5 Crazy Theories About Famous Crimes People Actually Believe
Here's the thing about big, history-making crimes: They never truly get solved. It doesn't matter if there's a conviction, or even a confession. There will always be a large chunk of anxious people who are sure the real killer got away with it. They push alternate theories so complex that they spawn entire books, recontextualizing every known scrap of evidence. Note that I didn't say these theories were correct, or even plausible. But when has that ever stopped anyone?
A Book Claims O.J. Simpson's Son Did The Murders
The O.J. Simpson murder case helped turn American news into infotainment, launched a whole bunch of legal and media careers, and in a roundabout way, gave us the Kardashians. It also spawned enough books to fill an abandoned Borders, including William C. Dear's O.J. Is Innocent And I Can Prove It. In it, he concludes the murderer was in fact the Juice's son, Jason Simpson.
Dear is a detective, and handled security for the shovel party where they exhumed Lee Harvey Oswald's remains. He also spoke on the mid '90s TV "documentary" Alien Autopsy: Fact Or Fiction?. So it makes tons of sense that such a sober-minded and not at all conspiracy-brained person would be the one to find the "real" killer of O.J.'s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Dear's explanation was solid. Well, solid enough for a Fox alien truther. He claimed that the younger Simpson had intermittent rage syndrome (which he also calls "Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome," which totally makes it less dramatic) and a massive drug/alcohol addiction. According to this logic, Jason Simpson attacked Brown and Goldman in a drug-fueled rage, as one does. As for why O.J.'s blood was found at the crime scene, well, never you mind.
According to Dear, the fact that the police never fingerprinted Jason or took DNA samples only makes his guilt even more likely! But perhaps the worst thing about the whole idea is how it perversely makes O.J. himself both a victim and a hero, the Jean Valjean of this les miserable shit pile, who bravely sacrificed himself so his maniac of a son could go on ... not killing other people? I don't know what the endgame of his research is, but hey, it might've sold a few paperbacks!
There's A Theory That A Secret Service Agent Shot Kennedy By Accident
Partly thanks to the grandstanding of crank Louisiana attorney Jim Garrison, the assassination of John F. Kennedy spawned a whole slew of conspiracy theories about who was really responsible. The least-known but maybe the most creative one is that a real butterfingers of a Secret Service agent, startled by Oswald's shots, accidentally discharged his firearm into the brainpan of our 35th president.
This theory, the sad trombone noise of conspiracies, is promoted by people like Bonar Menninger, an Iowa newspaperman and author of Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK. The details of what would be the biggest "SHIT. MY BAD!" in history explains some of the elements that fuel other theories (that Oswald's headshot would have been hard as hell to pull off, the supposed inconsistencies in JFK's wounds) without buying into any larger web of conspiracies.
Menninger says that Secret Service agent George Hickey was rolling along with Kennedy's motorcade when Oswald started shooting. One shot hit Kennedy in the neck (which may or may not have been fatal), then Hickey hovered a finger over the trigger of his AR-15 right as his car jerked to a stop behind Kennedy's limo. Hickey jumped, squeezed, and planted one in the president's noggin. Then later, his colleagues covered up the accident and blamed the kill shot on Oswald, not wanting to ruin the guy's life when there was an actual would-be assassin at hand.
Menninger seems to cling to the theory precisely because of how boring it is. He's not trusting enough to believe the official narrative, but he also doesn't believe the more fun theories, or even care about them. The idea that a Secret Service agent, trained to literally die for the president, would be such a nervous bumblebutt is just one of the many holes in the theory. Others include the fact that no one in or around Hickey's vehicle reacted as if a shot had been fired next to them, or how such a wild shot hitting the already-shot president perfectly in the skull would be some real Final Destination shit.
Hickey sued over the accusation, by the way, winning an out-of-court settlement from the publisher. Guys, this is why you pin the blame on nebulous conspiracies instead.
Related: 5 Details That Make Famous Conspiracy Theories Seem Legit
Ted Kaczynski Is Accused Of Being The World's Busiest Killer
Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, is a pretty bad egg, if you'll let me be harsh. But in the annals of crime enthusiasts, he's become downright supernatural. There are leading theories that peg the bearded bomber as also being the Zodiac Killer (Northern California in the late '60s and early '70s) and/or the Chicago-area Tylenol Murderer (the early 1980s).
Yes, people love to posit Kaczynski as the Tommy Westphall of unsolved serial murders. And Kaczynski did indeed move to Northern California in the late '60s, so he was there at the perfect time to have been the Zodiac. But that's where the evidence pretty much ends. Almost everything else the Unabomber and the Zodiac share (taunting the police, writing angry screeds, etc.) constitutes the same schtick as most of these types. By this logic, Kaczynski fits the profile of almost every famous serial killer ever.
