“DISTURBING UNSOLVED MYSTERIES, AND UNSETTLING SOLVED ONES” #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: We all love a good mystery – especially if we discover the answer at the end. But even more intriguing are those mysteries that, after years, or decades, still remain unsolved. We’ll look at some of the most famous – and most infamous of those unsolved mysteries. (Disturbing Unsolved Mysteries) *** Unsolved mysteries are fascinating… we want to know who was D.B. Cooper, and what happened to him. Who committed the Black Dahlia murder? Who was Jack the Ripper? But sometimes those unsolved mysteries get solved… and sometimes, the solving of the mystery makes them that much more disturbing. (Previously Unsolved Mysteries That Are Still Disturbing)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“The Jazz Axeman of New Orleans” episode: https://weirddarkness.com/?s=axeman+of+new+orleans
“Why We Love Mysteries” by Christina Hoag for Medium: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/mvbm5auk
“Disturbing Unsolved Mysteries” by Maryn Liles for Parade: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2wvc2yf6
“Previously Unsolved Mysteries That Are Still Disturbing” by Will Morgan for Weird History:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yw5rc5mp
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
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Amateur sleuths, hardboiled cops, private eyes, spooks and spies. We love them all. Mysteries and thrillers make up the second most popular genre of books after romance. Why are we so drawn to these stories that plumb the dark recesses of human nature? When we pick up a mystery or thriller, we know what it’s going to be about. A major crime, generally a murder or series of them, is committed, and the crime-solving protagonist nabs the killer. But that’s the world of fictional mysteries. When it comes to the real world, we don’t always learn how a mystery ends – and often that makes the mystery that much more interesting. But in some of the cases where the mystery is solved, we are left with an outcome almost as disturbing as not knowing the answers at all.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
We all love a good mystery – especially if we discover the answer at the end. But even more intriguing are those mysteries that, after years, or decades, still remain unsolved. We’ll look at some of the most famous – and most infamous of those unsolved mysteries. (Disturbing Unsolved Mysteries)
Unsolved mysteries are fascinating… we want to know who was D.B. Cooper, and what happened to him. Who committed the Black Dahlia murder? Who was Jack the Ripper? But sometimes those unsolved mysteries get solved… and sometimes, the solving of the mystery makes them that much more disturbing. (Previously Unsolved Mysteries That Are Still Disturbing)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: DISTURBING UNSOLVED MYSTERIES=====
Everyone loves a good mystery. But what about those good mysteries that don’t have that satisfying ending like Scooby-Doo pulling off the mask of the culprit and are just downright spooky?
These cases like the JonBenét Ramsey mystery and the murders of Jack the Ripper have rocked our history books for the better part of a century. All of these cases are baffling, strange, creepy, and frustratingly, unsolved.
Beware: some of these unsolved mysteries contain graphic violent content.
1. The Body on Somerton Beach
In December 1948, a body was found on Somerton Beach in Adelaide, Australia. The body was a man who was dressed impeccably in a suit with polished shoes and his head was slumped against a wall. Authorities thought the case of death was heart failure or more likely, poisoning. However, during the autopsy, no trace of poison was found.
There wasn’t a wallet or any type of identification on the man and all the tags in his clothing were cut out. The fingerprints that the authorities took of him were also unidentifiable. They even put a photo of the body in the newspapers and still, no one could identify who the man was. Four months later after the body was found, detectives found a hidden pocket that was sewn on the inside of his trousers. Inside the pocket was a rolled-up piece of paper from a rare book called the Rubáiyát. The piece of paper had the words “Tamám Shud” on it which means “it has ended.” After months of looking for the exact book, authorities decide to bury the Somerton Man without identification. Although a cast was taken of the bust and he was embalmed to preserve him.
Eight months later, a man walked into the police station. He claimed that just after the body was found, he found a copy of the Rubáiyát in the back of his car that he kept parked near Somerton Beach. He thought nothing of it until he read about the search in a newspaper article. Sure enough, the book had a part of the final page that was torn and it matched the piece of paper that was found in the Somerton Man’s trousers. Inside the book were a phone number and some sort of strange code.
The phone number led the authorities to a woman named Jessica Thompson who lived nearby. During her interview, she was very evasive and even claimed she was going to faint when she saw the bust of the Somerton Man but denied knowing him. However, she said she did sell the book to a man named Alfred Boxall. Unfortunately, Alfred Boxall was still very much alive at the time and still had the copy of the Rubáiyát that Jessica had sold him. The code that was found ended up being even more unhelpful and as of today, it has still yet to be cracked.
To this day, the man on Somerton Beach has yet to be identified.
2. The Strange Disappearance of DB Cooper
On Wednesday, November 24, 1971, a man identified as Daniel Cooper bought a $20 one-way ticket on Northwest Airlines on Flight 305 from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. Cooper was described as being in his mid-40s, wearing a business suit, an overcoat, brown shoes, a white shirt, and a black tie. He also carried a briefcase and a brown paper bag.
Before the flight took off, he ordered a bourbon and soda from a flight attendant. After the plane was airborne, Cooper handed the flight attendant a note. At first, she just put it in her pocket without looking at it but then Cooper told her “Miss, you better look at that note. I have a bomb.” Cooper then told her the bomb was in his briefcase and asked her to sit next to him. He opened the briefcase to reveal red-colored sticks, surrounded by an array of wires. Cooper then told the flight attendant to write down everything he was saying and then take it to the Captain. The note said “I want $200,000 by 5 pm in cash exclusively in $20 bills, put in a knapsack. I want two back parachutes and two front parachutes. When we land, I want a fuel truck ready to refuel. No funny stuff or I’ll do the job.” FBI agents assembled the ransom money from several Seattle-area banks and Seattle police obtained the parachutes from a local skydiving school.
When Cooper claimed his demands were met, he allowed all passengers and some of the crew to exit the airplane. Cooper told the remaining crew to refuel the plane and chart a course for Mexico City while staying below 10,000 feet. During the flight, Cooper put on a pair of dark wraparound sunglasses which would make it into the official sketch and become famous with anyone investigating the case. A little after 8 pm and somewhere in between Seattle and Reno, Nevada, Cooper jumped out of the rear door of the plane with two of the parachutes and the money. He was never seen again.
Despite an expansive manhunt and over 45-years of searching, no conclusions have been made to the man’s identity or his fate after he jumped. It is called one of the greatest cold cases in FBI and US history.
3. The Black Dahlia Murder
On January 15, 1947, the remains of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short aka “The Black Dahlia” were found on the block of 3800 S Norton Avenue in Los Angeles, California. The body was cut in half and so pale and drained of blood that the woman who found the body mistook it for a mannequin at first. The body was cut with surgical precision, leaving no trauma to internal organs and bones. Her face was also cut from her mouth to ears, leaving an eerie permanent smile. There was no blood on the ground, making it believed that the body was moved after she had been murdered.
Nine days after she was discovered, an envelope was sent to the examiner addressed by using individual cut and pasted letters from magazines and newspapers. It read “The Los Angeles Examiner and other Los Angeles papers, here is Dahlia’s belongings, letter to follow.” As promised, the envelope contained Short’s Social Security card, birth certificate, photographs names written on pieces of paper, and an address book with pages missing and the name Mark Hansen embossed on the cover. Gasoline was used to clean the objects, removing the fingerprints.
On March 14, a suicide note scrawled in pencil on a bit of paper was found tucked in a shoe in a pile of men’s clothing by the ocean‘s edge at the foot of Breeze Avenue in Venice. The note read: “To whom it may concern: I have waited for the police to capture me for the Black Dahlia killing, but have not. I am too much of a coward to turn myself in, so this is the best way out for me. I couldn’t help myself for that, or this. Sorry, Mary.” The pile of clothing was first seen by the beach caretaker, who reported the discovery to the lifeguard captain, John Dillon. Dillon immediately notified the West Los Angeles Police Station. The clothes included a coat and trousers of blue herringbone tweed, a brown and white shirt, white jockey shorts, tan socks, and tan moccasin shoes, about size eight. However, the clothes gave no clue about the identity of their owner.
Although many suspects were named, no authorities were able to identify the Black Dahlia’s killer and the mystery has gone unsolved for over 70 years.
4. Wall Street Bombing of 1920
During the lunch rush on Wall Street on a September day in 1920, a non-descript man driving a cart pressed an old horse forward in front of the U.S. Assay Office, across from the J. P. Morgan building. He stopped his cart, got down, and immediately disappeared into the crowd.
Minutes later, the cart exploded into a hail of metal fragments—immediately killing more than 30 people and injuring 300. The aftermath was horrific, and the death toll kept rising as the day wore on and more victims succumbed to their injuries. In the beginning, it wasn’t obvious that the explosion was an intentional act of terrorism, it was viewed as simply an accident. Maintenance crews cleaned up the damage overnight plus throwing away any physical evidence would be crucial to identifying the perpetrator. By the next morning, Wall Street was back in business.
Conspiracy theories were abundant, but the New York Police and Fire Departments, the Bureau of Investigation (the FBI’s predecessor), and the U.S. Secret Service were on the job to find out the truth. Each lead was actively pursued and the Bureau interviewed hundreds of people who had been around that area before, during, and after the attack but collected very little information. The few recollections of the driver and wagon were vague and useless. The NYPD was able to reconstruct the bomb and its fuse mechanism, but there was much debate about the nature of the explosive.
