On May 1st 2022, 18 year old high school senior Tyler Schaeffer went missing in the small town of Beulah, North Dakota. Tyler was last seen at 3:00 a.m. that morning walking past the Congregational Church.
The Beulah Police, with the assistance of neighboring Law Enforcement agencies, searched for Tyler for ten days. On May 11, Tyler’s body was found in the Knife River.
There were two blizzards near the beginning of May in North Dakota, which caused local rivers to have much higher water levels and much stronger currents than normal. These conditions could have led to the drowning of Tyler, but an autopsy has not been performed yet to determine the cause of death.
What I want the local Beulah Police to be aware of, something that most small-towns are not aware of, is that for the past 20-25 years there has been a pattern in the upper Midwest, of young males in their late teens and early twenties being abducted late at night while walking home, murdered, and placed in water to make it appear like a drowning.
This pattern was first discovered by 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. Because of graffiti found at several of the first crime scenes, the murders were called the “Smiley Face Killings”.
Most Law Enforcement agencies did not know about this cluster of similar deaths until much later after the fact, and many deaths were recorded as “drownings”, though in hindsight most of the details and evidence were not consistent with an accidental drowning, such as the victim not passing near water, or having no intention of going swimming that night or any other night.
Please note that two of the most common inconsistencies with the death being declared a drowning, are 1) The young male had been missing for more than several days, but the condition of the body at autopsy indicates that it had been in the water far less time than the person was missing, and 2) The body is found in a location that had already been searched multiple times after the person first went missing. Both of these are indications that the death occurred elsewhere, and the body was placed in water to hide evidence of the actual time, place, and cause of death.
A short, not entirely complete explanation of the “Smiley Face Killings” is given in this link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smiley_face_murder_theory
Here is the Dickinson Press newspaper article https://www.thedickinsonpress.com/news/body-of-missing-beulah-teen-located-in-knife-river
Looking at the photo of Tyler Schaeffer, who was healthy, happy, and just graduating from high school, his death does not make any sense.
This same thing happened to the son of another local woman from Bowman, North Dakota, Bjorn Norderhaug, who was just graduating from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa https://youtu.be/o5FHwJI1OtI
Another good, current, insightful source of information related to both the “Smiley Face Killings” and many other deaths of young males declared as drowning under suspicious circumstances, is former California Law Enforcement detective, missing persons researcher, and founder of Canadian-American Missing Persons Project, David Paulides.
David Paulides routinely assists Law Enforcement, Search And Rescue, and families of missing persons. Here is David Paulides’ contact page https://www.canammissing.com/contact_us.html
I hope that Law Enforcement will take heed, and not be too quick to declare this an accidental drowning.