001 - The Mysterious Death of Kurt Sova
According to friends and family, 17 year old Kurt Sova was a kind, intelligent and dependable. Despite his age, Kurt seemed to not fit the typical description of a rebellious teenager on the border of adulthood. He listened to his parents, followed their rules and always called if he was going to be late.
On the evening of October 28th, 1981, Kurt left home to get together with a friend. Originally having planned to attend a local carnival, plans changed when Kurt and his friend decided to attend a Halloween party being held at a duplex in Newburgh Heights, Ohio, not very far from where he lived.
Many guests at the party were older and unknown to Kurt, having come in from Detroit, a few hours away. Kurt’s arrival at this party begins a series of unexplained circumstances, contradictions and outright lies about what occurred at the party, and more specifically, what happened to Kurt.
When Kurt failed to arrive home from the party, his parents became worried. It was highly unlike Kurt not to come home, especially without so much as a phone call. His parents began blanketing the neighborhood, searching for their missing son. After several hours of searching, Kurt’s parents decided to file a missing person’s report with the local police.
Kurt’s parents began papering the local businesses with fliers and asking Kurt’s friends if they had any information about his whereabouts. When they found out about the party, Kurt’s mother visited the duplex. The owner, however, told Kurt’s mother that there had been no party and that she had never seen nor heard of Kurt. Although suspicious about this statement, there wasn’t much Kurt’s parents could do. They continued their search, looking all over town and asking everyone they saw if they had seen Kurt.
Over the next few days, several strange things occurred. A local record store, which had one of Kurt’s fliers, was visited by a strange man. He entered the store and quipped to an employee “You see that kid on the flier? Might as well take it down, he’s gonna be found dead in a couple of days.” This strange incident was reported to the police who began searching for this man.
Another strange incident occurred when one of Kurt’s friends reported seeing Kurt several days after he had disappeared. The friend was on his way to a job interview when he spotted Kurt walking towards a van with several people he didn’t recognize. The friend claims he heard Kurt yell out “Hey Franco” before he lost sight of him. Unfortunately, this friend was unaware that Kurt was missing at the time and didn’t suspect anything too out of the ordinary to be going on.
Several witnessed interviewed by police contradicted the Duplex owner’s story. A pizza delivery man said that he had delivered a large quantity of pizza to the duplex and it was clear there was in fact a party going on. Police managed to track down several people who had attended the party that night. Several recalled seeing Kurt, but were unaware of his current whereabouts or what could have happened. There were no statements of anything odd occurring at the party or with any of the attendees. Witnesses, however, did state that Kurt had been drinking heavily. He was seen to be drinking Everclear, a powerful liquor with a high proof. This came as a surprise both to Kurt’s parents and friends, as none knew him to be much of a drinker if at all. Kurt had a slight build, and considering his lack of experience with alcohol and probable low tolerance, the volume of liquor he was described as consuming could be dangerous.
One particular witness stated that Kurt had become heavily intoxicated, and appeared as though he was going to be sick. This witness helped Kurt outside and, the night having gotten cold, left Kurt leaning against a chain link fence while he went back inside to retrieve Kurt’s jacket. When he returned several minutes later, Kurt was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t sure if Kurt had wandered off in a drunken state, had run into friends who helped him away or if Kurt had stumbled into a bad situation with someone else.
Faced with this information, Kurt’s parents began to suspect foul play in relation to the owner of the Duplex. The owner, confronted with the witness statements, changed her story. She admitted that the party had occurred and that a boy fitting Kurt’s description had been sleeping on a cot in her basement for several days. Somewhat reluctant to believe her, Kurt’s father came to the duplex to search for Kurt. In the basement he did find a cot which appeared to have been recently slept in. However, he could find no sign of his son.
Six days after the party, three young boys who were playing in a ravine near the Sova residence, stumbled upon the body of Kurt Sova. Kurt was dressed in the same clothes he had worn to the party, although he was now barefoot. Police discovered his left shoe shoved into a pile of rock nearby, but never located his right shoe. No signs of assault, nor injuries to Kurt’s body, outside of minor cuts and scrapes, were discovered. Baffled, and without any indication of bodily trauma, Kurt’s death was ultimately ruled by the coroner to be of natural causes. The Sova family refuses to accept this ruling believing foul play was involved in the death of their son. Kurt’s parents had in fact been through the ravine just 24 hours prior to the discovery of Kurt’s body, and are certain it had not been there. If they are correct, where had Kurt been for the five days that he had been missing?
