Tag Archives: Smiley Face Killers

232 – Shiny Space Pancakes: Big Bands, Assassination Conspiracies, Smiley Face Killers, and Oumuamua

When The New Yorker runs an article called “Have Aliens Found Us? A Harvard Astronomer on the Mysterious Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua'”, people are going to listen. It’s one of America’s most prestigious magazines, which is probably why they were a little combative in their discussion with Avi Loeb (who’s been popping up all the time lately) about the possibility that the interstellar Oumuamua object is artificial, perhaps created by an alien race to probe the universe, much like our Voyager and Pioneer spacecraft. My sister Allison was so excited about the article, she couldn’t wait to talk about it in this episode.

Of course, Avi Loeb is no slouch, he’s the chair of the Harvard Astronomy Department stranger to aliens, he is also involved with the Breakthrough Initiative, the $100 million search for alien intelligence founded by a Russian billionaire which we discussed in episode 50. In the past year, he’s become the poster child for real scientists talking about the possibility of alien life in the universe. He’s tenured, so they can’t fire him for having these ideas. And he’s well-respected, so he’s not coming out of left field.

Painting of Oumuamua as a pancake-shaped object. Copyright 2018 William K. Hartmann

Since we discovered it after it was already out of range to get an actual picture of it, all the details have to come through what we can observe and mathematically derive from the data coming through the radio telescopes. So, why do they think that it might be artificial and what’s interesting about it?

  • As it spends every eight hours, it’s brightness changes by a factor of ten, that means it’s probably ten times longer than it is wide
  • That means it might be cigar shaped OR pancake shaped!
  • It deviates from an orbit that physics would dictate for a normal object around the sun
  • There are no gases coming off it like a comet, so it’s not being propelled by anything

Here’s one of the best quotes from the article:

I do not view the possibility of a technological civilization as speculative, for two reasons. The first is that we exist. And the second is that at least a quarter of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy have a planet like Earth, with surface conditions that are very similar to Earth, and the chemistry of life as we know it could develop. If you roll the dice so many times, and there are tens of billions of stars in the Milky Way, it is quite likely we are not alone.

Professor Abraham “Avi” Loeb

Avi, you’re my man! He’s the guy who’s saying that it’s unscientific to completely rule out the idea of extraterrestrial intelligence. He even brings up the old Sherlock Holmes chestnut “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” I like him and if he ends up being a disinformation agent, I’ll be super sad,

The real Dr. Hynek and his TV counterpart J. Allen Littlefinger

Something I found really interesting this week was all the talk about the new Project Blue Book TV show on the History Channel starring Littlefinger from Game of Thrones (and Tommy Carcetti, I haven’t forgotten about you, The Wire fans!) Everyone on my Facebook feed is talking about it because it uses the real-life character of Dr. J. Allen Hynek (who we talk about extensively with author Mark O’Connell who wrote a book about him called The Close Encounters Man) who investigated UFO reports for the real Project Blue Book and turns it into X-Files style fiction.

Okay, so that is a lot of fun, but The New York Times this week also wrote an article about the real life Project Blue Book and how it was nothing like it’s described in the TV show. Those are the same authors who wrote the 2017 article that blew the lid open on modern military research into unexplained aerial phenomena. Okay, we know Hollywood is gonna Hollywood, but why are we so predisposed to believe that the government is okay lying to us?

David Crosby is one of The Truth and Reconciliation Committee members looking for new answers to the political assassinations of the 60s.

Well, I think we can thank the government of America’s Golden Age, the Happy Days of yore, because they were super good at lying to the American people. From the Tuskegee experiments to the Gulf of Tonkin, the Mid-20th Century US government wasn’t afraid to deceive its own citizens to accomplish a goal. And it’s one of the reason that on Martin Luther King Day this year, a group of 60 activists who are calling themselves the Truth and Reconciliation Council are demanding a new investigation into the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, and Malcolm X.

