The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel today is reporting that the FBI will step in and investigate a series of mysterious deaths in LaCrosse (WI).
For years now there have been rumours swirling around the disappearance and drowning deaths of young men in LaCrosse.
The article quotes 8 deaths in 9 years; I've heard whispers of as many as twenty in the last 15-20 years that fit the profile.
This story has become part urban myth - part sociology problem here in Wisconsin. All of the men died with river water in their lungs, indicating they went in the water alive; they had no visible signs of struggle or bruising; and most importantly their blood alcohol level was through the roof.
Yet many people say a killer is on the prowl in LaCrosse, striking down young men with impunity while hiding behind the smokescreen of the river's proximity.
Still others argue the very idea of a killer is a smokescreen in and of itself, to mask the embarrassing fact that binge drinking is a problem on the UW- LaCrosse campus and in Wisconsin in general.
9/10ths of me is certain the authorities are right, and that this is nothing more than young men, drunk out of their minds, stumbling home from bars and mistakenly winding up in the river.
The rest of me says that it's a stretch to have that many identical accidents in such a short amount of time, to that specific of an age/gender bracket, in a town where the danger of the river is so well known.
I doubt this investigation will be the end of the deaths one way or the other. If drinking is the culprit a criminal investigation can do nothing; if it's a killer the FBI already seems intent to dismiss the problem, if the article's tone is correct.
I'll try to keep you updated on the story. And speaking strictly about it as a story, there's something about it that really excites me creatively; I think (in a modified form) it'd be a heck of a mystery/thriller novel.