Part 3 - We Start to Investigate Jussi Peltola Case

The Start

Jussi Peltola’s case had been unsolved for more than eight years, when I first heard about it in October 2020, from my brother when he called to tell me about the case. I didn’t need much convincing; the case seemed so mysterious that I was immediately drawn to it.

I had just moved some 600km from northern Finland to the Helsinki area. It was at the time of Covid and all the places were shutting down, leaving me nothing to do. I was easy prey for another project.

My brother visited me in southern Finland a couple of weeks after that call. While he was visiting, we talked a lot about the case, and I actually started a streaming service subscription so we could watch the Kadonneet Suomi (“Disappeared Finland”) episode in which Jussi’s case was featured. The episode was a revelation. Jussi’s friend, Konsta, who was driving the car when the guys went to the country house, told his side of story.

After watching the episode, the rumours and unfounded wild theories about the case could be eliminated. This was just a normal bunch of young guys. As the car had not been found, we thought it had to be in a body of water.

The Research

After my brother’s visit, I dug deep into the case.

I watched the Disappeared Finland episode several times and ended up writing down the entire dialog. I tried to pick up even the smallest hints from the interviews.

The logical thing to do was to call the guys and Jussi Peltola’s father but I couldn’t muster up the courage. I was sure they had already been contacted by every nutcase, and I wasn’t sure if they wanted to talk about the case to strangers. I didn’t want to open up any old wounds. But at the same time, I knew we were missing a lot of information.

So instead of calling the guys, I read every thread of every discussion board about the case, every newspaper and magazine article, every interview, and dug up all the sources of information I could find.

For me, there were three unanswered questions. By answering these questions a search plan could be formed.

1) Where was he going?

For me, the main clue was his belongings. Jussi left practically everything he had at the country house - his wallet, passport, keys, everything except his phone. He clearly didn’t plan on traveling far.

So where was he going? I saw two possibilities: either to Tikkakoski to visit his ex-girlfrind he was on the phone with or; just to drive around with a new powerful car, to shake off the heated phone call.

2) What was his route?

If he were going to Tikkakoski, the most obvious route was to head east, towards the highway E75. He knew the area well, so he could have also used some back roads leading to Tikkakoski. If he were just driving around to shake the phone call off, we wouldn’t know for sure where he went but there might be a tendency to head back to where he had came from, ie. to the E75.

3) How far did he get?

There were many factors pointing that he wouldn’t have got far:

  • In majority of cases, missing persons are found in a radius of just a few kilometers
  • It wasn’t certain how much alcohol he had consumed but he had taken a liquor bottle with him
  • Jussi didn’t have his driver’s license yet, and the weather was terrible and it was pitch black
  • If he were able to reach his ex in Tikkakoski, we would know about it. If he were able to cool down, he would have made it back to the cabin

An important factor was also the phone. We didn’t know the exact time when Jussi left the cabin, but the dry patch where the car had been parked indicated that he had left not long before his friends noticed his absence. The police had requested the emergency locationing from the mobile network operator immediately after the guys had called police. The emergency locationing showed the phone’s last known location to be in the vicinity of the cabin. The logical explanation was that the phone switched off when entering water not far from the cabin.

But there were also some factors pointing him getting further than I thought.

The first was the sighting in Saarijärvi. The police found it credible but I wasn’t sure about it. I strongly believed that if Jussi made it that far, he would have made it back to the cabin. The second argument came up in November 2020 when the police got a new lead. They had a new witness who saw a black car driving fast and turning south onto the E75 highway. The sighting was made shortly after the Saarijärvi sighting, so it seemed to add credibility to both of them.

For me, the simplest possible explanation was that Jussi had an accident soon after he left the cabin. The alternative theory made everything unnecessarily complicated. If these sightings were true, why was the phone turned off, where was it, where Jussi was hiding all morning, and so on? I chose to believe the simpler theory of him having an accident soon after leaving the cabin.

The Search Plan

I narrowed the search area down to two routes. The primary one was the road leading onto the E75 highway. The secondary one was the back roads leading to Tikkakoski. There were three possible sites along the two routes.

The first site was at a small river or a canal just after a few hundred meters east (towards E75 highway) from where the cabin road joins the main road. From the map it looked really plausible as the bridge is on a tightening bend. The second one was by a bridge crossing a bigger river. It was after a long, almost two kilometer, straight so it looked promising. Strangely, there had been a well known accident on that bridge in 1973, where one of Finland’s famous singers at that time was involved in a fatal crash. This YouTube video about the accident shows the site at 7:14. The third one was a bridge also on the back roads route. It crossed the same river as the bridge at the secondary site, but it didn’t look as probable as the first two spots.

Now we had a list of possibile locations but we needed a way to check them. The main question was how do we search large bodies of water without bankcrupting ourselves?