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A 17-year-old boy vanishes after a party, then his body is found five days later in a ravine 500 yards from where the party was held.

Kurt Sova

Kurt’s body was found in a ravine

CASE DETAILS

On October 28, 1981, three young boys in Newburgh Heights, Ohio, made a frightening discovery in a ravine: a dead body. Other than some scratches and bruises, the body showed no obvious sign of injury. One tennis shoe was found in a nearby pile of rocks.  The other shoe was missing. Several hours later, the body was identified as 17-year-old Kurt Sova.

Kurt went to a party that Friday night

An autopsy revealed that Kurt had died no more than a day and a half before his body was found. Yet his parents had reported him missing five days earlier. Where was Kurt Sova during the five days he was missing?  How did he die and where was he killed?

Kurt lived with his parents in a quiet neighborhood. He was the youngest of four boys, and the closest to his parents. Dorothy Sova is Kurt’s mother:

“He never had any trouble with the neighbors. I never had any trouble with him in school.  I never had any trouble with him with the police.  That’s why I can’t understand what happened.”

Kurt left home for the last time late on a Friday afternoon. One block from his house, he met up with a friend who was on his way to a party. When Kurt didn’t come home that night, his mother knew something was wrong:

“It was not like him to be gone overnight. It was not like him to stay out after 10, 10:30, 11 o’clock, at the latest, and that was only when we knew where he was. This night he just never came home.”

The cause of death was unknown

When Kurt wasn’t home by Saturday morning, his parents began calling his friends.  Kurt’s father, Ken, searched for him around the neighborhood. There was no sign of Kurt. On Sunday, the Sovas registered Kurt as a missing person with the police.  Meanwhile, his mother, Dorothy, covered the neighborhood with missing flyers:

“We searched the ravines, searched the schoolyards. I even went so far as to search dumpsters looking for him.”

On Sunday afternoon, Dorothy learned that Kurt had been at a party on Friday night at a duplex less than two miles from where the Sovas lived. According to Dorothy, the party was given by a girl named Susan:

“When I went there, the girl who had the party was not there, it was another girl. When the girl returned home that had rented that apartment, she called me and she said she never saw my son and she had no party.”

But a pizza delivery man contradicted Susan. He stated that there had been a party at the duplex on Friday night. Dorothy contacted Susan again, and this time she admitted Kurt had been there. Susan also said that more than a dozen people had dropped by. Some of them were older than Kurt and most of them were people he had never met. Susan also told Dorothy that Kurt had been drinking heavily. But those who knew him say that Kurt was not much of a drinker. Dorothy talked to one of Kurt’s friends:

“The fellow that Kurt went to the party with told me Kurt had become ill. They took him outside for some air and because it was a chilly night, he said he went upstairs to get Kurt’s jacket and he left him hanging on the fence. He said he went up to get his jacket and came back down and Kurt was gone.” That’s when I think I became hysterical. I thought, ‘My God, something happened to him at that party or in between the party and home.’ Only I didn’t in my wildest dreams expect him to turn up dead.”

Five days after the party, Kurt’s body was found in a ravine just 500 yards from Susan’s duplex. Lt. Robert Carras of the Newburgh Heights Police:

“It’s our belief that his body was dumped out there and whoever the person or persons were, knew the area and they knew that people go back there and kids play back there, so eventually, within a certain amount of time, he would be found.”

The police searched the area for clues. They found Kurt’s left shoe wedged in some nearby rocks. But, they never found his right shoe. Kurt’s body was taken to the coroner’s office for an autopsy. It was determined that he had died only 24 to 36 hours before his body was found, which meant that he had been alive for at least three days after he left the party. However, Chief Deputy Coroner Dr. Lester Adelson couldn’t determine the exact cause of death:

“The manner of death in this particular case was signed out as probably accidental. He hadn’t been beaten in any way. He hadn’t been traumatized in any way. He didn’t have enough alcohol to end his life. He had no pre-existing natural disease. And as Sherlock Holmes said, ‘You eliminate all other possibilities and that which remains is the truth.’ This was a diagnosis by exclusion.”

Dorothy Sova wasn’t buying it:

“I didn’t believe that they couldn’t tell me how Kurt died. For my peace of mind, I want to know what happened to my boy.”

Dorothy began to piece together a series of strange events that occurred during the five days her son was missing. A friend of Kurt’s named David Trusnik claimed that he saw Kurt three days after he disappeared. Kurt and another boy were walking along a busy street less than a mile from the Sova home. According to David Trusnik:

“I pulled over to offer Kurt a ride at this point, and a van pulled up and Kurt yelled out ‘Franco.’ They both ran over to the van and they got in.  I didn’t know Kurt was missing.  If I would’ve known he was missing, there would probably have been something I could’ve done. I could’ve followed the van. But I didn’t know. And two days later he was found dead. And that was the last time I saw him.”

