In western society, we sure do love stories about serial killers. But mostly, we love our serial killers in one of two flavors -- dead, or in prison. That's why we make movies about them -- to see them get caught in the end (and hopefully shot by a rogue detective who doesn't play by the rules). But in real life, there are absolutely serial killers who do their thing for years, or even decades, without ever getting caught.
5A Guy Poisoned Nearly 50 Vending Machine Customers, Got Away With It
In 1985, people all over Japan started falling victim to a wave of deadly poisonings. 35 people were hospitalized and 12 more were killed, all found to have been poisoned with the herbicide paraquat. Police were baffled about the source of the toxin, until they discovered the one thing every case had in common: The victim had recently drunk a beverage from a vending machine (not all the same one, though). This being Japan, the land of five vending machines per square foot, that hardly narrowed things down.
"This tastes funny; call an ambula- Wait, never mind, I accidentally got Mountain Dew."
Upon further examination, it turned out the victims had all fallen for the same scam -- they found unopened drinks inside the machine's dispenser slot, presumably left there by the last person, for whatever reason. Since the human brain tends to shut down all further thought upon the discovery of free shit, they scarfed down the prized beverage ... then quickly regretted it. The poison was so effective that victims would often start to feel sick before they had finished their drink. We're guessing they still finished it, though, because hey, it was free.
To be fair, there was actually another, ingenious layer to the poisoner's strategy: The product most often tainted was a Japanese energy drink called Oronamin C, which was running a promotion whereby vending machines would occasionally dispense a bonus second drink. It wasn't hard to imagine that some customers were walking away without realizing that a second drink was rolling down the chute, a phenomenon that the killer was taking full advantage of -- the unsuspecting victims had even less reason to be wary.
Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.
Being sold a brutal, unforgiving onslaught of cute-n-quirky probably didn't help either.
Here's where we'd love to tell you all about the psychopath who hatched this scheme, and their method, and why they did it. Too bad -- nobody fucking knows. A serial killer who took a dozen victims (that we know about!) and could have had three dozen more if they'd ingested more of the toxin and/or didn't get help in time, may still be out there today. Shit, for all we know, only the first couple were this guy and the rest were copycats (which would actually be even more alarming, the idea that it just became a fad).
After they figured out what was happening, the vending machine company began attaching stickers to the machines that warned customers not to, you know, consume mystery drinks that they might find inside. The poisonings pretty much stopped overnight. Which is great, except that any leads the police might have had in the case dried up as well. No arrests were ever made, which means that there's probably some guy in Japan right now chugging a bottle of Oronamin C and musing on his brief serial-killing hobby. Or, you know, he's still killing people using some other method.
Christina Chun/Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Keep him away from any and all jars of Kit-Kats.
4A Serial Killer Has Been Operating In Edmonton For 40 Years
Since 1975, the bodies of at least 30 women have been found dumped in fields near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, some of them burned to death. Unfortunately for their families and loved ones, many of the victims were sex workers, and many of them Indigenous -- two factors which, depressingly, mean that the police will prioritize your murder investigation somewhere between "truancy" and "cat up a tree."
We're not detectives, but maybe once you hit double digits you should bump it up on the to-do list?
But after 40 years and dozens of victims, the Canadian police have been forced to conclude that they might have a serial killer on the loose. It's either that, or several killers in the area have all landed on the exact same modus operandi (again, would you prefer it be one guy, or some kind of murderous cult?). Nevertheless, police are pretty much stumped, knowing nothing about the killer except that he probably drives some sort of truck, feels comfortable with rural driving, and enjoys outdoor activity, which narrows the possibilities down to like 80 percent of the entire Canadian male population.
That's not to say they haven't been doing anything -- in 2003, they set up Project KARE, a task force dedicated to fighting back against the serial killer, mostly by maintaining a database of DNA samples from local sex workers. You know, so that they can identify the corpses.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
It's all part of their never-ending quest to do at least one part of their job well.
Oh, but did we mention that they actually have the killer's voice on tape? In 2010, one of the victims, Amber Tuccaro, made a phone call to her brother while she was hitching a ride with a man whose voice can be heard on the tape. Since her time of death is estimated to be around the time the call ended, it can be pretty safely assumed that this man might have had something to do with it.
The police waited two years to release the recording, and since then, at least three women have come forward to report that they know who the guy is. We're sure they're about to make an arrest any day now -- remember they only got that recording, uh, six years ago.