A young man in Tempe goes out drinking one night, and once he leaves his friends that night, he's not seen for about two weeks -- when his body's found floating in water in or around Tempe Town Lake.
Those are the main details that have come out in the recent death of Arizona State University freshman Jack Culolias, but those are also the same details in the January, 2011, death of 24-year-old Tempe resident Willie Jigba.
Culolias was last seen around the time he got kicked out of the Cadillac Ranch restaurant/bar the night of November 30 during a fraternity event, and the only physical clue of Culolias' whereabouts was a single red shoe, which was found by Culolias' mother -- who had come into town from California -- north of the shopping center a few days after he was last seen.
On December 16, a body was spotted in a river next to the shopping center, and it was identified as Culolias -- who was wearing the other red shoe.
Shortly before Culolias' body was found, one of Jigba's friends reminded us of that case.
Jigba was last seen leaving a party on January 15, 2011. He was supposed to start a new job the next day, but never showed up.
Jigba had apparently started to walk to his home, which was a few miles away, and that path likely took him by Tempe Town Lake.
The lake wasn't immediately searched, as police told New Times at the time that there was no evidence Jigba was in the lake. His path likely took him that direction, and Jigba's father also feared that he may have fallen in there.
Divers eventually did search the lake, with no luck. In very similar circumstances to the Culolias case, Jigba's body was found floating about two weeks after he was last seen, and after the cops' search had been completed. We've previously noted that it's very likely that it took two weeks for each man's body to float, so that's not really an issue.
However, it's hard to tell what actually happened to either of the men. It would seem like the logical answer is that they accidentally fell, or made a poor decision to jump, into bodies of water after a night of drinking. Jigba's autopsy didn't cause any suspicion of foul play, and we wouldn't be surprised if Culolias' didn't, either.
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In addition to these two cases, a quick Google search will bring back similar cases as far back as 2004 (in three pages of search results).
There was also a similar string of deaths -- involving drowning deaths of intoxicated college students -- going on in La Crosse, Wisconsin, a few years back, although those townsfolk seemed to think there was a serial killer on the loose.
Some students there donated their time to a citizen patrol of the river there, and lobbied the city council for fencing or video cameras in the area.