5 Creepy As Heck Murders That Remain Unsolved To This Day
So it happened again, friend. You and I set out to another chill day of listicle-based comedy, only to black out and wake up 15 hours later, a hundred tabs deep in obscure crime sites and strange murder mysteries. Have we actually been building one of those clue walls with photos and notes connected by bits of string? Which ... which one of us nailed an ear to it? Oh well. We both know there's only one way to exorcise this particular demon. Let's take a look at five of the creepiest cases we've found, and take a stab at solving those mofos like a boss.
"Who Put Bella In The Wych Elm?"
Here's what we know about the case of Bella in the Wych Elm: In 1943, the skeletal remains of a woman were found inside an elm tree in Hagley Wood, Worcestershire, England. There was a piece of taffeta in the skull's mouth. Aaaaaaand that's the hell it. Seriously, they even managed to misplace the autopsy report and the actual victim somewhere down the line, so just about everything about the case remains guesswork.
Sure, it was WWII-era England, so they were busy with some other stuff, but even then it was ... less than customary to find lady skeletons hanging out inside trees. Identity (a mystery!) and cause of death (another mystery, though probably suffocation) notwithstanding, even the basic logistics of a random woman ending up dead in a tree in fucking Worcestershire remained an enigma. If it was a method of hiding a casual Friday murder, it was a damn odd one. It's not easy to shove a limp corpse inside a tree, even before rigor mortis sets in. So much easier to dig a shallow grave. Pick a good location, pile a few rocks so animals don't get to the body, no one'll ever know a thing.
Of course, there were theories about the victim's identity. She might have been a local prostitute, because every British murder investigation since Jack the Ripper is legally required to have at least one line of sex worker investigation. She might also have been a Dutch woman who had too much to drink, passed out, and was fatally shoved in a tree in a weird attempt to scare her into sobriety from a local dude called Jack Mossop and his Dutch cohort. Curiously, Mossop died in an insane asylum before the body was found. He had been committed there because of recurring nightmares about a woman staring at him from inside a tree.
But the real mystery of "Bella in the Wych Elm" happened after she was found, and in fact is the reason we know her as "Bella" at all. See, someone in the area knew, if not what had happened, at least who it had happened to. Soon after the body was found, mysterious graffiti with the words Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm? started appearing in the area, and variations of the phrase have continued to sporadically pop up to this very day.
Wait, hold the shit on. Mysterious haunting phrase that keeps turning up no matter what. "Wych elm" (which is just a type of tree, but hey, witch allusions). Mental asylums. Haunting dreams.
God dammit, this is a vengeful ghosts thing, isn't it?
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
Yeah, no. The Mossop theory came from the guy's cousin like ten years after the body was found, so it should probably be taken with a sack of salt. Also, my money says that the graffiti was probably started by someone who had a fair idea about the victim's identity, but it eventually turned into a "Kilroy Was Here"-style local meme.
As for the identity of the victim, let's point the Blame Stick at the bad guys of just about everything in the era. There are theories that the woman was killed by a Nazi spy ring she learned too much about. Others say she was a Nazi herself, and ended up dead in a tree due to a terminal case of being a little-too-obvious Nazi spy in 1943 Britain. I like the latter version, because that way we might even have a solid candidate for Bella. It's this lady:
That would be Clara Bauerle, a German cabaret singer who had spent time in the area and could speak English with a convincing Birmingham dialect. According to her former lover, she was a well-connected Nazi who was recruited as a spy and set to parachute to Britain in 1941 ... only to disappear immediately afterwards. Maybe she bumped into some hostile locals or fatally messed up the landing in front of a panicked bulldog herder who opted to hide her body instead of alerting the authorities (or, for that matter, getting help). Either way, someone who saw her die -- or discovered her body before the authorities knew about her -- must've recognized her. Before the "Bella" graffiti reached its most famous form, at least one tag read: "Who put Clarabella in the wych elm?"
Now ingest roughly eight pints -- much like a 1940s-era British cabaret visitor might -- and say "Clara Bauerle" out loud. Hoooooly shit, right?
The Seal Chart Murder
No, there were no actual seals involved. Yeah, I agree it would be amazing if there was a seal running around clubbing people to death. But I'm pretty sure that didn't happen. It's just the name of a place. Seals don't murder people. Try to focus. Jesus.
"Sure we don't. Keep telling yourself that."
In 1908, Mrs. Caroline Mary Luard was found dead near an isolated, empty summer house in Seal Chart, Kent, England. She had been shot twice in the head, execution-style. Though there were traces of a hasty jewelry robbery, that was pretty clearly staged, because she had no visible valuables before she was shot. Also, the killer had collected the cartridges and made an effort to leave as little evidence behind as possible. This was no random killing, but a premeditated murder. But why? There was no motive to be found. Caroline and her husband, Major-General Charles Luard, had no enemies.
