April 26, 2005

04/24/05: Dan Pirfo, 19, Ithaca, NY

Dan Pirfo, a 19 year old Cornell University student in Ithaca, NY, was reported missing at 1 AM Monday, April 26, 2005 by his roommate, Sean Clemens and other friends from his floor in Mews Hall. He has reportedly been drinking Saturday night and was last seen in the early morning Sunday hours in a friend's dorm room on Farm Drive. His body was found May 10, 2005 at the base of the Ithaca Falls in Fall Creek gorge.
Clemens said he last saw Pirfo at around 3:10 a.m. Sunday morning: "I told him I was going to bed and he said he'd be back." [This has also been reported as 3:30 a.m.] Records show that he re-entered the dormitory at at approximately 4:30 a.m. The last confirmed sighting of Pirfo was in another friend's room in Mews Hall at about 4:45 a.m. An unconfirmed sighting put him in the student lounge at 9 AM Sunday morning. Pirfo had reportedly been drinking Saturday night.

The Search
Friends and dorm residents created fliers, constructed a Web site and sent out e-mail in an effort to locate Pirfo. Ithaca Police reported 32 volunteers combing the area for Pirfo. Cornell Police, along with the Ithaca PD and the NY State Police helicopter conducted a search of the campus buildings and grounds, along with the river gorge that cuts through the campus. "They've been searching around the North campus residence halls and the grounds around the north campus residence," said Simeon Moss, director of the Cornell press office. "The Ithaca Police Department is actually coordinating that search." New York State Park Police helped coordinate the search from the Cayuga Heights Fire Department Wednesday. On Wednesday 4/27/05, K9s were brought in from Western NY Search Dogs, and Cayuga County SAR to assist with building searches and a search of Lake Beebe. No alerts were recorded and both the buildings and the lake were cleared. No further K9 assistance was requested. Students did perform a search of the grounds, and a continued investigation by LE did not turn up any new leads.

On Tuesday, May 10th, three men fishing in Fall Creek Gorge, discovered a body at the base of the falls. The body was later identified as Pirfo. According to IPD Lt. Timothy Williams, injuries found on Pirfo's body are consistent with a fall into the gorge. His death has been ruled accidental, Williams said Thursday.

Photo from: http://cornell.elliottback.com/where-is-dan-pirfo

Facts of Interest in This Case
Name/age: Dan Pirfo, 19
College: Cornell University
Physical Description: white male, 5'8," 160 pounds, brown hair brown eyes wearing a black dress shirt and khaki pants
Last Seen: 04/24/05 4:45 am, Mews Hall
Recovered: 05/10/05 the base of Ithaca Falls on Fall Creek near campus
Cause of death ruling: unknown
Manner of death ruling: accidental

Post last updated: 8/2/09


Anonymous said...

About the alleged "profile update" on the cornell website, well I just graduated from cornell and they ALWAYS would update by themselves. You didn't really even have the ability as a student to actually modify your profile. So this wasn't Dan or anyone else linked to his death.

Jon said...

What is your intention with this posting? Do you believe his death to not be accidental? Please respond as i am curious to see what you have to say. I will check back often.

Anonymous said...

You should check out this site jon


Maybe it is a strange coincidence or a hoax but I also found a possible word game and the word itself left near the water.

Lisa said...


My site is only meant to detail odd disappearances of college-age males. Based on newspaper reports, Dan's injuries make this likely to be an accident, but certain aspects of the case, such as why he was alone at the Falls in the early morning, are puzzling.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe the first letters of city names or bands associated with victims would just spell out things like camp or pire . Keep in mind Pirfo is part of the word pire and Campbell is part of the word camp.Also keep in mind there were only about a dozen pire offices and Brian shaffer was last seen on the same street as one of them. Brian is also part of a possible word game.I don't think that rules out the possibility part of this could be a hoax or all of it could be freaky coincidences. Josh Snell was part of the end of the word Pire and he was being chased.I was aware of the word sane being near the water and starting with the victim here the first letters of band names victims can be associated with spell out sane. There are 2 band patterns. The other one is with Brian Shaffer that had a Pearl Jam tattoo on his arm. The first 2 victims in the sane pattern were only 5 days apart. Someone could have completed the word later on and put the word sane there after they disappeared for all I know. Someone was sending clues that they were killing back in 20003 by signing letters with the initials of victims names.

Jon said...

