May 27, 2010

01/17/10: Sylvester McCurry Jr., 18, Superior, WI

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

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.

Case Details
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.
Links: Facebook
Originally posted: 1/20/10. Updated 5/27/10, 9/7/10.


Monique777 said...

I sure am hoping Sylvester is found soon and that he is okay.

Stargate is an 18+ and 21+ nightclub. From the website it appears it becomes 21+ after 10:00 Thur-Sun as they have drink specials. Not clear if it is 18+ before 10:00 p.m. but if it is, this might explain why he "left" without saying good-bye at 10:45 p.m. Sun. night. He may have been told to leave as he is 18 y/o.

My prayers are with his family and friends.

Anonymous said...


"They[LE] say they have surveillance video that shows him leaving Stargate and walking down a nearby alley alone."

"At this time police don't believe "Sly" ran away, but they have yet to say whether they believe foul play is involved."

Anonymous said...

The search has been suspended.

A fund has been created to pursue further attempts to locate him:
The Sylvester McCurry, Jr. Fund; c/o Members Cooperative Credit Union; 630 E. 4th St.; Duluth, MN 55805

snowqueen said...

The date in the headline reads 01/17/09, but in fact should read 01/17/10, as he has only been missing just over a week. It could make a difference in how hard someone might look for him? Thanks!

My prayers are with his family and friends as well.

Doc Conjure said...

This may be an odd suggestion, but may I suggest that people in LE start approaching the younger crowd to inquire about what they think might be going on?

Especially the younger bar-gowing crowd who may not even be aware of this or similar sites online.

Lisa said...

Yikes, thank you for the correction!

Anonymous said...

Why would the search be called off after such a short period of time?

Jen said...

I am Slys aunt, I am just searching online to see if i can find out anything , until I came on this site i wasn't aware there was this many missing teens, its absolutely awful!
I dont know really why im writing on this post, maybe to just get things of my brain, would like to say something,

Sly if somewhere you are ok and you find this post, Im sorry Sly, that we haven't been close over the past few years, I do love you very much, I haven't told you that since you were a little boy, but as soon as you get home I will tell you it again, Your mom really miss you , more than ever, she needs you Sly. You are her heart.

Lisa said...


My heart goes out to you and your family. We are all hoping for the safe return of your nephew, Sly.

Please know that you and your family may contact me at any time if you need help disseminating information, requesting volunteers or donations, etc. My site is your site! My e-mail is:

Ivo said...

Once again, another missing male who goes unnoticed by the national media. Why aren't Nancy Grace and Jane Valez-Mitchell reporting on this? Oh, that's right...MMPWWS (Murdered/missing pretty white woman syndrome). They're two busy with Morgan Harrington and that Playboy model. Funny how JVM constantly talks about this so-called "War On Women," but all she ever talks about are women. Aren't there more mising men each year than women? Maybe that press-on mullet of hers is on too tight. (Same goes for you Nancy) And this poor kid has two strikes against him: Not only is he male, but he's BLACK, so to them he doesn't exist. It's disheartening enough to know that if I happened to go missing that I would not be a newsworthy story because I'm a guy. However, being white, I have more of a chance than missing males like this McCurry kid. The only time HLN has black people on their shows is if they get arrested, or if they're a celebrity. Mitrice Richardson got some airtime on JVM, but I suspect that alot of that had to do with her disappearing in Malibu. I keep tuning in every day hoping this will change, but I don't see that in the forseeable future. And if I'm this angry, imagine just how frustrated the families of these missing people are.

Unknown said...

the same with out him...!


tfbenjamin said...

Is there a FACEBOOK page for Sly McCurry? You can really get his picture and story out by requesting all friends to pass along to their friends and so on. Also post the $50k reward info. Seems like a good thing. I couldnt find one on facebook. Theres is one for FIND ERIC PETERSON and it has alot of hits. Just one more avenue to try.

Unknown said...

Facebook page for Sylvester "Sly" McCurry Jr.

tfbenjamin said...

Thank you Craigs...I must be too old to understand Facebook. 1 friend on there, my daughter and I dont really use it. But I found it & link for the poster. will put it Park Rapids Walmart & Wadena Walmart.