Celebrities include Alec Baldwin, Oliver Stone, Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner, famous walrus-man and musician David Crosby, as well as relatives of both Robert Kennedy and Dr. King. King’s family has long believed that James Earl Ray did not act alone and RFK Jr. himself has said that Sirhan Sirhan’s trial was a “mockery”.

There was just an invincibility and an impunity about that era of government that’s almost terrifying. From J. Edgar Hoover’s personal fiefdom of the FBI to the CIA’s mind control experiments, how many unelected officials wreaked havoc on American citizens “for our own good”? Might these assassinations be another example and we can’t learn the truth until the Boomers finally pass on?

Glenn Miller says “I gotta trombone for ya, baby.”

Wendy this week thought that it was fascinating that they think they might have found the wreckage of Glenn Miller’s airplane. One of the most popular musicians in America during Word War II, Miller’s plane disappeared over the English Channel on December 15th, 1944. There have been several theories to the disappearance:

  • Because of the freezing conditions, his plane’s engine iced over and they crashed on the way to Paris
  • British bombers returning from an air raid were told they needed to jettison their unexploded bombs over the Channel and Miller’s plane was accidentally in the way and killed by friendly fire
  • Miller made it to Paris, but had a heart attack while in a brothel, and they “disappeared” him to save the famous musician’s family embarrassment

Well, a fisherman now claims that he pulled up the remains of Miller’s plane in 1987. He says that he was advised to let it back into the deep, but he recorded the coordinates of the exact spot. What I wanna know is WHO TOLD HIM TO PUT IT BACK?!? That seems to be the missing piece in this journalism for me.

The good news is that he’s given a team of researchers the coordinates, so that if they can get the money, they can send divers down there to investigate. Because Miller’s plane is the last of its manufacture in the world that’s unaccounted for, if they find it, they’ll know it’s his and maybe the mystery can be solved.

Why so serious?

The first time we had Scott Markus on the show, we were featuring his documentary, The Hidden Truth?, which was about a series of mysterious drownings that happened in La Crosse along the Mississippi River from the 90s to the Aughts. Police claim it’s probably just drunken misadventure, but La Crosse’s Deputy Chief Medical Examiner had some other ideas and he wanted to see if their might be a paranormal explanation.

Which leads us to Scott’s topic for the week, the premiere of Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice on the Oxygen Network. In 2008, retired New York City police detectives Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte proposed that these drownings were the work of a “Murder Club” that they nicknamed “The Smiley Face Killers” because they seemed to find smiley face graffiti near where each of these poor victims went into the river. They postulated that these murders were planned and organized by a dark web of thrill killers throughout the country.

Their ideas made some news for a little while, but it was a popular theory to debunk because of the sheer audacity of it. The FBI even made an official statement about it. However, do you think that’s going to stop the producers of reality TV?! Hell no. Oxygen has developed a series about the detectives’ continuing investigation into more mysterious drownings. What did they find and do you find their evidence convincing? Well, you can be the judge by watching the first episode online right now.

Hush now baby baby don’t you cry…

Finally, this week’s Sunspot song inspired by the conversation is just a straight up punk tune about how easily we’re manipulated. From Vladimir Lenin’s “useful idiots” to the latest stories like the Covington High School video fracas, interest groups and factions vying for power and wealth have worked over the narrative so that the “common people” will come to their way of thinking. We fully expect propaganda in advertising, but we hope that our news sources at least attempt objectivity and our elected officials are at least telling us the truth sometimes… but we know that’s not true. Sometimes, you just get sick of people in authority saying they know what’s good for you and “Father Knows Best” is just a load of bollocks.

It’s a little story that story that they wrote for you and me,
keeping out the best parts for our own good, don’t you see?

The program is designed so that the masses will obey.
We’re all the same, it’s just a game, and we don’t get to play.
Worse than Illuminati or lizard conspiracy
for who controls the narrative, controls all the money.

Father Knows Best and our trust becomes a weapon.
Mommy’s bedtime story is mind control and thought suppression.
You can’t fight the power while you’re busy getting screwed
Hey Rube, sometimes the truth ain’t good enough for you.

