55 Of The Most Mysterious Unsolved Crimes
For 98% of real crimes, the solution is obvious: The butler did it. But other crimes are far stranger, and investigators remain unable to figure them out, no matter how many years go by. We've collected a whole bunch of them today, in the hopes that you can personally solve at least half of them for us.
1. The Pantsless Chimney Boy
Josh Maddux disappeared in 2008, and his mummified body was found seven years later in the chimney of a cabin about to be demolished. He apparently had tried to enter the cabin by climbing down the chimney. Yet before doing so, he'd taken off all his clothes other than his shirt and laid them in front of the fireplace ... inside the cabin.
2. JFK's Lover's Death
Mary Pinchot Meyer was shot in broad daylight in 1964, and no one ever figured out who did it. CIA officer Wistar Janney got news of the death before local authorities somehow, and his son now claims that the CIA assassinated her. After her death, the CIA's counterintelligence chief was caught breaking into her home to retrieve her private diary.
3. The City Bonds Robbery
In 1990, someone robbed a messenger of $500 million in treasury bonds. By some measures, this had to be the largest heist in history, leading to 25 arrests. But the prosecution's two witnesses were both murdered, so we didn't manage to convict a single person.
4. The Seal Chart Murder
When Caroline Mary Luard was found murdered in the British town of Sea Chart in 1908, everyone suspected her husband. His alibi was perfect, but people made him a pariah, and he finally threw himself in front of a train. The only other suspect was a fraudster named John Dickman, and the main case against him was that he had the ridiculous name of "John Dickman."
5. Dorothy Jane Scott
After rushing a coworker to the hospital with a black widow spider bite, Dorothy Jane Scott got kidnapped. For the next four years, the kidnapper kept calling her family and saying, "I've got her" before hanging up. Police finally found her remains. The kidnapper had evidently burned her body two years after abducting her but had kept the phone calls up for two years more.
6. Charles Manson's Lawyer
7. The Glico-Morinaga Case
Unknown perpetrators kept attacking the Japanese company Glico in the '80s. They kidnapped the president in front of his family, set company cars on fire, sent the police a bunch of taunting letters, then moved on to a different food company. Police never figured out who did it, and the superintendent was so ashamed by this, he immolated himself.
8. The Missing Nipples
Colonel Philip Shue's 2003 death in a car might have looked like suicide. But someone cut off his nipples before he died, as well as several fingers and one earlobe. Most likely, kidnappers were torturing him until he escaped and crashed, but no one's been able to figure out who was responsible.
9. Mystery Head
In 2014, a Pennsylvania schoolboy found an old woman's severed head in a field. Her eyes had been removed and replaced by rubber ones from a kids' toy. No one ever managed to identify her.
10. Jamison Family Deaths
An Oklahoma family of four disappeared in 2009, leaving behind their car, which held their dog and $32,000 cash. Four years later, their bodies were discovered three miles away. According to their pastor, the dad had been "reading a Satanic Bible for combat tips and looking for special demon-killing bullets." That could mean the parents went nuts, but relatives say they were instead on a cult's hit list.
11. The NBA Disappearance
John Brisker from the Seattle SuperSonics set off for Uganda in 1978 and never came back. The FBI tried to trace him to see if he really was recruited by Idi Amin like some thought, but they could find no proof of this. Others in his hometown believed he never went to Africa and was instead lured into the Jonestown cult.
12. New Year's Sex Deaths
On New Year's Eve 1962, a man and woman died having sex next to an Australian river. No one could figure out what exactly killed them. The most reasonable theory is that the river released a cloud of deadly hydrogen sulfide gas, but there are no other signs of a poisonous belch like that.
13. Disney's Wonder
14. Stabbed 36 Times
In 2003, after randomly leaving home and traveling through various states, Jonathan Luna was found stabbed 36 times and dumped in a river. He withdrew $200 soon before dying, and the bills were found scattered around the body instead of the killer taking them with them. Luna's death was called a suicide.
15. The Charlottesville Rally
Video at 2017's Unite the Right rally at Charlottesville shows six attackers assaulting a man. Police arrested four of them but have been unable to identify the two others -- even though we have clear photos of them. Two years in, the lead detective conceded that he'll likely never manage to find them.
16. Autoerotic Asphyxiation
Albert Dekker supposedly died of autoerotic asphyxiation in 1969. They found him naked and with bondage gear in addition to the leather belt around his neck. But he'd also been robbed, and insulting graffiti covered his body. Sounds more like murder then. And yet the door was locked from the inside ...
