Kurt Sova

Kurt Sova

Kurt Sova

A 17-year-old boy vanishes after a party, then his body is found five days later in a ravine 500 yards from where the party was held.

On October 28, 1981, three young boys in Newburgh Heights, Ohio, made a frightening discovery in a ravine: a dead body. Other than some scratches and bruises, the body showed no obvious sign of injury. One tennis shoe was found in a nearby pile of rocks.  The other shoe was missing. Several hours later, the body was identified as 17-year-old Kurt Sova.

An autopsy revealed that Kurt had died no more than a day and a half before his body was found. Yet his parents had reported him missing five days earlier. Where was Kurt Sova during the five days he was missing?  How did he die and where was he killed?

Kurt lived with his parents in a quiet neighborhood. He was the youngest of four boys, and the closest to his parents. Dorothy Sova is Kurt’s mother:

“He never had any trouble with the neighbors. I never had any trouble with him in school.  I never had any trouble with him with the police.  That’s why I can’t understand what happened.”

Kurt left home for the last time late on a Friday afternoon. One block from his house, he met up with a friend who was on his way to a party. When Kurt didn’t come home that night, his mother knew something was wrong:

“It was not like him to be gone overnight. It was not like him to stay out after 10, 10:30, 11 o’clock, at the latest, and that was only when we knew where he was. This night he just never came home.”

When Kurt wasn’t home by Saturday morning, his parents began calling his friends.  Kurt’s father, Ken, searched for him around the neighborhood. There was no sign of Kurt. On Sunday, the Sovas registered Kurt as a missing person with the police.  Meanwhile, his mother, Dorothy, covered the neighborhood with missing flyers:

“We searched the ravines, searched the schoolyards. I even went so far as to search dumpsters looking for him.”

On Sunday afternoon, Dorothy learned that Kurt had been at a party on Friday night at a duplex less than two miles from where the Sovas lived. According to Dorothy, the party was given by a girl named Susan:

“When I went there, the girl who had the party was not there, it was another girl. When the girl returned home that had rented that apartment, she called me and she said she never saw my son and she had no party.”

Kurt’s body was found in a ravine

Kurt’s body was found in a ravine

But a pizza delivery man contradicted Susan. He stated that there had been a party at the duplex on Friday night. Dorothy contacted Susan again, and this time she admitted Kurt had been there. Susan also said that more than a dozen people had dropped by. Some of them were older than Kurt and most of them were people he had never met. Susan also told Dorothy that Kurt had been drinking heavily. But those who knew him say that Kurt was not much of a drinker. Dorothy talked to one of Kurt’s friends:

“The fellow that Kurt went to the party with told me Kurt had become ill. They took him outside for some air and because it was a chilly night, he said he went upstairs to get Kurt’s jacket and he left him hanging on the fence. He said he went up to get his jacket and came back down and Kurt was gone.” That’s when I think I became hysterical. I thought, ‘My God, something happened to him at that party or in between the party and home.’ Only I didn’t in my wildest dreams expect him to turn up dead.”

Five days after the party, Kurt’s body was found in a ravine just 500 yards from Susan’s duplex. Lt. Robert Carras of the Newburgh Heights Police:

“It’s our belief that his body was dumped out there and whoever the person or persons were, knew the area and they knew that people go back there and kids play back there, so eventually, within a certain amount of time, he would be found.”

The police searched the area for clues. They found Kurt’s left shoe wedged in some nearby rocks. But, they never found his right shoe. Kurt’s body was taken to the coroner’s office for an autopsy. It was determined that he had died only 24 to 36 hours before his body was found, which meant that he had been alive for at least three days after he left the party. However, Chief Deputy Coroner Dr. Lester Adelson couldn’t determine the exact cause of death:

“The manner of death in this particular case was signed out as probably accidental. He hadn’t been beaten in any way. He hadn’t been traumatized in any way. He didn’t have enough alcohol to end his life. He had no pre-existing natural disease. And as Sherlock Holmes said, ‘You eliminate all other possibilities and that which remains is the truth.’ This was a diagnosis by exclusion.”

Kurt went to a party that Friday night

Kurt went to a party that Friday night

Dorothy Sova wasn’t buying it:

“I didn’t believe that they couldn’t tell me how Kurt died. For my peace of mind, I want to know what happened to my boy.”

Dorothy began to piece together a series of strange events that occurred during the five days her son was missing. A friend of Kurt’s named David Trusnik claimed that he saw Kurt three days after he disappeared. Kurt and another boy were walking along a busy street less than a mile from the Sova home. According to David Trusnik:

“I pulled over to offer Kurt a ride at this point, and a van pulled up and Kurt yelled out ‘Franco.’ They both ran over to the van and they got in.  I didn’t know Kurt was missing.  If I would’ve known he was missing, there would probably have been something I could’ve done. I could’ve followed the van. But I didn’t know. And two days later he was found dead. And that was the last time I saw him.”

That same day, a stranger who had been seen around the Sovas’ neighborhood noticed Kurt’s missing poster in the window of a local record store. He apparently told the store manager he might as well take down the poster because the person on it would be found dead in two days. The manager was skeptical; however, she soon had a reason to be afraid:

“The next day, before the record shop had opened, he left flowers and a note. And the note said, “Roses are red, the sky is blue. They found him dead, and they’ll find you too.”

Police briefly questioned the man, who seemed to be mentally unstable. But there was no evidence he’d committed a crime, and he was released. By the time Kurt was found dead, the man had disappeared. But there would be another lead. On the very day Kurt’s body was found, Dorothy got an early morning phone call from Susan, the woman who had the party:

“She told me that someone was sleeping in her basement and perhaps it was Kurt. And I thought, ‘Why are you calling me now after lying to me so many times?” I didn’t know whether to believer her or not believe her.”

Kurt’s father, Ken, went to Susan’s house:

“I went down to the basement. I thought maybe he was sick or he was hurt and I figured if I got down there and found him that maybe I could do something for him. There, I found a cot that looked like somebody had slept in it. After searching the whole basement, I didn’t find anybody in there. I had no idea if it was Kurt or not.  All I know is somebody did sleep in that cot that night.  And when I got there, they were gone.”

Dorothy thinks she knows what happened:

“I think Kurt was there. I think he was already dead in that cot. But I think they panicked and got rid of his body in that ravine.”

Dorothy and Ken are certain of one thing; 24 hours before his body was found, Kurt was not in the ravine. Ken says that he had carefully searched there and found nothing:

“I know he wasn’t there the day that I was searching. They must have dumped him off that evening. I looked around and I’m sure that if Kurt was down there, I would’ve noticed that bright yellow t-shirt that he had on, against any of the terrain.”

Three months after Kurt died, the mystery of his death intensified. The body of Eugene Kvet, a boy Kurt used to know, was found in another ravine on the same street, just two-and-a-half miles from where Kurt’s body was discovered. Both boys had been missing for a few days before they died, and Eugene’s right shoe was never found.

This case is still open and classified as a “probable accident.”  New investigators assigned to the case are hopeful they can determine how Kurt died.