One of the internet's favorite things is coming up with insane explanations for unsolved murders. Hell, we've occasionally gotten in on that wacky action ourselves. But as the old saying goes, truth is even more batshit crazy than fiction. Nothing we've ever theorized has come close to topping how these cases really ended.
On May 22, 2015, a jogger in Hong Kong stumbled upon a for-realsies locked room mystery in the middle of the street. He found two dead women (aged 47 and 16) slumped inside a parked car, with the doors locked and no sign of struggle or a perp. Later, an autopsy revealed that the pair, a mother and daughter, had died of severe carbon monoxide poisoning. But the vehicle had no leaks or defects, and the air quality in China isn't that bad. So what the hell happened?
And then the cops found the murder weapon: a flat yoga ball in the trunk.
Turns out the man of the family, Khaw Kim Sun, had spent thousands of dollars bulk-ordering carbon monoxide, ostensibly for use in an experiment. Carbon monoxide that he was later seen pumping into two yoga balls, which he told police were to kill rats at home. Unbreakable code, Professor Moriarty. He then placed one of these balls in the trunk of his wife's car and tampered with it in such a way that it would slowly fill the vehicle with gas and render his wife terminally unconsciousness, apparently not counting on their daughter tagging along for a ride.
At the trial, Khaw tried to explain his way out of this one with that age-old defense of bitches be cray-cray. He claimed that his daughter had been feeling suicidal and decided to end it all (and her mom) with the gas-filled ball. Khaw hasn't yet explained how the teenager knew that the ball was filled with toxic gas, which is not normally a thing. But don't worry, he's got a lifetime of solitude to figure that one out.
Political assassinations are by their very nature shady affairs involving sinister hired guns, sprawling conspiracies, and devious aims. They're not the sort of thing undone by anything less than hard, intensive investigation. Although try telling that to Reynaldo Dagsa, who used a single photograph to solve an assassination. His own.
Dagsa was a politician in the Philippines who evidently liked fireworks almost as much as he liked busting criminals. On New Year's Eve 2011, he asked his family to wake him up before the stroke of midnight so they could go out and enjoy the traditional bright lights and loud noises. Unfortunately, the celebration was cut short when he was gunned down by an unknown assailant, in an attack so swift that none of the family realized what happened until Reynaldo hit the floor. (They mistook the gunshot for more fireworks.)
The killers immediately ran off, but the police didn't have to try too hard to solve this one. They just checked the last picture Dagsa had taken with his camera.
Within a week, the shooter and his lookout (the sleeveless fashion criminal on the right) had been arrested and charged with Dagsa's murder, although it's not quite clear why they did it. According to police, Dagsa was targeted either because of his efforts to clean up the streets (which the crime syndicates didn't appreciate) or because he sent the gunman to prison for stealing cars a few years before. We may never know the truth ... unless it turns out the dude accidentally recorded the killers talking about it while taping his daughter's birthday at McDonald's or something.
Sometime in the mid '70s, Robert "Bobby" Worley disappeared without a trace. Considering both his long-term estrangement from his family and, oh right, his convictions for rape and battery, it's fair to say that he wasn't missed. But as it turned out, someone was keeping very close tabs on him.
Enter Dorian Corey, a legendary New York drag performer, gay rights advocate, dancer, and dressmaker. Here she is being interviewed by Joan Rivers on daytime TV, which is how you know you've made it as a drag queen:
After Corey's death in 1993, a group of friends were raiding her fabulous wardrobe for Halloween material when they discovered a large garment bag in the back of her closet. When they tried to peek into it, they were greeted with a rather ... decomposition-y smell. They called the police, who opened the bag and found Worley, mummified, dressed only in boxer shorts, and sporting a still-fresh-looking bullet wound in the head. Probably not the sort of "Halloween material" they were hoping for.
