The 11 Creepiest Unsolved Crimes No One Can Explain: Part 1
Lots of you are too old and jaded to be kept awake at night by ghost stories and implausible urban legends. No, this time of year, you need the real shit. So, as a Halloween treat, we've collected a shitload of cases that ran cold because they were too weird, too convoluted, or too obviously haunted to be solved. This is Part 1 -- we'll have Part 2 tomorrow:
A Mystery Head Was Found In Pennsylvania With Rubber Balls In The Eye Sockets
On December 12th, 2014, a little boy got off the school bus on a rural road in Economy, Pennsylvania and stumbled upon something kind of unusual: a severed goddamned head, lying in a field. The head belonged to an old woman, and because CSI is magic these days, investigators were able to determine that she was local to either Pennsylvania or its surrounding states ("This is clearly not the bestial cranium of a Wisconsinite!"). But, that's where it ended -- she didn't match the profile of any missing person, and the rest of her body has never been found.
So, was she a murder victim, maybe someone who lived off the grid? Well, here's the first twist: The head was professionally embalmed. That could mean that the head belonged to an already-dead body that had been taken to a mortuary, except no mortuary, hospital, or graveyard in the area had any knowledge of a missing head. And how in the hell would they lose one? It's not like they're driving around with a pickup truck full of them.
... Ri- right?
Likewise, investigators can't tell whether the embalming was done legally through the proper funerary process, or by some rogue, uh, hobbyist in his or her basement/dungeon. The fact that nobody can identify the victim seems to imply the latter, right?
Wait, It Gets Worse:
Part of the difficulty in identifying the head can be attributed to the fact that her eyes had been removed. Both eyes had been replaced with fake ones, which is a common embalming procedure. However, in this case, the fake eyes were not the professional ones used by mortuaries -- they were rubber children's toys, the kind of bouncy balls widely available from vending machines and dentists' prize chests all over the country.
Covering up a murder now costs only 15 tickets at Chuck E. Cheese.
Investigators initially reasoned that the head had either fallen or been thrown from a moving vehicle (again, are you picturing that?) but if so, those rubber eyes would likely have popped out. No, somebody lovingly placed that severed head right there where it was found. If you've been keeping score, all of this adds up to "the work of a complete fucking maniac."
A Man Commits A Suspicious "Suicide" After Claiming To Be A Secret Agent
In 1977, Charles C. Morgan owned an escrow company and lived a seemingly ordinary life with his family in Tucson (see, when you're telling a horror story, you have to start by emphasizing how ordinary the victims are, so the twist is more shocking). Then, he vanished without explanation on March 22 and stumbled back into his house in the middle of the night three days later. He claimed that he couldn't speak, but that he could write, and he wrote his wife a bizarre message claiming that someone had painted his throat with a hallucinogenic drug.
Eh, you say, the guy probably went to Vegas and made up a bullshit cover story, right? He even insisted that his wife not contact the hospital or police, which is the kind of thing a person who just got back from a three-day bender would say. After returning to health, Morgan refused to talk about the incident except to give clues that he'd been working secretly as an undercover agent for the Treasury Department (sure, dude).
He was cosplaying as one at the very least.
Then, two months later, he disappeared again ... only to be found dead from a gunshot wound outside his car in the Arizona desert.
So, he went nuts and committed suicide, right? Well, that's how it was ruled ... despite the fact that he was shot in the back of the head, which, if you've ever tried it, is difficult to accomplish on your own. Also, he was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time, was found with a pair of sunglasses that did not belong to him, had one of his own teeth in his pocket, and had a $2 bill stuffed in his underwear, which was annotated with seven Spanish names and a Bible citation -- Ecclesiastes 12:1-8.
The names were in alphabetical order, because even creepy cryptic bullshit needs to stay organized.
Ooookay. Maybe, uh, the guy was delusional and as part of his mental illness, intentionally staged his suicide to look like a murder? People do that, right?
Wait, It Gets Worse:
Before Morgan's body was discovered, his wife received an anonymous phone call from a woman identifying herself only as "Green Eyes," who said nothing to her except "Ecclesiastes 12:1-8," the same citation her husband was hiding in his underpants. Of course, if anyone was hoping to find the name of Morgan's killer in that Bible passage, they came away disappointed -- the passage is just a bunch of depressing sentiments about how growing old is a serious bitch. It's basically a protracted version of late-career Johnny Cash.
