5 Eerie Horrific Mysteries That Need Answers

If only we could dismiss all macabre happenings on confused ghosts, aliens bent on meeting their anal-probe quota for the month, or boring demons reincarnated as antique dolls. But, no, that's a cop-out. Real-life is nowhere near as hacky and seldom is there a neat ending, as these true tales demonstrate all too well ... 

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6
The Small-Town Serial Killer Who Refused to Let a Victim's Family Find Peace

In April of 1922, the idyllic charm of the French community of Goas Al Ludu was forever spoiled when the Picard family reported their daughter, Pauline, missing. Locals blamed gypsies. The prevailing wisdom bigotry hit a snag, as no caravans were seen in the area at that time.

Olahus/Wikimedia Commons
"They've developed invisibility-cloaking clogs. We warned you they were sneaky."
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When a lost girl fitting Pauline's description was reported in the city of Cherbourg, the Picard family rushed to meet her. Neighbors and family believed the Cherbourg child was Pauline, though she failed to comprehend her parents' Breton dialect. Overjoyed, the Picards willingly accepted the girl as their daughter, attributing the discrepancies to psychological trauma.

Probably would have ended there had the body of a girl not been found near the Picard farm ... her face removed, possibly by animal depredation, items of clothing piled up beside her, matching Pauline's wardrobe. As search parties combed that area prior, someone undoubtedly relocated the body afterward, rather than hiding it, purposefully planting the body to make a statement. The killer was taunting the police and tormenting the Picards as they put the pieces of their life back together.

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It got weirder. A neighbor was rumored to have claimed responsibility, ruled insane, and never charged. Then a skull of an adult man popped up near the spot of the girl's corpse, possibly a witness at the wrong place at the wrong time. The official police account didn't clarify matters, insinuating ravenous foxes folded the girl's dress before eating her cadaver -- the inquest awkwardly concluded, ruled an accident.

Still, a happy ending for the lost, would-be Pauline from Cherbourg, right? Nope! She was rejected by the Picards and succumbed to measles in an orphanage. Think of her as the killer's third victim.

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5
The Erdington Murders - A Morbid Instance of Deja Vu or Copy Cat Killing?

Bearing identical M.O.s and motives, taking place in the same city, the Mary Ashford and Barbara Forrest murders smell like the work of a serial killer. Except with 157 years between killings, the maniac would need a time machine (or a Leap Year birthday).

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Dressed in her finest to attend a holiday dance, Mary Ashford, 20, was last seen alive on Whit Monday by her boyfriend, who walked her back home. Her corpse found in a pit after being raped and suffocated; her bloody dress a crucial piece of evidence.

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Barbara Forrest, also 20, was last seen returning home after celebrating an upcoming holiday in 1974. She, too, was accompanied home by her boyfriend and found about 300 yards from the location where Mary Ashford had been left; Forrest had also been raped and suffocated. It's estimated she was murdered on or around Whit Monday, falling on June 3 that particular year. Her dress also of vital significance to police, but the inquest was also as equally fruitless as the Ashford debacle.

Edward Moss
Via Birmingham Mail
That's Ashford on top and Forrest on bottom, in case you were thinking bonnets made a comeback in the 70s.
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The primary suspects sharing a surname, Abraham and Michael Thornton (no relation), were released due to a lack of evidence. An intriguing footnote, the 1817 Ashford vs. Thornton trial went down as a historical curiosity. A national soap opera, Abraham Thornton's antics inspired the classic novel Ivanhoe, and perhaps a few despicable, scholarly admirers wishing to pay homage ... Wouldn't be the first time.

4
The Yuba City Mystery - The Perfect Crime or Freak Accident?

Returning from a basketball game, five men from Yuba City, California, perished in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Only one body was not retrieved, that of Gary Dale Mathias. 

Via Wikimedia Commons
Seen here in his driver's license photo, if that gives an idea of how much evidence we're looking at.
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Mathias's violent past, paranoid schizophrenia, and drug problem singled him out. That night a distressed motorist claimed to see them in their car, the occupants ignoring his pleas for assistance -- contrasting the soft-hearted temperament of the other four, who suffered mild learning disabilities.

Detectives failed to substantiate proof of a struggle. Three died of exposure, though the vehicle was full of fuel and in perfect condition. One of the bodies showed beard growth and indications of malnutrition and frostbite, surviving in a Forest Service station for weeks, the trailer stocked with food and an unused heater. Mathias's shoes also inside the trailer, suggesting he gained entry, consuming some food.

