Dear Internet: We have to admit something -- we've been getting kinda cocky, recently. Whether we're explaining the phenomenon of alien abduction, debunking every textbook ever or doing some third thing, we've been spending a lot of time acting like we have all the answers. And it's started to go to our heads.
But that all changes now. If unsolved mysteries are good enough for Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, then by golly, they're good enough for us. So, in apology for our hubris, please enjoy this Cracked Classic, as well as these similar articles about unsolved mysteries and also that one article where we solved a bunch of mysteries no one else could 'cause we're so smart and dammit, we're doing it again. Please forgive us. We need you with us, Internet. At risk of sounding dramatic, we don't think we could go on without you.
There are unsolved crimes, and then there are the kind of creepy, "What the hell could possibly be going on here" capers that keep the cops, and anyone who hears about them, up at night.
Here are the real cases that almost fall into X-Files territory:
#5. The Taman Shud Case
The victim was found dead at 6:30 am, December 1, 1948, under a street lamp at Somerton Beach in Australia. And with that, we have exhausted everything we know about the man. It's the things we don't know that have been baffling authorities ever since. Including the meaning of the apparently uncrackable secret code he left behind.
But more on that in a moment. Things first started to lurch towards the creepy when police noticed that all his clothes' identification marks had been removed. They were eventually and painstakingly able to place a jacket to America, which was strange because his dental records and fingerprints didn't match anyone who'd ever lived there... or anywhere else in the world. It was like the guy had never existed.
Would have saved them a ton of time, and been exactly as helpful.
So the cops must have been half expecting it when the coroner returned with the cause of death: "Sudden, acute onset of damned if I know." The autopsy revealed exceptional health, a half-digested pasty in his stomach, and congestion in his brain and stomach that would have been consistent with poisoning if, you know, they'd found even a trace of poison anywhere in his body. For good measure, his spleen was three times too big.
Every breakthrough seemed to increase the mystery. They discovered a brown suitcase that had apparently belonged to the man, but that only revealed more clothes with the tags removed, and the aforementioned jacket.
The cops also discovered a secret pocket in the man's pants, which contained a scrap of paper with the words "Tamam Shud" printed on it (the words meaning "ended" or "finished").
The secret pockets in our pants are filled with Cheez-its.
The text looked like it was a scrap torn from a book. And it turned out it was; from a collection of poems called The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. And not just any Rubaiyat, but a specific translation, and an extremely rare one at that.
This was pointed out after police did an Australia-wide search as if the book was the ark of the goddamn covenant, presumably braving Indiana Jones-esque temples and solving ancient aboriginal riddles before some dude mentioned he found a copy of that exact book in the back seat of his car right around the time and location of death.
Sure enough, "Tamam Shud" was missing from the books pages. Instead of a library card with the dead man's name printed on it or something even a little bit helpful, the book contained the clue that would take the mystery from "spooky" to "officially starting to piss us off."
It Gets Weirder:
In the back of the book, the cops found this code:
Five sets of seemingly random letters, the second of which is crossed out. So, what does this code tell us? Nothing. Nothing at all. To this day it remains unsolved.
Or is it just waiting for Nicolas Cage to solve it?
Was the code the result of a disturbed mind, or chronic boredom, perhaps? Turns out, no. The most recent attempt to solve the case found the letters aren't random, just some mysterious cipher nobody was familiar with. Can you solve it? If so, you're about to be famous, considering people have been trying for more than 60 years.
#4. The BC Feet Mystery
Feet, severed feet, usually lodged in shoes, are washing up on beaches in British Columbia.
For those of you who aren't familiar, that's a province in western Canada, north of Washington state. Now, all sorts of things wash up on shore, and it's not news that people drown or fall off of fishing boats. But how many severed feet would you have to find before you started to consider it a bit odd?
A total of eight goddamned feet have been found in the last few years, five of which have been put on a map for some reason. Strangely, almost all of the feet are in running shoes. Also, some creepy bastard stuck an animal paw into a running shoe as a hoax, after the story hit headlines.
Animals wearing shoes is unsettling enough as it is.
Out of two pairs of feet and six lone wolves, one pair has been identified--the dude's left foot having been found four months after the right. Police mentioned the man was depressed and likely killed himself. Mystery solved?
Done and done.
It Gets Weirder:
Haha, no. The first two feet were found in the same week. They were both right feet and found in different places. Some theorize the feet are from a boating accident or plane crash, but they've been found in very different places and carried by different currents.
The other theory is the one you probably immediately thought of the moment we pointed out lots of severed feet were washing up on the beach: some psychotic killer is behind it.
Psycho killer? Qu'est Que C'est?
If you're wondering why he hacks off the feet and throws them at the beach, the answer is he probably isn't. If there's a body decaying in the water, feet often rot off the relatively weak ankle. Tennis shoes float, so you wind up with free-floating feet. As for who the other feet belong to, and why they keep showing up on British Columbia beaches in running shoes, well, we probably won't know until we find the rest of the victims.
#3. The Toynbee Tiles
These are cryptic messages found embedded in asphalt in various cities. The messages are thought to be layers of linoleum and asphalt crack-filling compound, and all tiles are found with variations of the same short message, referencing 2001: A Space Odyssey and suggesting we resurrect the dead on planet Jupiter.
Other than that, the only things setting these abnormally permanent acts of vandalism apart: They've been showing up out of nowhere, with no explanation for 30 damned years.
You can see the word "Toynbee" at the top, which is referring to a famous historian. And if you've seen 2001 you know that the planet Jupiter is involved. And... that's as much sense as we can make of it.
So, what, it's one crazy guy leaving messages. No mystery there...
It Gets Weirder:
...only it can't be just one guy.
The tiles can be found across dozens of U.S. cities, and even South America. Unless we have an independently wealthy, globetrotting lunatic on our hands, there is a group of people who plant these tiles around the Western Hemisphere like the eco-terrorists in 12 Monkeys.
Handles Franklin is the craziest Globetrotter.
The cops did have a suspect once, one James J. Morasco. However, despite an interest in Toynbee and Kubrick, his widow swore up and down he couldn't possibly be the tiler, and that he did not have an interest in Jupiter. Oh, yes, we said widow. Even if he was the tiler, he died in 2003, and the tiles have not stopped. Also, dude would've been in his 70s when he laid the tiles.
There are over 60 in Philadelphia, which seems to be the Toynbee Tile hotspot, and the location of four tiles together that told a bizarre, rambling story how the mafia, FBI and the Soviets are out to get him.
Cryptic messages left in asphalt are not the best way to prove your sanity.
Well they probably are out to get you now, buddy, if you started putting those fucking tiles on their streets.