However, the most promising lead had actually come prior to the explosion. A mailman had found four crudely spelled and printed flyers in the Wall Street area from a group calling itself the “American Anarchist Fighters” that demanded the release of political prisoners. The letters seemed similar to ones used the previous year in two bombing campaigns which were led by Italian Anarchists. The Bureau investigated up and down the East Coast, to trace the printing of these flyers, but they were unsuccessful.
Based on bomb attacks over the previous decade, the Bureau initially suspected followers of the Italian Anarchist Luigi Galleani had committed the crime. But the case couldn’t be proved, and Galleani had already fled the country. Over the next three years, hot leads turned cold and promising trails turned into dead ends. In the end, the bombers were not identified.
5. The Disturbing Death of Elisa Lam
On January 26, 2013, 21-year-old Canadian tourist Elisa Lam checked into the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. When she never checked out on February 1 nor had any contact with her parents, the Los Angeles Police Department was contacted. On February 19, eighteen days from the last time she was seen, Elisa Lam’s body was found floating and naked in a water tank on the roof of the Cecil Hotel. Her body was found due to hotel guests complaining about the hotel’s water pressure. One couple even reported that the water was coming out black and had a bad taste.
According to the hotel’s manager, when Elisa Lam had originally checked in, she was staying at a hostel-style room with other travelers. But later was moved to her own private room due to complaints from her roommates about odd behavior. The last time she was seen was on surveillance footage on the hotel’s elevator. The footage showed Lam acting strange and peculiar, almost like she was hiding. She also moved her hands in weird and inhumane ways and it looked like she was talking to someone who was out of the security camera’s view.
After her body and the surveillance footage were found, it was suggested she was on some sort of hallucinogenic drug. Even though Lam took four different medications for her bipolar disorder, toxicology studies reported that there were no traces of any drugs or alcohol that could have contributed to her death. There was also a theory that she was murdered and died as a result of drowning but the autopsy report showed no evidence of trauma. To this day, no one knows how she was able to access the roof or climb into the water tank and shut the 20-pound lid by herself.
6. Jack the Ripper
In 1888 in foggy dark streets of the East End of London better known as the Whitechapel District, lived a serial killer that would go down in history as Jack the Ripper. Even though the Whitechapel District was known for its violence and crime, the string of murders conducted by Jack the Ripper would terrorize the public like no one had seen before. He was described as a madman with no clear motive. Even though his most famous murders only included five women (known as “The Canonical Five”) many theories suggest that he claimed the lives of up to 11 women.
All of the victims of the Canonical Five were prostitutes, as it was common for women who lived in the Whitechapel District to take on as a means to survive. All five killings took place within a mile of each other from August 7 to September 10, 1888. Several other murders occurring around that time period have also been investigated as the work of “Leather Apron” (another nickname given to the murderer).
A number of letters were allegedly sent by the killer to the London Metropolitan Police Service (often known as Scotland Yard), taunting officers about his gruesome activities and speculating on murders to come. The name “Jack the Ripper” originates from a letter (which is famously known now as the “From Hell” letter) that was published at the time of the attacks.
Despite countless investigations claiming definitive evidence of the brutal killer’s identity, their true name, and motive are still unknown.
7. The Zodiac Killer
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a serial killer known as “The Zodiac Killer” terrorized Northern California. There were at least 5 victims but later on, the murderer would claim he killed at least 37 people in total.
On December 20, 1968, on Lake Herman Road in Vallejo, 17-year-old David Faraday and 16-year-old Betty Lou Jensen were shot and killed while sitting in a parked car in a gravel parking area. By the time police arrived, Betty was found dead but David was still alive. Unfortunately, he would die on the way to the hospital. This was the first murder that the Zodiac Killer conducted and got away with.
The Zodiac’s next crime would happen on July 4, 1969, in Blue Rock Springs Park, only a few minutes away from the previous crime. The Zodiac Killer approached a parked car with a flashlight and then murdered 22-year-old Darlene Ferrin and 19-year-old Michael Mageau. Both were still alive when found but only Mageau would survive. He was able to describe the shooter as a young, white male, 26-30 years old, a stocky build, 200 pounds or larger, about 5’8 with light brown curly hair and a large face. Within an hour, the police received a phone call from someone who claimed to be the shooter and the shooter in the Lake Herman Road murders.
On August 1, 1969, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, and the Vallejo Herald all received a handwritten letter by someone who claimed to be the shooter. The letters revealed specific details about the killings to prove that the writer was indeed the murderer. All the letters were signed with a circle with a cross through it, the symbol that would eventually be known as the mark of the Zodiac Killer. Also included in the letter were 3 different codes that the Zodiac Killer demanded be printed in newspapers or else he would kill again. The Zodiac Killer said that the cracked codes would reveal his identity.
On August 4, 1969, another letter was received that started with the phrase saying “this is the Zodiac speaking”, marking the first time the killer referred to himself as the Zodiac. On August 8, the code was cracked by a couple in Salinas, California. The codes read: “I like killing because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous animal of all to kill. Something gives me the most thrilling experience, it is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl. The best part of it is that when I die, I will be reborn in paradise and those I have killed will become my slaves. I will not give you my name because you will slow down or stop my collecting of slaves for the afterlife.”
After claiming 3 more lives and causing nationwide terror, the Zodiac Killer wrote his final letter on January 29, 1974, concluding the letter with a new score “Me=37 SFPD=0.”
In 2021, Investigators with the task force known as the Case Breakers told Fox News that the group has identified the killer as Gary Francis Poste, who died in 2018. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to verify and officially the true identity of the killer has never been found.
8. The Case of JonBenét Ramsey
On December 26, 1996, in Boulder, Colorado, Patsy Ramsey claimed to have discovered a ransom note for her 6-year-old daughter JonBenét Ramsey on the back staircase inside the Ramsey home. This prompted her to call the police at 5:52 am to report JonBenét as missing. The only people inside the house were John Ramsey, her father, Patsy, her mother, and her brother Burke.
Oddly enough, JonBenét’s body was found inside the home in the utility room in the basement less than 8 hours later. The body was found by John and duct tape was found across her mouth and a smooth cord around her neck. When police arrived, it was suspected that the crime scene was heavily compromised due to multiple people arriving at the scene. The police had also claimed that they had not searched the house after Patsy’s initial call because there was no reason to believe that JonBenét was in the house.
At the time of her death, JonBenét was known as a child beauty queen superstar, having won at least 5 high-end child beauty competitions. Her death was ultimately ruled a homicide. The autopsy stated that JonBenét’s official cause of death was “asphyxia by strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma.” Due to JonBenét’s beauty queen popularity and her mother being a former beauty queen, the case caused nationwide and media interest. Today, the crime is still unsolved and remains an open investigation with the Boulder Police Department.
9. Chicago Tylenol Murders
On September 29, 1982, 7 people in the Chicago area ingested poisoned Tylenol pills, consequently collapsing and dying shortly after. The 7 victims included: 12-year-old Mary Kellerman, 27-year-old Mary Reiner, 31-year-old Mary McFarland, 35-year-old Paula Prince, 27-year-old Adam Janus, 25-year-old Stanley Janus, and 19-year-old Theresa Janus. Adam Janus ingested a Tylenol and died at the hospital. When the family came back to mourn, Stanley Janus and his wife Theresa took a Tylenol and died, making it three deaths in the same family on the same day. However, this tragedy is what led investigators to connect the dots.
Cook County investigator, Nick Pishos, compared the Janus’s Tylenol bottle to Mary Kellerman’s and noticed they had one similarity, a control number: MC2880. Deputy medical examiner, Edmund Donoghue asked Pishos to smell the bottles and Pishos replied that they both smelled like almonds. The poison cyanide is known to smell like bitter almonds which, in large amounts, can cause seizures, cardiac arrest, and respiratory failure. The blood tests on all of the victims showed that they had taken a dose 100-1000 times the lethal amount.
Donoghue spoke to an attorney from Johnson & Johnson, Tylenol’s parent company, and after all the victims were buried on October 1, 1982, that the Tylenol bottles were intentionally poisoned with potassium cyanide. Immediately, over 31 million bottles of Tylenol were recalled by the manufacturer and were issued warnings. They also offered to replace recalled bottles with new bottles and offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who may have any information on the perpetrator. These precautions cost the company over $100,000,000.
There were several more copycat deaths across the United States after the initial incident had occurred. This led to the invention of safety seals that you see on medicine bottles today. To this day, no suspect has ever been charged or convicted of the poisonings.
10. The Unsolved Hinterkaifeck Murders
On the evening of March 31, 1922, on Hinterkaifeck Farm in Bavaria, Germany, six residents were murdered with a pickaxe. The victims included husband and wife, Andreas and Cäzilia Gruber, their widowed daughter Viktoria Gabriel, Viktoria’s children, Cäzilia and Josef, and the family’s maid Maria Baumgartner. 2-year-old Josef was killed in his crib and Maria was killed in her bed while the rest of the family was then murdered in the barn and stacked on top of each other.