17. Gunsmith Doppelgangers
William Cantelo disappeared from England in the 1880s after leaving his home to market his new machine gun. Then a man named Hiram Maxim popped up in America selling the gun, a man who looked just like Cantelo, even according to Cantelo's own kids. Seemed like Cantelo started his life again under a new name. But he hadn't -- Cantelo was a completely unrelated person.
18. Eaten By Cannibals
Michael Rockefeller, son of Gerald Ford's vice president, vanished when sailing off the coast of New Guinea in 1961. Officially, he was lost at sea, drowning after trying to swim 12 miles to shore from his raft. But according to the natives, he made it to land, where cannibals ate him.
19. Elvis' Teen Fans
When Barbara and Patricia Grimes went missing in 1956, people thought they'd run away to meet Elvis, leading to Elvis himself publicly calling for them to come home. Then their bodies turned up, stabbed and thrown from a car. An anonymous caller clued the police into their location, but when police tracked him down, they were unable to tie the murders to him. He claimed to have seen the location in a dream.
20. Pablo Neruda
21. The Paid Funeral
Artemus Ogletree was tied up, beaten, strangled, and stabbed in his hotel room in 1935. Police never identified his killer. They should have had some leads from all the typewritten letters (supposedly from him) sent to his family after his death and from an anonymous benefactor paying for his funeral, but this didn't help at all.
22. Waco's Bike Shootout
When rival Texas biker gangs clashed in May 2015, it ended in nine deaths and 177 arrests. But four years later, authorities dismissed all the charges and released everyone. Officially, who still have no idea who killed whom, even though much of the confrontation was caught on video.
23. The Pantsless Wanderer
Blair Adams tried entering the US from Canada with piles of unexplained cash, then tried to fly to Germany, then managed to get into the US after all. He was found dead in Tennessee, pants ripped off, murdered via a single powerful punch.
24. The Tylenol Murders
Tamperproof seals exist because of a 1982 spree, in which someone slipped cyanide into stores' Tylenol bottles, killing seven. But despite the murders leading the company to recall 31 million bottles and to manufacturers changing packaging forever, police never found who did it.
25. Sherlock's Dead Fan
Richard Lancelyn Green was considered the foremost authority on Arthur Conan Doyle. He also considered himself to be followed by men who wanted to kill him, and then Richard was found garroted to death in his bed.
26. The Scorned Woman
Canadian Corey Scherbey's 2011 death seemed like an overdose at first ... if you ignore the strange messages left at the scene and the bloody handprints. Then his family received an anonymous letter saying, "Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned." Police tracked the writer down, but before they could question her, she died of blood poisoning.
27. Toilet mystery
28. Whitey Bulger
Boston gangster "Whitey" Bulger died in prison in 2019. We know inmates did the deed. The question, though, is whether police purposely arranged the murder by breaking the rules and sending him to a block that hated informants like him and where people kept dying.
29. SQL Slammer
A worm spread across the internet in 2002. ATMs crashed, 911 call centers closed, and one nuclear plant's safety monitoring software even went down. We don't even know which hemisphere set the worm loose, much less which person did.
30. Killed By Bigfoot
When 16-year-old Theresa Ann Bier went missing, the 43-year-old man who'd taken her camping with him had an explanation: Bigfoot got her. Clearly, he was lying and was responsible. And yet police released him, hoping to arrest him anew when they found her body, and they ended up freeing him altogether, the disappearance still unsolved.
31. Metcalf sniper attack
In 2013, saboteurs shot up a California power station, doing enough damage to shut it down for almost a month. The goal here seemed to be to shut power off to all of Silicon Valley, and though we caught most of the attack on video, we never figured out who did it.
32. UCLA disappearance
A student vanished from UCLA in 1999. We should have had lots of ways of tracking him down, but none ever panned out. The only clue was a man in his thirties who was spotted in the dorm in a shiny jacket in the middle of the night, but police never figured out who he was.
33. Encrypted Notes
The 1999 death of Ricky McCormick was reopened 12 years later thanks to enciphered notes in his pocket. The FBI put their top codebreakers on the case of this high school dropout found dead in a cornfield. They came up with nothing.
34. Scientology's First Lady
35. The Witch's Curse
Christopher Case was found dead in his tub, fully clothed. He'd filled his apartment with candles and lines of salt, convinced that a witch had cursed him when he turned her down for a date. Case's cause of death? Unknown.
36. The Fried Monk
American monk Thomas Merton was found dead in a Thailand hotel, supposedly of a heart attack, but he was also electrocuted with a fan, and his body was laid out neatly by the time authorities found him. A theologian friend of his claims that a CIA officer admitted this was a CIA assassination.