This verse could've been written by any investigator who spent more than 30 seconds on the case.
Later, "Green Eyes" contacted the police to let them know that she had been a friend of Morgan's, and that right before his death, he had shown her a briefcase filled with $60,000 in cash, which he'd hoped to use to buy off a hitman who was coming for him (we can reasonably assume this plan did not work). The informant gave enough personal details that the police were pretty confident she was telling the truth, at least as far as having known Morgan socially. Unfortunately, that was the last that anyone ever heard of Green Eyes, and the case went completely cold.
Some people theorize that Morgan's escrow company was a front for money laundering, and the whole thing went south. Or, maybe he really was a secret agent for the government. Or, there's some third, even weirder explanation we couldn't have guessed in a thousand years. If nobody's figured it out in the last four decades, we're guessing nobody is going to.
Two Teenage Sisters Are Murdered, People Continue To See Them After Their Deaths
On the night of December 28, 1956, 15-year-old Barbara Grimes and 13-year-old Patricia Grimes went out to see the Elvis movie Love Me Tender, but never made it back home. Three weeks later, their bodies were found dumped by the side of a road in the middle of nowhere.
And with that, we've pretty much run out of information that experts actually agree on.
Being that these were two teenage girls in the 1950s, when they went missing, everyone just assumed they'd run off to Nashville to look for Elvis (no, really -- even Elvis himself released a statement pleading for the girls to come home).
And as you're about to learn, they apparently emulated their hero in more ways than one.
But the worst fears were realized when a construction worker found the corpses, frozen and completely naked, lying in a position that suggested they'd been thrown from a moving car. Barbara's chest was riddled with shallow stab wounds, none serious enough to cause death -- it actually wasn't at all clear what had killed them. We still don't know. The case went cold until 2009, when a retired Chicago cop decided that it was probably worth a more thorough look. As it turns out, for two missing people, the girls sure were seen in a lot of places after they disappeared.
Friends reported seeing the girls at the theater on the night they died, and multiple witnesses confirmed that they boarded the bus headed back home, only to get off halfway through the trip. Two boys saw them a few minutes later, laughing and giggling with each other just two blocks from their house. A security guard claimed they asked him for directions on the morning of December 29th. One of their classmates spotted them from a restaurant window that evening, walking with two unknown girls. Two separate employees reported that they checked into the nearby Claremont Hotel on December 30th.
All of this represents an impressive effort on their part, considering the autopsy report placed their time of death within five hours of leaving their home for the movie on December 28th. They should have been too dead for any of the above shit to have happened.
... Ri- right?
So ... was the autopsy wrong? Were the witnesses around town just bullshitting the cops to get in on the act? You can go to jail for that, right?
Wait, It Gets Worse:
That brings us to the phone calls.
On January 14th -- a week before the bodies were discovered -- the phone in the house of Patricia's classmate Sandra rang sometime around midnight. Sandra's mother answered -- the caller hung up. The phone rang again a few minutes later, and this time a small, frightened voice asked for Sandra. The caller hung up before Sandra could get on the line.
Sandra's mother swears that the voice on the other end was that of Patricia Grimes, even though medical science would later say she had been dead for more than two weeks by that point.
We assume Sandra started sprinting to phones like Usain Bolt whenever she had a call from then on.
Then, on the 15th -- a point when most people still assumed the girls had run off to party in Nashville -- the cops got a call from an anonymous person claiming he had a revelation in a dream that the girls were dead, and could be found in Santa Fe park. The cops questioned the guy and decided he was neither a suspect nor a seer. Seven days later, the two corpses were found less than a mile from said park.
That mysterious caller? None other than Elvis Presley.
Okay, not really. It was just some local dude who, as far as they know, had nothing to do with it. Confused? Welcome to the club.
They also arrested a guy simply because he kinda sorta looked like Elvis in a certain light. Just to be more confusing.
Jonathan Luna Commits The Strangest "Suicide" On Record
Back in 2003, 38-year-old Jonathan Luna, a married father of two, was working as an Assistant United States Attorney in Baltimore, Maryland. On the night of December 3rd, he stayed late at the office, which was normal for him, and got into his car at 11:38 pm to drive back to his house, also in Baltimore. The next morning, his body was found stabbed an absurd number of times and dumped in a stream in Pennsylvania, which you may recognize as being an entirely different state than Maryland.