Upon the discovery, authorities concluded that the murderer actually lived on the farm for 6 days after they committed the crime. Even after the family had died, cattle were still being fed, meals were being eaten in the kitchen, neighbors reported seeing smoke rising from the chimney, and the family dog was tied up to a post when the mailman came on Saturday. The bodies were discovered the next day.
What makes this crime even more chilling was that Maria was actually hired the same day she was killed, replacing the previous maid who had quit 6 months earlier due to the house “being haunted.” She reported to the family of hearing footsteps in the attic and voices. Around the time the previous maid had quit, the Gruber family had also begun to hear voices from the attic. Andreas had also noticed a set of house keys had gone missing, an unfamiliar newspaper in the house that he had never seen before, plus scratches on the family’s tool shed like someone had tried to pick the lock. He had also reported seeing a pair of unfamiliar footsteps leading from the woods towards the back entrance of the family’s home.
Despite repeated arrests, no murderer has ever been found and the files were closed in 1955 and the house was demolished.
We’ll look at more of the most disturbing, unsolved mysteries when Weird Darkness returns.
11. The Ghost Ship of the Mary Celeste
On December 4, 1872, a British-American ship called “the Mary Celeste” was found abandoned and floating in the Atlantic ocean. It was found to be perfectly seaworthy and with its cargo fully intact, except for a lifeboat, which it appeared had been boarded in an orderly fashion. But why? We may never know because no one on board was ever heard from again.
The Mary Celeste set sail from New York bound for Genoa, Italy in November 1872. The ship was manned by Captain Benjamin Briggs and seven crew members, including Briggs’ wife and their 2-year-old daughter. Supplies on board were set to last for six months, and there were luxurious items on board including a sewing machine and an upright piano. Historians and commentators generally agree that to abandon such a worthy ship, some extraordinary and alarming circumstance must have arisen. However, the last entry on the ship’s daily log reveals nothing unusual, and inside the ship, all appeared to be in order.
Conspiracy theories over the years have included mutiny, pirate attack, and even a giant octopus or sea monster attack. However, the cause behind this ghost ship remains unsolved.
12. The Mysterious Death of Tupac Shakur
On September 7, 1996, at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, well-known rapper Tupac Shakur was seen attending a Mike Tyson boxing match. After the match, Tupac left with the CEO of Death Row Records, Suge Knight. Upon the departure of the match, Tupac and his bodyguards got into a fight with Compton-based Southside Crips gang member Orlando Anderson in the lobby of the MGM. After the fight was broken up, Tupac and Knight left in Knight’s car with Tupac’s entourage following in cars behind them.
While stopped at the intersection of Flamingo and Koval, a white Cadillac pulled up to the passenger side of Knight’s car and shot out of the window, hitting Tupac four times and grazing Knight in the head with a bullet fragment. In 2014, retired LVPD sergeant Chris Carroll revealed that he was the first police officer at the scene. According to Carroll, when he opened the car door, Tupac fell out of the car, covered in blood and Carroll asked “who shot you?” Tupac took a deep breath and only proclaimed explicative words at the police officer before slipping into unconsciousness.
Tupac was then taken to UMC and placed on life support and into a medically induced coma. On September 13, 1996, 6 days after the shooting, Tupac died as a result of his injuries at the age of 25. Las Vegas Police never arrested anyone in connection with the murder. They also failed to follow up with Yaki Kadafi, a member of Tupac’s entourage who claimed he could identify the assailant. Unfortunately, Kadafi was murdered only 2 months after the infamous shooting before he could be interviewed. To this day, no one has been claimed a suspect and no arrests have been made.
13. The Watcher House
In June 2014, Maria and Derek Broaddus and their 3 young children were getting ready to move into their new home, 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey. They claimed the 6-bedroom house was their “dream home” and located just a couple of blocks away from Maria’s childhood home in one of the top 30th safest cities in the United States.
Three days after closing the sale, before the Broaddus family had even begun to move in, a letter arrived in their new mailbox. The letter was addressed to “The New Owner” in big clunky handwriting. The typed letter read as follows: “Dearest new neighbor at 657 Boulevard, allow me to welcome you to the neighborhood. How did you end up here? Did 657 Boulevard call to you with its force within? 657 Boulevard has been the subject of my family for decades now and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming. My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. Who am I? There are hundreds and hundreds of cars that drive by 657 Boulevard each day. Maybe I am in one. Look at all the windows you can see from 657 Boulevard. Maybe I am in one. Look out any of the many windows in 657 Boulevard at all the people who stroll by each day. Maybe I am one.”
The letter also mentioned specifics about the Broaddus family. “You have children. I have seen them,” the letter continued, “So far I think there are three that I have counted. Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested? Better for me. Was your old house too small for the growing family? Or was it greed to bring me your children? Once I know their names, I will call them and draw them to me.” At the bottom of the letter, the author used a cursive font to sign “The Watcher.”
After receiving the letter, the Broaddus family reached out to the previous family who had sold them the house, John and Andrea Woods. They stated that during the 23 years of living at 657 Boulevard, they had never received a letter like that except once a few days before they were getting ready to move out of the house. The Woods family also stated they had never felt watched in the two decades they had lived at the house and, in fact, rarely felt the need to lock their door at night. While they thought the note they received was odd, they threw the note away without much concern. Still, the two families went to the police with the letter, and an investigation was opened.
The police warned the families not to tell anyone about the letters, including their neighbors who were now all suspects. Two weeks later, even though the Broaddus family still hadn’t moved in, they received a second letter with even more chilling specifics about the family including the children’s birth order and nicknames. The Watcher also asked “will the children sleep in the attic? Or will you all sleep on the second floor? Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I will know as soon as you move in. It will help me to know who is in which bedroom. Then, I can plan better.” Several weeks later, the Broaddus family had put their plans on hold to move in, a third letter arrived saying “Where have you gone to? 657 Boulevard is missing you.”
By the end of 2014, the case had stalled. There was no digital trail and the mental effects were taking a toll on the Broaddus family. There were no fingerprints and no way to place somebody at the scene of the crime. Only 6 months after they received the letters, they decided to sell the home. 657 Boulevard has been sold and is currently off the market while The Watcher’s identity still remains a mystery.
14. The Mystery of the Circleville Letters
In 1976, residents of Circleville, Ohio, began receiving threatening mail that has haunted ever since. The letters were from Columbus but had no return address. They accused school bus driver, Mary Gillespie and the school superintendent of having an extramarital affair. One of the letters was even addressed to Mary’s husband Ron that threatened his life if he didn’t put a stop to the affair. In 1977, Ron died in a suspicious one-car crash that involved gunshots. However, when the Sheriff ruled the death an accident, other residents of Circleville began receiving letters accusing the Sheriff of covering up the so-called “accident.”
Ron’s sister’s husband, Paul Freshour, was convicted of writing the letters after there was an attempt to murder Mary via a booby-trap-rigged pistol. Even after he was thrown behind bars, the Circleville Letters continued throughout the 1970s and the early 1980s. Freshour even received one in prison.
In 1994, Freshour was released, and he claimed his innocence until his death in 2012. The true identity of the Circleville Letter Writer remains unknown.
15. The Sodder Children Disappearance
On the night before Christmas in 1945 in Fayetteville, West Virginia, George and Jennie Sodder were asleep with 9 of their children when a fire started in the house around 1:00 in the morning. George, Jennie, and four of their children managed to escape. The remaining children: 14-year-old Maurice, 12-year-old Martha, 9-year-old Louis, 8-year-old Jennie, and 5-year-old Betty still remained in the house. Between the five of them, they shared two bedrooms located upstairs.
George broke back into the house to save the rest of the children but the staircase was on fire. When he went outside to retrieve his ladder, it was missing from its normal spot. Plus, both of his coal trucks, which he was going to use to stand on top of, were strangely not starting. Marion, one of the children who escaped the fire, ran to a neighbor’s house to phone the fire department but the operator didn’t pick up. When another neighbor called, the operator failed to pick up the phone again. That same neighbor actually drove to town and found the fire chief in person, FJ Morris, and told him about the fire. However, even though the fire station was located a mere 2.5 miles away from the house, the firefighters didn’t reach the Sodder home until 8 am, seven hours after the fire began. When they got there, the house was literally burnt to ash.
Authorities sifted through the ash to try and find the remains of the missing 5 children but nothing was found and they were presumed dead due to the fire. Morris suggested that the fire was so hot that it literally cremated the children’s bodies, including their bones. While that theory sounds reasonable, it’s not entirely accurate because even when flesh is burned away, bones are typically left behind. Additionally, there was no smell of burning flesh reported during or after the fire.
The cause of the fire was deemed to be bad wiring and the 5 missing children were issued death certificates. Soon after the fire, George and Jennie began to suspect that their children were not dead but instead kidnapped and the fire was deliberately set as a diversion. In fact, George had the wiring checked earlier that fall by the power company which had deemed the wiring in safe working order. While the fire was in progress, a woman came forward and said she saw all of the five missing children peering from a passing car. Another woman who was staying at a Charleston hotel had seen the children’s photos in a newspaper and said she had seen four of the five a week after the fire. “The children were accompanied by two women and two men, all of the Italian extraction,” she said in a statement. “I tried to talk to the children in a friendly manner, but the men appeared hostile… and wouldn’t allow it.”