That same day, a stranger who had been seen around the Sovas’ neighborhood noticed Kurt’s missing poster in the window of a local record store. He apparently told the store manager he might as well take down the poster because the person on it would be found dead in two days. The manager was skeptical; however, she soon had a reason to be afraid:

“The next day, before the record shop had opened, he left flowers and a note. And the note said, “Roses are red, the sky is blue. They found him dead, and they’ll find you too.”

Police briefly questioned the man, who seemed to be mentally unstable. But there was no evidence he’d committed a crime, and he was released. By the time Kurt was found dead, the man had disappeared. But there would be another lead. On the very day Kurt’s body was found, Dorothy got an early morning phone call from Susan, the woman who had the party:

“She told me that someone was sleeping in her basement and perhaps it was Kurt. And I thought, ‘Why are you calling me now after lying to me so many times?” I didn’t know whether to believer her or not believe her.”

Kurt’s father, Ken, went to Susan’s house:

“I went down to the basement. I thought maybe he was sick or he was hurt and I figured if I got down there and found him that maybe I could do something for him. There, I found a cot that looked like somebody had slept in it. After searching the whole basement, I didn’t find anybody in there. I had no idea if it was Kurt or not.  All I know is somebody did sleep in that cot that night.  And when I got there, they were gone.”

Dorothy thinks she knows what happened:

“I think Kurt was there. I think he was already dead in that cot. But I think they panicked and got rid of his body in that ravine.”

Dorothy and Ken are certain of one thing; 24 hours before his body was found, Kurt was not in the ravine. Ken says that he had carefully searched there and found nothing:

“I know he wasn’t there the day that I was searching. They must have dumped him off that evening. I looked around and I’m sure that if Kurt was down there, I would’ve noticed that bright yellow t-shirt that he had on, against any of the terrain.”

Three months after Kurt died, the mystery of his death intensified. The body of Eugene Kvet, a boy Kurt used to know, was found in another ravine on the same street, just two-and-a-half miles from where Kurt’s body was discovered. Both boys had been missing for a few days before they died, and Eugene’s right shoe was never found.

This case is still open and classified as a “probable accident.”  New investigators assigned to the case are hopeful they can determine how Kurt died.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season one with Robert Stack and season five with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis FarinaVarious seasons available now on Hulu.

 

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55 Comments

  1. Dave

    Certain aspects make me think murder, but others make me think some sort of accident and people panicked. Really weird case.

    Reply

  2. thinkingoutloud

    I think Kurt probably drank something laced at that party and that’s why he got sick. If he wasn’t home for five days but seen alive, maybe he had drugs or a laced drink in his system died because of it and those who were around him were too scared to go to police so they waited a few days and then put his body in the ravine. I don’t think anyone intentionally killed him, maybe just a party gone wrong. Susan kept lying cause she was scared. Either Kurt was already dead and she kept him in her basement or he came back later and died in that bed. But Susan covered it up because she didn’t want his death to come back to her. I’m sure the death wasn’t intentional but it’s sad because no one will speak up and give justice because they are afraid of the consequences. It is hard to explain the similar death of Eugene, whether act of serial killer not. OR maybe same thing happened to him like Kurt and someone just recreated it

    Reply

  3. CD

    Anonymous from May 18, 2017 comment…….Your comments are not true….2 officers weren’t fired for corruption & the 3 other officers were off duty, out partying, the driver was intoxicated & hit a telephone poll in Cuyahoga Heights, two perished in the accident, one survived,,,but years later he died of Cancer. Why lie about stuff like that

    Reply

  4. Anonymous

    December 6, 1981 …. Craig H. Franko was killed Thursday as he worked at a downtown service station.

    That is most likely the “Franco” Kurt got int the van with. There are more apparent connections to Kurt and Eugene’s deaths around the same time period, not to mention that 2 of the Newburgh Heights investigating officers were fired for corruption, and 3 others were killed in a car crash while the driver, another officer survived but jumped bond and disappeared. 35 years have passed, and while I was only involved after the fact (I am one of the three boys that found Kurt) I still think about the case and all the loose ends that no one ever followed up on, even though much was reported in 81, then again during the filming of the UM segment.

    Reply

  5. GH

    I’d say perhaps drunk and fell into the shallow water and drowned, except there was those days missing before finding deceased.

    Reply

  6. RR

    This is one of those cases where some waterboarding should have been employed, specifically on “Susan”. The BS about “well he may be down in my basement” would/should have been enough justification to have employed some extreme tactics to get answers and the truth.

