In August 1990, five college students were murdered in a one week period in Gainesville, Florida. The killer was breaking into off-campus apartments, raping, stabbing, and dis-membering the female victims. Immediately after the murder of the first two female students was reported, many students got out of Gainesville that same day and withdrew from the University of Florida. A day later when a third college student was murdered in her apartment, many more students left Gainesville. Two more students were murdered in their apartment that week.
I was attending a small private liberal arts college in Virginia at that time, and many college students, especially women, were scared, even though the murders were taking place several states away. College students across the United States were worried. The rape and murder of multiple female college students brought to mind the murders committed by Ted Bundy in the 1970s. In 1978, Ted Bundy broke into student housing at Florida State University in Tallahassee and murdered several female college students. Ted Bundy was believed to have committed more than thirty murders across the United States.
Within a few months of the murders in Gainesville in 1990, during the course of a police investigation into a robbery or burglary, the police found at the suspects camp site, evidence linking him to the Gainesville student murders. 36 year old Danny Rolling from Shreveport, Louisiana eventually gave detailed confessions to each of these student murders, and information about three murders he committed in Louisiana.
When I attended the University of Florida a few years later, female students were still fearful about getting murdered in Gainesville. In February of 1989, University of Florida student Tiffany Sessions told her room mate that she was going for a walk, and she never returned. Years later, police believe she had been abducted and murdered by a serial killer Paul Eugene Rowles.
At the small private liberal arts college that I went to in Virginia, and later when I went to the University of Florida, I remember several instances where female students went walking or jogging during the day or night, and a man lay in wait for them beside the road, hiding behind a tree or in the bushes. It was not that the men were waiting for any specific person, they were waiting for a woman that was by herself, with no other people, walkers, joggers, bicyclists, or motorists nearby. They would leap out, grab hold of the woman, and try to drag her back into the woods.
Because of newspaper, television, and movie coverage about women being abducted, most women now are aware about the danger of being abducted. Women now know to be cautious about what they are doing, to be wary of people, and to be alert about their surroundings. Women in college are especially careful about what they do now.
99.9% of Americans do not know that there are serial killers abducting and murdering male college students. I am angry that this is not well known. I am writing this blog post because many of these male college student abduction and murders happen in the states adjacent to North Dakota, where many local kids will eventually go to school. There is a family from Bowman, North Dakota that had this happen to their son Bjorn in September of 2016, but due to law enforcement not reading and not knowing, they ruled the death an accident, which the parents accepted, but I don’t.
Approximately ten years ago, two New York City police detectives, Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, became very suspicious about a high number of deaths of male college students in midwestern states that fit the same pattern: Handsome, popular, and successful young male college students would leave bars by themselves at night to walk home in small college towns, and they would never make it home. Their bodies would be found the following day or later, in bodies of water. The local police, not finding a gunshot wound or stab wound on the body, would go ahead and declare it “accidental drowning”. The local police in these small college towns, did not know that this same thing was happening in other college towns in their state, and in college towns in the adjacent states.
In these small college towns, this was not happening to female college students, any other females at all, any other males at all, just the young male college students or college aged males. Why is it that female college students, any other type of female, any other type of male can leave a bar at night in these states and they do not ever, ever suffer from “accidental drowning” on the way home?
In the past twenty years, there are least seventy of these “accidental drownings” in the midwestern states, where a young male college student or college aged male left a bar to walk home by themselves. None of these young men ever said they were going swimming, or ever in the past talked about going swimming when they left the bar. Most of them were not going to pass anywhere near a body of water on their way home. None of these young men, their friends, or anyone else in these towns, ever had a close call, where they were walking home from the bar and ended up falling in the water.
The case that happened in September 2016 to a family that had been from Bowman, North Dakota, the young man Bjorn was handsome, a good student, had a successful internship as a computer tech, and was entering his senior year getting ready to graduate with a bachelors degree in computer science from a small college in Iowa. He was not suicidal, he was popular, well liked, and he had everything going for him. He was last seen leaving a bar at 1:50 a.m. Sunday morning in the small Iowa college town, and he never made it home. His body was found later Sunday morning in a river. In high school Bjorn was very experienced at sailing, and he was very high ranked as a tennis player in his state. With his swimming ability, athleticism, intelligence, and good sense, why is it not very suspicious that he did not make it home and his body was found in a river?
What the two New York City police detectives and other people who read about these cases believe, is that some individual or multiple individuals are targeting young male college students. The people committing the murders expect that the young male college students who leave bars near closing time are intoxicated and not paying attention to anything. When they walk home alone they are not expecting anything bad to happen to them or anyone to do anything to them, so they are not alarmed when people approach them, and they are tricked into getting into a vehicle.
Many people in law enforcement are skeptical that the young male college students who do not make it home after walking home from a bar and are later found in bodies of water are victims of a serial killer. They say that this does not fit the profile of what is known about serial killers, but yes it does, it absolutely does. Ted Bundy and other serial killers approach people who are alone, so that there are no witnesses, in a non threatening way initially, with some type of ploy to get them to a more concealed or remote area where they can be murdered.
If law enforcement would treat these deaths as suspicious and possibly homicides, and investigate them like homicides, they would find out that they were homicides. In the case of Bjorn in Iowa, his death was ruled as “accidental drowning” very soon after his body was found. I wonder if the police in this case, knowing that Bjorn was last seen at 1:50 a.m. leaving a bar, looked at every traffic light camera, every ATM camera, every security camera of every business in that area, to see if they could find any image of Bjorn walking by alone or with others, or driving by in a vehicle. Even images of vehicles in that area at that time, would be helpful in determining possible witnesses or people possibly involved.
Cell phones when they are not turned off, are sending signals to cell phone towers, and there is an electronic record of exactly when each cell phone was sending to each tower, which means that there is a record of exactly what time that cell phone was in that area. Further, there is an electronic record of every other cell phone that was in that area at that time. This means that if the police wanted to, they could determine every cell phone that was in the vicinity of Bjorn at 1:50 a.m. How many people could this be in a small Iowa town at 1:50 a.m., 100 people? Who were these other people?
Because there are multiple cell phone towers, the signals that a cell phone sends to each tower are of unequal strength, the signal strength to each tower can be used to determine the location of the cell phone minute by minute. Further, the location of every other cell phone in that area can be determined minute by minute. If Bjorn had a cell phone with him that was not turned off, his location could be determined minute by minute that night. Were there any other cell phones that had coinciding locations with Bjorn after he left the bar that night? What cell phones had locations near the body of water where the body of Bjorn was found?
In very “important” investigations, cell phone locations by time are determined using electronically recorded information. This could be done in a homicide investigation, if it weren’t declared “accidental drowning”. Tracking cell phone locations by time for murder victims and suspected murderers is not widely discussed or publicized because it is something that law enforcement does not want to be widely known. Of course every security camera and all the cell phone location information was not analyzed because Bjorn’s death was ruled “accidental drowning”. And the “accidental drowning” of other people’s sons will continue.
An investigator and researcher named William Ramsey, who keeps track of the many, many reports of “accidental drownings” of young male college students, has made a short YouTube video about Bjorn Norderhaug who went missing and was found dead in September 2016.