March 10, 2001

03/10/01: Justin Hayduk, 18, Morgantown, WV

Justin Hayduk, 18, University of Pittsburgh freshman, vanished in the early-morning hours of March 10, 2001 after celebrating spring break in Morgantown, West Virginia. After drinking using a fake ID, he was spotted around 2:40 a.m. either sleeping or passed out on a bench in the bar. A bartender claims to have called a taxi for Justin, but his mother has found witnesses who said Justin was refused service. He was last seen on foot, headed west away from the bar. He was found two months later in the Monongahela River.

"Not the type to disappear"
Justin was a 2000 graduate of Chambersburg High School in his hometown of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in Franklin County. He was a 3-year member of the YMCA swim team. He was attending college at the University of Pittsburgh on academic scholarship and was a member of a fraternity. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Hayduk was simply not the type to disappear.

Hayduk visited his grandmother, Jane Hayduk, every few weeks while enrolled at Pitt. She "supplied him with clean clothes and home-cooked meals" while he "entertained her with stories of college life." He was a solid student and seemed happy. "A deeper look into his background led police to conclude that his life was as smooth as it appeared on the surface. 'We are doubters by nature, so we looked for the little things," said Detective Cpl. Phillip Scott of the Morgantown police. 'We didn't find them. His family life was good. He had no bad relationships."

To help celebrate spring break, Justin Hayduk drove to Morgantown, West Virginia with a hometown buddy, Chris Kille, a student at Edinboro University. They went to a bar and drank. Kille, 21, could be served legally. Hayduk packed a phony Pennsylvania identification card carrying the name Michael Stiffler. After leaving the bar, which police would not identify (according to one report, it was Shooter's), they attended a fraternity party at West Virginia University and drank some more.

Around 2 a.m., Hayduk and Kille were in front of the West Virginia University student center. "While waiting for a bus that was to take them back to a friend's dormitory room, they got into a make-believe scuffle...this foolishness attracted the notice of passing campus police officers. They thought Hayduk and Kille were brawling, and swooped in to break it up. Kille panicked and ran. As officers chased him down, Hayduk walked the other way, toward the Downtown business district that abuts the river." Kille was written a citation for public intoxication. Once Hayduk moved down the street, police decided not to bother with him." It has been speculated that that Hayduk evaded police to avoid being cited for underage drinking.

"By 2:40 a.m., Hayduk had slipped into the 123 Pleasant St. nightclub. He either fell asleep or passed out on a bench in the bar. The club was closing and the band that had performed there was packing up. A man shooting pictures of the band decided, for no apparent reason, to snap some shots of Hayduk. Police say those photos are definitive proof that Hayduk was still exploring Morgantown as late as 3 a.m., when he and the last of the customers were shooed from the bar.

Here the mystery of what happened to Hayduk deepens. A bartender at 123 Pleasant St. told police he called a cab for Hayduk. Hayduk's mother claims to have witnesses who say the cabbie refused him service. The taxi driver told police he had no recollection of being called or of encountering Hayduk. Scott, of the city police, said hundreds of young men hailed Morgantown taxis that weekend. Many of them, like Hayduk, were wearing blue jeans and baseball caps, so it would be unusual for such a customer to stand out. "

From there, according to The Daily Antenaeum Interactive, Hayduk walked on foot and headed west away from a Yellow Cab taxi. He wasn't seen again until his body was found in the Monongahela River two months later.

Justin's bank accounts were not touched since his disappearance on March 10. Justin's hat was found three days after his disappearance in the brush along the Monongahela River.

Search and Recovery
Dogs and divers searched the Monongahela River for Justin's body for a week, believing that he may have fallen in while drunk. They came up empty-handed and suspended the search. Hayduk's family has canvassed the town, handing out fliers with the teen's photograph.

Justin Recovered
On May 24, 2001, a tugboat crew spotted a body in the Monongahela River and called the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the locks in Point Marion, Pa., who then called the police. Workers at Consol Coal's Humphrey Mine reportedly saw a body floating among debris. The body had become caught on a barge at the docks. It was pulled from the river at 11:30 a.m. and loaded onto an ambulance at noon. Using dental records, medical examiners in Charleston positively identified the body as missing freshman Justin Hayduk. The body was found about 4.5 miles away from where Justin's hat was found. According to police, the orginal search effort did not include the area where the body was spotted.

On May 31, 2001, police in Morgantown, West Virginia, announced that no foul play was involved and that Hayduk's death was the result of accidental drowning. An autopsy and toxicology tests found no signs of injury or drugs. Hayduk's blood alcohol content was .12. In West Virginia, the legal blood alcohol limit is .10.

Possible Victim of Smiley Face Killer?
Detectives Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte are considering the possibility that Dustin was a victim of the so-called Smiley Face Killer who they believe "is a network of killers who get a thrill out of stumping police." According to Gannon, "the coincidences include how the men drank large amounts of alcohol very quickly, were in a crowd and then vanished into thin air, somehow negotiated their way to a riverbank and happened to fall into the water unheard and unseen."

Hayduk's family doesn't believe that is so far fetched. His grandfather, John Hayduk, said he had doubts all along that his grandson's death was an accident. "So did my son, so did his mother, so did my wife have doubts," John Hayduk told Channel 4 Action News on Tuesday. "Why would you run into the river and drown, just like that?" According to his grandfather, Justin was "an avid swimmer ... he got ribbons for swimming and everything."

Facts of Interest in This Case:
Name/Age: Justin Hayduk, 18
School attended: University of Pittsburgh
Physical Description: 140 pounds, 5 feet 7 inches tall, brown hair, brown eyes, medium complexion, small scar under his chin.
Last Wearing: Tan vest over a white shirt, with blue jeans and a white Pitt baseball cap. The cap was discovered March 13, 2001 on a bank of the Monongahela River.
Last Seen: bar at 123 Pleasant Street, Morgantown, West Virginia
Autopsy findings: no signs of injury or drugs; blood alcohol content was .12.

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