Real Name: Kurt Eugene Sova
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Newburgh Heights, Ohio
Date: October 28, 1981
Details: Seventeen-year-old Kurt Sova's death has been riddled by one contradiction and cover-up after another. Kurt lived with his parents in Newburgh Heights, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. He was the youngest of four sons and was close to his parents. His parents recalled that he never got into trouble. On Friday, October 23, 1981, he left his house in the afternoon. A block away, he met up with a friend. The friend suggested that they go to a Halloween party at a duplex two miles away. Kurt never returned home that night.
By Saturday morning, Kurt's parents were worried. His mother Dorothy called his friends while his father Ken searched the neighborhood for him. On Sunday, the Sovas registered Kurt as a missing person with the Cleveland police. Dorothy placed missing persons fliers in stores throughout the neighborhood. That afternoon, she learned that Kurt had gone to the party at the duplex. She decided to go there and speak with Susan, who hosted the party. However, when she arrived at the duplex, Susan was not there. Another girl was there who was babysitting; she said that Susan was at work at that time. Dorothy told the babysitter to have Susan call her. Susan contacted Dorothy later that night; however, she said that she did not see Kurt, nor did she have a party that night.
Despite Susan's claims to Dorothy, a pizza deliveryman claimed that there was a party at the duplex on Friday night. Dorothy contacted Susan again; this time, she admitted that Kurt was at the party. It was composed of people from nearby Detroit, of which he was one of the youngest, and people to which he had never been acquainted with prior to it. Guests later commented that he had been drinking Everclear, the strongest drink on the market and illegal in many parts of the United States. The news surprised his friends and family as they did not know him to be a hardened drinker. Also, his skinny build and lack of past drinking did not give him a high tolerance for the likes of Everclear.
Kurt's friend later said that he took an intoxicated Kurt outdoors for some fresh air, leaving him hanging on the chain link fence nearby. When he returned shortly with Kurt's jacket, he had vanished. It was not known if he had stumbled off into the back country due to his drunken state or if he had been abducted. His family feared that he met with foul play since Susan had changed her story about the party.
One day after he vanished, Kurt's parents registered him as a missing person and papered the neighborhoods and local businesses with leaflets looking for him. One such business was a record store, which was visited by a strange man who told the owner that it was fruitless to have the leaflet of Kurt and remarked, "Might as well take it down, he's gonna be found dead in two days, and nobody's going to know how he died."
A sighting of a living Kurt came from a schoolmate of his who was en route to a job interview on Monday, four days after he was last seen. The man was driving and saw him head towards a van with people who were not native to Newburgh Heights. He also reported hearing Kurt calling out, "Hey, Franco!" Unfortunately, he did not suspect anything out of the ordinary as he was unaware of Kurt's status as a missing person at the time of this occurrence.
Susan later contacted Dorothy stating that he had slept on a cot in her basement. She was reluctant to believe her on the basis of her multiple lies, but Ken inspected the basement. He did not find him in there nor any of his personal belongings, but did find a cot which looked like it had been recently used.
Six days after the party, on Wednesday October 28, three little boys were exploring a ravine on Harvard Street 500 yards from the duplex. They found Kurt's body. He was wearing a bright yellow T-shirt which stood out from the natural tones of the ground, as well as barefoot. Police could not find any sign of assault. His body suffered no injuries expect for a few minor scrapes and bruises as a result of being barefoot. Nor could police find his right shoe, although his left shoe was found wedged in a pile of rocks nearby.
The cause of Kurt's death could not be determined. Coroners later concluded he died naturally or accidentally, but that is not accepted by his family. The autopsy also revealed that he had been dead between 24 and 36 hours. However, he had been missing for five days. Furthermore, Ken claimed that he searched the ravine on Monday and Kurt was not there. The Sovas believe that Kurt's body was dumped that evening or on Tuesday. They believe that he died in the duplex and was transported to the ravine.
Some believe that his death may be related to the that of another boy from the local area, thirteen-year-old Eugene Kvet, in the same neighborhood as the Sovas, and whom Kurt had been acquainted with. Interestingly, he was also found barefoot in a ravine on Harvard Street, and his right shoe was never found.
Suspects: The authorities would like to identify a man named Franco who Kurt had been hanging out with in the days before the party. It is possible but not determined that he is the same person in the record store who predicted Kurt would be found dead. On the same day as the discovery of Kurt's body, the owner whom had earlier been told the search for him was pointless received a bouquet of flowers with a card that read, "Roses are red, the sky is blue. They found him dead, and they will find you dead too". She felt sufficiently intimidated by this gesture and reported it to police, who arrested and interrogated the man. Police determined he was mentally and emotionally disturbed, but ruled him out as a suspect in Kurt's death. After his release from police custody he left Newburgh Heights. He has not been seen since.
Investigators believe that whoever put Kurt's body in the ravine was familiar with the area.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 23, 1988 episode.
Results: Unsolved. Both Kurt's parents are now deceased. Kurt's father Kenneth died in 2001 and his mother Dorothy died in 2014 without hearing any new info in the case. Two of his brothers have also since passed away. His third brother Kevin is still looking for answers.
In November of 2019, it was announced that the Newburgh Heights Police Department was partnering with Tiffin University to take another look into Kurt's case. In February of 2020, Kurt's case was featured in the CrimeCon event "CrowdSolve". In this event, 100 participants worked together to examine the case and help solve it. It is not known if any new information was uncovered.
- Kurt Sova on Unsolved.com
- Kurt Sova on the Ohio Attorney General's Office
- Teen found dead
- Wounds still fresh from son's death one decade ago
- Newburgh Heights partners with Tiffin University on 1981 cold case death of 17-year-old
- What happened to Kurt Sova? - CrimeCon
- Mystery in the ravine: What happened to Kurt Sova 40 years ago in Newburgh Heights?
- Kurt Sova’s mysterious 1981 death in Newburgh Heights the subject of upcoming CrowdSolve event in Chicago
- Can 100 strangers solve a crime? ‘CrowdSolve’ to take up Ohio teen’s 39-year-old cold case death
- Uncovering lies to solve a cold case: Experts reveal challenges at CrowdSolve
- Kurt Sova at Find a Grave