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TV documentary series featuring Dakota James case premieres Saturday | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

TV documentary series featuring Dakota James case premieres Saturday

Megan Guza
| Thursday, January 17, 2019 5:30 a.m
644603_web1_Dakota-James
Dakota James

The television documentary series purporting Duquesne University student Dakota James was the victim of something more than an accidental drowning premieres 7 p.m. Saturday on the Oxygen Network.

The series, called “Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice,” chronicles retired New York City detective Kevin Gannon and colleagues as they work to link the deaths of “hundreds of college-aged men (who) have mysteriously drowned after a night out drinking with friends,” according to the series description.

The name comes from smiley face graffiti found near some of the bodies.

Dakota James, 23, disappeared from Downtown Pittsburgh on Jan. 25, 2017, after a night out with coworkers. Security cameras picked up some of his movements after he parted ways with friends, showing him walking through Katz Plaza in the Cultural District onto Scott Place. He was heading toward Fort Duquesne Boulevard, and no cameras showed him after that.

Investigators have theorized he was heading toward his home on the North Side.

His body was found March 6 in the Ohio River near Neville Island. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that Dakota James drowned in what they determined to be an accident.

The James family – along with Gannon, his team, and forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht – announced last month that they believe the documentary’s investigation has turned up new evidence of foul play, including an alleged ligature mark on Dakota James’ neck.

“The police never led us to believe that foul play took place at all,” Pamela James says in the trailer. “Once Dakota was found, we spoke with the detectives that day, we did a (press) conference the next day … but after that, we’ve never heard from the detectives again.”


Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.


Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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