NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – It’s a mystery investigators in Newburgh Heights have been working to solve for nearly 41 years — how exactly did Kurt Sova, a healthy 17-year-old boy, end up dying?
He went to a Halloween party on October 23, 1981 and his parents never saw him again. His body was found days later in a ravine about 500 yards away from the party.
Newburgh Heights police said the coroner could not determine his cause of death and there were no signs of foul play.
Kurt’s mother, Dorothy, who has since passed, spoke to FOX 8 in 1993. She was desperately seeking answers and trying to find out what caused his untimely death.
“They tried originally telling me it was like SIDS,” Dorothy said in the 1993 interview. “But there is no such thing as SIDS in a 17-year-old boy.”
Police say Dorothy devoted years of time looking into her son’s death, leaving detectives pages and pages of details notes about what she found.
About three years ago, her notebook was taken out of the evidence box and read by a criminal justice professor and a dozen students at Tiffin University who analyzed evidence in the case.
They worked with police following up on information and tips.
Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy says those notes are a huge help to investigators who are still trying to crack the case and determine if Sova met with foul play before his death.
“We traveled three states away for polygraphs,” Majoy said. “We traveled hundreds of miles and put in thousands of hours of work on this case, which had not been done up until now.”
In the past three years, Newburgh Heights police have interviewed several of the witnesses, but they say they are still not sure exactly how the teenager died.
The police chief said part of the challenges detectives face now is due to the fact, at the time of Sova’s death, officers didn’t do much of an investigation.
“In 1981, the case wasn’t handled very well,“ Majoy said. “They did a mediocre investigation at best.”
But he says he still hopes to one day find that missing puzzle piece and figure out how a teenager with a bright future ahead of him ended up dead in a grassy field.
“I would like to be able to go to the family and give them the answer that they are seeking,” Majoy said. “Because at the end of the day, that’s really all that they want.”