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40 years since suspicious death of teenager Kurt Sova, case goes cold again

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 7:19 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Four decades later, a brother searches for answers.

What happened to Kurt Sova, a teenager who went to a party and turned up dead several days later?

We continue to follow this mystery, uncovering what police have learned since reopening the case.

Oct. 28, 2021 marks 40 years since 17-year-old Kurt Sova’s mysterious death.

For decades, police have been trying to figure out whether it was murder or an accident, calling it suspicious.

Investigator Sara Goldenberg has followed the case closely with his brother Kevin ever since police reopened it.

Kevin Sova never stopped searching for answers since the day Kurt’s body was found in a ravine in Newburgh Heights.

“Even all these years later, almost 40 now, you kind of wonder a lot of things. What could have been?” he said.

Kevin Sova was the oldest of four boys who grew up in Cleveland.

Kurt was the youngest son in the family.

But now, it’s just him.

Kevin’s mother, father, and brothers all passed away over the years.

He said Kurt’s death tore them apart.

“He came up missing, then he came up dead. And life was never the same,” Kevin Sova said.

Kurt Sova was the youngest of four boys.
Kurt Sova was the youngest of four boys.(Kevin Sova)

Kurt Sova vanished after going to a party in Newburgh Heights.

His body was found several days later on Oct. 28, 1981, in a ravine just 500 yards away from the party house, off a busy industrial road.

But Kevin said they had searched the area just the day before.

“I still have a hard time thinking that Kurt just walked down that road, fell over and died and they found him,” Sova said.

19 Investigates walked the scene with Kevin back in February of 2020.

He told us Kurt didn’t know the people at the party very well.

And experts determined his blood alcohol level when he was found most likely wasn’t high enough to kill him.

“We’ve always wanted to put those three days together. Where was he at for those three days?” Sova said.

At the time, he was hopeful those burning questions would finally be answered.

Newburgh Heights Police had just reopened Kurt’s case.

“Did he die here? Was he placed here?” Sova said, looking around the small field.

Kurt’s case file landed in Chicago just a few days after we met with him, where the mystery garnered national attention.

We were there as hundreds of true crime fans traveled to the Windy City to try to crack the case at CrimeCon: CrowdSolve.

You can read more about it here.

Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy turned to crowdsourcing to try to solve the cold case.

“It just goes to show that this philosophy, this idea of bringing people in and letting them analyze a case may be on the cutting edge of something,” Majoy told us at the conference.

About 300 people came together to try to solve Kurt Sova's case at CrowdSolve: Chicago.
About 300 people came together to try to solve Kurt Sova's case at CrowdSolve: Chicago.(WOIO)

Nearly two years later the spotlight on the case has faded and so has Kevin’s hope for answers.

We’ve followed the case closely with him ever since police reopened it.

“They logged so many miles and they talked to people and they polygraphed people. They tried,” he said.

Police followed some leads after Chicago.

But sadly, they hit a brick wall.

Kurt’s case is not closed, but police told 19 Investigates it’s definitely cold.

Chief Majoy believes it was most likely an accidental death, unless he sees new evidence.

Kevin Sova speaks to 19 Investigates, reflecting on the milestone of 40 years since his brother...
Kevin Sova speaks to 19 Investigates, reflecting on the milestone of 40 years since his brother mysteriously died.(WOIO)

Whatever happened that night, Kevin still thinks his brother’s life could have been saved by people at that party.

“I truly in my gut Sara, think that he just died and they panicked,” he said.

He reflected with us on the milestones he missed with his youngest brother.

Sova described Kurt as athletic and artistic, always ready with a good laugh.

“Kurt might have been the most talented of all of us,” he said.

For now, Kevin will have to get used to living without answers again.

“I think I came to peace with it, not wanting to blame somebody,” Sova said.

“No matter what it doesn’t bring Kurt back,” he said.

Police told 19 Investigates they conducted several interviews and polygraphs across two states with some of the last people who saw Kurt alive.

We learned they did eliminate one person just before he passed away.

Kurt’s case remains inactive.

Kurt Sova.
Kurt Sova.(Kevin Sova)

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