Yeah, speaking of the husband. The Major-General had been walking with his wife right before they parted ways and Caroline headed toward the summer house. He was also the guy who eventually found the body. Of course it was him! As the investigation churned on, self-proclaimed "experts" and plain old nosy citizens started bombarding him with accusations and hate mail. He became a complete pariah in a few weeks, and was forced to sell his home and seek refuge at a friend's estate. And then, less than a month later, Major-General Charles Luard was on his way to meet his son in the train station. Instead, he chose to hide in the nearby bushes and unexpectedly throw himself in front of a train, in what was deemed "a fit of temporary insanity." Case closed, kind of!
To be fair, finding your brutally slain wife and then being chased out of society does seem like it could induce "temporary insanity."
The weird thing is that there is no way the man could have done it. Charles Luard continued his hike to a nearby golf club after separating from his wife, and the people he met could provide him an airtight alibi for the time of the murder (which we know was 3:15 p.m., because witnesses heard gunshots from the summer house). He was also a 69-year-old man, so it's not like he could have sprinted to the summer house, murdered his wife, staged a robbery, and returned to his path while still maintaining said alibi. Oh, and he readily presented all three revolvers he owned to the authorities, and none matched the bullet holes found in his late wife's skull.
Come on, it's obvious that the guy didn't do it. Even if you ignore his alibi, the dude died alone and unexpectedly by jumping (or "jumping") in front of a train. There's no way the narrative laws of the universe allow that to be anything other than Mrs. Luard's real killer covering his tracks. The problem: This leaves me with little choice but to tie the murder(s) to a hitherto unexpected enemy, preferably one with a name I can ruthlessly mock. Sadly, it's not like handy super-suspects like Hans Assmann grow on trees ...
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
... Wait, there's a theory that the real murderer was a man called John Dickman? Who was later scandalously hanged for a murder in a train despite very little proof, which some people take to mean that the law may have dealt some retroactive punishment from a certain high-profile murder he could never be connected to? John Dickman. Seriously. I love my job.
Sorry, guy. Guilty or not, this jury is heavily biased in favor of exploding in a torrent of boner jokes.
Here's the Dickman theory, the seeds of which were sown by the impossibly named Sir Sidney Orme Rowan-Hamilton in 1914. John Dickman (John Dickman!) was a poor small-timer attempting to raise the pillars of his future wealth by placing an ad in a newspaper begging for financial aid. The ad was a huge, swinging hit, as Mrs. Luard answered it and sent Dickman a big fat check. Unfortunately, it wasn't adequately sizable for Dickman's needs, so he likely forged it to a bigger sum. Raging hard on the fact that she had been cheated, Mrs. Luard had a bone to pick with Dickman. Careful not to rub her the wrong way, Dickman managed to arrange a meeting between Mrs. Luard and himself under the guise of returning the money, only to shoot her before she opened her mouth to her husband, which would obviously have been a huge pain in the ass for Dickman.
The Jamison Family Deaths
In 2009, Bobby Dale Jamison, Sherilynn Leighann Jamison, and their six-year-old daughter Madyson mysteriously disappeared in the mountains of Oklahoma while looking to buy property. Eight days later, their abandoned car was found in Latimer County, containing the family's cell phones, IDs, wallets, their severely malnourished dog, and $32,000 in cash. There was no sign of the family themselves, and the only thing investigators could determine was that they sure as shit hadn't gone missing voluntarily.
In 2013, their remains were found in a secluded spot three miles away from the car. Due to their heavily decomposed state, no cause of death could be determined.
Don't worry about the dog, though. She survived.
OK, this has to have been, like, a drug deal, right? A couple drives in the middle of nowhere to meet a contact, Breaking Bad-style. Things go awry and people get killed, also Breaking Bad-style. They brought their kid along because they were dipshits. Case closed!
Only ... start digging a little deeper, and BOOM! Suddenly each and every theory laid in front of you is a straight-up horror movie plot. Sherilyn's mother is absolutely convinced that Madyson was on the hit list of a mysterious cult. I'm inclined to dismiss that line of inquiry, because her reasoning appears to be of the "My hairdresser's cousin told me everyone knows Oklahoma is full of terrifying cults" variety, but that doesn't explain the family's pastor, who says that Bobby was eyebrow-deep in a battle with ghosts and evil spirits that haunted their house (hence the real estate shopping, I guess). We're talking "reading a Satanic Bible for combat tips and looking for special demon-killing bullets" stuff here. W-what the shit?
