Have you ever tracked a true crime case, only for it to conclude with no answers in sight? While the fictional crime dramas we see on TV regularly wrap up neatly with the culprit behind bars, all too often real-life criminal investigations remain unresolved. If you’ve ever reached the end of a true crime book or podcast that focuses on an unsolved mystery and found yourself thinking, I want to HELP solve this, then this one-of-a-kind event is for you.
From February 21-23, CrimeCon will host CrowdSolve: Chicago at the Hilton Palmer House in Chicago, Illinois. Citizen sleuths and true crime enthusiasts will gather to delve into a real-life cold case alongside industry experts and seasoned investigators in hopes of reaching a breakthrough.
Now in its second year, CrimeCon CrowdSolve selects a special cold case for each event. 2019's CrowdSolve: Seattle focused on two open cases from Thurston County, Washington: the disappearance of Nancy Moyer and the murder of Karin Bodine. 2020's Chicago event focuses on the mysterious death of 17-year-old Kurt Sova in Newburgh Heights, Ohio.
Kurt Sova died in 1981, yet questions about his demise remain. Now, investigators are opening up this case to fresh eyes. CrowdSolve participants will examine never-before-heard details from the Sova investigation, with the ultimate goal of putting their heads together with law enforcement professionals to rustle up new leads and unexplored possibilities. Participants will gain unprecedented access to the case file and have the opportunity to pick the brains of those closest to the case.
Retired U.S. Marshal and CNN crime analyst Art Roderick will lead CrowdSolve: Chicago as its chief investigator. Special guests include Kurt’s brother Kevin Sova, Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy, and Professor Mike Lewis of Tiffin University, who has renewed public interest in the case and done extensive research with the help of his criminal justice students. The event will also bring in a team of renowned experts so that you have the best resources at your fingertips—including polygraph examiner and retired FBI agent Jay Cherry, who will dispell common polygraph myths and teach you how to interpret tests so that you can draw your own conclusions about persons of interest.
The weekend event is jam-packed with immersive exercises where you'll be provided with all the tools you need to assist in the investigation. In the mornings, you’ll receive a crash course on investigative techniques and the key facts surrounding Kurt's death. You’ll dive deep into the mystery in the early afternoon, as breakout groups analyze crime scene photos, build a timeline of events, and assess witness testimony and persons of interest. In the late afternoon, participants will reconvene to share their findings with investigators. Perhaps your efforts will lead to the breakthrough that will finally crack this decades-old case.
Think you have what it takes to solve a real-life mystery? Read more about the Sova case below, and get your tickets to CrimeCon’s CrowdSolve: Chicago to find out!
About the Case
On Friday, October 23, 1981, 17-year-old Kurt Sova of Newburgh Heights, Ohio met up with a friend to attend a Halloween party at a nearby duplex—and never returned home. His family, neighbors, and the police searched fruitlessly until Wednesday, October 28, when Kurt’s body was discovered in a ravine some 500 yards from where he was last seen. Kurt's right shoe was missing; his left shoe was also removed but was later found wedged in a nearby pile of rocks. Police at the time detected no evidence of assault; investigators eventually concluded that Sova's death was accidental or the result of natural causes. Yet troubling questions lingered. The autopsy revealed that Kurt died 24-36 hours prior to the discovery of his body, but he was missing for five days. Kurt's father, Ken Sova, claimed that he searched the ravine on Monday and saw no sign of his son's body. What's more, one of Kurt's schoolmates later claimed that he saw Kurt in the days after his disappearance. The tipster reported seeing Kurt with a group of people he did not recognize, people who were not from Newburgh Heights. Unfortunately, the tipster was unaware of Kurt's status as a missing person at the time, and did not suspect anything was amiss.
Citing gaps in the timeline of Kurt’s final moments and shifting witness statements, the Sovas have suspected foul play ever since. In November 2019, the Newburgh Heights Police Department re-opened the case and announced it was partnering with Tiffin University to take another look at Kurt's death.
THE CASE FILE IS COMPILED AND THE EXPERTS ARE ASSEMBLED. ALL THAT’S MISSING IS YOU. JOIN CROWDSOLVE: CHICAGO TODAY FOR A WEEKEND MURDER MYSTERY THAT'S NOT A GAME.
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