I guess we’re just not smart enough to grasp at the big picture,
we just get the Cliffs Notes and they tell us that it’s scripture.

They’ve got the dials all set to outrage no matter what side that you choose
When it comes to facts, no one retracts, they just play fast and loose
It’s pissed-off vegan communists or truck driver redneck hicks
It’s about the bottom line, and everything is fine, as long as they get the clicks.

Father Knows Best and our trust becomes a weapon.
Mommy’s bedtime story is mind control and thought suppression.
You can’t fight the power while you’re busy getting screwed
Hey Rube, sometimes the truth ain’t good enough for you.

47 – Beyond The Smiley Face Killers: Looking for the Hidden Truth in La Crosse

Since 1997, nine college-age men have drowned in the Mississippi River by La Crosse, Wisconsin. Authorities have consistently said that it’s a result of the men getting too drunk, wandering into the river accidentally, and not being able to get out (or maybe going for a swim and it’s a “death by misadventure”.)

It’s a case that’s close to our hearts because Sunspot has often played in La Crosse and Mike used to work at a television station there in the early part of the century during which some of these deaths occurred.

After Mike and Wendy talk about their new 5-star review, they go into the history of the “smiley face killers” theory.

In 2008, two retired NYPD detectives, Frank Gannon and Anthony Duarte, came up with a controversial theory. They said that a group of serial killers was roaming the Interstate Highways along the Mississippi River and was killing young men all over the country and throwing them in the river to hide their crimes. The detectives claimed that was a pattern of “smiley faces” at each of the scenes where the victims went into the river.

Here’s a documentary about it:

But Neil Sanders, a retired deputy Medical Examiner from La Crosse, just didn’t believe that the “smiley face killers” theory added up and wanted to see if there might be something more to it than serial killers or drunken accidents. He wanted to look into a supernatural explanation. That’s when he contacted Jay Bachochin of Wisconsin Paranormal Investigations and that formed the basis of the documentary film, directed by Scott Markus, The Hidden Truth?. 

Mike and Wendy are then joined by Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts and they proceed to interview Sanders, Bachochin, and Markus about the movie and some of their theories.

There was a steam boat that sank in La Crosse in 1870, the War Eagle, where 5 people died, including a young woman named Mary Ulrich. One of the theories that they pose in the film is that the recent drowning victims might have been “more open to spiritual channels” while inebriated and heard Mary or another ghosts’ voice and jumped in the water to try and save them.

Another part of the movie has Neil talking to a Ho Chunk elder about the “water spirits” of some Native American legends, supernatural entities that live in river and lakes. This is similar to the Slavic vodyanoy or the Welsh kelpie, and that creature was known over here as “the water man”. Allison proceeds to talk about some research that she’s discovered in a 1930s collection of American folklore about water spirits and how the water man might try to “take your soul”!

Jay and Scott talk about their interest in the paranormal and their search for the truth above anything else and how it influenced their decision to document the paranormal investigation into a film. Scott discusses the weird things that happened to some of their equipment while conducting the investigation over the site of the War Eagle sinking and Jay goes into some detail about an interesting EVP that they capture as well.

Paranormal vs. a serial killer vs. accidental drowning – there’s no smoking gun and conclusive evidence in any of the directions. But the conversation wraps up discussing how The Hidden Truth? respects the victims and gives us another theory to entertain as to their true fate.

If you’re interested in purchasing The Hidden Truth?, you can order a DVD copy right here.

This Week’s Song: Smiley Face Murder Club by Sunspot

You were stumbling when you walked along the river,
You were crying when you walked along the river.
You never heard me follow you,
You shoulda watched your liquor.
No one ever expects to be lost without a trace,
No one ever expects the smiling face.

I don’t give a damn what your name was,
I don’t give a damn who you were.
You could have been somebody else,
but it was just your turn.

I wanted to know what it felt like,
and it’s not fair.
But they won’t ever understand,
the bond we now share.
No one ever expects to be lost without a trace,
No one ever expects the smiling face.