5 Creepy Crimes From History No One Can Explain
Whatever your fundamental ideological differences with your fellow man, there are two things you both probably agree on: History is full of all sorts of weird shit, and murdering is generally frowned upon. So, friends, put aside your petty arguments about which cartoon pony is the worst, and frolic with me through these stories of historical, murderous strangeness.
Wait, did I say "frolic"? I meant "lose fucking sleep over these creepy tales of murderous mayhem through the ages."
The Drowning Of Ludwig II
"The Mad King" Ludwig II of Bavaria was to eccentrics what a Ferrari is to a 1986 Yugo: technically the same thing, but with so much more power that it's not even funny anymore. He very nearly bankrupted his country thanks to his tendency to build insane fairytale castles, and his attitude toward even the most mundane things in life ranked at roughly 7.4 on the Richter Pride Parade Flamboyancy Scale. By 1886, the 40-year-old king had nigh depleted the nation's funds with swan boats and real-life versions of Disney castles, so he was gently declared insane, removed from power, and steered from rampant landscape pimping to playing with the era's equivalent of a Duplo set.
Three days later, he was found dead in a lake near Munich.
It was immediately obvious to everyone with common sense that the shenanigan quantity of the situation blatantly exceeded the recommended limits. The water in the lake was hardly waist deep, and Ludwig had been an excellent swimmer. Also, there was the small matter of the other dead dude beside him; it was the king's physician, Dr. Gudden, whose corpse had marks and bruises that seemed a whole lot like someone had strangled him. Ludwig's remains, on the other hand, seemed completely untouched.
For whatever reason.
So the officials pondered the situation for a while, then shrugged and listed the cause of death as drowning, because what the hell else are you going to do with a dead 19th-century ex-king? Carry out a proper investigation or something?
There was just one minor hiccup: Ludwig II had no water in his lungs at all. The king and the doctor had also forbidden Ludwig's aides from following them as they wandered off to do whatever it is that got them killed. Furthermore, Ludwig had gone on record several times stating that he wished to become an eternal enigma to both himself and others.
Aaand that's pretty much what we've got. Oh, there are tons of legends and theories -- head to the comment section and chances are you'll find at least half a dozen. Some say it was an elaborate suicide, created solely to fuck with the world that had stripped Ludwig of his power (presumably, the good doctor would have assisted with the suicide and got promptly strangled by the dying king for his troubles). There's another faction that insists the king was attempting to escape his handlers with help of loyalists and got murdered during the attempt, which would also make sense but doesn't answer certain fairly important questions, such as how? And by whom?
"Mermaid babies got 'em. Case closed!"
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
Dude was shot, presumably by the orders of the people who removed him from power. Yep, despite zero tangible evidence pointing toward gunfire of any kind. Back in 2007, a 60-year-old German man came forward with the story that 50 years ago he and his mother met one Countess Josephine von Wrba-Kaunitz, who over coffee and cakes decided to show her assorted guests her most prized possession: the coat Ludwig was wearing when he died.
A coat with two distinct bullet holes in the back.
Now, it just so happens that the coat has since been lost in a fire, and unless the authorities decide to exhume a king's body over some random dude's 50-year-old story, there is a giant cloud of eau du bullshit wafting around this particular theory. It's just that I can't help thinking: Which story sounds more likely -- that literally the most famous person in the country at the time managed to off himself in a way that no one was able to figure out? Or that he was unceremoniously assassinated and the coroner took care not to notice the bullet holes because it's generally not a good idea to piss off powerful people who just killed a fucking king?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
The Witchcraft Death Of Charles Walton
Here are the facts in the strange case of Charles Walton: On Feb. 14, 1945, the 74-year-old Mr. Walton was tending a hedge with his trusty pitchfork and a trouncing hook. Later that day, he was found with that very same hedge and tools, but in a radically different situation: The trouncing hook was now in his throat, and he had been pinned to the ground with the pitchfork. A large cross had been carved on his chest.
Here is the rest of the story, which is pretty much all we have beyond those few lines of nasty fact: witchcraft witchcraft witchcraft aaaargh!!!
"Aaaaargh! Wait, shit, you're talking about me?"
