Are There Symbols And Tactics Being Shared By An Online Sub-Culture Of Killers?

by Travis Mateer

Yesterday I drove back to the area where Joey Thompson was allegedly last seen alive in order to better document the graffiti on the concrete barrier that lines the stretch of road owned by a School Board trust. Above you can clearly see 777 in red on the concrete. This number has both positive associations with God and spirituality, while also being included in the title of an Aleister Crowley book and associated with the Kabbalah.

The next image is a little more discernible as a pentagram and language that reads I LOVE SATAN! This comes off as the spray-painted antics of a high schooler. Also, boobs.

The graffiti I was especially interested to find is the infamous “smiley face” tag. Why? Because it’s the symbol associated with a bunch of mysterious deaths across the country. Before getting to the next image, here is a brief description of the Smiley Face Killer Theory from Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

The smiley face murder theory (also known as the smiley face murders, smiley face killings, and smiley face gang) is a theory advanced by retired New York City detectives Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, as well as Dr. Lee Gilbertson, a criminal justice professor and gang expert at St. Cloud State University.[1] It alleges that a number of young men found dead in bodies of water across several Midwestern American states from the late 1990s to the 2010s[2] did not accidentally drown, as concluded by law enforcement agencies, but were victims of a serial killer or killers.

The term “smiley face” became connected to the alleged murders when it was made public that the police had discovered graffiti depicting a smiley face near locations where they think the killer dumped the bodies in at least a dozen of the cases. Gannon wrote a textbook case study on the subject titled “Case Studies in Drowning Forensics.”[3][4] The response of law enforcement investigators and other experts has been largely skeptical.

With this theory in mind, here is another image from the concrete wall where a smiley face can easily be seen:

This graffiti–and the increasingly popular theory behind the STILL HAPPENING phenomenon of mysterious deaths that match the pattern described above–has more potential in THIS case to be a distraction, based on the things I know that I’m not writing about, than it does a theory worth actively pursuing.

The question that seems most relevant to me, after going back out to the area to look around, is pretty simple: how did Joey get in the water? Another good question is WHERE did he go into the water? If we are to believe Joey Thompson went into the water somewhere in the vicinity of where he was last seen, the would mean his body traveled around 40 miles down the Clark Fork river in 3 weeks. Maybe that’s possible at the volume the Clark Fork was flowing back then, but it seems unlikely to me.

Another possibility, perhaps not applicable to this case, but a question I’m going to pose nonetheless. Could there be a sub-culture of killers, and/or wannabe killers, who discuss things, like water doing a good job of destroying physical evidence, in online backwaters like the dark web?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’m beginning to wonder about such things, like the difference between pattern killing, copycat killing, and adopting tactics out of necessity because something unexpected happened, like a fight or an overdose.

Now that a body has been recovered, will the Detective from the Sheriff’s Office work with the crime lab to determine if foul play was involved in the death of Joey Thompson? To do that there would have to be an actual investigation and I don’t have a lot of confidence in the Sheriff’s Office ability to do an actual investigation.

I called the Detective on this case last Thursday about information I have, but I still haven’t received a follow up. Why? Are they just going to ignore the rumors swirling around, like the involvement of a young man with a mother who is considered a critical cog in the homeless industrial complex?

Another aspect of this case is WHERE Joey’s body turned up, and that’s the infamous Mineral County, just west of Missoula. From what I hear, there isn’t much community discussion going on about the weirdness involved in this case, and it’s still a mystery exactly WHO discovered the body. I’m told Sheriff Funke is keeping that information under wraps for now.

May 17th is the year anniversary of Rebekah Barsotti being found near (not in) the Clark Fork river, but she wasn’t identified until June 2nd. The following day I wrote this post about the lack of closure for Rebekah’s family. That closure is still being denied them by either incompetency, complicity in a cover-up, or some combination of the two.

While the family waits for the inevitable determination of “accidental drowning”, along with a toxicology report that will inevitably blame Joey for his own death, I’m going to keep digging into what ACTUALLY HAPPENED to Joey Thompson because I’m tired of families getting fucked over by the people who are supposed to be helping families find answers when tragedy strikes.

If you would like to help my efforts, Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to support me, and making a donation at my about page is another.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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2 Responses to Are There Symbols And Tactics Being Shared By An Online Sub-Culture Of Killers?

  1. Minden Lee says:

    It breaks my heart what happened to this boy and I was grateful to come across your blog. The events leading up to his death seem murky at best and I will be actively following this blog. Thank you for your efforts in discovering the truth.

  2. John Kevin Hunt says:

    This is your best work. Keep it up.

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