CHICAGO (FOX 32) - The two men behind the "Smiley Face Killer" theory say the deadly group has killed a dozen people in Chicago.
The alleged total number could include a death on March 2, 2010, a day that forever changed the lives of Jane and Rick Polhill. Their son Jay was found dead, floating in the Calumet River.
To this day, the case remains unsolved.
“He’s got two little nephews now, one's actually named after him,” said Rick.
Just three months later, Debbie Burfisher lost her son. He was found in the Chicago River two days after he went missing.
“It’s the only thing that really causes you a tremendous amount of grief that you never seem to get over,” said Debbie.
Both cases are still mysteries that were once thought to fit what's now called the "Smiley Face Killer" theory.
Retired New York cop Kevin Gannon and forensics professor Doc Gilbertson are behind it. They say, groups of killers, sprinkled strategically throughout the nation, murder hundreds of people, mostly men.
The victims are similar.
"3.5 and above star athletes,” said Gannon. “From as young as 17 all the way up to graduate students.”
The killers always leave a signature smiley face near the location of the body.
“I consider this the most dangerous domestic terrorist group in the United States today,” said Gannon.
In Chicago, they believe the killers have struck about a dozen times. It all starts the same way. The pair says the killers drug the victim with GHB, a date rape drug, at a location like a bar.
“We know how they dispense it; they have it already in a visine bottle,” said Gannon.
The killers then discreetly abduct the victim, hold them for a period, kill them and finally dump the body in water.
Now, the investigators are revealing they've found other graffiti nearby the scenes.
“The best way to describe it is it gives away -- it betrays their primary or overarching philosophy about life,” said Gilbertson.
Gilbertson will not elaborate on the other symbols found next to the smiley face, for fear of copycats. However, he says graffiti is unique to each crew in each city.
Gannon says they think they may have found the killers in Chicago.
“We found a group that we have pictures of that were wearing, displaying the same type of clothing, ideology, smiley face, the whole bit,” said Gannon. They basically fit the pattern of who we would be looking for.”
The retired cop says as for a motive, he considers crews to be part of a hate group that continues to grow.
“Just like the way a regular serial killer does, they start close to home,” said Gannon. “Then as they feel more confident, they branch out and expand.”
For the two families, the theory itself is almost irrelevant; they just want their sons' cases solved.
“Someone might see some of this interview and they might say, ‘I remember that, maybe it's time after nine years, maybe we should see something or say something,’” said Rick. “The hope is kind of fading.”
“It's fading for Rick, it's not fading for me,” said Jane. “I still hope.”