    Reply

  7. chanel

    hoping for answers for his loved ones and friends. just saw this episode for the first time.

    Reply

  8. projectastral

    If anyone here is connected to the case and would like to anonymously contact me… I’m an investigative journalist. My email address is projectastral@outlook.com

    Reply

  9. Anonymous

    Taking into consuderation that tgis was 35 years ago, and I was a 15 year old kid at the time, I’ll say what I can. At first, we though he was a discarded CPR dummy, until we got close. When we realized that Kurt was human, one of my freinds checked him for a wrist pulse, and said he was cold and clammy. Kurt was lying from about shoulders down in water, head to the “shore” th water wasn’t deeo enough to cover him and we all felt from the beginning he had been posed. One of the first Newburgh Heights officers to show up also checked Kurt for any signs of life, and stated “yeah, he’s stiff”. I suppose, becuase of his age and that he appeared posed, we thought he had been murdered, but there was no marks or other physical evidence of that, just the circumstances that we knew at the time. Keep in mind, non of us knew Kurt personally, nor did we know there was a missing kid in the area. Kurt’s dad had searched the exact area the day or evening before, and kurt wasn’t there. The M.E.’s findings agree, assuming they took into account Kurt’s body lying in cold water. It would seem that his body had been placed there between 12 – 24 hours before we found him. I hope it sheds a little light, and while I’m not 100% confortable posting my name even today, I suppose that most of the people that lived in the area wouldn’t be too hard pressed to figure out who I am.

    Reply

  10. cdr369

    Anonymous –

    Do you recall the condition of his body when it was found? What was your assumption at that time on the manner of his death (natural, homicide, OD, etc.) ? There are some theories as you know about his body being placed in that location. I have always wondered if his body was just placed there a few hours before it was discovered (absent any rigor mortis), or if he was there for a long period of time.

    Reply

  11. Black Bieber

    Such a shame what happened to Kurt Sova & that other boy Eugene Kvet. Even though the way their bodies were found & how some of the grownups were acting (such as the Hostess who kept lying & the “mentally disturbed” stranger) would raise suspicions, if the boys really were murdered, look like the evidence (of murder) would’ve showed up on the autopsy. Authorities should’ve questioned & followed up on The Hostess, as she seemed to have had something to do with the disappearance of the 2 boys. Hopefully, New Investigators can question The Hostess, if she is still alive & well.

    Reply

  12. project astral

  13. PA

  14. Someone

    If new theories and an investigation developed, wild you all support it?

    Reply

  15. Shy Girl

    I am an avid viewer of Unsolved Mysteries; this story always makes me cry. My heart really hurts for that dear mother. Kurt was such a sweet looking boy too. I pray this case gets solved….yes, get some new blood on the case. Somebody knows something; no doubt about it.

    Reply

  16. Moon

    Someone has to know something all these years

    Reply

  17. joey

    Is this solved yet

    Reply

  18. R L

    Of all the episodes I have seen over many, many years this is the one that has returned to my thoughts over and over. Heartbreaking that his parents got no answers! There seems to be so many screw-ups in the investigation and follow-up. There were so many people who were “players” in the case (meaning: the people at the party, especially the woman who lied about so many things, the man who saw him and a friend 2 days after he was missing get into the white van with “Franco”- that story seemed suspicious to me!). I would love to see the ladies from Cold Case get ahold of some of these people!

    Reply

  19. Dorthy Tuck

    I know what happened

    Reply

  20. joey

    Any updates on this

    Reply

    • DONAVAN

      I read somewhere that they have questioned one of the detective’s on the case by the name of R.Carras.I don’t know if he had something to do with it though.Stuff like that make’s you wonder.I was trying to Google the crazy guy’s name but I don’t know it.Can’t they exhume the body to find out what killed Kurt.

      Reply

  21. Nancy Miller

    Would it be possible this is the act of a serial killer? The fact that the right shoe is missing for both boys would seem probable a trophy was taken. Has law enforcement’s searched nationwide data base to see if there are similar crimes where a young boy was missing for 5 days then was found with the shoe missing? Was the other boy missing for the same length of time? My thoughts go out to the family.

    Reply

  22. Anonymous

    new information/theories will be coming out next month about this… watch out for them.

    Reply

    • cdr

      I haven’t heard any new theories?

      Are there any new developments?

      Reply

      • Anonymous

        The first thought after watching this segment was thinking why was the mother doing the foot work in the investigation. Where were the police and detectives. The police just plainly didn’t do a good job. The best leads was Susan and the guy at the record store. There’s other cases with less leads that get solved because of the police being persistent. I also wouldn’t be surprise if the autopsy report was wrong due to negligence like in the case with two boys that got ran over by the train and it was automatically ruled an accident because marijuana was found in their system, after the family hired their own investigators they put pressure on the city, they had to do another autopsy and they ruled it a definite homicide.

