Schenectady County

Police doubt Szostak’s death tied to nationwide probe

Albany police took samples Wednesday of a smiling face painted on a tree at the Port of Albany, but

City police took samples Wednesday of a smiling face painted on a tree at the Port of Albany, but downplayed the possibility the graffiti is linked to the death of Joshua Szostak.

Bill Szostak, Joshua’s father, reported the smiling face to police Wednesday afternoon, according to city police Commander Brendan Cox. It was painted on a tree located at Park Island People Park, a small park next to a truck stop at the entrance to the port.

Cox said this afternoon it’s unclear how long the graffiti was there or where it came from, but police are investigating.

A series of news stories this week discussed the possibility that Szostak may have been the victim of a group that is killing college-aged, white, male students across the country. According to two retired New York City detectives, the group often leaves a smiling face at the crime scene.

The detectives are looking at as many as 40 college-aged males who have been reported missing and were later found dead in a body of water.

Cox refused to comment on the group or any possible link to Szostak’s death.

“We have done a full, complete and thorough investigation, and there is nothing to indicate there is any foul play involved in the death of Joshua Szostak,” he said.

He said police have a surveillance tape of a man who fits Joshua Szostak’s description walking toward the Hudson River on the night Szostak died.

Two separate autopsies found Szostak accidentally drowned, with no indication of foul play.

Szostak, 21, was last seen drinking at the Bayou Cafe on North Pearl Street at 12:15 a.m. on Dec. 23. He was seen several minutes later on video surveillance at the intersection of State and North Pearl streets.

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