Unknown said...

Why isn't he broadcasted on the news more? They broadcast the white boy from Iowa but sly only once. What a damn shame I hope they find him for his families sake

tfbenjamin said...

I have not seen any anthing about Eric Peterson since abt Jan 25. He went missing on 1/19. The news is too busy reporting on gossipy junk. There is a new guy missing in La Crosse. Craig Meyers I think. Hope they find him. News said a night of drinking at 2 bars and footprints found on ice on Mississippi River.

Unknown said...

You know, I can't help but think that if college-aged women were going missing and drowning that it would be all over the news. It wouldn't just be on the news once. It would be huge news.

I knew about the SmileyFace hypothesis awhile back, and I'm still not completely on board with the idea of a gang of killers. I do think that some of the drownings are accidents or suicides, but not all of them. Coincidences happen, but you know, a few times can be called a coincidence. After awhile it's a pattern.

I live in the Midwest. I have a college-aged son. & you know, he and his friends just don't believe they can get kidnapped. I'm pretty sure most young men think the same way which makes them perfect targets.

Doc Conjure said...

Any update on his disapperance?

Jen said...

There are no new updates on Slys disappearance unfortunately. Please dont forget about Sly, Please pray for him. Sly is more than just a missing young man, he is a son, brother, nephew, new uncle, friend and much much more. Sly has a long, wholesome life in front of him, we need to find him and bring him home. We love you Sly, your family needs you.

Anonymous said...

Facebook page for Sly says the search is over. A body has been found in Superior that is believed to be McCurry.

Jen said...

Sly was found yesterday at about 330 in the afternoon. His body was found on the Superior side in the lake. My family did interviews today so it should be on the news tonight. Thank you all for your prayers and support. It means more than you'll ever know, Love Slys Aunty Jen

Monique777 said...

This is such sad news. Sly's body was found near the Midwest Coal Terminal. His body was recovered in an area of water just down the street from the Stargate Club where he was last seen on Jan 17th. One article suggests he was trying to swim home to Duluth in the St. Louis River-utterly rediculous.

My prayers go out to his family and friends for their loss.

Anabelbella said...

No one....and I mean NO ONE is going to try to swim the HARBOR in January. I do not care HOW intoxicated someone is. I am from that area and people like us run on autopilot in the winter. While I do believe that people are subject to the dangers of hypothermia it is asinine that the police would even entertain such an idea that he chose to try to swim to Duluth. Whoever expects the public to believe THAT should be served with a court martial for pure stupidity.

Anonymous said...

do they not think he tried to walk across the ice, not swim across? That they would think that never even occurred to me. I think they mean walk across.

Anabelbella said...

@Tarmancer: The harbor is enormous and rarely freezes all the way. If someone has never been to the area they might think it freezes, but if it is someone who lives in the area and sees it every day to know that it doesn't do that...I have a hard time thinking that it would even cross someones mind that it was a possibility. Even if they were inebriated.

Jen said...

Sly didn't attempt to "swim" across the water. The water was very much frozen at that time. I know this because I was on the shores EVERY single day since Jan 18th. However the first ship that entered into our harbor was on jan 17th in the morning which broke up all the ice in its path. The police are saying not that he tried to swim, but cross over the ice not realizing that the ice ahead that seamed to be froze over was really just broken up earlier that day. Their are many questions that we the family have but let me be the first on this page to state that The superior and duluth police have worked very hard on this case. I worked side by side with them on many occasions and they did their jobs. I dont know the police on all the other cases on this site, but I do know these ones and it was a long journey for them as well. It is very possible that Sly made a life altering decision that night and it cost him his life. their are no signs at all of foul play. and none of us were there with him that night , so we don't know what would lead him to the water, but God has brought him home now and he will always be remembered. We luv you Sylvester McCurry Jr.

Kay said...

Sly lived in Duluth. Kids who live in this area know to be careful around the water, intoxicated or not. Why would he try to cross the ice himself, when he could have called his best friend or his girlfriend? Or any of his other friends? Or a cab????? Operating under the assumption that he tried to just cross the harbor doesn't make sense......he had a hotel room he could have returned to, if he was worried about his parents getting mad at him for drinking or something. I'd like to give Sly a little more credit than to think he tried to cross the harbor in the middle of January.