On the day Kurt’s body was discovered, the strange man who had previously visited the record store and said that Kurt would be found dead, returned to the store, this time giving the employee a bouquet of flowers and a card reading “Roses are red, the Sky is blue, they found him dead and they will find you dead too.” Feeling frightened by this, the employee again contacted the police who managed to track down the strange man. However, they dismissed the odd behavior saying he was a drifter with some mental disabilities but they did not believe him to be involved with Kurt’s death. He was released by police and never seen in the area again.
There is some question as to whether or not this mysterious drifter could perhaps be the “Franco” a witness saw Kurt with in the days after his disappearance, whether or not the police had this particular piece of information available to them at the time of questioning the drifter is unknown, but if they did, I’d have to believe they’d have taken a closer look at him. Police, however, would very much like to question the individual named “Franco” about his connection and possible involvement in the death of Kurt Sova.
In yet another strange twist, less than four months after the discovery of Kurt Sova, on February 1st, 1982, the body of thirteen year old Eugene Kvet was found. Eugene had been reported missing on January 27th. Although not much information exists on the Kvet case, that which is public bares an eerie similarity to the case of Kurt Sova. Both Kvet and Sova had been missing for five days before their bodies were discovered on the sixth. Eugene’s body was found in a ravine just two and a half miles from where Kurt’s had been. In a very strange coincidence, much like Kurt, Eugene’s right shoe was also missing and has never been located. There is very little information available in regard to the death of Eugene Kvet, and the local police are tight lipped about releasing any further information about either Eugene or Kurt’s cases.
Kurt’s case remains open, and has been reclassified as “Probable Accident.” Investigators assigned to the case have said that they hope new evidence may come to light to solve this case. It has been thirty-six years since the death of Kurt Sova. Today, he would be fifty three years old. Both of Kurt’s parents have passed away in the years since, his father in 2001 and mother in 2014, having never known the truth about what caused the death of their son.
Since Kurt died in 1981, it’s hard to know exactly what kind of forensics were done and how in depth his autopsy would have been, although it seems unlikely that toxicology wouldn’t have been performed to determine if alcohol were in fact involved in his death. Being that the coroner ruled his death to be of “natural causes” I would have to assume they didn’t find anything strange or suspicious about his body in relation to the possibility of foul play. That being said, we are dealing with small town police force without the technological advances of today. Whether or not there is a connection to the Eugene Kvet death, or if this is just an albeit extremely strange coincidence, there has to be someone with more information. If Kurt’s parents are certain that his body was not in that ravine the day before it was discovered, then someone else has to be involved.
Kurt’s parents took the tragedy and mystery of their sons deaths to their graves. The loss of a child is heartbreaking enough without the extra pain of never knowing what truly happened. Perhaps someday, this case will be solved. Until then, the death of Kurt Sova remains a complex mystery full of twists and turns for which there is no immediate solution.
[Thoughts & Theories]
There are a lot of questions about Kurt’s death that have always bothered me when I’ve reviewed the case. Kurt’s parents are convinced that some form or fashion of foul play was involved in Kurt’s death.
It’s not unusual for a teenage boy to go out drinking and for his parents to be unaware. Kurt’s friends say Kurt wasn’t known to be a drinker, and this may be the case, but it’s also possible that following Kurt’s tragic death, his friends didn’t want to speak ill of their friend, or say something which might bring more pain to his parents. Still, it’s a very strange set of circumstances that lead to a seventeen year old kid going to a party with a friend, getting extremely drunk, and then vanishing without someone having more information about what happened to him. When I was seventeen, I went to a lot of parties with my friends. We usually hung around each other, and knew what the other was up to. If one of my friends had disappeared, I’d have noticed. If a day had gone by, and my friend was still missing, and his parents were searching for him, I’d be telling them everything I could about the party, and everyone I could remember who was there. This doesn’t seem to happen in Kurt’s case.
