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Christopher Wilde
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Friday, May 2, 2008

Smiley Face Murders

By Christopher Wilde

Two former New York Detectives believe that there is a cross country killing gang on the lose that has taken the lives of 40 college aged men around the country.  In these cases the bodies were typically found in the water and smiley faces were spray painted nearby.  The detectives, Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, go further to say they have talked to eye witnesses and know the names of some of the gang members but are unwilling to release the information at this time for fear that the gang will split up or change their methods.

They have appeared on Good Morning America, been profiled on CNN's Anderson 360, and most extensively by KSTP in Minnesota, the local ABC news affiliate.  They claim to be taking their findings public because they've run out of money, have been using their own funds, and have not taken any money from the families.

There is a lot of skepticism about their findings, and my instincts make me want to question the former detectives motives.  My research on the subject led me to a police report in one of the murders and I found it fascinating, filled with all the good drama a crime story needs.  Here's a little break down for you:

The principle victim in this case is Christopher Jenkins, who was reported missing on November 1, 2002, and found in February of 2003.  According to the police report he went missing Halloween night.  When he was found floating in the river nearly two months later he was still wearing a "'BUCKSKIN' Halloween Outfit of Indian."  That's right, a YMCA style outfit with, according to one witness, beads and a headdress.  Apparently on the night he disappeared he was at the Lone Tree Bar's Halloween party with his girlfriend but, according to her, they had no plans to meet up at the end of the evening and they did not say goodbye to one another when he disappeared from the bar.

Members of Jenkins' family organized a search party and met an anonymous witness who claims to have seen someone fitting Jenkins description (how many blond haired, blue eye' d Indian's did the town have that night) fighting with a group of black men, who robbed him.  The anonymous witness would not come forward to police, but shared this information with the family.  The family hired two psychics to help find Jenkins but nothing promising came from the psychics, though I'm sure they would provide entertaining television interviews.

Later in the police report is the statement of Officer Casey, who was working off duty that night securing an adjacent building next to the bar.  He saw Jenkins, his girlfriend Ashley Rice, and two other men who were part of their group enter the bar.  However by the end of the evening Rice had been abandoned by her other friends and Casey drove her home in his personal vehicle; because as he states, "she is a friend."

Roommates of Chris said that Ashley and Chris has been inseparable over the month prior to his disappearance.  Another witness in the case told police she had learned from her stepsister who works as the bar manager that Ashley had been flirting with a lot of men that night.  Apparently that night Ashley was wearing fishnet stockings, a short black skirt, and a police style shirt as her costume, but denied being flirtatious that night.  She made no mention as to whether or not many people were flirtatious with her!  Other witnesses friendly with Jenkins state that before his disappearance he had complained about $100 that went missing from his wallet, suspected Ashley, and was generally disillusioned with her drinking.

Ashley also works at the Lone Tree Bar, though she was not working on Halloween; just using her employee discount.  In her statement to police she said that she and Chris were very happy, and enjoyed a sexual relationship.  On the night of Halloween, her lacrosse playing boyfriend (Jenkins) picked her up already dressed in his costume.  She said he was quite proud his Indian Costume.

Though the FBI has come to the conclusion that contrary to the suggestions of Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte the murders are not linked it's important to note and FBI task force was on the scene in the days after Jenkins disappearance.

There are some interesting leads, such as one person who bragged to have killed him, and concerns over a potentially murderous relative of the Jenkins' these proved to be false.  There was not mention in the police report of where he fell (or was placed) into the water in the police report.  The police report covers finding the body, the autopsy, and the investigation of Jenkins as a missing person prior to the discovery of the body, but not much else.

It should be noted that this case seemed to be reopened because of the efforts of the Jenkins family whom believe he was murdered and paid for the water recovery experts that dispute the police findings of accidental drowning.

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