“It is our belief his body was dumped out there, and whoever the person or persons were, knew the area. And they knew people go back there and ride dirt bikes and kids play back there, so they knew that eventually within a certain amount of time… that he would be found” – Robert Carras
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1981
Thursday morning, the homeless man appeared back at the record store. Judy isn’t at work yet, the man instructed a nearby merchant to give a bouquet of flowers to her. There was an accompanying note that read “Roses are red, the sky is blue. They found him dead, and they’ll find you, too.” The police picked the man up and questioned him, finding him to be of no harm, they released him. He was never seen from again.
Kurt’s autopsy was performed by Lester Adelson, Chief Deputy Coroner of Cuyahoga County. The autopsy determined Kurt had been dead 24-36 hours before his body was found, meaning he was alive for at least three days after leaving the party. The coroner could not determine an official cause of death. Kurt Sova had no preexisting medical conditions, no drugs were found in the autopsy, and he didn’t have enough alcohol in his system to kill him. Deputy Coroner Adelson cites this as “Diagnosis by exclusion.”
David Trunsnik, one of Kurt’s close friends, came forward and claimed to have seen Kurt three days after he had disappeared (Monday), less than a mile from Kurt’s house. David witnessed Kurt walking with another individual, as he gained ground on the distance between the two of them walking — David saw a van pull up, and Kurt yell out “Franko!” Kurt entered the van and was never seen from again.
The investigation did get a new lead, a local by the name of Angeline Reddicks stated she saw two males dragging what looked like to be an unconscious teenage male toward the ravine. This account was never relayed to the Sova family and only came to their attention when they ran into Angeline and sparked a conversation. She waited to give a statement out-of-fear but finally contacted the sheriff’s department in 1989 but never heard back.
She stated: “I seen them taking a boy down the alley. It was just before Halloween,” said Reddicks, who said she witnessed the scene one afternoon from a window in her house on Washington Park Blvd. “One foot was barefoot. I’m almost sure it was the right one. I figured – “Couple teenagers with a couple beers too many, and they’re probably trying to sober up.”
Although the Unsolved Mysteries episode showed a reenactment of a crime scene in which photographs were taken of Kurt’s crucified position, none of the actual crime scenes were documented. The only Polaroid pictures consisted of Kurt on the stretcher and in the ambulance. The police never searched the duplex, and no request was made to nearby Cleveland PD for assistance in the investigation; an inquiry from Cleveland PD was turned away by Newburgh Heights PD, according to Dorothy Sova.
Four different agencies (Cuyahoga Sheriff’s Department, F.B.I., Newburgh Heights PD, Cleveland PD) looked into the case and found no new leads. Eighteen months after Kurt’s death, a Cleveland Police Detective Al Figler looking into the case found the handling of crime-scene by Newburgh PD to be a “joke.” Missing paperwork, lack of evidence, and forthcoming witnesses plagued the cold case.
The investigation is also tainted by former Detective Robert Carras and Newburgh Heights Police Chief James F. Lukas. Robert Carras pleaded guilty to striking Eric Kotonski of Newburgh Heights with a flashlight during a drunken-driving arrest in December 1990; kicking John Rogers of Cleveland as Rogers lay handcuffed after a February 1989 abduction and harassment arrest; pulling Larry Villanueva’s hair during questioning about a February 1989 break-in; and striking Donal Geib across the face during the same interrogation.
Carras was also convicted on drug and corruption charges. James Lukas who served as Newburgh Height’s Police Chief (1976-1984) falsified documents for a police dispatcher and was found to have a criminal history, including a conviction for dereliction of duty. Lukas has defended the Kurt Sova investigation, stating to The Plain Dealer newspaper in 1991:
“That’s not even fair. What happened was completely unrelated. That’s the only part I take offense to. That (Sova) case was handled on the up and up.” – James Lukas
January 1982 — Eugene Kvet is found dead under similar circumstances to Kurt Sova’s death and disappearance. His shoe was missing, and he was also found in a ravine; Eugene (14) was around the same age as Kurt.
What are the circumstances revolving around Eugene’s vanishing and murder? What color shirt was he wearing?
What weather elements pertain to the Kurt Sova Death? Who was Franko? What does the duplex that Kurt attended the party look like today? These questions are answered in Part II.