On the night of March 4, 2016, twenty-six year old Joey LaBute got back from a date and decided to go out and meet friends and family at a local gay bar. Around midnight, Joey told his friends and family that he was going to get a drink. However, Joey was caught on camera going into the restroom and then leaving the bar by himself. His friends and family then texted him with no reply back. A family member called him and he answered and said that he was driving and then hung up. A final text of jumbled letters made to his aunt was the last communication Joey LaBute made. He was never seen alive again. Three weeks after going missing his body was found in a local river. At autopsy no cause of death was determined but it was concluded that there were no drugs in his system and that he had a high blood alcohol content which may have been caused by the decomposition process. Even more shocking, the coroner believed that Joey LaBute was most likely dead before having his body placed in the water as there was no water found in his lungs or stomach. Joey's car was found in the exact place he originally parked it and it is unlikely that he was driving it as he claimed during the phone call.
What happened to Joey LaBute?
Below is an episode of True Crime Garage podcast where the hosts discuss this case.
A warning to young gay men.....
There have been claims that Joey LaBute was on Grindr. If so, Joey LaBute may have met with foul play while hooking up with a guy for quick sex. This may explain why Joey left the bar, why he didn't reply to texts, and why he lied and said that he was driving. If this is true it automatically leads to speculation that there may be a serial killer on the loose, one who targets young gay men. If you are currently using Grindr for quick sex please show extreme caution. You never know if the guy you are going to hook up with is sane or a complete psycho.
Due to the mysterious circumstances of Joey LaBute's death, some speculate that he was the latest victim of the so-called "Smiley Face Killers", more info below.
If you live or were in the Columbus, OH, area, especially the area of the Union Cafe on the night of March 4 and early morning hours of March 5, and recognize seeing Joey LaBute, especially in the company of an unknown man or men, or if you have information that you feel may be important to the solving of this case then please call the Columbus, OH, police at 614-645-4730.