55 Bizarre Things That (Sometimes) Landed Folks In The Clink
True crime is, without a doubt, one of the two most interesting types of crime out there. And even though these plots transpire without any devious author guiding them, they can get really weird. Sure, maybe YOUR criminal gang sticks to simply robbing convenience stores for drug money, but in the wider world of crime, nothing is as you'd expect.
1. The Head Expert
Stella Nickell got away with murdering her husband and was due for a $71,000 insurance payout. But she could get more if the death was ruled accidental, so she tried to paint him as a random victim of a poisoner—by actually becoming a random poisoner. She killed someone else and got caught.
2. Civic Duty
When Dutch police asked the public to voluntarily submit DNA to help with an investigation, this seemed unlikely to bear much fruit. Surely the murderer wouldn't be one of the handful of people to respond. And yet he was.
3. The LEGO Scam
An eBay fraudster kept entering a LEGO store, switching the bar codes on merch, and buying items for a fraction of their price so he could auction them. He made $30,000 this way but got caught and went to prison. He also happened to be the VP at a software company—the guy was already rich.
4. Mommie Dearest
Nejdra Nance discovered she had no birth certificate and demanded an explanation from her mother, who said she'd adopted Nejdra from a drug dealer. Then Nejdra saw a photo of a baby who looked like her, listed as missing. Her supposed mother had actually stolen her from a hospital decades before.
5. Not A Successful Dinner
Two people had evidently been murdered at a dinner in France in 2017. But when the police looked closer, they realized one of the pair had just choked to death—then the other panicked and died of a heart attack.
6. The Burke Method
7. True Fan
Stephane Breitwieser stole $1.4 billion worth of paintings. He never sold any of them. We guess he just really liked art. However, when he was caught, his mother burned about half of his collection to protect him.
8. Party Poopers
When a French gang broke into a bank, they didn't just rob the place. They threw a party, drinking wine out of chalices and then leaving turds at the scene. When the ringleader was arrested, he asked the window to be opened since he was feeling hot. Then he leaped out the window and escaped.
9. Father's Mercy
Two members of the Whitaker family were gunned down by an apparent stranger at a dinner for son Bart. Then it turned out that Bart actually arranged the murder and tried to make it look like a robbery. That didn't stop the dad, who'd survived the shooting, from campaigning on the son's behalf, getting his eventual death sentence commuted just minutes before he was scheduled to die.
10. Better Than Most Reality-TV
A guy calling himself Nikita Russian recruited 30 people for a reality TV show. He divided them into three teams, tasking each with making $1 million however they could. The winning team would win ... the $1 million they made. There was actually never a show, and Nikita Russian was actually homeless.
11. Baby Badass
A Florida woman got 20 cops spending Christmas looking for her kidnapped baby, who had a fake tattoo and a Mohawk. There never was a baby—she'd faked a pregnancy to rope in a boyfriend and staged the kidnapping to explain the baby's nonexistence.
After four-year-old Bobby Dunbar went missing, an uncle spotted him in the custody of a drifter. Police arrested the drifter and returned the child to Bobby's mother. Decades later, DNA testing revealed he wasn't Bobby at all. He was the drifter's nephew, just as he had claimed.
13. Renting Shawshank
14. The Sumitomo Mitsui Job
An aristocrat and a cockney crime lord managed to get past all the security measures necessary to transfer £229 million out of a bank. But they screwed up the forms specifying the destination, so they got caught.
In 1991, San Diego police told officers to investigate a serial rapist. The culprit was one of the officers in that briefing—and he was only caught when he attacked future actress Charisma Carpenter, and she found his flashlight.
Police were investigating the case of an unidentified strangled Colombian man, and they found a series of notes in the area. One read: "Yes. Matthew is dead, but his body not felt. Those brains were not Matt's because his body did melt. For Billy threw Matt in some hot boiling oil. To confuse the police for the mystery they did toil." They thought the killer was leaving clues for them. They were clues all right but from an unrelated church scavenger hunt.
17. The Russian Hoax
An MIT professor told police that a Russian hitman had shot him twice—a hitman sent by his son, who had laundered $80 million! The professor had actually shot himself.
28. Twist And Shout
An Argentinian TV Station sent a gang of wrestlers to the airport to kidnap The Beatles. Unfortunately for them, they mistakenly got their hands on a cover group, The Beetles.
When Dr. John Schneeberger was accused of sexually assaulting patients, he submitted to a DNA test that seemed to exonerate him. But he'd actually implanted a tube of someone else's blood into his own arm, so the test analyzed the wrong blood.
20. Making Good Use Of It
21. Marriage Counseling, Swedish Style
A Swedish man showed up in a German police station, claiming to have escaped a gang of kidnappers. In reality, he'd just got annoyed with his wife, left town, then regretted his choice and made up the kidnapping to explain his whereabouts.
22. The Publicity Hound
When Lawrence Bader's boat capsized, and his family got a huge insurance payout, it was always possible that this was a scam, and Bader was still alive. But no one could have predicted that Bader would blow his cover by becoming a host on his own TV show.
23. Suicide By Cop
A cop was found at a crime scene, shot twice, fatally. The department mourned him and tried to find the killers. It turned out he'd killed himself and staged a crime scene to cover this up.
Alexandru Nemeth poisoned a bunch of Nestle products across the country, and then he tried blackmailing the company. He sent messages via carrier pigeon and asked them to send him diamonds using those same pigeons. Police just released the birds and tracked them right back to his location.
25. Loyal Lover
When a woman got her boyfriend to help her bury a body, police were convinced she was a murderer. Then the boyfriend confessed to the murder. But then she killed him next.
