Dallas Drake puts hit on smiley-face killer theory

Just when you thought the smiley face killer theory had finally gone away... an academic researcher has attempted to debunk the hare-brained idea once and for all. Local homicide investigator Dallas Drake released a heavily-footnoted paper today explaining why the theory is bogus.

The theory gained traction in 2008, when two New York City homicide detectives said a dangerous gang of serial killers was murdering college-aged men in the Midwest and Northeast by drowning them.

Former KSTP reporter Kristi Piehl and won an Emmy for her coverage of the smiley-face theory, and families rallied around it.

Here's how the theory went: the detectives claimed that smiley face graffiti near where several of the men had drowned indicated that the deaths weren't accidental drownings, but instead the work of a serial killer. So far, the detectives have turned up no hard evidence to back that theory up.

Cops and journalists alike have been picking the theory apart since it first debuted, so Drake's paper confirms what we've long suspected. Here are a handful of the reasons he says the theory doesn't make any sense:

1. There is no evidence that any of the smiley faces found near the victims were painted at the same time as the drownings.
2. None of the smiley faces exactly match each other.
3. Homicidal drowning is extremely rare (the deaths were most likely an accident).
4. The drownings don't fit a serial killer motive.

Drake started the Center for Homicide Research a decade ago to learn more about murders of gay men. Since, the center has become a resource for police doing homicide investigations, and is credited with helping solve at least two murders.

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