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Had Mathias deviously lured his buddies to their demise? His four friends showed no signs of being executed, all four physically fit, functional adults. Did Mathias have a break with reality and convince the others something was outside the car pursuing them as he tripped on drugs? Did he hallucinate, refusing to take his anti-psychotic meds? Did the four flee from a deranged Mathias? Or him from them? Was a sixth party involved?

Mathias, if still alive, started a new life. If he had answers and retained any semblance of sanity, he never divulged them -- all hopes of closure dying with him.

3
The Human Sacrifice in the Middle of San Francisco

In a state famously so accommodating to cults, they generously call them "new-religious movements," one brazen incident in winter 1981 stands out. The headless body of LeRoy Carter Jr. discovered with corn stuffed down his exposed trachea, dead chickens scattered about in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

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Investigator Sandi Gallant immediately recognized the hallmarks of a ritualistic sacrifice. Colleagues ridiculed her, and she didn't make any new friends in the Homicide Dept. describing how cultists extract brains to prepare magic concoctions. Gallant put odds on the head returning after 42 days.

Didier Descouens/Wikimedia Commons
The weirdest office-betting pool in history.
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And what do you know, after 42 days, the head materialized near the crime scene. Sadly, it doesn't legally prove anything. Carter's relationship (if any) with his executioners is impossible to establish. Minor crimes aside, Carter didn't have any mortal enemies. It's just as plausible the criminals used witchcraft as a cover story to disguise ulterior motives. Or perhaps the perpetrators traveled onward to continue their ritualistic crimes, coincidentally, crimes endemic to the Southwest. In any instance, the case stands abandoned, cold as ice. The weirdos? Still alive if Creutzfeldt-Jakob didn't get them first.

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2
The Inexplicable Carolina Circle of Death

Outside of Siler City, North Carolina, lies the dead zone known for centuries as The Devil's Tramping Ground. Except for a few weeds clinging to the topsoil, nothing has ever grown in the 40-foot diameter gap. The anomaly chalked up to a nocturnal demon farting sulfur.   

Jason Horne/Wikimedia Commons
Roundup ain't got shit on this place.
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With sensible explanations tossed out one after the other, level-headed scientists arrived to study the ridiculous phenomenon and put the whole thing to rest already. 

They didn't. Instead, they departed more confused than before. The predicted high levels of salt were not detected, destroying that theory. Copper? Nope. The lifeless soil did have pH levels more acidic than the surrounding forested area and some elevated zinc and potassium levels, but not high enough to snuff all flora. Testing indicates the soil in the circle is more conducive for plant life than the outside -- score one for Satan.

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The last theory standing is that the Devil's Tramping Ground is the effect of rampant tourist activity ... despite Yelp not existing 300 years ago when the landmark was first recorded. The scientist who surveyed the area admitting "something else is going on here." Leaving only the possibility of a previously undiscovered biological, geographic, or chemical process akin to the Oracle of Delphi's natural gas fumes or some other irregular process our feeble science has yet to grasp. 

1
The West Carelton UFO - A Meticulous Prank to Mindfuck One Jittery Housewife

Reporting an odd light over West Carleton Township, Canada, in 1989, Diane Labenek's ordeal only just begun. Two years later, something landed near her backyard. Labenek noticed the bright lights after hearing dogs barking, yet it was so quiet that it didn't wake her sleeping children. Searching the remote clearing the next morning, she detected no signs of power cables, lights, scorch marks from flares or fires, tire indentations, trampled grass, nor footprints. 

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Easily written off as a crazy lady desperate for more attention, UFO investigators began receiving VHS tapes from a videographer known only as "Guardian," someone going out of their way to make it a major news story. The video matched Labenek's description, though this new eyewitness included a poorly-fabricated Canadian Defense Department document with cheesy photographs of aliens, seemingly slipped in to discredit the incident and make Labenek look like a gullible yokel, muddying the waters.

Stranger still, qualified experts don't think the video was tampered with, the sound of barking dogs that Labenek described audible, along with the abruptly self-extinguishing "fires." The craft was estimated at an impressive 20 to 30 feet in length. Keep in mind a helicopter that size would be deafening at 100 yards.

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Top-secret military "psy-op" or sophisticated hoax? The Canadian government issued a blanket denial, Mounties comically insisting it was a whisper-quiet, disc-shaped helicopter. Critics point to hooligans, who -- if we are to believe the theory -- went to the trouble to speedily and discretely build, haul, and erect airborne lighting equipment without a sound. Then rent different helicopters to undertake incessant fly-bys, the gang with ample training and resources, and no tangible aim other than to spook a single neighbor.  

Cui bono? Beats us. But if this is a teenagers' gag, it sure puts toilet-papering to shame.

Top image: Brian A. Jackson/Shutterstock

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