5 Weird Unsolved Mysteries Around Famous Deaths
How do you keep from going missing or dying mysteriously, aside from not being near anyone at any time, ever? Well, you might say "Become famous," because you'd think that if Chris Evans disappeared, we'd probably discover him roughly 6.4 seconds later. But you'd be wrong. As it turns out, celebrity is no sure defense against being the subject of an unsolved mystery. Just look at these cases ...
Did Bruce Lee Die Because He Was Embarrassed About His Armpits?
Bruce Lee's death had all sorts of weirdness connected with it, from the mysterious "curse" that leapt from him to his son Brandon, to footage of his body from his actual funeral appearing in his final movie. But the weirdest part may be the cause of death -- specifically, how we don't know what it was. We sort of know, as the hospital said he died of cerebral edema (brain swelling, basically), but that's a bit like saying a plane crashed because it didn't stay in the sky. The question is how a body comes to be in that state, particularly when the body in question belongs to a 32-year-old superhuman.
Lee died on July 20, 1973, and once the autopsy was finished, it was reported that the cerebral edema was a reaction to Equagesic, a painkiller. Fine, that sounds reasonable enough. Except he'd only taken that painkiller because he'd had a major headache, which would seem to be a sign of an oncoming cerebral edema. Also, he'd been rushed to the hospital with cerebral edema two months earlier without any Equagesic in play.
Was the brain explosion in fact the result of a combination of secret medications Lee was taking, as claimed by medical expert Chuck Norris? Did the cannabis Lee had imbibed play a role, as claimed by Hong Kong doctors in defiance of all medical fact? Was he murdered by the Triads, who'd wanted him dead ever since he was a teen and on a police list of troublemakers for his street fighting? And he died at his mistress's -- did she kill him with her homicidal vagina, and if so, did he die with an erection, as a tabloid reporter bribed a morgue worker to determine?
There's one cause of cerebral edema that wasn't considered at the time, and wasn't given much attention in the '70s at all: heatstroke. That would be consistent with Lee's symptoms, and the most notable thing about the two days he got an edema was how hot it was. According to a biography of Lee that came out last year, he was vulnerable to heatstroke for an unusual reason: He'd had his sweat glands surgically removed because he didn't like how his wet armpits looked on camera. OK, can we go back to thinking he was murdered by gangsters while hard and high?
The House Leader Under Nixon Vanished In A Plane, And We Still Haven't Found Him
The House majority leader is a major position in the U.S. Congress, one of the top dogs for whatever party controls that chamber. In 1972, the position was held by Hale Boggs, a representative from Louisiana. On October 16, Boggs embarked on a flight with three others. No one knows what happened to them.
Boggs was in Alaska to campaign for fellow Democrat Nick Begich. The two were flying from Anchorage to Juneau in a Cessna with Begich's aide Russell Brown and pilot Don Jonz, who judging by his name was a professional sex wizard and only flew planes as a hobby. The plane never arrived at its destination. Losing two congressmen (and, worst of all, Don Jonz) was a pretty big deal, so there was a truly tremendous search effort involving over 100 planes, plus hundreds of boats. It was no use.
These were the days before cellphones and a year before the military began working on GPS, but planes weren't exactly cut off from the world. Besides the radios they carried, all planes in Alaska had to carry an emergency locator transmitter, because Alaska is pretty big and not exactly known for thick population density. Jonz's transmitter, unfortunately, was found back in the town of Fairbanks. And yet witnesses saw him entering the plane carrying something that looked like the transmitter, but it was the wrong color. Had someone switched the transmitters to prepare a cover-up?
The whole situation was prime for conspiracy theories, especially because Boggs was perhaps most famous for being part of the Warren Commission, which investigated the JFK assassination, where he strongly doubted the official "lone gunman" explanation. A year earlier, he'd also claimed that the FBI was tapping his phones, but the response to this was pretty much "lol ok." The search was called off after 39 days, by which time Election Day had come and gone, with Boggs and Begich both winning reelection despite being missing. This was also the election in which President Richard Nixon won 49 out of 50 states. It was a weird year.
Mark Ruffalo's Brother Was Murdered, Possibly By An Arab Heiress
Mark Ruffalo lived with his younger brother Scott in Los Angeles back in the '80s, the two of them struggling to make a living. They split a $600-a-month place with two other guys, and Mark and Scott shared a bed while their roommates stretched out in the living room and kitchen. Needless to say, it wasn't a pristine part of town. A cop once shot a gunman in front of Mark at a bar, and a neighbor once got stabbed 12 times on the guys' porch.
Scott, though the younger Ruffalo, was the leader of the group. He'd lend Mark money and put food together by cooking up, as Mark would later call it, "a fucking giant bowl of tuna pasta," enough to feed all four of them for a week. In time, they moved on, with Mark finally getting into acting and Scott finding success as a Beverly Hills hairdresser. And it was all going pretty well, right up until December 2008, when Scott was found with a gunshot wound in his head and a gun his hand. He died a week later in the hospital.