        Reply

  23. Anonymous

    The note sounds suspicious even that guy too wonder if he has something to do with it

    Reply

  24. Marie

    This needs to be solved: new detectives need to take a look at this case.

    Reply

  25. Beka H

    Is nobody else freaked out that the medical examiner coukd not find a cause of death? Does this sort of thing happen sometimes?

    Reply

  26. Anonymous

    for 3 and 3-4s of the day he was ware you found him, he was struck on the head with a rock, relation to the other death, a blond hair jock, and 2 friends, they have killed 5 disabled Boys. it is a thrill for them when they do it, I Get

    Reply

  27. Kyle schlip

    This case has a lot of unanswered questions. I’m surprised there hasn’t been any developments as of recent in this case. I watch this show every day and for some reason this case struck me harder than others in the past. This needs to be solved I hope he still has family searching for answers I will pray for a miracle in this case this can’t go unsolved forever. Also I think the guy who said Sova would be found in two days dead, was just acting like he was mentally disturbed hoping to stop any further investigation into how he knew what he knew I hope they still have his name on file.

    Reply

  28. Mandy

    Brad Kramer are you a medium? You say you are told to say this? Who is telling you? Very interesting case. Somebody from that party knows something. I really hope this case gets solved.

    Reply

  29. Samantha York

    This case stuck with me for years its hard to imagine something like this can happen..Here it is 2015 And no new clues have surfaced.Yet no one has been caught.They should start from scratch with a new team of investigators and such this case can be solved…And the lady that had the party yea she no something..

    Reply

  30. Anonymous

    I told you before last time I’ll say he told me his shoe is near a playground may be covered with weeds buy now, wants me to say he had a pack of spearmint gum in his pocket when they found him… so you will believe me if I’m wrong I’m very sorry

    Reply

  31. Cris

    Were Kurt Sova and Eugene Kvet of Jewish faith? Was there religious hate crime in Newburgh Heights OH during that time? Kvet/Sova last name origins when I looked them up on the internet indicate Jewish faith. Kurt may have been wasted with alcohol but the fact that he was incapacitated just gave a Jewish hater (if indeed both kids were Jewish) a cover to kill both of them. The missing one shoe on both kids is a message from the killer. I would probably look up hate groups in that area during that time. The teen who told the liquor store worker that Sova’s body would be found is very suspicious. I am surprised police did not put a trace on that guy. They obviously know his name ’cause they interrogated him. Maybe one of you with investigative skill can look up this guy and the females/all attendees at the party. Are they in prison? Have the killed? Are they willing to talk now? Have there been other cases in the country of killings of young boys (maybe if they are Jewish) and one shoe is missing and body dumped? Did that guy/party attendees have relatives working in the police department; possibly a cover up? Were the two boys molested? If so, look up pedophiles in that area? This is a very sad case indeed!

    Reply

    • Bradley Jonathan kramer

      hi my names Brad Kramer I have something you may not believe in what I was told is his shoe is near a playground somewhere near his home as told to say he had pack of spearmint gum in his pocket and they found him, if I’m wrong I am very sorry sometimes it gets fuzzy but the second time I heard this so if you’re a family member or friend please tell the police I submit to unsolved mysteries no reply

      Reply

  32. Sandy

    I love this show by far this one was so sad because his parents never got a answer I know for sure that whoever the man was that said he would be found dead and no cause of death had something to do with it and police let him go? Awful

    Reply

  33. Candice

    Susan is the key to solving Kurt Sova’s murder. Her phone should have been tapped, she should have been interrogated,etc. If she is still living, she needs to be questioned and investigated – put some pressure on her. All of the individuals at the party should be questioned and get a fresh pair of eyes on the medical evidence. As far as Eugene Kvet, there does not seem to be a lot of information out there about his murder. It is clear, though, that there is a connection between the Sova and Kvet murders.

    Reply

  34. Maureen

    Keep this open! Never let it go unsolved! Question those teens who are now adults!

    Reply

  35. barbara smith

    Did David see Kurt with or without his jacket?

    Reply

  36. Tiehl mroczka

    I lived in this house when was about 4 to 5 yrs old. Gonna do a time line to see if when my fam was there. Scary to think my brothers and I had played in the basement at one time.

    Reply

  37. Aaron

    This entire story has so many holes in it. Obviously this “Susan” woman had something to do with it. Did the police even question her?? Why would she lie to begin with, let alone multiple times?
    Anyone who lies about something like that is guilty, why lie at all unless you’re trying to hide something.

    Reply