Lisa, why did you make this site? What connection do you have to these people? Conspiracy or not, with so many accidents or murders that have taken place, it seems that no one will ever catch these alleged killers.

Lisa said...


It's a long story, but I'm happy to tell it. I live in Minneapolis and I was working downtown when Chris Jenkins disappeared. He was just a few years younger than me, a student at my alma mater, and he was last seen at a bar I had occasionally gone to for happy hour after work. I rode the bus at that time and I walked by his missing poster every day. It haunted me. So I started following his case. Nothing about what I was hearing made any sense. And I could see the pain and frustration his family was feeling. I felt connected to the Jenkins family and I was unable to let the story go. I felt compelled to do something to help.

Jenkins went missing in October 2001 during the same 2-week period as 3 other college students in the area (2 were males, 1 female). There had been some talk about a killer along I-94 and when I started looking into it a little further, I came across a string of very similar deaths. I could not find any information about whether accidental drownings by college students were common.

I think it was around 2004 when I had found about 15 cases that I started the site to explore the question. At the time, there were 2other internet sites mentioning these mysterious drowings, but they didn't delve into it exclusively. So my goal was to put the information out there and see what people thought.

If the consensus was that something odd was going on, I hoped that we'd either have the numbers to request an investigation or that the site would pique the interest of law enforcement. My other goal was to get information about missing people out to more people and to post news updates so people could follow stories as more became known.

In 2008, some former detectives in New York announced that they found a connection between the Midwest deaths and some on the East coast, so my site expanded to explore some of these as well, which is why Dan Pirfo's is mentioned alongside of some of the Midwest cases.

After years of doing this and accumulating a lot of data, I have been contacted by many families as well as by some professionals in law enforcement and search and recovery. Their encouragement has kept me actively involved in what could otherwise prove to be a frustrating endeavor.

I have formed a few personal opinions on certain aspects of some cases, but I haven't posted them. And I have not formed a conclusion or taken a stance on the group as a whole. There are many oddities found between the cases, and one can't help but question whether there is something more going on. But you honestly could make an argument either way, so it would be premature.

But whether these cases are the result of homicide or they are accidental drownings because of a greater societal problem with alcohol, it is clear that awareness needs to be raised. Kids need to know that all kinds of bad things can happen to them when they are intoxicated and vulnerable. I also believe that alcohol-related accidents in this age group need to be studied further. I don't think this problem has been adequately addressed.

I hope that in some small way, my site is helping address some of these questions and needs.

If you have questions for me or would like to discuss things further, please feel free to e-mail me at footprints.blogmail@yahoo.com. I'd be happy to talk.

Anonymous said...

To Lisa from Jon

Well Lisa it looks like another one bites the dust. Check out this article, its almost exactly the same as what happened to Dan Pirfo.


I knew Dan my entire life and he was my best friend. When he went missing I left school in Florida to go find him. All the way up to Ithaca, I traveled. I was a kid, 19, when I did this. I interviewed his roommate and those who saw him last...something never sat right with what happened. There was always too much left in the dark. I often times wonder whether there is a killer or not. Sometimes I hope for there to be one so I have something to hate other than myself for letting this happen. Its 5 years after his death and I still check these blogs, hoping for some sort of closure...the lingering memory of my friend haunts my thoughts perpetually. I'll check back.

Lisa said...


It saddens and frustrates me as well. There are many unanswered questions and things that just defy logic. It is hard not having more to go on. The killer theory can explain some of the unexplainable, but it also brings its own set of haunting issues and unanswered questions.

Maybe the trick is to carve out some type of peace for yourself in the middle of all this chaos and unknown. Finding something positive to focus on seems to help a lot. It's so easy to blame yourself and focus on the negative, but I think in the end it will just be destructive to you and do a disservice to Dan. He would not want you to live that way!

The families/friends of these young men that I have spoken with all seem to have taken a different approach as how to handle the grief. There doesn't seem to be a single "right" approach. They seem to be focusing on what they need to survive this and doing what works best for them. It will take time, but I have seen a number of people doing some very positive things. I'd be happy to share some of these experiences and what I know about this. Or just e-mail me at footprints.blogmail@yahoo.com if you need someone to listen!

Blogger said...

Order a professional Sparkling White Smiles Custom Teeth Whitening System online and enjoy BIG SAVINGS!
* Up to 10 shades whiter in days!
* Results Are Guaranteed.
* Better than your dentist, for a fraction of the cost.
* Same as dentists use.