The most popular theory is that Corey and Worley were involved in a torrid affair that ended in a literal crime of passion, but that has one slight hole, in that detectives reportedly found a note pinned to the body (clearly by Corey) saying: This poor man broke into my home and was trying to rob me.
The evidence suggests that Worley was shot and killed sometime in the 1970s, a time when being a black drag queen living in Harlem was as close as anyone could get to maxing out the amount of fucks that police couldn't give. Knowing the authorities wouldn't be sympathetic even if she acted in self-defense, and with no way to dispose of Worley without being noticed, Corey apparently did the next-best thing and drenched the body in baking soda, wrapped it tight, and buried it under her finest feathers, sequins, and boas. It's a fancier burial than anything anyone has gotten since ancient Egypt, so there's that.
Back in 2016, we wrote about the mysterious figure known as "Lyle Stevik," who seemingly appeared from out of the ether to commit suicide in a Washington motel room. We're happy to report that the case is now solved, and that "Lyle" has a formal identity. It's too bad, then, that it wound up sending the internet detectives over at the specially dedicated subreddit mad with entitlement-fueled rage.
Earlier this year, a member of /r/lylestevik contacted the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit that specializes in removing the "un" from "unidentified person" with a combination of genealogy and genetic sequencing. The community quickly raised $1,500 to cover the costs, and DNA Doe got to work. After weeks of searching, DNA Doe reached out to a family which not only matched certain genetic markers, but had also reported a member going missing 17 years ago. "Lyle Stevik" was finally identified, and the case was closed. Good job, /r/lylestevik! Too bad you then turned into total asshats.
Some redditors weren't happy that the family had declined a large donation that the subreddit raised toward funeral costs -- and that in asking for privacy, said family was also refusing to reveal Lyle's real name. One poster described feeling as if they'd been told, "Mystery solved, but it's none of your business. Go home, folks." Another argued that Lyle's family probably never really cared at all ("My prediction is ... he was never reported as missing"), while one felt "used" by the authorities who asked for help. Yeah, what's next? Asking people to report crimes when they witness them? Exploitative bastards.
Mods tried to quell the growing number of assholes demanding that DNA Doe release the name against the wishes of the family, but it was no good and /r/lylestevik was closed. Undeterred, the frustrated sleuths simply made a new subreddit devoted to sussing out Lyle's real identity, because the internet has seemingly no bottom when it comes to how creepy it can be.
Superheroes are real, everyone! *swoon*
Genealogy websites are great for providing you with about 20 minutes of conversation material with your dad, and that's about it. Most people don't give a crap that you're 3.5 percent Macedonian. Well, OK, there's one other thing these sites are good for: catching depraved serial killers.
The so-called "Golden State Killer" murdered 13 people and sexually assaulted 50 girls and women between 1976 and 1986, before apparently deciding to quit while he was ahead. The police had a DNA profile of the killer on file, but there were no matches among the millions of people in the FBI's national database, and there was no way to compare it against everyone in the entire country. It looked like a lost cause ... until this year. Someone in the police department checked the killer's DNA profile against those in GEDmatch, a free genealogy service people upload DNA samples to, hoping to find out they're fourth cousins with someone who once met Frank Sinatra's barber or something.
The GSK wasn't a member of the site, but someone in his family was. The match flagged up, and police were soon focused on 72-year-old veteran and former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, who, it turns out, had spent the '60s and '70s living within a few miles of the GSK's kill zone. Once the facts stacked up, all the police needed to do was compare DeAngelo's DNA to the original sample taken from a GSK crime scene, which they got by swabbing his car door while it was parked outside a shopping mall, and from a tissue he had thrown away.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
DeAngelo was arrested a few days later, and while the case is still ongoing, this method has breathed new life into several infamous cold cases -- including that of the freaking Zodiac Killer, which is somehow still unsolved despite everyone's best suspect giving a full confession.
Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter dedicated to depressing history facts. It's not as heartbreakingly sad as it sounds, promise!
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