No, seriously. Plenty of people are certain that Walton's murder was a ritual sacrifice, and witches and general sorcery were intimately involved in the proceedings. Who precisely was the witch in this story and why the murder took place have as many answers as there are assholes, though. The most popular theory suggests that Walton himself was dabbling in witchcraft (it's an equal-opportunity business), because of his general eccentricity, keen eye for natural phenomena, and a way with animals, none of which could in any way have been direct results of 74 freaking years living on the countryside. This would have meant that his killer was acting out of desperation; this particular method of mayhem was supposedly a ritual that was meant to kill the witch who had cursed someone and thus remove the curse. Or maybe it was the other way around, and some occultist had killed him to gain his powers or whatever.
Oh, and then there's the theory about vengeful ghosts. Let's not forget the theory about vengeful ghosts. Apparently, an investigation turned up a secret sorcery book that revealed that 60 years earlier a boy called Charles Walton had seen ghosts and experienced various horrors in the same area after being plagued by demon dogs and foreboding spirits. Does ... does this mean Walton II was killed by Walton I's ghost? Were they the same person? If so, are there some strange third-party ghosts involved? How does the hell dog factor in? Can it hold a pitchfork?
Verdict: a resounding yes.
Whatever the true reason may be (the Devil? Legend says it had been roaming the hill in the past), the murder remains unsolved. And, presumably, by now you can ask about it a hundred nights in a row at the local pub and walk out with 200 different answers to the mystery.
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
Vengeful ghosts. Yeah, let's go with vengeful ghosts. With a case like this, that's actually the least insane explanation.
Well, that, or it might just have been Walton's employer, who had been boozing up at the local pub and was incidentally the last man to see the victim alive. But that would be just crazy.
Jack The Stripper Killings
You know what happens when you start murdering prostitutes in the same town and area as Jack The Ripper, only 70 years later? As Jack The Stripper found out, you get a stupid fucking nickname based on your predecessor, for one. That's not to say he wasn't a chilling character. In fact, in some ways The Stripster was a much scarier killer than his more famous and better-monikered counterpart: Not only did he kill more people (at least six, perhaps as many as eight) and operated for six years longer than his predecessor, he didn't bother with the whole "slash 'em up with knives" part: He murdered his victims with his bare freaking hands and unceremoniously dumped them in the Thames. It probably goes without saying that he stripped his victims nude.
"That's actually just a funny coincidence. I just really like stripping paint."
And that's just the start of the creepiness surrounding Jack The Stripper. The police kept uncovering creepier and creepier things about the dude, as some of the victims were found partially mummified, having died in strange, submissive positions. The fact that many of the victims had their teeth removed even led some investigators to suggest that he not so much strangled them to death as he suffocated them. With his actual freaking dong. Feel free to imagine the logistics of that shit, because I sure as hell am not going to describe them.
And then the killings stopped. Just. Like. That. The Stripper was never apprehended, which of course means that oh shit he's standing behind you right now and he's not wearing any pants.
Luckily, you have your favorite sausage cutting knife at hand.
Well, that, or the fact that one of the several suspects the police were reportedly closing in on started to feel the pressure and decided to call it quits/kill himself, depending on who was the culprit. Whatever the truth may be, chances are we'll never uncover it and Jack The Stripper will go the way of the Zodiac Killer.
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
The actual Jack The Ripper (who, as every tin-foil-hatted conspiracy nut knows, was actually an immortal Illuminati agent or some shit) was trying to stage a comeback but became too embarrassed to continue his crimes when he found out what people were calling him.
The Strange Case Of Charles Bravo
In 1876, a young London lawyer by the name of Charles Bravo was slowly passing away. He had been poisoned with potassium antimony, a slow-acting, agonizing poison that took three full days to kill him. And if that was the end of the story, this would be the shortest, most terrifying entry in comedy listicle history. As luck would have it, this is not the case: In fact, literally everything about the death of Charles Bravo was -- and remains -- weird as shit, to the point where England's brightest minds rushed to give their own Sherlock scan on the case. I'm talking about people like Sir William Gull (the Royal doctor whom you may remember as a major Jack The Ripper suspect, and the actual culprit according to Alan Moore's From Hell), Scotland Yard, and even Agatha freakin' Christie.