Perhaps one of the most interesting non-horror leads was the petition for a protective order which Bobby filed six months before the family's disappearance. It stated that Bobby's father, Bob Dean, had threatened the family's lives on two occasions, and had even hit Bobby with his vehicle. However, it's worth noting that the petition was promptly dismissed, and Bob Dean's brother is absolutely certain that he wasn't involved in the disappearance, due to being a 67-year-old degenerate knocking on death's door at the time. Could some of Bob Dean's supposed gang contacts have offed the Jamisons? Or was he sprier than the brother thinks? Did he meet the Jamisons in the desert for whatever reason, and then things escalated to a confrontation wherein Bob Dean hunted down his family in the desert, Wolf Creek-style? God dammit, horror movie territory again.
"Yeah, mind leaving us monsters out of this? Getting a little weirded out here."
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
I occasionally like exploring the paranormal route with these, but this time I'll abstain. For once, it would be too easy. Instead, let's experiment: I'll claim that this wasn't an isolated case.
A year after the Jamisons went fatally AWOL, the McStay family disappeared in a suspiciously similar way in Victorville, California. Their empty car was located near the Mexican border, and in 2013 (the same year the Jamisons were found, remember) a motorist stumbled upon their remains, buried in shallow graves in a desert. This case has a suspect: The police arrested the McStay father's business associate for the murders in 2014, and he's awaiting trial to this day. My completely non-validated, whiskey-infused theory: For whatever reason, the guy (or, provided he turns out to be innocent and/or has accomplices, whoever really offed the McStays) met the Jamisons in Oklahoma. Maybe he had dealings with them. Maybe he merely bumped into them as they were driving wildly on the mountain roads, shooting magic bullets at the horde of bloodthirsty ghosts chasing them. (A meeting likely far less ridiculous than any of the real theories surrounding the case took place.) Whatever the case, the end result was that the McStay killer chose to do a practice run for his upcoming identical crime.
OK, this one's probably a bust. But hey, you know how the old adage goes: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably also murders people precisely like a duck.
"Yeah, sure. 'Duck.'"
Mary Pinchot Meyer
Mary Pinchot Meyer had her spoon in a lot of soups. She was a famed Cold-War-era socialite, painter, and general celebrity. Like roughly 40 percent of the world's female population at the time, she was romantically associated with JFK. She was even the recipient of extremely thirsty love letters from the prez, which may or may not have something to do with the way her former lovers continue to praise her charms to this day. Pinchot Meyer had a pretty good thing going, is what I'm saying.
Unfortunately, as you can probably guess by her presence in this article, her talents didn't include staying alive. In 1964, Pinchot Meyer was shot to death point blank on a Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath in Georgetown, supposedly by a black man in a light jacket and dark cap. The only dude in the area who matched the description was Ray Crump, who initially seemed like a promising suspect. They found him 40 minutes after the shooting a quarter mile away from the scene, soaking wet after a (possibly drunken) dip in the canal, and he gave contradicting stories about his presence in the area. However, it soon became apparent that he could not be connected to the crime. There was no gun, no blood on his clothes, no forensic evidence whatsoever. He was acquitted, and since no other suspect emerged, the case remains a mystery to this day.
I'll simply leave this here.
Which brings us to the subject of the CIA. Curiously, the agency's pawprints were all over the case -- and, for that matter, Pinchot Meyer's entire life. Turns out she'd had something of a love-hate relationship with the agency. On one hand, Pinchot Meyer was considered something of a Marilyn of the intelligence circles, and even married an agency bigshot. On the other, she had a counterculture streak a mile wide, and it was not unheard of her to drop acid with Timothy Leary. Combine that strange duality with the way certain powers obviously affected the investigation behind the scenes -- for instance, the judge in Crump's trial ordered that the victim's private life couldn't be discussed at all, effectively limiting Pinchot Meyer's existence to the site of her murder -- and you can probably guess where the favorite theories for the killer are pointing.
There are two main theories about the case. One is precisely what you'd expect: The CIA had Pinchot Meyer killed for whatever reason, up to and including that she might've found out that the intelligence agency assassinated a certain former lover of hers in Dallas (because of fucking course). Another one is much more mundane: She was really killed by Ray Crump, who lucked out thanks to a lack of forensic evidence and a sympathetic jury.
Two guesses as to which one is more popular online.
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
Man, this is a tough one. Crump was clearly acquitted, and besides, he really seems like either a patsy or the personification of "wrong place, wrong time" to me. Then again, the CIA kind of rings wrong as well, for the same reason I've always found it hard to believe they have a hand in the JFK assassination or [insert your favorite nutjob theory here]. The victim was such a high-profile person that an assassination gig like this would require an absurd amount of professionalism and silence from a massive number of people, and it's scientifically impossible for such a sizable group to exist without at least one of them turning out to be a giant dipshit who'll eventually blurt out something they shouldn't. Besides, if they're really that good, surely they'd have done a better job of framing a culprit. Maybe have some bike messenger deliver a gun to the murder site, then claim he did it and immediately kill him in a shootout or whatever.