So it was suicide, right? Sort of, said Beverly Hills Police initially -- suicide by Russian roulette. Scott had shot himself playing, according to the two other people in the house at the time, Shaha Mishaal Adham and her boyfriend Brian Scofield. But then the coroner finished examining the body and concluded that based on the angle of the bullet, which entered through the back of Scott's head, there was no way he'd shot himself, unless he'd suddenly grown a third arm from his spine. So the manner of death was amended to "homicide."
It shouldn't have been hard to charge someone with this murder, as there were only two people in the house when Scott died, and both had lied to the police. Scofield was an advertising man, while Adham was a 26-year-old daughter of an oil tycoon from Saudi Arabia, and they'd supposedly come to Scott's place to retrieve the keys to a car he'd borrowed. Police held both of them as persons of interest, but ended up releasing both and then just closing the case. No word on what happened to Scofield, but Adham ended up dying of a drug overdose four years later, so it doesn't look like police are gonna come galloping back to this case any time soon.
An NBA Player Suddenly Vanished In Uganda
If you sift through a catalog of every single unexplained disappearance over the last few decades, you'll run into a decent number of basketball players. Did you know a Harlem Globetrotter vanished while driving on the highway, possibly abandoning his car and then just walking into the woods, never to be seen again? Or do you remember that time Chicago Bulls center Bison Dele vanished in Tahiti, and we never did find out for sure if his brother killed him and his girlfriend on a boat?
But today we're going to talk about John Brisker, a forward for the Seattle SuperSonics in the '70s. Brisker was famous for being ejected from games repeatedly, which earned him the nickname "the heavyweight champion of the ABA" -- the ABA being a basketball league that ended up being absorbed into the NBA in 1976. Brisker was absorbed into the NBA with the rest of the league, and he kept living up to his reputation, once having to be dragged off the court by police. Another time he was arrested for fighting four cops. Teammates said he'd carry a gun when he walked to the arena. That doesn't sound super sportsmanlike.
Then in 1978, after telling friends that he planned to go to Africa, he traveled to Uganda. No one ever heard from him again. In his hometown, word was that he'd ended up somewhere pretty far from Uganda: Guyana, where the Reverend Jim Jones had set up a thriving community that ended with the deaths of most involved. Brisker's family denied these rumors. True, Brisker had a great aunt in Jonestown, one who was eventually shot to death there, and she'd tried to recruit him, but he didn't seem the sort to go in for that sort of thing.
Instead, his family said he really had gone to Uganda to be a celebrity basketball pal to warlord Idi Amin. The State Department and the FBI looked into it and tried to find exactly what Brisker had done there, but they weren't able to figure anything out. Part of the problem was that in 1979, Amin was overthrown. Not only did this leave his records a mess, but it also led to the strongest theory about what became of Brisker: Revolutionaries executed him. So the lesson here is that if you must cozy up to a mass-murdering dictator, don't. Just, like, don't.
Related: NBA Games Are Gonna Be Weird
Fans Have Spent Decades Possibly Seeing Manic Street Preachers' Guitarist
I'm not going to make any assumptions about how many of you know about the Welsh band Manic Street Preachers. I'll just point out that in 1998, they had a #1 UK single literally called "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next" -- which, given both the title of the song and the name of the band, surely had to be the preachiest song ever recorded. Except it was actually about the Spanish Civil War? Also, they've released a dozen albums across three decades, selling over 10 million records.
In 1995, well into the band's career but before their peak, their guitarist was Richey Edwards. Edwards and lead vocalist James Dean Bradfield were all set to tour the U.S. and promote their new album, and they were spending the night of February 1 in London's Embassy Hotel before flying out the next morning. But that night, after telling Bradfield he was going to turn in early, Edwards was visited in his room by a woman named Vivian. Who was Vivian? No one seems to know. Whatever happened in that room, it ended with Edwards checking out early the next morning and never being seen again.
His car was eventually found near a bridge known for suicides, raising one possibility. (He had previously been hospitalized with depression.) But if he'd killed himself, he'd chosen an odd time to do it, apparently going to some trouble to make sure no one found his body, and yet not going to that much trouble to hide what had happened. In the weeks between the "disappearance" and the discovery of his car, various people claimed to have encountered him behaving oddly. He was spotted hanging around his hometown, riding in cars hunched down to avoid being seen, as well as putting on a fake cockney accent.
Plenty of people speculate that Edwards is still alive somewhere, but just wanted to abandon the rock star life for his own secret reasons. In Cardiff, it's apparently common knowledge that he faked his disappearance and moved to a kibbutz in Israel, while other fans have claimed to have spotted him in Goa, the Canary Islands, and his hometown. But if he is indeed out there and plans to reappear anytime soon, there may be a fortune waiting for him. For ten years, until he was declared dead, the band dutifully placed a quarter of all royalties in his bank account.
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