The laws of bleeding from stab holes apply everywhere, though.
Even stranger than suddenly getting murdered was Luna's behavior after leaving the office the night of his death. For one thing, rather than heading home, he drove to Delaware, where he withdrew $200 from an ATM. Then, for reasons that can never be explained, he drove to freaking Pennsylvania. Along the way, he crossed a toll road -- his ticket had blood on it, suggesting that he'd already been attacked but was still determined to complete whatever mission he was on.
Paying 50 cents more than expected clearly put somebody in a mood.
Luna's body was discovered in a Pennsylvania stream, and although he'd been stabbed 36 times and his throat was cut, his ultimate cause of death was drowning.
Wait, It Gets Worse:
None of the cash that Luna withdrew from the Delaware ATM was stolen. In fact, it was scattered around his car, as though whoever killed him rooted through his vehicle looking for something else. His blood was all over the back seat, suggesting that most if not all of the stabbing occurred there, and the car's engine was still running when his body was discovered.
Also, Luna had apparently been in a huge hurry to jump state lines, because he left his office in such a rush that he forgot his glasses (which he presumably needed for, you know, driving) on his desk.
Was it a back-alley LASEK surgery gone wrong?
Some, including the local coroner's office, actually wanted the death reclassified as a suicide -- literally saying the guy used a Swiss Army knife to jab himself over and over. Other police aren't quite so sure, considering no one in history has ever committed suicide by stabbing themselves 36 times, slashing their own throat, and jumping into a stream. Luna's case is still open, although it has remained cold since 2003. If you happen to know what went down, the FBI will give you $100,000 for the info.
A Young Man Is Murdered, An Anonymous Person Pays For His Burial And Sends Notes
In January 1935, a young man checked into Room 1046 of the Hotel President in Kansas City, Missouri under the name "Roland T. Owen." Two days later, Owen was found naked inside his blood-soaked room. Before he passed out, he claimed that his injury was due to having fallen against the bathtub. It must have been one hell of a fall, because he'd also been tied up, beaten, strangled, and stabbed. On the way to the hospital, he succumbed to his injuries.
Authorities immediately began to suspect that Owen hadn't simply fallen over -- in addition to his wounds, every single item that had belonged to him had been stolen from the room, including the clothing from his body. And on numerous occasions, Owen had been heard speaking or arguing with an unidentified man who he kept referring to as "Don."
Back then your death wasn't truly taken seriously until it was made to look like a scene from a shitty pulp novel.
Not too surprisingly, "Roland T. Owen" turned out to be a fake name, which meant that the police actually wound up with less information than they had in the beginning, which is not the way that investigations are supposed to work. The "Mystery of Room No. 1046" turned out to be a real head scratcher.
Given that nobody could figure out who the victim was, plans were made to bury him cheaply in an anonymous grave. But shortly after this plan was announced by the press, the authorities received an anonymous phone call from someone offering to pay for a proper funeral in a regular cemetery. As promised, money soon arrived in the mail, along with a bouquet of roses and a card signed "Love forever -- Louise."
Wait, what? Who the hell is Louise? Who is anyone involved in this thing?
Did anyone check to see if the skeleton had an alibi?
The cops staked out the funeral in case the anonymous benefactor made an appearance, but of course, nobody ever did. It wasn't until a year and a half later that a woman from Birmingham, Alabama, saw a photo of "Owen" in the paper and immediately identified him as her long-lost brother, Artemus Ogletree, which you may recognize as a name that could only exist in the 1930s. Mystery solved, right?
Wait, It Gets Worse:
Ogletree's family had not seen him since he left home -- a year before he died. However, they later received three typewritten letters from him, dated after his death. Now, his family hadn't learned of his demise yet, but they found the letters suspicious all the same, because Artemus didn't know how to type. Finally, Mrs. Ogletree got a phone call from a man calling himself "Jordan" who told her that Artemus had gotten married to a wealthy woman in Egypt. And that was the last she heard about her son, until she discovered he'd been long dead in a hotel room in Kansas City.
It's one of the few times a mother would most certainly not want to see her son make the papers.