26. Beating The Odds
The manager at a Chinese bank stole $25,000 to buy lottery tickets, planning to return the money once he won. This was a terrible idea; you'll likely lose money playing the lottery, no matter how much you bet. But this guy won! Unfortunately, he then tried the scheme again, stealing even more this time ...
27. The Girl Next Door
28. Lower Your Windows
When police discovered a mother and daughter dead from carbon monoxide in a car, it wasn't immediately clear where the gas had come from. A deflated yoga ball revealed the truth: The husband had inflated the ball with carbon monoxide and left it in the car to kill his family.
29. The Serial Cockblocker
Amanda Bulliner called the police about a stalker, then again about someone beating her children. It turned out the culprit was Amanda herself, and the supposed crimes were her way of getting her ex-boyfriend's attention every time he started dating again.
30. Returning To The Scene
When an off-duty cop got shot at a New Orleans restaurant, a witness had a surprising response to the officer who arrived and questioned him: "You know what happened. You were there!" This officer had indeed been there, had shot the off-duty cop, then returned to investigate.
31. Super Chinese Ransom Bros.
A Chinese couple was anguished when their son was kidnapped but somewhat relieved when the kidnappers were willing to return him for only about $1,400. Turned out the son had staged the kidnapping himself because he wanted enough money to buy a Nintendo game console.
32. Meat Market
For nine years, Gilberto Escamilla ordered fajitas, charging them to the prison where he worked and then secretly selling them to customers. He made $1.2 million. Then he took a sick day, and one of his deliveries showed up while he was out, exposing the scheme.
33. Dead Body In The Trunk
Ricky Simonds murdered his first girlfriend at 25. He planned to kill another 22 years later, hiding in the trunk of her car so he could spring out at her, but he passed out inside and died.
34. Van Gogh Home
35. Witness For The Defense
The trial for the murder of Connie Franklin became complicated when Connie Franklin showed up and testified. At least he claimed to be Connie Franklin. The prosecution proved that this guy had actually escaped from a mental hospital years ago. But that didn't mean he wasn't also Connie Franklin, so the jury issued an acquittal.
36. Scooby-Doo Plot
In 1976, gunmen took 20 hostages at the Canadian embassy in Beirut. These weren't political terrorists. The mastermind was the owner of a failed Canadian theme park, and he got off with just a $200 fine.
37. Double Oh No
Robert Hendy-Freegard conned women by telling them he was a secret agent. The really weird part, though, was how he roped these victims into doing ridiculous secret missions for him.
38. But It's All A Ponzi Scheme
When the owner of a Bitcoin exchange died, the reported story was that his password went with him, and so his customers were out $200 million. But it turned out he'd never invested any of their money at all. This should have been obvious since his company started on a forum explicitly designed for creating Ponzi schemes.
39. Free Parking
A gang of thieves almost got away with stealing £10 million from an armored car. But their getaway vehicle boxed in a random commuter, who broke in and stole the keys, leaving the thieves stranded.
40. Auld Lang Syne
Assassins killed a Philippines politician on New Year's Eve, the fireworks camouflaging the gunshots. They didn't realize that, with his last act, the politician snapped a photo of the shooters.
41. Cabin Fever
42. Bridge Gate
In 2012, Czech thieves stole a 10-ton bridge. What's more, the guards let them—they showed up with forged papers, and the guards concluded they had permission to dismantle the massive structure.
43. Lads and LSDs
For decades, Scotland wondered about the vanished folk singer Shelagh McDonald. Then when a newspaper ran a retrospective, Shelagh showed at their office. She explained what had happened: She had done a whole lot of acid one day.
44. Handle With Care
Rawson Watson sneaked aboard a plane, stole a trove of Spanish pesetas, then sealed himself into a crate that was to be shipped to an accomplice. Back at the airport, handlers dropped the crate, smashing it open and revealing him.
45. X Marks The Spot
Police suspected a serial killer of murdering nine women. This angered him because he had actually murdered 17 women, so he sent a newspaper a map to his latest victim's remains. He'd got this map off the internet, and authorities traced that site's visitors to track down the killer.
46. The Philanthropist
Mark Landis was a master forger. Weird thing, though: He never tried making any money off his forgeries. He just gave the works away to museums.
47. I'm Coming Out
When New York drag performer Dorian Corey died in 1993, police found a mummified body in her closet. The man had been missing for 20 years, and this note pinned to him suggested what had happened: "This poor man broke into my home and was trying to rob me."
48. All About The Washingtons
49. The Most Belgian Crime Ever
Carlos Flomenbaum spent a year complimenting bank employees and gifting them fancy chocolates. They finally let him into the vault, and he stole $28 million in diamonds.
50. Fortunate Son
The IRS investigated an overseas tax haven, but they cut the investigation short when it turned out the bank was founded by a CIA agent. Still, the investigation did shut down the bank ... which meant that account holder Creedence Clearwater Revival lost all their savings and had to break up.
51. I Have A Gem
Eddie Sandifer robbed six jewelry stores, one time escaping the cops by crossing train tracks, so a passing train kept the police from following him. It turned out he was stealing to fund the civil rights movement.
52. Money Bomb
In 1968, some guy impersonating a cop convinced businessmen transporting money that their car was going to explode. He then drove their car away and vanished. Police never solved the case, despite two investigators literally working themselves to death.
53. Diaper Con
Like many perverts, Eric Carrier wanted to show his penis to women. Unlike most perverts, he posed as mentally challenged and hired unsuspecting women to change his diaper.
54. The Runaway Bride
Jennifer Wilbanks vanished right before her wedding, and when police found her, she claimed she'd been kidnapped. If you've read this far, you can guess she was lying. And yet vanishing from Atlanta and appearing in a New Mexico 7-Eleven definitely made people believe something terrible had happened to her.
55. Ask The Expert