In late November of 1995, Barton Township in Wisconsin, not too far from Janesville in what's regarded as Clinton, a couple of hunters on a private 100-acre farm stumbled across a skeleton just up the bank from Turtle Creek. It was the remains of a young man, between 15 and 24 years of age, according to the pathologist who investigated the remains. He was wearing a pair of what were described as 'urban camouflage' pants, a black t-shirt with metallic design saying "Welcome to Hell" on the front and "Venom 1987" on the back. The remains of the torso were in a belly-down position, the skull a few feet further towards a barbed wire fence separating the property from the stream, and the legs pulled several feet away down the ravine. A red and green flannel shirt/jacket lay over the torso. Beside the body were a jar of Carmex and a goat's head pendant, wrought (commenters at this site suspect) in the design of the album cover of the Venom album of the same name. There was also one size 9 1/2 Air Jordan sneaker near the body, and no sign of the other. Beneath the pants were a pair of Bart Simpson boxers. The pathologist estimated that the deceased was about 19 years old and that he had been there for a year or so. Alive, he was short, about 5' 6" tall and about 1`40 lbs. He had dark, shoulder-length hair, and a scruffy beard, as evidenced in the rough sketch that was drawn up.
Yeah, so we've got the remains of a dead death-metal fan, who departed his mortal coil almost 20 years ago, who was about 19 at the time and born sometime around 1975.
Police had received a call about a man acting 'suspiciously' on October 16th of 1994, splashing through Turtle Creek near Highway 140, shortly before nightfall. A patrol had gone out to take a look, and found a stranded motorist, whom the officer took to safety while, probably, the car could be visited by a tow truck. But it wasn't until they started asking around that they heard from three other witnesses to the young man. The first of these recollected that he was out on his porch overlooking the creek on that day when he saw a young man struggling through the creek, hollering, "I can't believe she left me!" or something similar. Two women had also witnessed the young man struggling along the creek. To one of them, he asked belligerantly what she was looking at, adding that she was "just like all the others." To another woman, he stated that he was a "fugitive" and that she would read about him in the newspaper.
All three of these witnesses, apart from the one who'd bothered to call the police, stated that the young man whom they'd seen appeared intoxicated. One of the women said that he'd tried to get up the bank and rolled back down. She last saw him sitting on the side of the bank. He was seen by one of the witnesses falling into the creek several times as he struggled through it. Toxicology reports showed that there was no codeine, cocaine or morphine in the deceased's system at the time he died.
One of the commenters at Websleuths (linked above) suggests, plausibly, that the unidenfied young man probably died of exposure. The male witness who remembered the date of his encounter, though, likely was sitting on his porch overlooking the creek because of how unseasonably warm it was that day, a Sunday. The high at Rockford, just south of the Illinois border from Janesville, 75 degrees, and the night temperature only dipped into the mid fifties there. By the 20th, when the nighttime temperature dropped to 45 degrees, he'd probably been dead several days. The weather may have permitted the male witness and police to pinpoint the date, and that it was a Sunday.
I can't really improve on the account given here.
Considering the deceased statement that he was a fugitive, the members of Websleuths have combed through data regarding crimes committed in the midwest in the weeks before October 16, 1994, and haven't come up with anything that seems linked. They've also looked at missing persons reports from the period, with no luck. One group provided several possibilities to the investigator in charge of the case, but they were shot down . . . two of them because the young man's dental examination shows that he still had all his wisdom teeth, whereas they didn't. The deceased's teeth show signs of having received attention over the years.
Several of the Websleuths people have forwarded other possibilities from all over the US and Canada to the investigator, with no luck. One of the problems here is that pictures of the clothes and other items on the deceased's person have never been published online with the description. All the images above are just stand-ins, though they probably encompass enough possibility to jog someone's memory.
Personally, I've tried to find out whether there were any heavy metal concerts in the area at the time, with no luck for Madison, WI or Rockford, IL or Beloit, WI. You'd think that if someone from the vicinity had disappeared, they'd have put two and two together. But the young man's overheard statements seem to indicate that he was abandoned nearby, and given the testimony of the eyewitnesses to his tortured progress through the creek, which probably sucked off the missing sneaker. Here's a photo of the railway bridge near Highway 140 and Turtle Creek, with some information about the mucky bottom at the source.
