GURNEE, IL—Local authorities continue to search Gurnee's Great America theme park for a criminal dubbed "The Six Flags Killer," souvenir-laden police reported Monday.
"If you have any information that might lead to the capture of this vicious killer, please contact us immediately," a button-covered Gurnee Police Captain Jack Moynihan said at a press conference held in Carousel Plaza. "We have officers standing by on the Whizzer."
"Oh," Moynihan added. "And if you know where to get one of those blinking hats we've been seeing around, let us know."
Police began their search on Aug. 26, when ride operator Zack Lipton, 16, found a decapitated body behind the Fiddler's Fling control booth. Two days later, the remains of Six Flags employee Cory Reader were found in the bushes at the perimeter of the Yukon Territory, still inside his Wile E. Coyote suit.
Park-goers reported sightings of a blood-covered man in the vicinity of the crimes, leading police to believe that both murders were committed by the same 35- to 45-year-old Caucasian male.
Police have been combing the attraction for clues, thoroughly investigating every ride, game, snack bar, gift shop, and photo-sticker booth.
"We started our search in Yukon Territory and fanned out to Yankee Harbor and Orleans Place," Moynihan said. "We've got a whole squad on the Sky Trek Tower. If anything suspicious happens, we'll be sure to see it from our vantage point on the bridge by Splash Water Falls."
"I urge the public to cooperate with any officers forced to butt in line," Moynihan added, as he shifted his grip on a three-foot-tall, plush Bugs Bunny. "It's a lot of ground to cover in one day, as you all know."
Moynihan said his first priority is to ensure the safety of Great America employees and visitors. To that end, he has stationed an officer in the front car of every ride in the park.
"I have men working in shifts on rides, from 10 a.m. until the park closes at 8 p.m.," Moynihan said. "Officers from neighboring departments have volunteered to cover some of the more popular attractions, such as the American Eagle and Superman: Ultimate Flight."
Moynihan had to develop a unique system to oversee the patrol of a park as big and fun as Great America.
"We gather by the double-decker Columbia Carousel twice a day to compare notes, discuss leads, and eat funnel cakes," Moynihan said. "We also keep in constant radio contact with one another. Instead of the usual 'all clear,' we've been using an updated, site-specific check-in."
When pressed, Moynihan said, "The check-in signal is 'Wheeeeee!'"
Looking for a killer in a theme park has created its share of problems, Moynihan admitted.
"The crowds, the noise, and the overall jovial atmosphere have been distracting," Moynihan said. "We've limited our searches to weekdays, because on weekends, the lines here are nutso."
Cost has also hindered the daily patrols. The city of Gurnee bought season passes for 50 police officers, but the admission fee is far from the only expense the department incurs.
"We've been trying to stay within a budget," Moynihan said. "You'd think that once you paid admission, you'd be covered. But then there's parking, souvenirs, and game tickets. And food here is outrageous. Ten dollars for a burger and a Coke? If we didn't have to keep a constant presence in the park, our officers never knowing when or where the killer might strike next, we'd probably bring a cooler full of sandwiches and eat in the parking lot."
Moynihan said he hopes for a break in the case before the end of the season, but is willing to personally supervise the investigation through the Six Flags' Fright Fest, which begins Oct. 11.
"As adventure-filled as this investigation has been, we can't focus all of our man power on Great America," Moynihan said. "By now, the killer could be as far away as Magic Mountain."
Moynihan ended the press conference with an ultimatum, which was later broadcast over the park's public-address system.
"You will not get away with this," said Moynihan, shaking a fistful of cotton candy at the still-at-large assailant. "We will find you if we have to fingerprint every Skee-Lo game in the park."