Illinois officials investigate man's drowning death

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Caruso (Joey)

Illinois law enforcement officials still are investigating the death of a Cape Girardeau man whose body was found in Scott County two days after he disappeared some time during a trip to a nightclub in East Cape Girardeau, Ill.

The body of Joey Caruso, 24, was pulled from the Mississippi River near the Southeast Missouri Port Authority on July 15, two days after he failed to return from a night out with friends at The Pony nightclub, police reported. Some of his family and friends think someone else could have contributed to Caruso's death.

Scott County Coroner Scott Amick said last week that Caruso's body showed no signs of trauma, and an autopsy revealed he likely drowned.

Amick said Tuesday that authorities did not perform toxicology tests on Caruso because his body was found in the river, where the water compromised the fluids that would be needed to obtain accurate results.

Caruso's disappearance initially was reported to Cape Girardeau police, but after a witness placed his last known whereabouts in East Cape Girardeau, the case fell under Alexander County, Ill., jurisdiction, said Darin Hickey, public information officer for the Cape Girardeau Police Department.

Alexander County Sheriff Timothy Brown said his department is looking into Caruso's death, but he declined to characterize their work as a homicide investigation.

"You can't just say it's a homicide because somebody's dead," he said.

Brown said deputies are treating the case like any other: looking at autopsy results, interviewing the last people to see the victim alive, talking to his friends and family and trying to determine his frame of mind the night he died.

Some of Caruso's friends and family have said it is unlikely the father-to-be -- who was recently engaged, had received a promotion at work and had just moved into a new house, where he was decorating a room for his unborn child -- would have disappeared of his own volition.

"We all know Joey. I lived with him for a year and a half. I know how the guy folds his socks," said Jeremy Bourland, who identified himself as Caruso's former roommate. "We have no doubt in our minds there was some kind of foul play."

Bourland said a shuttle driver at The Pony had mentioned seeing Caruso arguing with another man in the parking lot outside the club.

The driver told Caruso to wait at The Pony while he took the other man back to Cape Girardeau, and he would return to pick Caruso up separately, Bourland said.

He said Caruso, an avid runner, may have decided to jog home instead.

Reached by telephone Tuesday, a manager at The Pony declined to comment on the case or whether anyone at the club had seen Caruso the night he disappeared.

"I don't have any information to give you," the manager said.

Bourland said some of Caruso's friends are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever may have been involved in his death.

Friends have established a Facebook page in Caruso's honor, and Bourland said they plan to set up a Topix page where people can submit tips anonymously.

A post on the Facebook page listed information about an account that has been set up at The Bank of Missouri to benefit Caruso's unborn child. Contributions in memory of Joey Caruso may be mailed to The Bank of Missouri, 1622 N.

Kingshighway, or taken in person to any of the bank's branches.


Pertinent address:

519 State Highway 146, McClure, IL

Southeast Missouri Port Authority, Scott County, MO

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: