Patrick McNeill Case: NYC 1997 (Victim Zero of the Smiley Face Killers?)
Updated: Apr 18, 2020
!!Brief Mention of Torture!!
Patrick McNeill was a 21 year old accounting student at the Fordham University. He was a promising student, athletic, good looking, and popular; this seems to be a very common occurrence with male college students that ‘accidentally’ drown. Anyways on February 16, 1997 Pat was out with some friends at a bar having some drinks, as college kids do from time to time, it was just like any other going out night. Except for the fact that Patrick McNeil would never make it home.
Patrick was at a bar called The Dapper Dog near 2ndave. and 92ndstreet in the upper east side of NYC. He was observed puking in the bar’s restroom and then subsequently told friends he was tired and had to be to class early therefore he was leaving alone to jump on the subway back to campus. He started out of the bar but was so under the influence that he was stumbling, falling, and puking along the sidewalk. This was the last time Patrick McNeill was seen alive.
On April 7, 1997 Patrick’s body was finally found near the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. This is 50 days after his disappearance and over 12 miles south of where he was last seen. The medical examiner at the time concluded that this was an accidental drowning due to his inebriated state the last time he was seen. It was originally said that there were no marks to suggest Patrick was in an altercation or hurt in anyway.
Problems with the Story
So what’s the problem with this? That seems like a totally reasonable thing to happen if someone is that drunk and walking home alone near a body of water. Well there are a lot of things that were not taken into account when the medical examiner made his decision and frankly a lot of evidence that the cops seemed to ignore.
First off there was not enough alcohol in his system to provoke him to be as sick and stumbling as he seemed to be when he left the bar. A retired NYPD detective was quoted saying this:
“Patrick was recovered with a 0.16 BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration). Human bodies naturally produce alcohol after death (postmortem) as a part of decomposition. Considering that he was supposed to have been in the water for almost two months (50 days), his BAC should have increased by 0.04 due to postmortem alcohol production. This means that his actual BAC upon entering the water was probably more like 0.12 or around 6 drinks. This is not that drunk for a young, 6-foot, 195-pound man. It is also not consistent with the kind of behavior he exhibited in the bar’s bathroom or outside the bar right after that. If this were his true BAC upon leaving the bar, then something else made Patrick sick that night.”
There is a suggestion that these killers drop drugs into the drinks of those they want to kill to then have them kicked out of the bar by a bouncer and be easy to take once they start walking off. There have been many of these cases where GHB or gamma-hydroxybutyric acid was found in the victims. This is a naturally occurring chemical within our bodies however it is in very small amounts, and although decomposition can add more to bodies it is fairly higher than that amount as well. This information paired with the fact that Patricks BAC was not cause for his behavior makes me think that he was drugged without a doubt.
Patrick McNeill was also found face up, a very uncommon occurrence in drowning victims. Autopsy photos also show that lividity was not posterior. Lividity is “the process through which the body’s blood supply will stop moving after the heart has stopped pumping…” (exploreforensics.co.uk). This shows itself on deceased bodies by a dark purple discoloration in one or multiple parts of the body, usually the lowest part at the time of death. This means that if Patrick McNeill died by drowning face up like he was laying then the lividity would have been apparent on the back of him, however it was not. I would like to add that for lividity to set in at all it has to be at least 8 hours after death. They found him face up about 50 days after he went missing and after his perceived time of death so why was there no posterior lividity?
Further within the reexamination of the autopsy they found that Patrick had evenly spaced ligature marks around his neck, this suggested he was in some type of binding at some point before his death. There was nothing found with his body that would be suggestive to cause these lines and he did not have them the night he went missing therefore this is a very curious point to the case. This seems to be a good piece of evidence stating that he was somewhere else before ending up in the river, which creates the question of where?
Yellow Star is where the body was found.
Another point I should mention here is that police and search parties searched this entire area of the water when Patrick initially went missing. From that we can safely assume that Patrick’s body was not there during the initial search and shown up many days later. Linking to this is the fact that where his body was found is only 12 miles down the river and it should not have taken 50 days to get there. After further examination, it was determined from the lack of skin slippage that Patrick’s body had only been in the water about 24 hours. At this point I think it is safe to assume that this was no accidental drowning. But there is even more evidence to support this theory.
Gannon, the retired NYPD detective quoted about the BAC also said this about the autopsy report and the body:
“Additional review of the autopsy photographs discovered that there were multiple fly eggs in the pubic hairs of Patrick’s groin area; they were in an arrested state of development. Gannon and the team concluded that Patrick had to have been dead on land for a period of time in order for the flies to lay their eggs on him before he was placed into the water. Simply put, flies do not lay eggs on a deceased human body in temperatures under 52 degrees, especially at night with NYC temperatures in the 40s (like when Patrick went missing). This makes Patrick’s case clearly a homicide and brings into question the Medical Examiner’s Office that made this determination.”
There is a unanimous decision about this quote by many pathologists and entomologist, it would be impossible for flies to lay eggs on a body floating in this river during this weather. This suggests that Patrick was indoors in a warmer place for at least some time after death. Since Patrick was not seen again after February 16thI believe it is safe to assume that Patrick was being held captive somewhere before and after his death.
Lastly the front of Patrick’s upper body shown that it had been subjected to fire. I hope I don’t have to write this but I will anyway. If Patrick’s body was in the river for the entire 50 days he would not have been subjected to fire. He was in a New York River in the dead of winter.
Wait, if Patrick was held somewhere for those 50 days then how was his blood alcohol level 0.16 when his body was found? While myself and many others on the internet believe that the people who held him captive and killed him had a creative plan to dispose of the body. It is suspected that they had him drink about 6 drinks before they killed him in order to get his blood alcohol level back up to a moderate amount. Therefore when they dumped his body in the river the autopsy would conclude that the night he went missing is the night he died and pull suspicion away from foul play.
Putting all of this together forms a sinister crime that could only be committed by sadistic people. From an analysis of Patrick’s BAC we can draw a conclusion that he was somewhat drugged, at least drugged enough to get him out of the bar and incoherent enough to kidnap without being caught. Through a credible eye witness account we see that Patrick was most likely stalked after leaving the bar that fateful night by a dark sedan that was keeping with his slow and falling movements. After being taken somewhere by these stalkers he was stripped and bound to a chair or something of that sorts by his neck. Based on the evidence from the autopsy report it is stated that Patrick was killed and disposed of in the river the last 3-4 days of him missing, that leaves 47 days in between these killers getting him and killing him. Many believe that during this time Patrick was tortured although there is not much to support that although some things could have healed by the end of the 47 days. After these 47 days I believe that these perpetrators force fed Patrick those few drinks of alcohol, killed him, and left him for about 2 days. This would give time for the flies to lay eggs near his groin. After this they ended up putting his pants and socks back on for some reason. Then they burned his upper body; placing this after they put his pants back on accounts for his waist and lower front of the body being untouched by the fire. I believe that they did this for some type of cover up, maybe to try and get rid of some evidence? They then when back to where they thought his body would end up if he had been in the river that entire time and placed him there. The author at questersite.wordpress.com states this:
“The question naturally arises, why not dump the body elsewhere off Long Island? The answer appears to be that if the body was found anywhere else than at the entrance to the East River it would be proof that McNeill had been abducted and taken somewhere else in the interim.”
From all of this information I cannot fathom how they originally categorized this as an accidental drowning. Even with one of these many pieces I believe it should’ve been categorized as a homicide or at least suspicious circumstances. We may never know what happened to Patrick McNeill in those 50 days but I think that agreeing it was not an accidental drowning is a good start to finding more evidence towards who could’ve done this or who had motive to do this.
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