By Sophie for Into The Mind

In Manchester, Northern England, there is an ever growing theory about the existence of a serial killer, who crawls the canals targeting drunk people. Despite there being 85 deaths in the canals and rivers in Greater Manchester police still stress there is no evidence of an active serial killer.

Between 2008 - 2014 82 people have lost their lives in the waterways, 72 of them men and 11 of which were found in the city centre. 44 of the cases have been shut, however 28 are still recorded as open, which means a definite cause and manner of death could not be reached.

If this serial killer does exist, they are targeting adults who have made themselves vulnerable by consuming large amounts of alcohol, and who have left alone. This is not an unheard of MO, if we consider the La Crosse River Drownings.

Between 1997 - 2014, there have been 11 recorded deaths in the Mississippi rivers, all victims were college aged men who had been separated from their friends. However, as with the Pusher - this is all just a theory.

In many towns and cities in England, there has been various instances of young people going missing after a night out and later being found in canals and rivers. For example in York over the space of 12 months in 2015, 6 young people were found dead.

In the case of the Pusher, despite the police having dismissed the deaths as the work of a serial killer there is still some who strongly believe that there is too much coincidence. Professor Craig Jackson, a criminologist from Birmingham, originally said that it was too unlikely that all the deaths could be considered suicides or accidents. He later met with a senior detective and coroner over the matter and emerging reports suggest the professor had changed his mind, although he has never publicly stated this.

The families of several of the victims also believe there is someone involved.

Souvik Pal was found in the Bridgewater Canal near Warehouse Project on New Year's Eve 2012, his father believes he was the victim of a serial killer because Pal was seen on CCTV with a mystery man after been kicked out of the dance night. This case is still recorded as open.

David Plunkett was found dead in Manchester Ship Canal in 2012, his mother suspects he is the victim of a serial killer due to a phone call made shortly before his death in which she head "screaming and howling".

Nathan Tomlinson was found dead in the River Irwell in 2011, his phone, passport and wallet were missing. There is CCTV footage of a person heading towards the water on the night of Tomlinsons disappearance, the police believe this is Nathan but his mother believes it is an unidentified man who might be involved in his death. This case is still recorded as open.

Usually, such an alarmingly high amount of people found dead of a small amount of time would be suspicious. However, due to the high levels of alcohol or drugs in the blood of the victims, it can be easily dismissed by the police.

It is common for inebriated people to come into trouble when near water. Canals are dangerous and have no guard rails, so it is not unusual for this to be considered an accident. But is it always an accident? Is this the case of a serial killer using police oversight to his advantage? Or is it a case of a few unrelated murders getting disguised as accidents? Or is it exactly as it looks - all accidents?

With a categorical no from the police and mixed reactions from the public, maybe we'll never find out.

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