From the 1950s until Jennie Sodder’s death in the late 1980s, the Sodder family maintained a billboard on State Route 16, with pictures of the five vanished children and offering a reward for information. The last known surviving Sodder child, Sylvia, still doesn’t believe her siblings perished in the fire. To this day, they have never been found.
16. The Axeman of New Orleans
Starting in 1918 and over a period of 18 months, the city of New Orleans was haunted by a serial killer known as “The Axeman.” The Axeman was the personification of the bogeyman, only attacking at night and was rumored to be responsible for 12 attacks and 6 deaths. To make this mystery even more chilling, he seemed to only creep on his victims while they slept. Oddly enough, The Axeman never used his own tools and only used what he could find in the victim’s house, usually an ax, which he then would leave at the scene of the crime.
The majority of the Axeman’s victims were Italian immigrants or Italian-Americans, leading many citizens of New Orleans to believe that the crimes were ethnically motivated. Many media outlets drew frenzy from this aspect of the crimes, even suggesting Mafia involvement despite the pure lack of evidence.
Other crime analysts have suggested that the Axeman killings were related to sex and that the murderer was perhaps a sadist specifically seeking female victims. Other theories include that the Axeman killed male victims only when they blocked his attempts to murder women, supported by cases in which the woman of a household was murdered but not the man. A less likely theory is that the serial killer committed the murders in an attempt to promote jazz music, suggested by a letter that the murderer himself was rumored to write which stated that he would spare the lives of those who played jazz in their homes. The Axeman was never identified, and the murders remain unsolved. If you’d like to hear more about the “jazz” aspect of this story, I’ll place a link to a previous episode about the story in the show notes.
17. The Death of the Boy in the Box
On February 25, 1957, a body of an unidentified boy was found in a box in an illegal dumping ground near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The boy was estimated to be around 4 to 6 years old, weighed about 30 pounds, and stood around 3’3”. He was found naked but wrapped in a blanket. His hair was recently cut and his body was recently washed clean. There were small scars on his chin, groin, and left ankle, some of which proved he went through a small medical procedure. He was found with blunt force trauma to the head that was determined to be the cause of death and there were no witnesses.
The body was found by a young man who was walking through the abandoned lot. Strangely, the man waited a whole day before contacting the police and even a second man had previously found the boy’s body but had not contacted the police because he didn’t want to get involved. With the cold weather and delayed phone call, police weren’t able to accurately estimate the time of the boy’s death.
In order to identify the boy, the body was kept in the morgue while visitors from 10 different states tried to look for identifiable marks to no avail. Police sent out 400,000 flyers of the boy to police stations, post offices, and courthouses all over the country. Even the American Medical Association sent out a description of the boy but it led nowhere. The police compared the boy’s footprints to hospitals in the area and even took fingerprints but no records showed that the boy ever existed.
In 2016, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children released a forensic facial reconstruction of the victim and added him into their database. Unfortunately, the boy has never been identified and the case still remains open.
18. The Mysterious Drowning of Natalie Wood
On November 29, 1981, around 7:30 am, actress Natalie Wood’s body was found floating face down in the Pacific Ocean about 200 yards away from Catalina Island’s Blue Cavern Point. She was wearing only a flannel nightgown, blue wool socks, and a red down jacket. Natalie Wood was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars up until the time of her death with roles that included Miracle on 34th Street and West Side Story. Eerily, Natalie Wood’s mother had given the fear of dark water to her daughter because a fortune teller had prophesied that she would die of drowning. As a child, it was reported that her fear of water was so great she was even afraid to wash her hair and recurring nightmares about drowning.
Wood had been working on the film Brainstorm at the time along with actor Christopher Walken and was invited to join her and her husband, Robert Wagner on their yacht named the Splendor. According to the Captain and family friend, Dennis Davern, Wood had become infatuated with Walken during filming and Wagner had flown to the movie set to “make sure he wasn’t making a fool of himself over this.” The group left on the boat around 12 in the afternoon on November 27.
Everyone on the boat, including the Captain had been drinking for much of the weekend. On that Friday night, Wood and Wagner had argued to the point where Davern became concerned and asked Walken to get involved. Walken refused to intervene and is quoted saying “never get involved in an argument between a man and his wife.” Davern ended up taking Wood to shore that night using the ship’s dinghy, the Prince Valiant and they slept at a hotel in Avalon. The next morning, they returned to the yacht and Wood agreed to spend the rest of the weekend onboard.
That afternoon, Wood and Walken went to shore to begin drinking at Doug’s Harbor Reef and Saloon. They had much to drink and their waitress reported Wood not eating much of her dinner and stumbling out of the restaurant when they were done. Walken and Wood boarded the dingy and went back to the yacht around 10 pm. A witness from the Harbor Patrol said they heard Wood scream about something but they brushed it off because she was intoxicated.
Witnesses from a nearby boat claimed they heard shouts around midnight. However, there was a party going on nearby so they thought it was from the party and didn’t intervene. One of the witnesses, John Payne, said he heard a woman scream “Help me! Someone help me!” coming from the stern of the Splendor and potentially from a dingy. He then thought he heard a man’s voice say “Okay Honey, we’ll get you” but the tone was so mocking which is why he thought the cries were associated with the party.
According to Wagner, there was a non-violent argument that broke out between him and Walken over politics. Wood wasn’t involved and quickly became bored and assumedly went to bed. However, Wagner didn’t realize she was missing until he went to go kiss her goodnight around 1:30. The Coast Guard was alerted and Wood was found floating 6 hours later about a mile away from the yacht with the dingy not too far from her. Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi ruled the cause of her death to be accidental drowning and hypothermia. According to Noguchi, Wood had been drinking and she may have slipped while trying to re-board the dinghy. Wood’s sister Lana expressed doubts, alleging that Wood could not swim and had been terrified of water all her life and that she would never have left the yacht on her own by dinghy. To this day, her death remains a mystery.
19. The Keddie Cabin Murders
On April 12, 1981, in Keddie, California, the Sharp family, and some friends went to sleep inside Cabin 28 at the Keddie Resort Lodge. Sheila Sharp would wake up to find her mother, Sue, her brother, Johnny, and their family friend Dana Wingate brutally murdered inside the cabin while her 12-year-old sister, Tina, was missing from the scene. Sheila only escaped the murders by sleeping at a friend’s cabin next door. Surprisingly, they found Sheila’s two younger brothers, Greg and Rick, and their friend Justin Smartt, asleep in another bedroom inside Cabin 28 and safe. Tina’s remains would be found by an anonymous tip, on the third anniversary of the murders. Her skull was found 50 miles away from Keddie in a different county.
There were only 2 suspects that the police examined: Marty Smartt and his roommate, Bo Boubede. Marty Smartt was married to Marilyn Smartt and they were parents to Justin Smartt. Marty was apparently an abusive husband. Since Sheila Sharp had just escaped an abusive relationship herself, there were reports that she was giving Marilyn some counseling. When Marty found out that Sheila was interfering in his marriage he reportedly “went ballistic.” Soon after the murders, Marty left Keddie for Reno, Nevada. Law enforcement felt that the murders took more than one person to conduct which is why they took Bo Boubede into questioning as an accomplice. Bo Boubede was also an ex-con.
Despite there being so much more to the case, the investigation oddly stopped there. There was evidence that seemingly went unnoticed and people of interest that were not examined properly. The murderer of the Keddie crime has not been identified and the case remains unsolved.
20. The Gardner Museum Heist
On March 18, 1990, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston fell victim to one of the greatest art thefts in history. Only 13 pieces of art were stolen but the combined value of all those paintings was worth over $500 million.
On the night of the heist, two inexperienced guards were on duty. One of them was named Richard E. Abath who was a music school dropout and part of a rock band. By his own admission, he confessed that he would come to work drunk or stoned after a performance. Though, he insists he was sober the night of the robbery.
At 12:54 am, a fire alarm went off on the third floor of the museum. When Abath went to go investigate, there was no fire. Whether this was part of the thieves’ scheme is unknown. At 1:24 am, two men dressed as Boston Police buzzed the security desk where Abath was stationed. The men said that they were responding to a disturbance call and demanded entry. Saint Patrick’s Day parties were happening around the city, so the disturbance call made sense to Abath.
The guard buzzed the men into the employee entrance which violated museum protocol. Then, when the men reached Abath behind the desk one of them said: “you look familiar. I think we have a default warrant out for you. Come out here and show us some identification.” Abath was tricked to leave his control desk that had the only button that would trigger a silent alarm. He was then instructed to face the wall and was handcuffed. The second guard then appeared and he was also “arrested.” When the second guard asked why he was being arrested, one of the men replied: “you’re not being arrested. This is a robbery. Don’t give us any problems and you won’t get hurt.”
81 minutes later, the thieves made out with 13 timeless works of art. They cut Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee and A Lady and Gentleman in Black from their frames; removed Vermeer’s The Concert and Flinck’s Landscape with an Obelisk from their frames; pulled an ancient Chinese bronze Gu, or beaker, from a table; and took a small self-portrait etching by Rembrandt from the side of a chest. In the museum today, empty frames now stand where the paintings were hung as a remembrance. The thieves have yet to be caught and the location of the art pieces is still unknown. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has set a $10 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the stolen works.