Wait, hold the shit on. Am I now offering advice to shadowy organizations on how to better step on everyone's dicks? Yeah, let's agree to never do that. Uh ... let's say a UFO did it. Let's leave this one for Fox Mulder. Moving on.
The Abduction of Dorothy Jane Scott
What would you do if a stranger suddenly started stalking you? I'm not talking about the occasional threatening Facebook message or an energy-drink-fueled Twitter death threat from @fedoradonglord420 after you disagree with a Trump tweet. Those can get pretty uncomfortable, but they're nowhere near as bad as a completely unknown person watching your every move, leaving you creepy little messages, and inching ever so closer like the monster from It Follows ... and then, one day, he reaches you.
I'm writing this at 1:30 a.m., and this entry is a bad idea already.
That's what Anaheim, CA native Dorothy Jane Scott experienced in 1980. Scott's personal hell started when out of the blue she started receiving regular threatening phone calls to her work from a mysterious man. It soon became apparent that this was no ordinary stalker. The man knew intimate details of her life, and was unnervingly well aware of Scott's comings and goings. He told her he loved her. He told her he'd kill her. He told her he'd cut her up. As weeks and months progressed, he took to leaving serial killer-y gifts to her, such as dead roses on her car's windshield. Unsurprisingly, this freaked Scott right the fuck out. She took up karate and considered buying a gun.
On May 27 of that year, the worst-case scenario happened. Scott's co-worker had been bitten by a black widow spider, so she drove him and another colleague to the emergency room at UC Irvine Medical Center around 9 p.m. Two hours later, the coworker was discharged, but was still feeling a little weak. Scott told the two that she'd go get her car to the door in case Spider Guy couldn't handle the trip to the parking lot. A while later, the co-workers waited at the door and saw her Toyota station wagon approach ... then blind them with its headlights and speed away. At that point, it became clear that Scott wasn't driving the car, or at the very least had someone nasty in there with her.
The car was later found burning in an alley. There was no trace of Scott or her abductor. And that's when the really weird shit started. Out of the blue, the stalker started calling Dorothy's family. The first call came a week after her abduction. Scott's mother answered, and a male voice asked if she was Dorothy's mother. When she said yes, the voice said "I've got her" and hung up.
As if answering an 1980s phone without caller ID wasn't terrifying enough already.
The calls kept on coming on almost every Wednesday, carefully timed so the mother usually answered, but were never long enough so the police could trace them. The caller sometimes said he had killed Dorothy, and other times insinuated she was still alive. This didn't stop until fucking 1984, when some of Scott's bones and belongings were finally found strewn near Santa Ana Road. Her watch had stopped an hour after she was abducted. The bones were charred, which may or may not have been because of a bush fire in the area a couple of years before. Oh, and the coroner was only able to estimate that the bones had been there for around two years, instead of the four she'd been missing.
A week or so after the discovery made the news, the phone rang two more times. On both occasions, a man's voice asked in knowing tone "Is Dorothy home?" After that, nothing.
So ... exactly what happened here? Did the stalker kill Scott immediately after abducting her, like the watch indicated? Or did he keep her for a couple of years somewhere, like- Oh shit, let's not pursue that train of thought. Why the years of calls to the mother, whom the killer was also clearly keeping tabs on? Was the watch a deliberate ruse by the killer? Why weren't Dorothy's remains found before? What was the cause of death? Why is the square of the hypotenuse equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides? Why anything? What the fuck?
Here are my notes from last night re: one of those. Can't quite remember which.
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
The popular theory seems to be that the killer was an unrecognized man who called the front desk of a local newspaper after they ran a story about the case. The guy knew certain specifics about the case, and claimed that he'd finally been moved to attack because he felt Dorothy was seeing someone. So, you know, a maniac imagining a love triangle in his head kind of thing.
However, I believe there's more to the case. See, the stalker wasn't just a random fucker. Before her disappearance, Dorothy told her mother that she could recognize the voice harassing her, but she couldn't put a face and name to it. Sure, technically that means that she probably wasn't killed by Garrison Keillor or James Earl Jones, but think about how many people like that you have in your life. No one ever really listens to people's voices. Fringe co-workers, gas station attendants, store clerks, neighbors -- people you see every day and interact with regularly, yet never really pay attention to. Dorothy Jane Scott must've had plenty of such people in her life too, and because the world is sometimes a terrifying place, I think one of them paid her very, very close attention.
Wait, wait. Is that really our takeaway after trudging through all these sad cases? She was probably stalked from afar and ultimately killed by someone she interacted with regularly, but didn't pay attention to? And that could happen to anyone? Like, any random cashier, bank teller, or online acquaintance could be secretly plotting your demise right this second? Fuck that, guys. We're ending this thing on a high note, if it's the last thing I do. Let me reach into my stash of cute animal pictures and see if I can find something suitably uplifting ...
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