College student deaths: Not accidental?

Former NYPD detectives track down clues, find similarities in dozens of murders.
April 28, 2008 3:31:06 PM PDT
There's a new theory about the deaths of at least 40 college students from across the country. Their deaths may not be accidental. In fact, two former NYPD detectives believe they are now linked, including the death of a Fordham student more than 10 years ago. In all of the cases the students were drowned.

Investigators say they found links between the cases while investigating the deaths of a number of young men in 11 different states, including the death of a 24-year-old Fordham student whose body was found floating in the waters near lower Manhattan.

"We knew it wasn't suicide," said Jackie McNeill, the victim's mother. "It was just one of those things where he walked out and was never seen again."

Patrick McNeill's disappearance eleven years ago after he left a New York City bar made headlines. Police discovered his body 50 days later. That's when former NYPD detective Kevin Gannon promised McNeill's parents he would not give up on the case.

He worked alongside former detective Anthony Duarte. The two claim to have now found links between the deaths of 40 young men like McNeill. All were thought to be accidental drownings.

Appearing on Good Morning America the two men reveal that once they found the places where the young mens'' bodies went into the water, they discovered "smiley face" symbols.

"We looked at the totality of the cases," says former NYPD Detective Anthony Duarte, "we started with the big number and worked down, whereas the law enforcement looked at each case individually in whatever jurisdiction it was."

The pair believe this is the perfect crime, the water washing away critical evidence. And the detectives believe there is possibly more than one killer targeting young men.

"We have multiple victims on the same night," Kevin Gannon says.

"It is something you learn to live with," Jackie Mcneill says, "You learn to live with a broken heart."

The detectives won't reveal what they think is the possible motive. They do want to keep some information quiet in hopes that federal prosecutors will pick up these cases.