So, there's a railroad bridge near where Highway 140 intersects Turtle Creek. Could he and his female companion ridden in on the rail? That location was the one given by the one of the four witnesses who called police, apparently, from the account of the evidence, the last of the four witnesses. If he had come in on a train, why did he struggle past it before taking refuge in a woody portion of private property, where he died, in anticipation of catching the next train?
Another unanswered question, from the accounts, is whether the stranded motorist might have had any connection with the deceased. Our sources say that the vehicle didn't belong to the young man; it seems very unlikely that police, one year later, wouldn't have considered a possible connection between that motorist with the disappeared.
Highway 140 isn't as much travelled as 90, to the west, which runs from Madison through Beloit to Rockford, or nearby 43, which runs from South Milwaukee to Beloit, but it's not a deserted stretch of highway, either. The most likely scenario is that the woman whom the young man was travelling with ditched him near where he was found. He might have been a hitchhiker, but it seems likelier, given his disbelief at being abandoned, that she was someone he knew. She might possibly have left him due to his intoxication, but since it seems likely that he was about 19 years old, it seems likely too that he was too young to purchase alcohol on his own. On the other hand, the intoxication that witnesses ascribed to the unidentified young man might have been the result of ingesting some kind of drug that the forensics folks didn't test for, or it could have been the result of a concussion. He may have been mentally ill and off of his meds. Imagining that he was left high and dry by his fellow traveller, assuming there were one, any security video from roadside businesses in the area that might have shed light on his movements was long gone.
It's also possible, given the weather, that he and any companion might have stopped at one of the nearby parks (the larger being Carver-Roehl) to picnic and get wasted, before he got left in the lurch. Why he decided to follow Turtle Creek rather than go to the road is hard to explain, unless he really did believe that he was a fugitive, whether he was or not. It doesn't appear that he was doing much to avoid detection.
If you're coming from Illinois, Michigan, or Indiana, it doesn't make a lot of sense to travel west on 43, since you have to run north toward Milwaukee to pick it up to travel southwest. If you're coming from Northwest Illinois or Iowa to travel to Milwaukee or points north, such as Green Bay, it does make sense. There are no missing young men from the eastern portion of Wisconsin reported from that period, though. Alpine Valley, a large concert venue, is about 40 miles toward Milwaukee on 43, but the concert season would have been over for a month by that time. The Green Bay Packers had their bye week.
The deceased had in his pocket a blue lighter with a "This Bud's for You" decal on it. There's no indication of any cigarettes, which, had he had them, he might have tossed aside after soaking himself in the creek a few times. The lighter, though, he should have been able to get working with a little effort. There was a small amount of precipitation reported that night, but you'd think that the woods could have furnished plenty of fuel, particularly at that time of year, with all the newly fallen leaves, for him to have lit a fire to warm himself. Let's just say that our metalhead didn't have any survival skills. It's possible that he lost any identification, perhaps a wallet, while he was struggling through the creek, too. Maybe someone found it and didn't think to turn it in.
There's a lot about this case that's unaccountable, beginning with the behavior of the deceased. On that warm day in 1994, all but one of the witnesses who would later recount to police their encounters with the unknown youngster probably couldn't have foreseen that he'd end up dead nearby, though one can wish that they, too, had alerted the authorities. The officer who was dispatched to look for him got sidetracked by the stranded motorist. To date, the department hasn't posted pics of the clothes and possessions of the deceased online, where it might possibly jog someone's memory.
I don't understand, though, how someone among the deceased's friends and family hasn't gone online and discovered this information. His genetic profile seems to have been entered into the national database. Somewhere out there there's someone who remembers this guy, who just dropped off the face of the earth.
Part of the trouble is that, without a name or a location, it's hard to get a hit for a search. I'm hoping that by dragging this out and gathering in one post some of the terms that someone might use to search, someday someone who knows something will stumble on this post and give police and the family the information they need to put this together. If I had similar band names to throw in here, I'd add them, but that stuff's really not my bag.
Stranger things have happened in cold cases (and I sure hope that they've got this perp's DNA on file; listen to the interview at the bottom if you want a chill). He may have been a death-metal stoner, but he was somebody's son.