Slyvester McCurry Jr.,18, was last seen at the Stargate Night Club in Superior, Wisc., on January 17, 2010. According to the Duluth News Tribune, McCurry was kicked out of the no-alcohol club for being intoxicated.
McCurry, a senior at Duluth East High School, had been living with his best friend Keegan Couillard and his parents in the Chester Park neighborhood of Duluth, Minn., since August. The two buddies told Couillard's parents Paul and Jennifer they were going to a birthday party. They instead went to the Stargate Night Club in Superior, Wisconsin, just across the river.
Because Monday was a school holiday, they had plans to stay at the Superior Inn after going to the club. Keegan Couillard said he arrived at the Superior Inn at noon, and McCurry was dropped off at 3 p.m. They had planned to have friends come to their room, but it fell through. McCurry couldn’t swim because he had sustained a severe cut to his finger that day at his job as a line cook, and his finger was bandaged and in a splint. Yet, Couillard says, "He was in a good mood, Couillard said, but was tired and napped for a while. They walked to Stargate around 10 p.m. and separated inside." (Duluth News Tribune, 1/30/10.)
The Stargate was packed that night with 16- to 20-year olds. McCurry, who was called "Sly" by friends and family, had bumped into friends at the club. He last spoke to Keegan Couillard around 10:45 pm Sunday. That was his last contact with anyone. He apparently then left the club without telling anyone he was leaving or mentioning where he was going. Friends and family say this is unusual behavior for McCurry.
Surveillance video from the club shows McCurry leaving alone through the back door about 11 p.m. Authorities told WDIO News that he was likely "very intoxicated." The Duluth News Tribune later reported that McCurry did not have any alcohol at the Stargate, but had been drinking it at the hotel. Police have not said where it came from. Wisconsin Public Radio reported that McCurry had ejected from the club out of the back door and was left alone in the alley. Neither the police nor his family were called.
Keegan Couillard was unaware McCurry had left but then later assumed he would see him back at the hotel room. Couillard heard from a friend that night that McCurry's injured finger had begun to bleed through the bandages. When McCurry didn't show up to the hotel room, Couillard thought perhaps his girlfriend or other friends had picked him up, maybe even taken him to the hospital. Couillard told his parents about McCurry's disappearance on Monday night (1/18) and they filed a report Tuesday morning (1/19).
The Search for Slyvester McCurry
According to the Duluth News Tribune, poli
ce dogs tracked McCurry’s scent to an outer door of the Superior Inn, then the trail ended. Police said early on that they didn't suspect foul play and that they did not believe McCurry ran away, but they also admitted they didn't have a lot to go on. On January 21, just four days after his disappearance and two days after police were notified, the official search was called off. The family, hoping that he would be found, posted a $50,000 reward for information. Friends also started a Facebook page.
On Saturday, May 22, workers at the Midwest Energy Coal Dock in Superior spotted the body in Lake Superior. McCurry's family has told the media that Sly was found in the same clothing he was wearing when he disappeared, and that his wallet was in his pocket. The family has reported in being in "complete shock" over the location where McCurry was found and the many unanswered questions that remained.An autopsy was conducted on May 24 by the Douglas County Medical Examiner's Office. Police said there are no signs of traumatic injury or assault that would indicate foul play.
On August 13, 2010, the Superior Police Department announced that the death of Sylvester McCurry had been ruled an accident resulting from cold-water immersion and drowning. Police said that during the investigation conducted by the Superior and Duluth Police Departments, with the assistance of numerous other agencies, there was no evidence of foul play being involved in the death of McCurry. McCurry's blood alcohol content (BAC) was reported as approximately .08. However, due to the amount of time that McCurry's body was in the water and the fact that ethanol is a natural by-product of decomposition, McCurry's BAC at the time of his death cannot be readily determined.
The Forensic Pathologist's summary in the final autopsy report noted the following:
- "No significant antemortem traumatic injuries were identified."
- "No deep tissue, bony, or internal traumatic injuries were identified."
- "The death could be attributed to probable cold water immersion and drowning."
- "If thorough investigation of the events surrounding death shows no indication of foul play or suicidal ideation, the manner could be listed as accident."
- The only drugs detected in toxicology screening was Hydrozyzine (a prescription antihistamine).
According to the Duluth News Tribune, a Superior police report said "information received from the beginning of the case indicated that McCurry was intoxicated on the night he disappeared. As a result, investigators have considered the possibility that McCurry attempted to cross the St. Louis River or harbor in an attempt to get back to Duluth."
About Slyvester McCurry
Friends and family say it was out of character for McCurry to be missing and not using his cell phone. He spoke regularly with his family and talked to his girlfriend, Grace Buck, at least twice a day on the phone. “He’s not the kind of person to take off,” Jennifer Couillard said. According to cell phone records, his phone was not been used since the night of his disappearance.
McCurry has also been described by friends and family as an intelligent, outgoing, positive man. McCurry’s half-sister, Ana Gamber, 22, said McCurry had some previous troubles with school and his family, but had been getting it together. According to the Duluth News Tribune, McCurry "works at Fitger’s Brewhouse, made the B honor roll in the fall, and recently played Harry in the Duluth Gospel Tabernacle’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life. He enjoys attending church services, Jennifer Couillard said, and is an avid snowboarder with a Spirit Mountain season pass." Gamber who saw him at Christmas said he seemed happy.
Couillard agrees, “He is one of the few teenagers who will wake up in the morning smiling and happy,” she said. “He’s been such a good friend to my son and us. Anything he can to do to help, he wants to help.”
A funeral for Slyvester McCurry was held on June 1 at the Duluth Gospel Tabernacle at 11 a.m. at 1515 Superior Street, Duluth, MN. Friends of the family are collecting donations to help defray funeral expenses. Donations will be accepted at any US Bank in the name of the "Tammy Jo Carter Fund" or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our thoughts are with Slyvester's McCurry's family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 1-218-730-5400, search headquarters at 612–965–1121.You can remain anonymous.
Name/age: Sylvester McCurry, 18
School: Duluth East High School
Residence: Duluth, MN
Last seen: 1/17/10, Stargate Nightclub in Superior, WI
Physical Description: 5'11", 150 pounds, black male, light complexion, short brown hair, brown eyes. Last seen wearing blue jeans and white Nike shoes.
Originally posted: 1/20/10. Updated 5/27/10, 9/7/10.