21. The Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa
James Riddle Hoffa was the former Teamsters president from 1958 to 1971. The Teamsters were known primarily as a labor union for drivers. At just age 18, Hoffa succeeded in getting dock workers better pay by organizing a strike. He began organizing for the Teamsters a year later and gradually rose through the ranks. Hoffa’s influence as the Teamsters president was significant. At the time, 90% of US transportation was controlled by Teamsters who were controlled by Hoffa. In 1941, Hoffa and his Teamsters were in a turf battle with their rivals in Detroit. It was during this time that Hoffa got involved with the Mob. Hoffa hired the Mob to get rid of the rivals in the city. Although it worked, Hoffa was essentially owned by the Mafia.
The Mob and Hoffa had a symbiotic relationship in which the Mob was able to take loans out of the Teamsters’ pension fund. These funds funneled into many Las Vegas casinos and, in return, Hoffa and the pension fund got a favorable return on these loans. Despite his connections to the Mob, Hoffa was still loved by the Teamsters as he was known for increasing benefits and wages for workers. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Hoffa was able to have good relations with the Mob until he started a 13-year prison sentence in 1967 for crimes including bribery, jury tampering, and mail fraud. He was then pardoned by President Nixon in 1971 as long as he abstained from any union involvement until 1980. This would lead to Hoffa’s downfall.
In July 1976, it was discovered that the Teamsters largest pension fund had been robbed of hundreds of millions of dollars and only two weeks later, Hoffa vanished. On July 30, 1975, Hoffa was seen at a Detroit area restaurant, Machus Red Fox. According to notes written by Hoffa to his family, he was asked to meet two acquaintances at 2 pm. The acquaintances were suspects, Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone and Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano, both members of the Mob. However, they never showed up to the meeting and when they were both questioned by the FBI, they insisted that no meeting was ever organized. Despite extensive surveillance and bugging by the FBI, investigators found that the Mafia members who they thought were involved were generally unwilling to talk about Hoffa’s disappearance, even in private.
Despite the lack of evidence, there is wide agreement among crime historians and investigators close to the case that Hoffa was murdered by his enemies in the Mafia. However, key details of his disappearance remain either unknown or unprovable, and this has ensured that no individuals have ever been charged in relation to the case. Hoffa’s body was never found.
22. The Eight Day Bride
On May 20, 1947, the body of 22-year-old Christina Kettlewell was found 150 feet away from her honeymoon cottage, in just 9 inches of water on the banks of a river in Severn Falls, Ontario. Just 8 days prior on May 12, Christina had eloped with 26-year-old war veteran, John Ray “Jack” Ketterwell after knowing each other for 3 years. Christina’s family had a concern about the marriage, Jack had a friend named Ronald Barrie who was a 28-year-old immigrant from Italy who was a professional ballroom dancer. It was reported that Jack, Christina, and Ronald spent an “inordinate amount of time” together. Christina’s family even thought that Ronald was in love with Christina.
Following the elopement, the newlywed Ketterwells spent the next few days at a rented apartment in Toronto. Bizarrely, Ronald joined them for the entirety of their honeymoon and on May 17, the trio headed to Ronald’s remote cottage in Severn Falls that was only accessible by boat. During that time, it was reported that Christina began to act out of character. She would go into crying fits and at other times, seemed dazed. Evidence suggests that Christina had conversations with Ronald about whether or not Jack truly loved her. On May 20, Christina disappeared and Ronald’s cabin mysteriously caught on fire.
Ronald returned to the cabin to find a disorientated Jack sitting in the cabin with an apparent head injury and pulled him out of the flames. It was then reported he looked for Christina, but couldn’t find her anywhere in the cottage. Ronald then said that the cottage burned down in just an hour. He then took Jack into the boat back to the mainland of Severn Falls, took his friend to the hospital, and then contacted the police.
It was then that the situation became worse. Later, Christina’s body was found by an owner of a boathouse in the area. Her body was free from burns or any signs of violence. An autopsy found traces of codeine in her stomach but her ultimate cause of death was declared a drowning. Interestingly enough, Major Lawrence Scardifield who acted as a first responder to the fire reported that he saw no signs of Christina’s body in the area when he went to go get water to help extinguish the flames from the house just hours earlier.
Jack, Ronald, and 20 other people were questioned by police and despite possible theories, including that Christina committed suicide, this case remains unsolved.
Up next – more disturbing unsolved mysteries.
23. The Creepy Murder In Room 1046
On January 22, 1935, a man calling himself Roland T. Owen checked into the Hotel President in Kansas City, Missouri. He showed up with no luggage, he was described as being 20 to 35 years old, had brown hair, a scar on his scalp visible above the ear, and a case of cauliflower ear. He was nicely dressed in a black coat and received the room key for room 1046. When the maid, Mary Soptic, said Owen allowed her to clean while he was in the room but asked not to lock the door behind her because his friend was about to visit the room very soon. Soptic said he kept the blinds tightly drawn and the lights off with the exception of one dim lamp. Other staff members who entered the room, mentioned that same detail. Soptic also mentioned that Owen “was either worried about something or afraid” and “he always wanted to kinda keep in the dark.”
At 4 pm, Soptic returned with fresh towels to find Owen laying on the bed, completely dressed, in the dark, with the door unlocked. She also saw a note that read “Don, I will be back in fifteen minutes. Wait.” The next day on January 3, Soptic came back to clean the room that morning. She noticed that the door had been locked from the outside and assumed Owen had locked it while he was leaving the room. However, Owen was sitting inside, again with the lights off, which meant that someone else had locked the door from outside the room. When Soptic was cleaning, Owen answered a telephone call and said “No Don, I don’t want to eat. I am not hungry. I just had breakfast” repeating “No. I am not hungry.” Soptic again arrived later that evening to bring fresh towels and heard two male voices coming from inside the room. When she knocked on the door, she heard a rough voice say “who is it?”. When she explained that she had fresh towels, the voice replied “we don’t need any.”
During the night, a woman staying in room 1048 would report hearing loud voices both male and female cursing on the same floor. Though, there was a party going on that night in room 1055. The next morning, January 4, around 7 am, the hotel switchboard operator noticed that Owen’s phone was off the hook for quite some time without being in use, so she sent the bellboy, Randolph Propst, to go see what was up. Despite the door having a “Do Not Disturb” sign, Propst knocked several times and heard a voice that said “come in. Turn on the lights.” However, the door was locked and no one was getting up to let the bellboy in. So, after knocking repeatedly, Propst simply said “put the phone back on the hook”, assuming that Owen was drunk. About an hour and a half later, at around 8:30 am, the phone was still off the hook and another bellboy, Harold Pike, let himself into the room with a passkey. Using only the light from the hall, Pike discovered Owen lying on the bed naked and assumedly drunk. He also noticed that the bedding was darkened around Owen. The phone stand was kicked down to the ground so he fixed it and put the phone back into the receiver.
From 10:30 to 10:45 am, the phone was once again off the receiver. They sent Propst to resolve the situation and when he opened the door, he saw a truly horrific scene. Propst told the police “When I entered the room, this man was within two feet of the door on his knees and elbows, holding his head in his hands. I saw blood on his head. I then turned the light on. I looked around and saw blood on the walls, on the bed, and in the bathroom. This frightened me and I immediately left the room and went downstairs.” Owen had been bound with a cord around his neck, wrists, and ankles. His neck had bruising, suggesting someone had been attempting to strangle him. He had been stabbed more than once in the chest above the heart and one of the wounds had punctured his lung. Blows to his head had left him with a skull fracture on the right side. In addition to the blood Propst had seen, there was some additional spatter on the ceiling.
Dr. Flanders cut the cords from Owen’s wrist and asked him who had done this to him. “Nobody”, he answered. Asked, then, what had caused these injuries, Owen said he had fallen and hit his head on the bathtub. The doctor asked if he had been trying to kill himself. After saying no, Owen lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital. He was completely comatose by the time he arrived and died shortly after midnight on January 5.
Although Owen’s true identity was revealed a year and a half later as Artemus Ogletree, no suspects have ever been identified. The Kansas City police continue to investigate.
24. The Shark Arm Murders
In early 1935, Coogee Aquarium and Swimming Baths in Sydney, Australia were floundering. The world was in the middle of the Great Depression and the aquarium’s owner, Bert Hobson, needed something to attract customers. His spirits were lifted when he and his son caught a 14-foot, 1-ton tiger shark off the coast and put it in their pool. There had been numerous shark attacks in the area and Hobson thought it was the perfect thing to save his business.
About a week after catching the shark and in front of crowds of families, the shark began to convulse and vomit, spitting up a rat, a bird, and a human arm. Hobson called the police and they fished out the arm which had a tattoo of two boxers fighting which was located inside the forearm. The shark was killed and the stomach was cut open to look for any other remains but none were found. Using new fingerprint technology, they were able to identify the arm’s original operator to 45-year-old, Jimmy Smith. He had been missing since April 7, 1935.