Anabelbella said...

Exactly, Kay. As a former resident of this area, this is my sentiment.

josie by the Lake said...

I live two blocks from Superior Inn, and about 6 blocks from Stargate. If Sly made it to the harbor himself, he would have had to make it through the industrial district next to the harbor, which is really difficult. I went and traced the routes he could have taken if he did walk to the water. There is a guard shack and fences, not to mention the fact that it is pretty hard to access the water even if you get past all that. My grandfather worked at Frasier Shipyards for many, many years. He knows the harbor and the industrial area very well. He said that there is a sewer in the industrial district that flows into the harbor. I don't know exactly where it is located, but he said the only thing that makes sense to him (since it seems unlikely because of all the fences and buildings) is that Sly somehow slipped into this sewer and was carried into the harbor. I just wanted to bring this up, because maybe that hadn't been considered. Our entire community has been in mourning since he disappeared. People are afraid of the unknown and want to understand what happened that night so we can prevent it, or find the person responsible. I pray SPD is networking with other departments and is comparing M.O.'s. I hope what I've said doesn't upset his family; I know his aunt has posted to this board a few times.

Unknown said...

Sly did not try to cross the lake and he did not drowned im so sick of people not doing a Fucking thing about this. sly was was of my best friends and he deserves vengance or at least some sort of justice. to say that his death was an accident pisses me off so fuckin bad how stupid are these fuckin cops, oh he tried to walk to duluth threw a secluded area with noone around 7 blocks the oppisite direction from his HOTEL ROOM then cross the ice alone and fell in? FUCK YOU to anyone stupid enough to settle for that. and the odds of 2 other kids going missing off i35 within the same 3 days? all of these kids besides the ones never found were drunk leaveing parties or bars alone an 2 or three of the cases were already overturned to homicide after they were first ruled "accidental" this should be made national and i will fight for the rest of my life to get my friends justice and justice for the other victoms and their families. i will be attending fon du lac for law inforcement next semester. i will be scheduling meetings with chad la lor, PI charles loesch,and retired nypd detectives gannon and duarte, and mpd mike flagherty. something needs to be done about these disapearances and it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out a majority of these cases are connected. i think about sly everyday. i have dreams all the time of us hanging and i wake up in the morning and reality hits me and im depressed and pissed off all day. the person(s) responsible for my friends short life deserve nothing less than a 9mm hollowpiont to the face and i want nothing more than to see that threw. i know my friend didnt walk 7 blocks in the opposite direction of his hotel (which was 2 blocks from stargate) and then some how miraculously find a way to drowned. and all of these cases are so similar to slys and law inforcment keeps ruling them accidental like people drink some beer and flock to rivers and lakes like zombies and drowned themselves.i just wish people were not just speculating and bloging and actualy doing some thing. and heres my opinion, ill be getting my permit to carry my handgun everywhere with me soon anyone 21 or older can get it and if even one of these guys was carrying a 380 in his belt i bet he would still be here today. Slys life was taken from him and it was no accident we cant bring him back so we need to avenge him. boss forever sleez.

Lisa said...


I'm so sorry for your loss. I would imagine that it certainly doesn't help to hear illogical assumptions from the police.

I'm 100% behind you that something needs to be done. Up to now, it has been an uphill battle because law enforcement has flat out refused to even acknowledge that there could be a problem. It will take public pressure on law enforcement to get these cases looked at. The first step is to raise awareness, and we're making good progress on that front. People are now hearing about these cases and becoming outraged. The next step is for people to apply the pressure. While private investigators look into these cases and search for evidence/details, I would urge the public to write to local government to express their outrage. Perhaps this will help produce some cooperation in law enforcement. If anything, it might put law enforcement into a position of having to explain why nothing is being done on their end.

Michael, if you'd like me to put you in contact with some of the people you mentioned, please e-mail me at to discuss. Thx.

Mbaz said...

To me, in this situation, the idea of foul play is less idiotic than the idea he wandered off and drowned. Sadly, I feel this is another case where the truth will never see the light of day.