Saturday, October 18, 2014

Is "Smiley face killer" just a figment of TV-inspired imagination--or a "victim" of gender politics?

One day while web surfing I came across the story about someone, or a gang of someones, referred to as the “smiley face killer.” This alleged serial killer preys not on white women (like they “all” do), but college-age white males—usually heavily intoxicated, and usually found drowned in rivers or lakes. Supposedly they have been found with a tell-tale “smiley face” mark on their bodies or on nearby structures, supposedly the calling card of the supposed killer or killers. Those who believe this point to dozens of such deaths that in their minds defies mere coincidence, since most occurred in relatively small geographical area in the Midwest, the larger number in Wisconsin.

Never heard of this case? Join the crowd. But before anyone gets carried away with conspiracy theories, I think I should say that personally I have my doubts about the veracity of the claim, although it is highly likely that a few of the cases were due to foul play, just that they are not necessarily related. However, the fact that it is virtually unknown save to a few crime fanatics is instructive on the selectivity and politics of what is regarded as “essential” for the public to know, and how law enforcement handles (potential) crimes that either not of interest to the media, or do not “fit in” the current gender political climate.

So it is that two retired New York City detectives, Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, claim to have found 40 “mysterious” deaths over a period of about ten years from the late 1990s to the late 2000s. Except for a few isolated patches of media interest of the late night variety (such as on Larry King Live), this “case” has gone completely unnoticed by the mainstream media. Of course I put case in quotes, because the truth of the matter is that no law enforcement agency considers it a “case” at all, but just a farfetched theory by a couple of guys with too much time on their hands.

All of the alleged victims are white, so there might be cases of parents grasping for any conspiracy theory to explain why their sons with a bright future could suddenly be dead. Being accosted by a killer while dead drunk and being dumped into a river sounds a great deal more “acceptable” psychologically than just wandering around in a drunken stupor and falling into a river. The deaths have been generally labeled “accidental” drowning by police. 

Some of these deaths have been rather “mysterious” in nature, and death may have occurred before being dumped in water, to conceal the body or evidence. For example, Brian Welzien, a student at Northern Illinois University, was out drinking with friends, and upon their return he was left outside to empty his insides on the pavement; Welzien was not seen again until his body washed up months later found on a Lake Michigan beach 25 miles away. Patrick McNeill, a Fordham University College student, was discovered floating under a pier two months after his friends last saw him taking a subway home. In 2013 Nick Wilcox, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student, was last observed leaving a bar with a man that he and his friends did not know. His body was found almost four months later in the Milwaukee River—the scene of an “unusual” number of these “suspicious” occurrences, at least to those of that mind.

In general, deaths put on the list as “possible” smiley-faced killer—besides being white college males—are cases in which the deceased was in some manner last seen intoxicated, was last seen alone, there were no witnesses to the supposed drowning and the body was not found until weeks or months after being reported missing. 

Do I believe that there is “smiley face” serial killer still at large and busy after 15 years—like the “Green River Killer” Gary Ridgway, who remained at large for a like period before he was “apprehended,” despite having been an early suspect in that case but allowed to remain at large due in no small part to the bungling of one Dave Reichert? I frankly doubt it, although out of all of the cases that are “suspect,” a few may in fact involve homicide, except that law enforcement agencies were too “busy” to investigate further. The FBI reportedly found no “linkage” in the “unfortunate” deaths, although it is likely they entered into any “investigation” into the cases with a preconceived conclusion. 

Of course, if white females had been the principle subjects, there would likely be the “assumption” that foul play was involved. And who wants to upset the gender victim myths by suggesting that males might be the targets of serial killers, and not just females? Certainly not Pat Brown, who frequently shows up on CNN and other programs to trumpet her misandrist criminal profiling theories, and “specializes” on male serial killers. Of course, her criteria for “profiling” serial killers could encompass most of the male population, but it still makes for good ratings. Brown, not surprisingly, has referred to the “smiley face killer” theory as “ludicrous.” 

Still, one wonders if people like Brown would take the theory more “seriously” if the deceased were females—given the fact that she is hardly what you would call an “objective” and dispassionate criminologist, but a gender fanatic (Brown is the founder of SHE—The Sexual Homicide Exchange). She is also the author of a book about the alleged murder of Cleopatra by Octavian (the future Emperor Augustus), as opposed to suicide, as all contemporary historians of the time reported. As a student of history, I am not sorry to say that this book is ludicrous and preposterous in its total lack of supporting evidence and understanding of the times (Brown simply bases her “hypothesis” on current feminist mythology). So much for her “credibility.”

Given the nature of this kind of “doubt,” it is perhaps easier to believe that the “smiley face killer” theory is not given appropriate attention for reasons of gender politics. Three-quarters of all murder victims are male, yet to fanatics like Brown and media sops like CNN’s Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell with their “war on women” bombast, you’d think the only people who are ever victims of homicide are white women—the demographic by far the least likely to be a homicide victim by rate (black males are 23 times more likely to be the victim of homicide).  

Still, the average number of drowning deaths a year in the U.S. is about 4,000 and among “college-age” males about 500 or so—of which most are “alcohol related.” It would be “preposterous” just to pick out of few similar cases and conclude that there is killer or gang of killers specifically involved in them. On the other hand, it is also “ludicrous” to say that some of these “accidents” were not so. It is just too much that gender politics has to muck-up the works when even considering the possibility—especially when families of the deceased have had to force police to conduct required reexaminations of “suspicious” deaths after rushing to the easy conclusion.

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