Early investigations led police to a Sydney businessman named Reginald William Lloyd Holmes. Holmes was a smuggler who also ran a successful family boat-building business at Lavender Bay, New South Wales. Holmes had employed Smith several times to work insurance scams, including one in 1934 in which an over-insured pleasure cruiser named Pathfinder was sunk. Shortly afterward, the pair began a “partnership” with Patrick Francis Brady, an ex-serviceman, and convicted forger. With signatures from Holmes’ friends and clients provided by the boat tycoon, Brady would forge cheques for small amounts against their bank accounts which he and Smith then cashed. Police were later able to figure out that Smith had been blackmailing Holmes.
Smith was last seen drinking and playing cards with Patrick Francis Brady at the Cecil Hotel in southern Sydney after telling his wife he was going fishing. Brady had rented a small cottage at the time Smith went missing. Police alleged that Smith was murdered at this cottage. Port Hacking and Gunnamatta Bay were searched by the Australian Navy and the Air Force, but the rest of Smith’s body was never found.
25. The Lost Colony of Roanoke
In 1587, English colonial governor, John White, led a group of people from Britain to found an English colony, settling on Roanoke Island, one of a chain of barrier islands which is now known as the Outer Banks near North Carolina. When rations were running low, White left for more supplies. When he returned, three years later, he found the colony carefully abandoned, with all houses and military constructions dismantled with care. Before he had left the colony, White had instructed his people that if they were taken by force, someone was to carve a cross into a nearby tree but there was no cross nor sign they had been brutally taken over. The only clue was the word “Croatoan,” the name of a Native American tribe that allied with the English colonists, which was carved into a post. White took this to mean that the colonists had moved to Croatoan Island.
Ongoing investigations have claimed that the colonists had been slaughtered by the Powhatan tribe, but there is no archaeological evidence to support this, and a recent re-examination indicates that any massacre that occurred was not of this particular group of colonists, but rather a group of colonists who had arrived earlier. More theories involve an amalgamation between the colonists and the Croatians, but so far, no DNA evidence has identified any descendants of the colony.
26. The Disappearance of Dorothy Arnold
Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold was a wealthy New York socialite. She was the daughter of perfume importer Francis Rose Arnold and his wife Mary Martha Parks Arnold, as far as anyone knew she had a happy home life.
On the morning of December 12, 1910, she left her home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and told her mother that she was headed downtown to buy an evening dress. According to The New York Times, when her mother asked if she could accompany her daughter, Dorothy said “No. When I find the gown I want, I will telephone you and you can come down and see it.” When she left the house, she had over $30 in her pocket. In today’s currency, that would be more than $750. On her way down 5th Avenue, she stopped at a grocery store on 59th Street to buy some chocolate then at a bookstore on 27th Street where she bought a copy of Engaged Girl Sketches, the slightly humorous collection of short romantic stories.
Around the time when she bought the book, she ran into a friend from college, Gladys King. The two talked about a party that they had both been invited to, the same party that Dorothy was buying a dress for. Gladys left to meet her mother for lunch and Dorothy was never seen again.
Francis Arnold was reluctant to gain publicity over his daughter’s disappearance, and initially employed the help of private investigators. After those attempts were unsuccessful, the family filed a missing person report with the New York City Police Department in January 1911. Various theories, sightings, and rumors regarding Arnold’s disappearance circulated in the years and decades after she was last seen, but the circumstances surrounding her disappearance have never been resolved and her fate remains unknown.
27. The Murder of Bugsy Siegel
Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was born on February 28, 1906. Growing up with little money in Brooklyn, New York, he and his friends, Meyer Lansky and Morris “Moe” Sedway lived a life that mimicked organized crime. Bugsy managed to establish himself as a teenage thug. They terrorized local street vendors and collected protection money from other gangs in the area. Not too long after, they had a business that included bootlegging and gambling all over New York City and quickly rose through the ranks of the crime world.
In 1937, Bugsy and Sedway were sent to California to build up the mob’s presence on the West Coast. Since bootlegging was no longer needed, Bugsy focused on gambling. He invested in the SS Rex, a gambling ship that was docked 3 miles off the coast of Santa Monica to try and avoid California’s anti-gambling laws. When authorities closed the ship down, Bugsy turned his sights to Las Vegas since Nevada had legalized gambling and they would avoid any headaches trying to dodge police. With syndicate money in 1945, Bugsy took over a struggling construction project outside the city limits, the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. At that time, Las Vegas was nothing like the glittering city we think of today. The Flamingo was the first luxury hotel on the strip.
Even though the project wasn’t finished, Bugsy opened the casino on December 26, 1946. Famous celebrities like Judy Garland and Clark Gable attended the opening. After the party was over, Bugsy closed the doors to finish construction and the mob back on the East Coast became antsy. By this time, the casino’s budget had ballooned from $1 million up to $6 million, thanks to Bugsy skimming from the top. During a meeting of mob big wigs in Cuba, it was settled that if the Flamingo was a success, Bugsy would be able to make things right. Luckily for Bugsy, the Flamingo had already made $250,000 in profit. Unluckily for Bugsy, it wasn’t enough to please the mob.
On June 20, 1947, Bugsy was sitting on the couch at his mistress Virginia Hill’s home in Beverly Hills, California. At around 10:45 pm, from a rose-covered pergola just 14 feet away from Bugsy, a 30 caliber military rifle fired at least 9 shots at the mobster. 4 rounds hit Bugsy, killing him instantly. Moments later, 3 of Meyer Lansky’s henchmen walked into the Flamingo and declared that they were taking over the casino.
Beverly Hills Police chief, Clinton H. Anderson said the following statement: “We spent many man-hours investigating the Siegel case and were convinced that he was killed by his own associates. But there was never sufficient evidence to pinpoint the identity of the assassin.”
28. The Jamison Family Disappearance
On October 8, 2009, the Jamison family, 44-year-old Bobby Dale, 40-year-old Sherilyn Leighann, and their 6-year-old daughter, Madyson Stormy Star were seen for the last time before vanishing without a trace. The family who lived in Eufaula, Oklahoma was last seen by a man who lived in the mountains in southeastern Oklahoma. However, the witness claimed that he only saw the family and no one else in that area during the time. The Jamisons were there to view a 40-acre plot of land that they were looking to purchase. They were looking to live in a shipping container that they had already been living in on their plot of land in Eufaula.
On October 16, eight days after the Jamisons were last seen alive, the first major discovery in the case occurred. Hunters in a remote location in the woods, about a quarter-mile away from the last spot the Jamisons were seen, discovered the Jamison’s abandoned truck which was still locked. Inside the truck, investigators found Bobby’s wallet, Sherilyn’s purse, jackets, a GPS, Bobby’s cell phone, $32,000 cash in a bank bag, and the Jamison’s pet dog, Maisy, who was incredibly malnourished but still alive. Bobby’s cell phone had a picture of Madyson and it is believed to have been taken the day before they disappeared. The truck showed no evidence of any kind of struggle. Former Sheriff Beauchamp remarked “I think they were forced to stop and got out of the truck to meet with someone they recognized. And I think they either left willingly or by force.”
The GPS unit in the truck indicated that the family had been farther up a nearby hill, prior to the location where the truck and belongings were found. Investigators followed the coordinates and found footprints. One day later, on October 17, 300 people including authorities and volunteers staged a large-scale air and ground search party but unfortunately, any leads went cold and the search for the Jamisons was called off.
On November 16, 2013, hunters were scouting for deer hunting locations when they found partial skeletal remains of three bodies, two adults and one child. The remains were found less than 3 miles from where the Jamison family had parked their truck 4 years earlier. The search uncovered shoes, bits of clothing, adult teeth, an adult arm and leg bone, and bone fragments. The bones would eventually be confirmed as the missing Jamison family. However, no cause of death was determined, and the circumstances surrounding their disappearance remain unknown.
29. The OJ Simpson Case
On June 13, 1994, the bodies of the ex-wife of football superstar OJ Simpson, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald L. Goldman were found outside Nicole’s townhouse, stabbed to death. At the time, Nicole and OJ were divorced and living in separate residences. The bodies were found by neighbors who were literally led to the bodies by Nicole’s dog, who was reported to be incessantly barking around the time of the murders.
The timeline surrounding the murders is as follows: On June 12, at 6:30 pm Nicole, her children, and others arrive at the restaurant called Mezzaluna. At 9:15 pm the same night, her sister called the restaurant to say that her mother had left her glasses there. Ronald Goldman goes to pick up the glasses. At 9-9:30 pm, OJ Simpson and his friend Brian “Kato” Kaelin head to a nearby McDonald’s for dinner. At 9:45, they return home from McDonald’s. Kato was staying at OJ’s guest house at that time. At 9:48-9:50, Goldman leaves Mezzaluna with a white envelope containing the glasses. At 10:15, Nicole’s neighbor hears a dog bark and cry while he is watching TV. Prosecutors then theorize that these barks signalized the murder of the dog’s owner, Nicole.