I’ve always wondered if alcohol poisoning played a role in Kurt’s death. It seems like if Kurt had died of alcohol poisoning, this would have shown up in his autopsy. Again, I don’t know details of the autopsy itself, outside of the coroner stating that the cause of death was natural, and then later changed to accidental. However, we know Kurt wasn’t found for five days after so is it possible that Kurt suffered some alcohol related illness, lingered for a few days and this was long enough for his blood alcohol content to go down and not show up in toxicology? I’m certainly no expert in how toxicology is performed. This is where the duplex comes in, and the story of the owner who claimed someone had been staying on a cot in her basement.
First and foremost, it’s highly suspicious that the owner of the duplex originally claims there was no party and she’s never seen Kurt before. Then she makes a full 180 degree turn and says that yes there was a party, yes Kurt was there, and in fact, a guy has been sleeping on a cot in her basement for several days and it might be Kurt. How is it possible that someone who comes to a party at your house ends up sleeping on a cot in your basement, but you don’t know his name, you don’t try to contact someone who does know him, you don’t know why he is there and you don’t notice that he has left? To me, it seems very likely that Kurt drank to a dangerous level, and as a result, became ill and the owner decided to put him on a cot in the basement, assuming he’d get better when he sobered up. I imagine she didn’t want to get caught allowing a minor to drink at a party at her house, and then have that minor become ill and have to face responsibility for her part in this. The problem is, after the first day, when the kid hasn’t gotten any better, the choice has to be made to get him some help. Even if you just took him to the emergency room, dropped him off and didn’t stick around to answer any questions. The only alternative is to watch him die, and it seems ridiculous to me that you’d allow that to happen.
I’ve always wondered, also, when Kurt’s father comes to check the cot, does he have a discussion with the owner about the person who had been down there? Did she give a description that matched Kurt, or share any other information that would lead Kurt’s parents to believe that it was in fact their son who had been in her basement? Just another series of questions for which there appear to be no answers.
It seems to me that the most likely scenario is that Kurt arrived at the party, had way too much to drink, fell ill, was not given proper care or medical attention and passed away as a result. More than likely the owner of the duplex panics at this point, and drops his body in a nearby ravine. The fact that the body wasn’t in bad shape, that there was no attempt to conceal it beneath brush or to bury it, suggests to me that the person who placed Kurt in the ravine wanted him to be found and this isn’t the act of someone who is trying to conceal a violent crime.
But then there is the death of Eugene Kvet. Both boys found within miles of each other, both boys missing a shoe that is never recovered. These are odd coincidences, but could they simply be coincidences? I could see Kurt being so drunk that he stumbled out of his shoes, or perhaps if the previous theory is correct, when his body was moved, one of his shoes fell off. However, in terms of Eugene Kvet, his right shoe isn’t found and there doesn’t appear to be any theory which suggests a reason for this. Is it possible there was a killer lurking in town who liked to keep trophies? Absolutely, but these two cases are the only ones which link up in this way. Police don’t see a connection between these cases, and do not consider it a possibility that either Kurt or Eugene were murdered. Their current statements indicate that they believe both deaths were accidental.
It’s the similarities in the cases that lend the shadow of mystery to these cases. That and the original cause of death for Kurt being listed as natural causes. I think, without the death of Eugene Kvet and the missing shoes, the death of Kurt Sova may not be considered a mystery at all.
There were theories at the time that Kurt might have run into trouble at the party. Perhaps Kurt was drunk and said the wrong thing to the wrong person, but it seems likely if this were the case, there would have been forensic evidence to suggest that Kurt had been assaulted or murdered. The police and coroner stated that Kurt’s body had no signs of foul play, and that other than minor cuts and scrapes, there was no apparent damage to the body.
It has been thirty six years since Kurt’s death, and no one has ever come forward to give an account of what happened. Kurt’s parents both passed away not knowing the whole story. It’s a terrible event, and the loss of a child is an unimaginable tragedy. Kurt’s parents fully believed their son died as a result of foul play, and you can’t blame them for that. However, it isn’t impossible to imagine that the desperation of grief can cause people to struggle with and fight against the most likely scenario. To me, Kurt’s death was almost certainly related to the party. Whether Kurt drank too much, and died as a result, or suffered some kind of accident at the party itself, we may never know. The death of Kurt Sova remains a mystery for which there are no certainties.