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What a journey it has been. My first book, Lost Boys of Hannibal: Inside America’s Largest Cave Search, chronicled one of the nation’s most vexing mysteries. In May of 1967, three Hannibal, Missouri boys, two of whom were childhood friends of mine, went missing after being seen near caves exposed during highway construction. Missouri is the Cave State, with nearly 5,000 identified caves, and Hannibal’s underside is criss-crossed with many dark, narrow passages. Despite a month-long search by the nation’s top cavers, the three boys were never found.
We fast forward to 2018.
I wrote a follow-on book, Souls Speak: Missing Children Reveal their Serial Killer from Beyond, after three evidential psychics identified the boys as the abductees and victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. My year-long investigation revealed that all three psychics independently identified the precise location in Ralls County Missouri where they say the bodies of the three boys are buried. Gacy went on to be put to death in the 1990s for the murders of 33 young men and boys in the Chicago area between in 1972 and 1978. Souls Speak laid out a credible theory that placed Gacy in Hannibal in May 1967. He lived in Waterloo, Iowa and drove through Hannibal to visit his mother and sister in Little Rock Arkansas on Mother’s Day.
Now, new information in this remarkable paranormal, true crime story.
We discovered more evidence about Gacy’s travels to Hannibal, and his possible role in the boys’ murders, during a conversation with Shawn Jackson, a cousin to Gacy’s nephew Ray Kasper. In February 2021, while in Hannibal for a family medical matter, New Mexico resident Steve Sederwall, a retired law officer and a childhood friend of Craig Dowell’s, tracked down Jackson who lived in Hannibal for several years in the 1980s and 1990s, and now resides in a small-town west of St. Louis.
Sederwall told me that in a phone conversation with Jackson, he broached the topic of John Wayne Gacy and his possible travels through Hannibal in 1967. Jackson readily acknowledged Gacy regularly drove through Hannibal in the 1960s and 1970s, en route to visit his mother and sister in Little Rock, Arkansas. “He always stayed at the Holiday Inn,” Jackson told Sederwall. This is a big break in our ongoing investigation as it proves Gacy was regularly travelling to Hannibal. The Holiday Inn where Gacy overnighted was located on the western edge of town, just east of Highway 61, the route Gacy would have driven from his home in Waterloo, Iowa, four hours away by car.
When the topic of Hannibal’s three lost boys was mentioned by Sederwall, Jackson openly acknowledged that he, too, had wondered whether his depraved distant relative might have been involved in their abductions and deaths. Jackson spoke to Gacy occasionally at Menard Prison and once even raised the subject. “I asked him if he knew anything about those three boys in Hannibal who went missing. He was evasive about the matter and quickly changed the subject,” Jackson related. It seems clear Gacy was uneasy with the topic and didn’t want to discuss the matter with one of the few people with whom he still maintained a semblance of a normal relationship.
As time progresses, we’re discovering more about Gacy’s travels and his increasingly likely role in the murders of three children taken and dispatched in the bloom of their lives. Shawn Jackson’s admissions are important additional pieces to the puzzle.
For more information, visit John Wingate’s author blog CardiffHill.com, and visit him on Facebook (AuthorJohnWingate) and Twitter (@CardiffHill).
Both of John Wingate’s books were published by Calumet Editions, and are available on Amazon.com.
Want to do a good deed? Please ask your local library to carry copies of my books, Lost Boys of Hannibal and Souls Speak. When libraries carry these books, people who cannot afford copies can still get a chance to read them. So anything you can do to help get these books in YOUR library is much appreciated!
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding writing, superb book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom
Excellent book. The writing style is gripping without becoming sensationalist. At times the descriptions of the cave networks were so well constructed that I felt claustrophobic and uncomfortable while reading. The author made me feel like I was almost experiencing what the lost boys and rescue teams went through. I highly recommend this book to anyone. I’m not a caver, it’s simply an enthralling true story very well told.
The genesis of Souls Speak…
On July 15, 2018, I called Lynnie, the oldest sister of the two missing Hoag boys. Her first words were, “John! Gacy killed them! They were his first kills!”
With that startling and chilling statement, the conversation launched me on a year-long odyssey that points to serial killer John Wayne Gacy as the man who abducted, tortured, and strangled three Hannibal boys, then buried them in a single hastily dug grave. The location, preserved with GPS coordinates, is only a few miles from where Joey and Billy Hoag, and their friend Edwin Dowell, were last seen on the early evening of May 10, 1967.
My latest book, Souls Speak: missing children reveal their serial killer from beyond is the product of the year-long probe, conducted with three experienced clairvoyants who peered across the boundary between this world and the heavenlies and connected with the etheric spiritual energy of the boys and Gacy himself.
The Hoag boys were friends of mine, and over these past five decades their families and many friends have grieved them.
Writing about the missing boys incident has brought its challenges. A relative of Edwin Dowell has sent threatening messages promising harm to me and my family. The relative, only a little boy when the three Hannibal boys went missing, is still engaging in juvenile behavior born of trauma. My team’s sole goal is to find the boys so they may be put to rest.
The Travel Channel show about the lost boys of Hannibal will air again January 11 at 1 p.m. central time. We shot the show last summer.
The show includes a discussion with me about the findings in my two books, Lost Boys of Hannibal and my latest book, Souls Speak.
We’ll soon be announcing the date and time for a September book signing event at Quincy Books, 3800 Broadway, Quincy, Illinois.
“Eternity it seems does not start at death; we have been in eternity for our entire lives, this continuum of earthly life to death to eternal life into which we are born. The Bible speaks of us as merely a vapor. Indeed, life on earth, for those blessed with the gift of many decades, is but a nanosecond compared to the eternity of life beyond.
During her preternatural experiences, Mary has seen angels and guardian angels who specifically protect us and chilling demonic forces like Gacy seeking to destroy us. She has frequent contact with what she calls intelligent spirits, the immaterial energetic beings who can respond to questions, provide detailed information and physically move objects in our three-dimensional world. She believes that souls eternally located in Heaven are able to energetically connect with our world with the help of attentive mediums. In this place of higher energetic frequency, she says, a whole series of unique dramas can play out.
Sometimes, we can see only one side of these dramas from our limited worldly perspective, as the following example I relate to Mary dramatically illustrates. A family friend, Charles,now retired as a professor of biblical history, once related to me an incident his physician father experienced during his work in northern Minnesota.
Doc, now deceased, was a long-time country doctor and a devout Christian. Doc had a patient, Frank, an avowed dyed-in-the-wool atheist who rejected any belief in God. Frank refused to hear any Christian witnessing despite the doctor’s best efforts during the span of many years.
One winter when Frank grew gravely ill, Doc tended him and even sat overnight with the patient in his rural Minnesota home. This was in the 1940s when physicians made house calls and did such things.
The winter night was subzero and quiet until about 3:00 a.m. when Frank suddenly cried out, “Doc, Doc!” The doctor raced up the stairs and into the bedroom to find the sick man sitting bolt upright in bed, his eyes wide open in terror, as he lamented, “The fire, the flames, it’s so hot!”
And once the moment of high drama passed, Frank fell back onto the pillow dead. Doc had seen many miracles in his decades of medical practice, but this supernatural moment was the most soul-chilling ever, as he grieved for Frank’s soul….”