July 11, 1997

07/11/97: Richard Hlavaty, 19, La Crosse, WI

After drinking at a bar in the Pearl & Third Street area, 19-year old Richard Hlavaty and his brother, James, were chased by a group of men after a fight. Outnumbered, the Hlavaty brothers jumped into the river to escape, and the group threw hand-size rocks at them. During the assault, Richard Hlavaty drowned.
"I take extreme issue with anyone who tries to connect evidence in the Hlavaty case to these other four deaths. The Hlavaty case is not remotely related. He was chased into the river."

- Captain James Schleifer,
La Crosse Police Department.
James Hlavaty was unable to identify the individuals who chased him. However, Captain James Schleifer, chief of the La Crosse Police Department's detective bureau, said foul play was involved in the death, and if the men had been identified, they would have faced charges, such as reckless homicide or manslaughter. The case was suspended by police but will be opened if they receive additional information. Schleifer has said, "I take extreme issue with anyone who tries to connect evidence in the Hlavaty case to these other four deaths. The Hlavaty case is not remotely related. He was chased into the river.''

The injuries caused by rocks were not severe enough to cause death, a medical examiner's report said. An autopsy determined that Richard Hlavaty's blood alcohol content was 0.271 at the time of death—nearly three times the legal limit. The cause of death was ruled drowning, but the manner of death was ruled undetermined.

Facts of Interest in this Case
Name/age: Richard Hlavaty, 19 (from Western Springs, IL)
Physical description: unknown
Location last seen: bar on Pearl & Third Street in La Crosse, WI then Mississippi River
Date & time last seen: 07/11/97, time unknown
Date and location recovered: 07/13/97 (main channel of river, south of Cass Street bridge)
Cause of death ruling: drowning
Manner of death ruling: undetermined, but foul play involved (potential reckless homicide or manslaughter)
Injuries: numerous non life-threatening injuries
Blood Alcohol Content: 0.271


BoyintheMachine said...

If there is a gang/group of killers then perhaps this might give a possible answer to how they end up in the water. It's an alternate theory to the actualy placing of the body into the water.

It's possible that these guys are 'herded' into the water, purposefuly chased/frightened to the point where the only way the victim can escape is if they choose to enter the water.

This would imply not a random chase, but a deliberate chase in which mutlple attackers would have to play roles of blocking off various exits or paths available to the fleeing victim.

Of course this is only a possibility if there is a group of people conspiring to kill drunk college-age men.

monique777 said...

Deviation from all other cases in that 2 boys were chased into the river after a fight with a gang.

2 boys in the same location, on the same day are not going missing and both ending up in the same body of water.It is a boy who is alone.I'll bet this case had witnesses and other such deviations from all the other cases.

Think this was just a typical gang bangers MO. Fighting and then chasing to continue the fight. It just so happened the boys couldn't keep running because they eventually ran in to water.

Don't think this case fits in with the others. And the detective almost presumes the other cases are connected because he strongly stated that this case is not related to the others.Why say that if one sees no connections between any of the other cases! Hmmm

Lisa said...

Monique 77,

This is a tricky case. I'm not sure I would exclude it, but I'm not sure I want to include it either.

On the one hand, the young man was the same age as the others and was last seen drinking in the Pearl & Third area of LaCrosse---like many of the other cases. Perhaps this was a practice run for the killers. Or perhaps they were inexperienced and unable to control the Hlavatys and got sloppy.

On the other hand, this was a public fight taking place in the river and there were witnesses, which is very unlike the other cases.

If this case hadn't happened in La Crosse and only 2 months before the Blatz case, I don't think I would have included it at all. But when you put it in context of the other La Crosse cases, I don't think you can exclude it quite yet. We really need more information. Unfortunately, this case is so old that information has been hard to find.

If anyone fancies a trip to the library, please let me know what you find.

Anonymous said...

To me more of a coincedence, open water, and oktoberfest.Some were even very muscler and good swimmers.Prove peaple can"t swim while drunk! Who says they cant!Still beleive ther's more to this also.UWL students.

tennessee111 said...

The chief of police already made up his mind the other drownings were not related. So when seeing something that caused the snow not to be undisturbed besides a set of footprints it was ignored. Something like a paw prints from a dog or where rocks had landed in the snow.The Lacrosse police department has admitted in their own way that'we start with an opinion and then make the facts fit our opinion,rather than the other way around"

Lisa said...

Yes, you hit the nail on the head! This is precisely the problem with how many of these drownings have been investigated. If you start an investigation based on your opinions, then haven't you already jaded the outcome??