The La Crosse Tribune reported the following item today:
22-year-old man found drunk, lost and down by the Mississippi River
There have been numerous drownings in La Crosse over the years, some in the Mississippi River, some in the Black River. They are usually college-age men with a lot of alcohol in their system (one had a blood-alcohol level of .40). They are most common around Halloween or Oktoberfest, when college students from around the Midwest converge on La Crosse to get wasted. Each death was investigated and determined to be an accident (or, in one bridge-jumping case, possibly suicide).
Despite this, there are many people (some of them family members of past drowning victims), who believe there is a serial killer who preys on young men by getting them drunk and luring them into the water. Why else would they be so far from their apartments, having traveled in the opposite direction when they left their friends at the downtown bars? Maybe because being really drunk messes with your sense of direction. The issue is summarized in a tongue-in-cheek fashion by this music video.
I suppose one could believe that the serial killer drugged the young man yesterday to confuse him and lure him into the water, but the killer fled when police approached. Or that the police made up the story to cover up the fact that there is a serial killer (scroll down and read the comment from canuread) One could also believe that Barack H. Obama, Jr. was born in Kenya.
I have another theory. Wisconsin is known for crazy cults. I think there is a River God(s) cult that performs sacrifices during Oktoberfest and Halloween (both ancient pagan European harvest festivals). The cultists are townies, and they select UW-L students and out-of-town tourists as their sacrifices because they feel no sense of kinship with them (and don't know their parents). Since it isn't a single killer, that explains the differences in M.O. for each death.