37. Henry's Last Message
Before Henry McCabe went missing in 2015, he left a terrifying voicemail filled with angry growls and squeals of pain. You have to listen to it to appreciate how scary it was. No one knows what's going on there, and nor does anyone know exactly what led to McCabe's body landing in a lake months later.
38. A 30-Year-Old Recording
In 1984, a New Jersey cop's son was beaten to death with a pipe. Two years later, someone wrote a confession on the side of a police car. Then 30 years later, the cop found an old recording of someone confessing to the crime to a dispatcher and asking for reward money, but no one had followed up on this.
39. Manic Street Preachers
Richey Edwards, guitarist for Welsh band Manic Street Preachers, was visited by a mysterious woman named Vivian the night before leaving on a US tour in 1998. He checked out of his hotel room early, and the band hasn't seen him since, though scattered reports of his appearances have popped up from all over the world.
40. Scandinavian Star
Multiple fires on the French ferry Scandinavian Star led to 159 deaths. The obvious suspect was a convicted arsonist who happened to be on board, but someone kept setting the fires even after the first one killed him.
41. Bruce Lee
42. Nuclear Winter
Vladimir Alexandrov, the Russian scientist who came up with the concept of nuclear winter, disappeared from a conference in 1985. Some say the Soviets caught him trying to defect to the West, so they recalled and murdered him. It's also possible he really did defect, but if so, the West denies it.
43. Double Assassination
The Rwandan genocide was kicked off by two presidents getting assassinated in April 1994. President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi died when a rocket launcher blew their plane out of the sky. Who did it? We don't know. It might have been the current Rwandan president, but a commission (that he appointed) cleared him.
44. Dorothy Arnold
Dorothy Arnold bought half a pound of chocolate on December 12, 1910, and that's the last anyone heard of her. She was an heiress and a socialite bound to be recognized, and her parents waited six weeks to report her missing. It also turned out she was secretly engaged with plans to marry in Europe, but inquiries at European wedding chapels produced nothing.
45. The Secret Agent
Charles Morgan was found shot to death in the Arizona desert in 1977. He'd been wearing a bulletproof vest, carried one of his own teeth in his pocket, and had hidden a $2 bill in his underwear listing seven Spanish names. Earlier, he'd claimed to be an undercover treasury agent, but authorities haven't been able to confirm that or make any other conclusion about what happened.
46. The Ocean Snuff Film
In 2014, a cell phone turned up in Fiji, containing footage of four men being murdered at sea. Someone's yelling in Mandarin, and the murdered men appear to be pirates, but that's the most anyone's been able to conclude about what's going on in the video.
47. Frisco's Ritual Beheading
Police found the head removed from a man sleeping in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park in 1981, with a bloody chicken wing left in its place. They suspected this was a ritual murder related to the Santeria religion, which says victims' heads must be returned after 42 days. The head was indeed returned after 42 days -- but no one saw it happen, and the case remains unsolved.
49. Sulfuric Acid Delivery
In 1986, a truck carrying 5,000 gallons of sulfuric acid crashed in Spain. A man and wife were inside, and their 10-year-old son was too ... except when rescuers opened the vehicle up, there was no sign of him. It's possible that the couple were chased by drug traffickers who kidnapped the kid, who was never heard from again.
50. The Wych Elm
In 1943, four British children found a woman's skeleton in a hollow tree trunk. No one ever managed to identify her, and authorities somehow managed to lose both the skeleton and the report of the autopsy performed on it. The next year, the following related message started appearing on walls, and it turned into a meme, with the same message appearing again and again in graffiti: "Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?"
51. Heart In Bag
In 2016, a human heart popped up in a Ziploc bag in a field in Ohio. It had to have been extracted from its owner recently, yet no one could track down where it came from.
52. The Sodder Children
Five children died in an accidental 1945 house fire, supposedly. But their remains weren't found, the fire was suspicious, and in the days before it, an insurance salesman had threatened the family ... a salesman who ended up on the jury that declared the fire an accident. Also, someone later said they saw the kids alive, possibly with the salesman ...
53. Ghost Blimp
A blimp took off from San Francisco on August 16, 1942. It crashed a few hours later, and when people poked through the wreckage, the crew were nowhere to be found. Before the crash, it appeared everything was fine with the blimp, giving the men no reason to fall or jump out.
54. Canada's Severed Feet
Severed feet in running shoes have been washing up on the beaches of British Columbia for years. The official explanation is that these are all feet broken off bodies of people who died accidentally, not the castoffs of some anti-foot fetishist serial killer. And yet it's strange that the feet keep showing up on the shores of this one sea and apparently nowhere else.
55. Amtrak attack