At 10:25, a limo driver named Allan Park arrives at OJ Simpson’s home. OJ was scheduled for a red-eye flight at 11:45. At 10:40, Kato reported he heard 3 loud thumps on an outside wall of the guest house he was staying in. From 10:40-10:55, Allan Park buzzed OJ’s intercom several times but there was no answer. Just before 11, Allan reports seeing a shadowy figure that is 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds, walking across the driveway. At 11, Allan tried buzzing OJ again and this time, OJ answered. He claimed that he had overslept and just got out of the shower. At 11:45, OJ departs on his flight, and at 12:10 am the next morning, the bodies of Nicole and Ronald Goldman are discovered. Evidence found at the crime scene included a blood-stained glove, a knitted hat, and a bloodied footprint. When OJ landed in Chicago, he was contacted by Detective Ron Phillips and told that his ex-wife had died. Upon hearing the news OJ asked, “who killed her?”
OJ was then questioned for 3 hours by the LAPD. Then, on June 17, OJ was charged with 2 counts of murder and was declared a fugitive. The high-speed chase involving police and OJ’s white Ford Bronco has been a lasting memory for anyone involved with the case. During the chase, OJ was sitting in the passenger seat and the car was being driven by his friend, Al Cowlings. Cowlings reported that he didn’t stop because “OJ was holding a gun to his head and that OJ was suicidal.” The chase would end at OJ’s home in Brentwood. Inside the car they found, makeup adhesive, a fake mustache, OJ’s passport, and a gun.
What followed was one of the most publicized trials in US history. OJ was represented by a high-profile defense team, also known as the “Dream Team”, which was initially led by Robert Shapiro and then by Johnnie Cochran. The team also included F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Kardashian, Shawn Holley, Carl E. Douglas, and Gerald Uelmen. Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld were two additional attorneys who specialized in DNA evidence.
Prosecutors were Deputy District Attorneys Marcia Clark, William Hodgman, and later Christopher Darden. They thought that they had a strong case against Simpson, but Cochran was able to convince the jury that there was reasonable doubt concerning the validity of the State’s DNA evidence, which was a new form of evidence in trials at that time. The reasonable doubt theory included evidence that the blood sample had allegedly been mishandled by lab scientists and technicians. The defense team also cited other misconduct by the LAPD related to systemic racism and incompetence.
The verdict was released on October 3, 1995, and OJ Simpson was acquitted. To this day, no other suspects have been questioned and the murders remain unsolved.
30. The Mystery Of Overtoun Bridge
In Scotland, there lies a bridge called the Overtoun Bridge that seems to call dogs to jump to their death. Since the early 1960s, over 50 canines have perished, and hundreds more have lept but survived with some returning for a second leap onto the jagged rocks that lie 50 feet below.
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has sent representatives to investigate but with no luck. In terms of scientific truth, it is debatable that dogs are capable of forming a suicide attempt. Yet, something is luring dogs off the Overtoun Bridge, often from the same spot and always on sunny, dry days. Many theories have conspired, including that the bridge is haunted, a small animal is marking the area with an irresistible scent, or a sound exists below the bridge that only dogs can hear. Whatever is causing this phenomenon, dog owners crossing this bridge would be wise to take extra caution and keep their dogs on leashes.
31. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Disappearance
On March 8, 2014, while flying from Malaysia to China, a Boeing 777 carrying 239 passengers and crew members vanished into thin air. The global search effort, the largest in aviation history, only turned up a mere 20 pieces of aircraft debris. However, the Prime Minister of Malaysia has declined to comment other than to say that the aircraft disappeared over the Indian Ocean.
The lack of closure has propelled multiple theories, including a hijacking, a United States capture, a crew suicide (it was reported later that the pilot was having marital problems), a fire aboard the aircraft, vertical entry into the ocean, a meteor strike, and even an alien abduction.
Despite the passage of time and the $160 million spent scouring thousands of square miles of ocean, the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and the fate of the 239 people aboard remains a mystery.
32. The Peculiar Death of Charles C. Morgan
On March 22, 1977, escrow agent Charles Morgan went missing after leaving his home in Phoenix, Arizona. Three days later, he finally returned home around 2 am. His wife, Ruth, reported that he had a plastic handcuff around one ankle and handcuffs around his hands. He pointed to his throat, indicating that he couldn’t speak so his wife handed him a pen and paper and he wrote that there was a hallucinogenic drug in his throat that could destroy his nervous system. Ruth wanted to get in contact with the police or physician but Charles told her not to and said it would put their family in danger.
As Ruth nursed him back to health, he disclosed that he had been working as a secret agent for the past two to three years for the US Treasury Department. He then claimed his abductors took his treasury ID and provided no more details. Two months after his initial disappearance, he was reported to be missing again. After nine days, Ruth received a phone call from an unidentified woman that said “Chuck is alright. Ecclesiastes 12, 1 through 8” and then hung up.
Two days after the strange phone call, on June 18, his body was discovered lying 40 miles west of Tucson near his car. Charles had been shot in the back of the head by his own gun. He was found wearing a bulletproof vest, a belt buckle that had a hidden knife, and a holster. A pair of sunglasses was found at the scene that was not his. Investigators searched his car and found several weapons and a cache of ammunition. The car had also been altered so that it could be unlocked from the fender. On the rear seat of the car, Morgan’s tooth was discovered, wrapped up in a white handkerchief. Bizarrely, there was also a $2 bill with several Spanish surnames and a map of the border area pinned to Morgan’s underwear. The map led to Robles Junction and Felicity, the area between Tucson and Mexico. Those towns had a reputation for smuggling at the time. Above the surnames “Ecclesiastes 12” was written and an arrow was drawn to the bill’s serial number pointing to the numbers 1 and 8. Some of the other writings on the bill had alleged Masonic references and Charles also had a piece of paper with directions in his handwriting that led to the site where he was found.
Medical examiners claimed that Charles Morgan was only dead for 12 hours when he was found. Strangely, there were no fingerprints found on the scene, not even on the gun. On Morgan’s hands, they found gunpowder and residue. For this reason, the Sherrif’s department labeled the death a suicide that seemed to be the end of the Charles C. Morgan case.
Ruth Morgan staunchly rejected this theory and holds the belief that he was murdered. “I don’t know if this will ever be solved,” she said. “I’d like to know why. I don’t think we’ll ever find out who killed him.”
33. The Disappearance of Walter Collins
On March 10, 1928, 9-year-old Walter Collins donned a lumber jacket, brown corduroy trousers, black Oxfords, and a grey cap and set off to see a movie in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles. Walter never returned home.
His mother, Christine Collins, a telephone operator, reported her son missing 5 days later on March 15. At the time, the area was still recovering from the kidnapping and gruesome murder of a 12-year-old girl, Marion Parker, that had only happened 3 months earlier. Tips of apparent Walter sightings were coming from as far away as San Francisco and even Oakland. In one bizarre tip, someone reported seeing Walter at a gas station in Glendale. His body wrapped in newspaper with only his head visible. Police searched for months without any success.
In Illinois in August 1928, state police picked up a runaway boy who matched Walter’s description. The boy told authorities he was Walter Collins and gave a hazy description about his abduction. He spoke to Christine over the phone and she paid $70 to have her son back to Los Angeles. The boy lived with Christine for 3 weeks when she realized that this boy wasn’t her son. Christine found that the boy who was living with her was 1-inch shorter and she used dental records to show that this was a different kid. Christine told police that “yes, he looks like Walter. And in some ways acts like my son. But, still, I’m not certain about it. You see, Walter was quiet and well-behaved. He always called me ‘Mother.’ This child calls me ‘Ma’, and at times, he is hard to handle. I certainly hope that he is my son– but somehow, I just can’t bring myself to believe it.”
Pressured by the public, the police insisted that the child was indeed Walter. They conducted a series of tests to prove it. They had the child find his way back home from memory and brought in Walter’s pet dog who allegedly recognized the boy as its owner. Nevertheless, Christine wasn’t convinced. LAPD captain, JJ Jones accosted the grieving mother saying “what are you trying to do, make fools out of us all? Or are you trying to shirk your duties as a mother and have the state provide for your son? You are the most cruel-hearted woman I have ever known. You are a fool!” On September 8, 1928, the police had Christine committed to the psychiatric ward at the Los Angeles County General Hospital.
While Christine was in the hospital, JJ spoke again to the boy that they had picked up in Illinois. During that conversation, the boy made it known that he was, indeed, not Walter Collins but instead Arthur Hutchins. After his mother had died, the boy ran away from his father and stepmother. He was hitchhiking around the US and when inside a cafe, he was told that he resembled a missing boy from Los Angeles. When he was picked up, juvenile authorities were skeptical about his story but the police were so desperate to close the Collins case that they insisted on its accuracy. As for why Arthur lied, he said that he wanted to go to Hollywood to meet a cowboy actor, Tom Mix.
Christine was released from the psych ward on September 13, 1928, and sued the LAPD. JJ Jones was suspended from duty. Collins won her lawsuit against Jones and was awarded $10,800, which he never paid. She spent the rest of her life continuing to search for her missing son.
34. The Unexplained Phoenix Lights
On March 13, 1997, a string of 5 lights in a V formation appeared in the sky above Phoenix, Arizona. The National UFO Reporting Center reported that the first call about the lights came in at around 8:16 pm from a retired police officer in Paulden, Arizona which is about 2 hours north of Phoenix. After that, the National UFO Reporting Center began to receive a slew of calls south of Paulden, suggesting that the lights were moving in a southeastern direction.
