UPDATE: 2 MORE 'SMILEY FACE' MURDER VICTIMS?
March 20, 2017 UPDATE: Body of Bradley Verret Found
On Sunday March, 19, 2017, Bradley Varret's body was recovered from the Schuylkill River, not far from where he was last seen over six weeks ago. Although authorities have not yet determined how Verret died, his disappearance and death are consistent with many of the 'Smiley Face' murder victims over the last several years. Varret was last seen on February 7, 2017, at Trooper Thorn's restaurant and bar in Reading, PA. Varret was 26-years-old when he died.
I have been contacted by several individuals who have been following this story over the last several weeks. Many believe that Varret could be a victim of the 'Smiley Face' serial murders, although law enforcement officers have not considered this theory in this case. As noted earlier, the coroner has not yet released Varret's cause of death , but I will update this story as necessary.
UPDATE: BODY of DAKOTA James recovered
March 7, 2017 Update:
Over the last several days, I've received multiple inquires from people throughout the U.S. regarding this story.
Yesterday, over one month after Dakota James disappeared in downtown Pittsburgh after a night of drinking, his body was recovered by law enforcement officials. Dakota's body was spotted floating in the Ohio River in Robinson Township. Although no obvious signs of trauma were observed when he was found, the medical examiner is actively determining his cause of death.
Shortly before Dakota's body was discovered, his mother posted the following statement on Facebook:
"Dakota did not do this to himself. He does not do drugs. He does not smoke. He works full-time and he attends grad school full-time. He's a runner, biker and swimmer. He drinks alcohol, but by no means was wasted like people think to of walked into the river."
Within hours of the news regarding Dakota's recovered body, "Megan Elizabeth" contacted me via Facebook seeking additional details of the 'Smiley Face Murder' theory. Like many others, she speculates that Dakota's death was not an accident or suicide; she believes he was murdered by the 'Smiley Face' killers.
So was Dakota murdered? Perhaps we will never know.
I will post investigative updates regarding Dakota's death, as well as Bradley Verret's disappearance, who's been missing since February 7, 2017 .
In September, I wrote about the “Smiley Face Murders”, a theory coined in 2008 by two retired NYPD detectives Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte regarding the deaths of over 40 men in various states between 1997 and 2010. After analyzing each of these deaths, Gannon and Duarte believe the victims were killed by a band of serial killers who left painted smiley faces at several of the murder scenes. To support their theory, Gannon and Duarte highlighted several similarities in each case. For example, all of the victims were found to have drowned and were located in or near bodies of water. All of the victims were white males, many were college students, and usually popular and athletic. And finally, most of the victims simply disappeared after a night of drinking and socializing with friends.
As highlighted in my previous blog, many have dismissed Gannon’s and Duarte’s ‘Smiley Face Murder’ theory, including the FBI, but many still believe in their theory. In fact, some believe that another ‘Smiley Face’ murder occurred as recently as September 18, 2016, in Decorah, Iowa, when 21-year-old Luther College student Bjorn Norderhaug disappeared after a night a drinking and socializing with friends. Norderhaug’s body was recovered from the Upper Iowa River the next day. His death was ruled a drowning, and law enforcement does not believe foul play was involved.
So have there been any 'Smiley Face' related murders lately?
Last week we received an email from an amateur sleuth who speculated the possibility of two additional ‘Smiley Face Murder’ victims. The tipster advised that two men, both from Pennsylvania, recently went missing on different dates after socializing with friends at local bars. The first man, Dakota James, a 23-year-old white male, disappeared on January 25, 2017, and was last seen on surveillance video walking downtown Pittsburgh at approximately 11:45 p.m. James is a graduate student at Duquesne University. To date, there has been no sign of James, and he has not been heard from since.
The other individual, Bradley Verret, was last seen the evening of February 7, 2017, before leaving an Irish pub in Reading, PA. Verret, a 26-year-old white male, was last recorded on surveillance video walking past his vehicle in the direction of the Schuylkill river. Similar to James, Verret has not been heard from since, and all leads have proven fruitless.
Are these cases at all connected to the 'Smiley Face' murders? Clearly, it is still too early to determine that. It is particularly worth noting that both victims have not yet been located, and their disappearances are being investigated by law enforcement as missing person cases, which means foul play is not suspected in either disappearance. It is particularly noteworthy, however, the parallels of these disappearances with those of the Smiley Face Murder victims, and that only two of those 40 cases were ruled as homicides.