Later, the FBI went back to Kaczynski and asked for a DNA sample to see if there was any connection with the Tylenol Killer. Kaczynski told them sure, take it, so long as they would agree not to auction off his property (he must've really liked all that shit in his cabin). They told him no, and as a result, they didn't get the swabs they wanted. Thus he's tied to that crime by having grown up in Chicago and not proving he wasn't the guy.
Damn, you mail people a bunch of explosives, and suddenly you're to blame for everything. I'm surprised that being a bearded guy in Montana wasn't enough for people say he's secretly Sasquatch.
Related: 4 Scary Moments In History That Were Worse Than You Realized
JonBenet Ramsey's Murder Was Apparently A Masonic/Lockheed/Pedophile Conspiracy
The death of JonBenet Ramsey dominated headlines for months after it occurred on Christmas 1996, and the case remains unsolved to this day. That means it's some real red meat for the true crime conspiracy community (the case even has its own wiki and subreddit). It wasn't enough that a little girl had been killed after being forced to participate in childhood beauty pageants. That's apparently boring. No, it had to be a criminal conspiracy fit for a Weekly World News cover.
To be fair, there is a lot of weirdness surrounding the case. Odd was the ransom note John Ramsey claimed to have received, which asked for $118,000 from his specific account, matching the exact amount he'd received from Lockheed as his Christmas bonus. Donald Freed, a playwright and conspiracy author, noted how the FBI's response was also strange. Lockheed can't have extorted execs spilling the tea on their latest military tech if a family member gets kidnapped, so they have a whole security apparatus designed to jump into action in cases like this. Instead, both they and the FBI just let the Boulder police handle it.
From there, though, the theories start getting wild. Because John worked for Lockheed, and Lockheed has government contracts, obviously the Illuminati were involved. Tagging along with them are the Larry and Curly of the Three Conspiracy Stooges: networks of powerful pedophiles and/or Satanists. People have also theorized that JonBenet was killed by the shadowy, all-powerful "They," but can't explain why or to what purpose.
It's not as if the investigation and the alibis of the Ramseys don't stink on ice, but these increasingly outlandish theories diminish the very real fact that a little girl lived and died, and the killer totally got away with it. No amount of X-Files fanfic brings closure to that.
Related: 5 Suspicious Details Of Famous Crimes No One Can Explain
Several Famous Authors Were Accused Of Being Jack The Ripper
Jack the Ripper, noted lover of top hats and murder, set the template for contemporary true crime obsession. Police of the era and modern writers have tried to pin the crimes on everybody and his brother ever since. And I do mean everybody. Chances are that if someone breathed London's sooty, coal-fart air and had a semi-famous name, they've been a suspect.
Author Robert Louis Stevenson was one, getting on the public radar for a horror ditty called The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, which predated the 1888 spree by two years. Though he was travelling the South Seas at the time of the killings, it didn't faze his accusers, who still felt the book was somehow a pre-confession. Even stupider, when the popular book became a popular play, lead actor Richard Mansfield also entered the suspect list, since people thought that no man should be able to play crazy that well. Apparently an interest in true crime doesn't come with awareness of the basic concept of acting.
Another author considered was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, because he was a doctor and wrote mystery stories. Also, the Ripper allegedly had been spotted in a Sherlock-style deerstalker hat, I guess the idea being that Doyle liked to cosplay while he slew. In truth, the Ripper wore a variety of lids, which may be why modern author Richard Wallace accused Lewis Carroll of the crimes. Wallace based his claim on making anagrams out of the poems in the Alice books. This meant the guy was really into long-term planning, since they came out in 1865, 23 years before the first killing.
Aleister Crowley threw his pyramid-shaped hat into the ring of Ripperology in the 1970s, tossing out names like another famed occultist, Helena Blavatsky. The 1990s saw a huge upset in the field with the release of The Diary Of Jack The Ripper, a hoax which posited a cotton merchant named James Maybrick as the killer.
Considering that the murders occurred in a time when the majority of people existed as nothing but a birth date, death date, and possible marriage date in a local parish record, the interesting thing that unites these suspects is that they're known. Maybrick may have been unknown as a Ripper candidate, but his brother was a composer, and he was already famous for being poisoned by his wife, which meant a tidy revenge story could be told around him.
Mind you, there's no actual reason the murders had to have been the work of a prominent person. It just makes for a more amusing and lucrative story. After all, in the world of Ripperology -- and true crime theorizing in general -- it's not about solving. It's about selling.
Andrew McRae has books and eBooks available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. He can also be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as writing for Lewtonbus.
For more, check out 9 Murders To Keep You Up At Night With My Favorite Murder - The Cracked Podcast:
Follow us on Facebook ... if you dare.