for years, police within the Jenkins’ case wouldn’t say that Jenkins died from foul play – identical to different drownings all through the nation. Nevertheless, in 2006, they did a surprising about-face.

In 2006, The Related Press reported that police introduced Jenkins “was thrown off a bridge in downtown Minneapolis …they apologized for first suspecting his death was a suicide or accident.” The reason for dying had initially been listed as undetermined. Nevertheless, though that they had a suspect in thoughts on the time, nobody was ever charged. “Chris’ death at this time is not linked to any of these other deaths, especially there’s quite a few involving college students,” Sgt. Pete Jackson informed the AP at the moment. “I have been contacted today quite a bit by other agencies from around the Midwest. We’ve had several deaths involving college students. But there’s nothing at this time to connect Chris’ death between the others.”

Nevertheless, authorities’ reclassification of the Jenkins’ dying as a murder has helped gasoline the serial killer concept. The case was featured on Investigation Discovery Channel.

A 2008 article in Milwaukee Journal (written by this writer) dug deeper into the idea. At the moment, Gannon and his group had launched their media blitz to achieve foreign money for the idea after deaths occurred in Wisconsin and Minnesota, gathering heavy information protection in these states.

Reported Milwaukee Journal: “After three months of research into the case, Milwaukee Magazine has learned a gang called the ‘Dealers of Death’ claims involvement in the deaths of some of these men. Convicted murderer Jeramy Alford, who is also a suspect in a river death that police now believe is a homicide, told the FBI last year that the gang had murdered 40 of the men. One admitted gang member: a man nicknamed ‘Zmiley.’” Though native cops advised Milwaukee Journal they’d run throughout the Sellers of Demise earlier than, verifying it existed, no fees have ever been introduced towards Alford or members of that group in affiliation with any of the river deaths. You can learn the complete Milwaukee Journal report right here.

To this present day, no expenses have ever been filed within the Jenkins’ case, and Jenkins’ mom stated in 2018 that she hadn’t had contact with Minneapolis police about it since 2010.


four. Gannon’s Father Was a Cop & He Says He Pays Meticulous Consideration to Element

Gannon advised Crime and Investigation that his “meticulous attention to detail” makes him a superb investigator.

“My meticulous attention to detail, as well as my ability to communicate with all types of people and to be able to put them at ease. The ability to empathize with both the victims and perpetrators has allowed me to secure information from both parties, which has been instrumental in helping to solve numerous cases,” he stated.

He advised the location that his father was additionally a regulation enforcement officer, saying that his dad was his inspiration: “My father, who was the greatest detective/police officer ever! His work ethic along with his respect and dignity for all people continues to inspire me today. His idea of police work being more about service to the community than just about arrests, medals, and numbers, is something I constantly try to remember and emulate.”

St. Cloud State College Professor Lee Gilbertson, who’s an skilled in spatial evaluation, discovered patterns in river deaths all through the nation, together with the truth that, at the moment, “94 percent of the deaths occurred within 100 miles of Interstate 94,” Milwaukee Journal reported. “The men are generally fit, good-looking, Caucasian, in their 20s, and separated from friends after nights in bars or parties. A few vanished after leaving dorms. Most are drunk. Most turn up dead in rivers or lakes, and with no obvious trauma.” The workforce advised the information media again then that that they had discovered 22 smiley faces.

“The smiley faces are rudimentary, mostly drawn in white paint. Some have three-pointed crowns. Nine have horns. A red smiley face was reportedly found in a drainage ditch in the March 2007 death of Abel Bolanos, 19, a college student found in an Iowa lake. It reads: ‘Evil Happy Smiley Face Man.’ The detectives claim they have 12 pieces of matching evidence, including nicknames left at scenes,” the journal reported.

Gilbertson advised Fox 9 after information broke concerning the Oxygen collection: “The goal of the series is to try and get justice for these families. Whether or not they ever find out who the killers are remains to be seen.” The station reported that Gilbertson’s involvement within the principle dates to 2006, when he studied it with a gaggle of graduate college students.


5. Gannon Has Weathered Controversy Alongside the Approach & Is a Most cancers Survivor

Alongside the best way, because the workforce continues to examine deaths, Gannon has run into controversy. He “was investigated in the sexual assault of a 19-year-old University of St. Thomas student last spring during the search for a missing St. Thomas freshman,” reported Twin Cities.com in 2010. Nevertheless, the newspaper reported that prosecutors closed the case with out arrest or cost after “citing insufficient evidence to pursue prosecution.”

In accordance to Every day Beast, he’s a most cancers survivor.

A prolonged report within the Middle for Murder Analysis by a number of co-authors studied the smiley face killers concept and debunked it. It says that the primary studies by journalists about drowning deaths dated to 1999.

The article asserts: “As many as 22 smiley faces have been identified by investigators, as well as an occasional discovery of the word ‘Sinsiniwa’…Investigators interpret the graffiti as a taunting of the police. The theory of these deaths includes offenders drugging a victim with GHB or a similar drug…abducting the victim…driving the victim around for hours in a van truck, torturing them…and then slipping the body into the water. Detectives allege the motive for the dumping of remains into the water is to wash away evidence…”

The article says that “in the Jenkins case, a correctional inmate is said to have confessed guilty for the killing to a cellmate.”

The article notes that there was a “happy face” killer (unrelated) prior to now; in 1992, serial killer Keith Jesperson of Wyoming “sent anonymous letters to news reporters signed with a hand-drawn smiley.” His victims have been feminine however didn’t drown.

The researchers recognized 40 deaths and added extra instances to it, ultimately totaling 150. They recognized numerous issues with the smiley face serial killer concept, together with:

-Time-order points. They stated there’s no proof when the smiley faces have been painted and a few have been discovered months later or have been pale.

-Graffiti is omnipresent. Graffiti is discovered in all places, and smiley faces have appeared since 1964 in well-liked tradition.

-The smiley faces don’t match one another and there wasn’t standards developed to specify “the necessary distance that a smiley face must occur in proximity to a deceased body in order to be counted.”

-No proof of sufferer trauma generally.

-Homicidal drowning is extraordinarily uncommon (solely zero.2 % of killings within the U.S.)

-The “general environment of these disappearances are conducive to accidental drowning,” as a result of they occurred “at night and after dark, in an area not far from bars and colleges.”

Additionally they famous that when police in La Crosse stepped up foot patrols, they stopped 50 drunk individuals from “approaching the river late at night.” They theorized that “many of these drowning cases are likely to have involved aspects of auto-assassination,” which isn’t suicide however “a style of living with reckless disregard for one’s own life.”

They in contrast the idea to “monsters of the past,” together with Massive Foot, Martians and UFOS.

The researchers included a collection of photographs of graffiti close to the Mississippi River to present its prevalence.

The Boston police commissioner additionally repudiated a serial killer principle when our bodies have been present in waterways in that metropolis.

A staff of volunteers now patrols the world close to the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Information 8000 reviews they ran throughout virtually 200 intoxicated individuals in a single yr alone.

In 2007, Twin Cities.com reported that the La Crosse police “asked the FBI’s National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime to review their investigations,” and each police and the FBI discovered no serial killer at work (the primary La Crosse dying was Richard Hlavaty in 1997.) The police chief advised Twin Cities.com then that “eight other people who survived falls into water in the area reported no contact with anyone else, and that there had been no reports of suspicious people approaching men in the areas where the victims were last seen.” Authorities attributed the trigger to alcohol.