So what kind of twisted soap opera did Artemus Ogletree get himself involved in? What could have possibly paved the way for all this bizarre drama? Why would someone murder Ogletree in such a brutal fashion and then pay for his funeral? Is that some sort of tax write-off? If anyone knows, they've been keeping it to themselves for the last 80 years.
And if you want to go even further back ...
An Inventor Disappears, Turns Up Again Under A Different Identity, Only That's Not What Happened At All
This has to be one of history's weirder stories.
Back in the 1880s, William Cantelo perfected his design for a new-and-improved machine gun in the cellar beneath his pub in Southampton, England. Then he packed up his shiny new invention with the help of his two sons and set out to make a glorious fortune from the time-honored tradition of war profiteering.
He never returned.
Because what else would you create while surrounded by alcohol, but a deadly weapon?
Cantelo's sons tirelessly searched for their missing inventor father, basically re-enacting a years-long version of the first act of Disney's Beauty And The Beast. A private detective found evidence that Cantelo had gone to America, and that a whole bunch of money had suddenly disappeared from his bank account, but never found any other clues as to what the hell had befallen him.
It appeared, however, that the mystery was solved soon after -- an inventor who was identical in every way named "Hiram Maxim" had hit the scene in America selling his "Maxim Gun," basically a mounted machine gun that was more efficient than previous versions, but came at the cost of looking like history's deadliest penny-farthing.
The wheels are as big as the gunner's embarrassment.
Also, the gun happened to be the exact same design as William Cantelo's. It was obvious what happened -- Cantelo had decided he didn't want to share his upcoming riches with his boring old family, so just rebranded himself under the clearly fake name "Maxim," figuring he'd soon be drowning in both cash and American poon. The scam was blown when Cantelo's sons spotted "Hiram Maxim's" picture in a local newspaper, and noticed that he looked like he could be their missing father's elderly stunt double.
Cantelo on the le- Wait, Maxim on the le- Uh, one guy on the left, other guy on the right.
The man had come back to England, and the sons confronted their estranged father at a train station, in what was sure to be one of the more awkward reunions in history.
Wait, It Gets Worse:
It wasn't their father. Maxim could prove that he had been born and raised in the United States via census records and church registrars. He just so happened to look like Cantelo (to the point that the man's own freaking children thought it was him), just so happened to have invented the exact same thing at about the exact same time, and just so happened to have started selling his gun at the same moment the inventor of the rival device disappeared into thin air. You may notice this as being suspicious as fuck.
"My wheels are sideways, which is scientifically much cooler."
Oh, and it should be noted that Maxim had been to Southampton before, to meet with a different inventor ... who accused him of stealing ideas. So did Maxim buy Cantelo's invention, then stomp him out like a campfire to patent the gun as his own (stealing a handsome sum from Cantelo's bank account in the process)? Or was it just a case of parallel thinking and impossible coincidence?
Oh, and let's just add another layer to the weirdness -- Maxim complained in his autobiography that he had a "double" going around the USA pretending to be him. The exact thing Cantelo's kids accused him of doing. What hell? Of course, everyone involved in this mystery is intensely dead, so we'll never know for certain what exactly the hell is, unless someone invents a time machine.
We'll be back tomorrow with Part 2 of our nightmarish carnival of creepy unsolved crimes. Sleep tight!
Janel Comeau is still trying to solve the mystery of where her socks disappear to in the dryer. You can check how that's going on her blog or her Twitter feed. To hear Robin Warder analyze some more creepy unsolved mysteries, check out his true crime podcast, The Trail Went Cold. Tara Marie writes, a lot. You can check out her fundraiser, and a bunch of others, on Twitter using #TransCrowdFund.
You know all those facts you've learned about psychology from movies and that one guy at the party who says, "actually ..." a lot? Please forget them. Chances are none of them are true. Take the Stanford Prison Experiment, the one famous psychology study people can name. It was complete bullshit. Funny story actually, it turns out that when you post flyers that say "Hey, do you wanna be a prison guard for the weekend? Free food and nightsticks," you might not get the most stable group of young men. So join Jack O'Brien, the Cracked staff and some special guests as they debunk Rorschach tests, the Mozart effect and middle child syndrome, so soon you can be that person at the party who says, "Actually ..." Get your tickets here!
For more mysteries that'll keep you up at night, check out 4 Terrifying Crimes (That We'll Never Solve) and The 5 Creepiest Unsolved Crimes Nobody Can Explain.
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