Did an anonymous Reddit user confess to an unsolved murder?
There are few things in life more tragic or intriguing than a missing person case. Sometimes it feels like the ground just opens up and swallows people whole, leaving their families distraught and frantic for years in their absence. Investigators will chase up all the leads they can, and examine every tiny clue in minute detail. Finding the lost one is often more down to chance and circumstance than police legwork. Yet sometimes, investigators are blessed with a break which changes everything. These confessions can come from unlikely places...
On August 6, 1988, nine-year-old Scott Allen Kleeschulte vanished. It was the last day of school for pupils at Coverdell Elementary School. Kleeschulte had only just completed the first grade, owing to his learning difficulties. He came home from school to change his clothes and then wandered off into the nearby woods to play. He was last seen at around 4.30 pm, in his hometown of St Charles, Missouri, walking down Ken Drive towards West Adams from his family house on Leverenz Drive. Sometime after leaving, a violent storm appeared over St Charles, drenching the area in wind and rain. Kleeschulte was never seen again.
The boy's disappearance sparked a massive search effort. Bloodhounds tracked Kleeschulte's path for five miles northeast before the dogs lost his scent. Police searched tunnels and caves in the area, and dredged nearby streams and creeks in an effort to locate a body. However, nothing was found.
Over the years, many theories have been advanced regarding Kleeschulte's whereabouts. Some believe that he fell and drowned in a flash flood. Others suspect foul play and believe he was abducted and killed. However, a post on Reddit might have revealed the truth after nearly 30 years. In an AskReddit thread where the subject was "Has anyone on Reddit ever accidentally killed anyone?", an anonymous user with a throwaway account posted the following anecdote.
"This still haunts me to this day. As kids, we had a hideout in this dirt cliff/cove ... There was a neighbourhood kid who, in hindsight, was probably mentally handicapped in some way, but to us he was just the weird/creepy kid (this was the eighties and we weren't exactly raised politically correct). Three of us were headed to our base and found creepy kid sitting at the top in our 'guard chair.' We yelled at him to get out, and he said something like 'make me' and started lobbing dirt clods and sticks down at us. We all ran around the side to make our way up."
"It gets pretty fuzzy here, but all I remember is he fell. I still remember the sound. When we got back down to check on him, he was in a very awkward position with blood coming out of his mouth. We all just freaked out and ran home, and as far as I know, no one has spoken a word of this to anyone. We didn't go back for over a month, and never said a word of it between us. Again, this was the eighties, so media wasn't like today. Chances are it got a small article in the newspaper B-section: 'missing mentally disabled child found dead after fall' or something like that."
The account associated with the above post was only 20 days old at the time of the apparent "confession" and has since been deleted along with the original thread. Luckily, a number of amateur sleuths on the subreddit "r/unresolvedmysteries" managed to archive the post. They noted that the details in the AskReddit thread share an eerie number of similarities with the Kleeschulte case. Consider the fact that the post describes a mentally-challenged boy and landmarks which match those surrounding the St Charles township. The Reddit-user even included a picture of the general area where the fall occurred. The confession may be some kind of prank or hoax, and yet it could be genuine, and the fact that the commenter suffers a memory lapse when recalling the fall seems to be significant.
The last fresh lead in the case was in 2007, when investigators began looking into Michael Devlin for possible involvement in several missing children cases - including the 1991 disappearance of Charles "Arlin" Henderson, and the 2005 disappearance of Bianca Piper - after Shawn Hornbeck, a 15-year-old boy who disappeared in 2002, and William Ownby, a 13-year-old boy who was abducted in 2007, were discovered to have been held captive in Devlin's house. Devlin ultimately pled guilty to charges of kidnapping and child molestation and was sentenced to life in prison. Despite repeated interrogations by a special task force, no evidence was found implicating Devlin in the disappearance of Scott Kleeschulte.
We may never know exactly what happened to the little boy who would have turned 39 this year, but perhaps this post will drum up enough interest in the case to reignite investigations. If you or anyone else you know has any information as to the whereabouts of Scott Kleeschulte, then please don't hesitate to contact law enforcement, and visit Scott's official Facebook page for updates and further information.