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Updates from Hoboken Police on Body Pulled From the Hudson River

by Steph
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Days after a Baltimore man was reported missing in Hoboken, police have pulled a body from the Hudson River. The body is of twenty-seven-year-old Jamie Kwebetchou, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office confirmed on May 16th in a Tweet press release. Kwebetchou was last seen on Saturday, May 4th at 12:15AM at the Wicked Wolf Tavern in Hoboken. His family and friends reported him missing to Baltimore police the following Monday. Hoboken authorities immediately initiated a missing person search. But then on Wednesday, officers pulled a body from the Hudson River near Pier A in Hoboken.  Read on to find out what we know about the body pulled from the Hudson River.

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What We Know

Yesterday, Police Chief Ken Ferrante released a brief but vague statement on his Twitter, thanking all units that assisted in the body’s recovery. “Thank you North Hudson Regional Rescue Task Force, @NJSP, NJ @NJTransitPolice, @HCPOProsecutor Homicide Unit, @HobokenPD Uniformed Officers & Detectives, & @HobokenFire for your professional work on the Hudson River today,” Ferrante wrote. We also reached out for a statement from the units, but are awaiting a response.

Eerily enough, this is actually the second body extracted from the Hudson River this week. Two days prior, New York Police Department’s Harbor Patrol Unit recovered the body of a 25-year old Carteret man from the river near Exchange Place in Jersey City. While police have released a statement summarizing that the incident doesn’t appear suspicious, the close proximity {in both time and location} has locals freaked out, to say the least.

The Missing Baltimore Man: Speculations

Originally reported on Reddit, a post from a user called nuggetswithattitude alleges they are a friend of Jamie Kwebetchou and that the body pulled from Pier A in Hoboken was indeed Kwebetchou’s earlier this week.

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The user went on to confirm that the body he was referring to was the one pulled from Pier A. After fielding a few questions from other users, nuggetswithattitude also alleges that police are treating the incident as a homicide.

Zap Fitness

In the comments section, several users bring up the Smiley Face Murders, a twenty-year-old murder theory first introduced by retired New York City detectives. When a number of young men were found dead in bodies of water from the late 1990s to the early 2010s, detectives Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte speculated that these bodies did not drown; instead, the theory perpetuates the idea that these young men were targeted and killed.

The theory points to either one individual serial killer or sometimes speculates that a group — known as the Smile face gang — committed the murders in tandem.

The murders are called “Smiley Face” because of one crucial piece of evidence linking each of these killings — a graffiti smiley face was often found at nearby locations to where the bodies were dumped.

However, as it currently stands, police have not publicized any evidence that directly links this incident to the Smiley Face Murders.

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Hoboken Girl has reached out to Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante for comment to which he responded:

“In any death investigations, the Hudson County prosecutor Esther Suarez holds total authority on release of information. Police Chiefs are not authorized to give information out until the HCPO turns the job back over to that local agency. The HCPO does not put any info out on deaths until they meet with Next of Kin,” Ferrante wrote in an email.

“Once I am given authorization to give out information, I certainly will and would love to answer any of your questions, especially about the so called ‘Smiley face Murders,” he added.

As of May 20th, however, in an email to Hoboken Girl, Chief Ferrante assured that there a “no current threats to the public regarding the waterfront and there has not been over the past eight years, and there is no ‘smiley face serial killers’ throwing people in the river in Hoboken.”

“Over the past eight years, all of the events with individuals going into the Hudson River (NOT including last week’s Baltimore Resident’s death) appear to have been voluntary entries into the water. We have had approximately 15-20 in that time. None of them have been determined to be homicides and none of them have any evidence that supports that,” he wrote.

“The reasons we have had individuals enter the waters are many: swimming, dares, intoxication or individuals under the influence of drugs, citizens trying to rescue others, hallucinating individuals jumping in to save babies that were really stuffed animals, and in quite a few of these cases — suicide.”

He went on to explain what efforts the Hoboken Police Department has taken to ensure the ongoing + future safety of residents. 

“Due to many individuals voluntarily entering the river, I created a Waterfront and Parks Unit on January 1st, 2015 and we have had saves in the river of those who were observed entering,” he explained.

The Police Chief also recommended monitoring the HCPO Prosecutor Twitter feed for updated info.

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The Investigation

At the time this article originally went to publication, Prosecutor Suarez has tweeted out that Hoboken Police were on the scene. That tweet was sent out on Wednesday, May 15th.

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According to the press release Prosecutor Suarez linked on Twitter on Thursday, May 16th, “The deceased has been identified as Jaime Kwebetchou, age 27, from Maryland, a man who was reported missing by his family on May 9, 2019. He was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 3:55 p.m.”

The release continues, “The exact cause and manner of death is pending the findings of the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office. The Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit is actively investigating the case with assistance from the Hoboken Police Department.”

Hoboken Girl will continue to update this article as those updates are made available.

Users in the Reddit comments were quick to point out that this is the fourth incident of this nature in the past five years.  The body of a 24-year-old Hoboken man, Matthew Genovese, was found in the Hudson River in 2016. That January, Genovese left McSwiggan’s Pub at around 11:30PM on a Saturday. Genovese’s body was found in the Hudson near Pier A the following Tuesday.

August of that same year, the “lifeless body of a male” was found in the Hudson River near Exchange Place in Jersey City.

On Christmas Day 2015, the body of 23-year-old Anthony Urena of Manhattan was discovered in the Hudson. Urena had been missing for six weeks after he was last seen in Manhattan around 5:00AM on a Saturday, leaving a club.

Similarly, the body of Andrew Jarzyvk, 27, was recovered from the Hudson in 2014 about a month after he went missing. Jarzyvk was last seen running along the Hoboken waterfront.

With Jarzyvk, Urena, the unidentified male in August 2016, Genovese, and now Kwebetchou, that makes for five similar incidents in the past five years.

“Hopefully Hoboken Police take this seriously,” a Reddit user LisaS4340 wrote. “I’m not sure if it’s the Smiley Face deal or not, but I dare say we have a serial killer amongst us. Someone is targeting young men, murdering them, and dumping them in the Hudson.”

Locals in the Reddit comments are calling for the City of Hoboken to get cameras near all waterfront areas.

Do you have any information regarding these incidents?

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor at 201-915-1345 or to leave an anonymous tip on the Prosecutor’s Office official website. All information will be kept confidential.

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