I'll just leave this here.
And they all failed. Here's why:
First of all, the victim was apparently totally cool with his impeding demise. Bravo remained completely calm and civil throughout what by all logic should have been a terrifying death struggle, far beyond your average British stiff upper lip. What's more, he clearly had some idea about who might have poisoned him, yet he completely refused to give any information on potential suspects, despite his rather ... pressing situation. Science would later find out that his cool head and "snitches get stitches" attitude were just symptoms caused by the poison, but at the time, it created massive confusion and led the investigators to believe that Bravo had merely committed the creepiest fucking suicide in history.
By the time the word "murder" entered the equation, investigators had little to go on, which, compared with the high-profile nature of the case, essentially led to a giant, real-life game of Clue. The line of suspects was straight out of a classic murder mystery: There was the victim's beautiful and wealthy wife, Florence, who shunned her husband's violent nature and sexual advances. There was a disgruntled housekeeper Bravo was about to fire. There was even Florence's mysterious former lover, surgeon James Gully, who had incidentally just performed an abortion on Florence (and who was Agatha Christie's favorite horse in the race). My personal favorite is a theory that Bravo might have been actually trying to murder his wife with small, cumulative doses of the poison, then accidentally ingested a ton of it himself because 19th-century barristers were just a bunch of Wile E. Coyotes in disguise.
Despite the huge amount of attention, no culprit was ever caught. The most damning evidence even modern investigators have been able to uncover is that either the maid or Florence (and quite possibly both) likely devoted some time to gleefully ignoring Bravo's moans before sending for help, and couldn't resist throwing tiny wrenches in the works of the investigation every now and then. Still, regardless of what various historians and amateur sleuths say, that's hardly damning evidence, considering that the man was clearly a giant, raging bag of dicks toward them both.
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
It was Colonel Mustard, in the study, with a candlestick. That, uh, was poisoned. Shut up, I suck at Clue.
The Subway Murder Of Laetitia Toureaux
On May 16, 1937, a woman called Laetitia Toureaux was found in an otherwise empty Paris Metro train car with an 8-inch knife buried in her neck. There were no witnesses, no suspects, and no clues as to why anyone would want to kill the beautiful 29-year-old in such a striking manner. In other words, it was the kind of mystery that would cause the police chief to throw his hands in the air and call Vidocq or, failing that, Inspector Clouseau.
Who would then start uncovering the really weird stuff.
Not only had Toureaux been everything you'd expect a stereotypical mysterious beautiful lady that gets mysteriously murdered to be, she was also something of a private detective. Yeah, she was basically both Marlowe and the femme fatale who comes knocking on his door rolled into one. Apparently, she'd been working for the government and actually infiltrating a violent, ultra-right-wing terrorist organization known as La Cagoule (or "The Hooded Ones"), throwing a hefty helping of Modesty Blaise and/or Mata Hari into the mix. She had even managed to seduce one of the group's leaders to get information, for crying out loud!
That's a James Bond smirk if I ever saw one.
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
As you can probably guess, this one's not so much about figuring out the culprit; although the murderer was never caught, it was totally one of those hooded guys, right? We know some of them had already become suspicious of her and even fed her false information that she promptly leaked to her government contacts. So, yeah, someone in the organization probably neutralized her as a threat.
What's interesting to me is: How the hell did she allow it to happen? According to her own words, she was well aware that her life was in danger -- a man had tried to stab her three days earlier. Her only reaction to that was to start carrying around an umbrella so she could defend herself with it, which leads me to assume that she either had a Black Widow belt in kick-assery, or the umbrella was one of those secret machine guns the Penguin sometimes uses. Yet she deliberately entered a situation that put her alone (or together with a killer) in an empty metro car ... and allowed herself to be taken by surprise. What the shit?
You know what? Vengeful ghosts. Just saying.
For more from Pauli, check out 4 Pop Culture Icons Entertainment Industry Will Ruin Next and 4 Conspiracy Theories That Will Make You Give Up On Humanity .
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