The Smiley Face Serial Killer Story

In The Mentalist series, Simon Baker's character Patrick Jane is a detective who has among the karmas of his life a thug who commits murky murders and always leaves behind a signature - a smiley face like this:

As if to ease the seriousness of his crimes, he uses his smiley face to show everyone his ability to be sympathetic. And as morbid as this allusion may seem, it is not unique to fiction.

Between 1997 and 2008, more than 40 men were found dead in rivers and lakes in more than 25 cities in 11 US states. Near each of the locations where the dead men had disappeared, a smiley on the wall.

As in The Mentalist, the smile was a signature of a serial killer . At least that's the theory of two detectives - Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte - who invested everything they had in a private firm after working together in the New York Police Department.

The first crime they attribute to Smiley Face Killer is the death of Patrick McNeill, a 21-year-old New York student who disappeared on February 16, 1997 after leaving a bar in Manhattan. He was found in a river near Brooklyn on April 7.

Next to The Dapper Dog bar, where the young man was last seen, there he was: the little smile painted on the wall. Although the death seemed accidental, the police officer in charge was not convinced by the justification, and nothing took the crime from his head in the following years. In 2001, when he retired, the independent investigations began.

Everything in McNeill's case indicated a murder: his body was in an inconsistent position with accidental drowning, he had lacerations on his body that indicated he had been tied up, and the officers believed he had been drugged.

These conditions were shared with four other crimes that occurred in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2003, something police officers discovered only years later. That's when they began to develop the Smiley Face Killer theory, looking for other cases that had similar characteristics in other states.

Discredited by the police, however, two investigators did not go very far; and if there was a serial killer Smiley Face, he's still out today.


Do you know the Mega Curioso newsletter? Weekly, we produce exclusive content for lovers of the biggest curiosities and bizarres of this big world! Register your email and do not miss this way to keep in touch!