Allegedly there were over 700 witnesses who had seen the lights including pilots, police officers, and military officials who lit up the National UFO Reporting Center’s switchboard, demanding explanations. Some described the lights as orbs, others said triangles. However, a large number of witnesses described the lights as part of a singular massive craft that made no noise. Around 10 pm, a second set of as many as 9 lights appeared in the sky. A laser printer technician Dana Valentine claimed to have witnessed the craft from his yard in Phoenix. “We could see the outline of the mass behind the lights, but you couldn’t actually see the mass,” he reported. “It was more like a gray distortion of the night sky, wavy. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I know it’s not a technology the public has heard before.”
Air traffic controllers could not see the lights on the radar, despite seeing them in the sky with their own eyes. Frances Barwood, the 1997 Phoenix city councilwoman who launched an investigation into the event, said that of the over 700 witnesses she interviewed, “The government never interviewed even one.” To this day, the unexplained Phoenix lights remain a mystery.
35. The Eerie Lady of the Dunes
On July 26, 1974, 12-year-old Leslie Metcalfe was returning from the beach with her family in Provincetown, Massachusetts. A local dog had followed them and when it took off barking, Leslie broke away from her parents and started to go after it. In the dunes of Racepoint Beach, a mile east of a ranger station, Leslie found the decomposing body of a naked woman.
The woman was 5”6’, weighed about 145 pounds, and was between 20 and 40 years old. She was lying on one side of a beach towel, with her head resting on a pair of jeans and a blue bandana. It was estimated that the body had been lying there from 10 days to 3 weeks before being discovered. The left side of her head was crushed and she had almost been completely decapitated. While no weapons were found, it was believed that a military entrenching tool was used to almost cut off the head. Her hands, though, were removed to conceal the identity through fingerprints.
Due to the horrific state of the body, authorities believed that the woman was murdered. With no sign of struggle at the time, authorities believed that the unidentified victim would have known her murderer. The only signs of evidence were the size-10 footprints that indicated a heavy person running away. Provincetown Police Chief Jimmy Meads said that “the killer likely drove the victim to the dune in a 4-wheel-drive sand vehicle to sunbathe.”
Despite using bloodhounds, missing person bulletins, scourging the registers of local lodgings, and looking into anyone who had a permit to bring their vehicle onto the beach, police turned up nothing. In 2019, Provincetown local Margie Childs reflected on the case saying “the fact that no one could identify the lady of the dunes in the tight-knit community was very strange.” Almost 50 years later, the victim known as the Lady of the Dunes is still unidentified.
It’s unbelievable how many unsolved mysteries still linger – and how so many are disturbing. We have even more when Weird Darkness returns.
36. The Case of Mary Reeser
On July 2, 1951, in Saint Petersburg, Florida, Mary Hardy Reeser was visited by her son, Dr. Richard Reeser, in her apartment. Mary had told her son that she had taken two mild sedatives that were mainly used to calm patients before surgery. She had also told him she was planning to take two more before bed. Later that night, she would fall asleep in an upholstered chair for the last time as she would become the victim of an apparent house fire.
The next morning, Mary’s landlord would report smelling smoke around 5 am. But it wasn’t until 8 am when she went to go deliver a telegraph to Mary that she would smell the smoke again. She discovered soot in the hallway and the doorknob leading to Mary’s apartment was too hot to grab so she enlisted the help of nearby house painters to get into the apartment. What they found inside the apartment was truly horrifying. They found the remains of Mary Reeser. Her skull, apparently, was shrunk to the size of a cup, and parts of her spine also remained. But the most terrifying was Mary’s left foot was found still in its black satin slipper, the skin unburned. The rest of her remains had been completely cremated.
What makes this case odd was the environment of her surroundings. In order for a body to be cremated, the body must burn at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-4 hours. Yet, somehow, the surrounding area of her chair and the rest of her apartment were relatively unaffected. The walls had no burn marks and showed no signs of scorching or burned paint. Light switches were melted but outlets were still completely functional. Candlesticks had melted but their wicks stood upright and a stack of newspapers close to the chair was undamaged. Mary’s neighbors were also unaware of the fire.
The FBI eventually declared that Mary had been incinerated by the wick effect when the clothing of the victim soaks up melted human fat and acts like the wick of a candle. As she was a known user of sleeping pills, they hypothesized that she had fallen unconscious while smoking and set fire to her nightclothes. However, there is still some speculation that she died of spontaneous human combustion.
37. Escape from Alcatraz
Formally a military base, the high-security prison Alcatraz, sat on a 22-acre island known as “The Rock” about a mile and a quarter away from San Francisco. Because of this, the prison was deemed “inescapable.” The water surrounding the prison hovers around 48 to 54 degrees, all year, along with strong currents. As time went on, the prison would fall into disrepair and the budget to fix numerous problems was limited. This would become a resounding factor in the inmates, Clarence Anglin, John Anglin, Allen West, and Frank Morris escaping.
It was reported that West approached Morris with the plan to escape in early 1960. West knew of a ventilator cover in Cell Block B that might not have been sealed over with concrete like the majority of the vents. If this was true, it could provide them with a way to get on the roof of the prison from the inside. West also began working with the maintenance crew that provided him insight into the building’s structure, layout, and weaknesses. By September 1961, the Anglin brothers, John and Clarence, Morris, and West requested cell moves that made them closer to each other in Cell Block B, directly under the unsecured vent. All cell moves were approved.
The plan to escape was undoubtedly bold and ingenious. Phase one involved creating a head start to provide them enough time to tackle the mile and a quarter to San Francisco. They created a diversion by painting dummy heads which were made from a plaster-like mix of soap, concrete, and other materials completed with real human hair. They laid the heads in their beds to fool the guards and sure enough, on June 12, on the morning following the escape, when the 7 am bell went off to wake the prisoners, guards discovered that the prisoners were still “asleep” in their beds. It wasn’t until one of the guards reached into Morris’s cell, pushed the head, and it fell onto the ground that the guards realized that something was wrong. To this day, the dummy head still bores the damage that resulted in this fall. It’s unknown who exactly came up with the idea to make dummy heads. However, Clarence worked as a barber and had access to hair trimmings. Either way, phase one of the plan was a success.
After laying the dummy heads in their beds, the gang moved on to phase two of their plans to escape the inescapable prison. The men went to work on busting out of their cells. All four of them had 5 inch by 9 ½ inch ventilation grates in the back of their cells. Perhaps it came from his time in maintenance, West knew that the wall surrounding the grates was less than 6 inches thick, making it possible for each man to expand the hole in their cell to fit through. For months, the prisoners spent time drilling small, close-knit holes around the cover of the ventilation grates using crude handmade tools like spoons stolen from the kitchen and a drill made from a vacuum cleaner motor. These holes made it possible to remove the entire small section of the wall around the air vents which they covered with their musical instruments or fake covers made of cardboard.
These holes allowed them to access a utility corridor that was directly behind their cells that was typically left unguarded. From there, they were able to climb up to a hidden land area directly above their cellblock where they had been working in secret for several months. In this area, they were able to make the dummy heads, tools, and other items they’d use in their great escape. However, it’s worth noting that West never made it to this landing spot during the escape because he was unable to break through the last portion of his wall around his ventilation grate. Consequently, he was left behind.
From the landing, the trio was able to climb pipes to the ceiling and reach an air vent that they had previously pried off to ready their escape. Experts say that a sound that was heard around 10:30 pm was the sound of the air vent cover being pushed off on the roof. They then climbed down the roof via a pipe to the back of their cell block, climbed the 15-foot fence, and made their way to the north shore of the island.
To escape the island, the prisoners had made life preservers and a 14-foot rubber raft all made from prison-issued raincoats. They gathered over 50 raincoats for the job, possibly stitched them together using sewing machines, and vulcanized the rubber coats by holding the seams up to the heat from the steam pipes. The raft was inflated by using a concertina.
Once it was realized that the prisoners were missing, Alcatraz went into lockdown as a search began. Guards quickly found the hidden workshop, the hole in the ceiling, and footprints on the roof and on the ground of the pipe where they climbed down. The FBI joined the case as well as the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Prison Authorities in a wide-scale search but the escapees, as well as their raft, were never seen again.
38. The Sheppard Murder Case
On February 21 1945, Dr. Samuel Sheppard and Marilyn Reese were married and settled near Lake Erie, Ohio. Two years later, they had their first and only child which they affectionately nicknamed Chip. Samuel was a respected neurosurgeon and the couple was believed to have a happy marriage. Their small suburban community was the kind where everyone was close-knit and were friends.
On July 3, 1954, the Sheppards hosted a party for all of their neighbors which included dinner, drinks, and a movie. Just after midnight, Samuel fell asleep on the couch and Marilyn said her goodbyes to the guests. At about 5:30 am on July 4, Mayor Spencer Houk, who was a close friend of the Sheppards, woke to a phone call from Samuel saying “My God, Spence, get over here quick. I think they’ve killed Marilyn.” Houk and his wife, Esther made a beeline towards the house to find Samuel shirtless in his study, holding his neck in a seeming state of shock. They called the police and the authorities arrived around 6:00 am.
According to the police report, Marilyn’s body was found lying upwards and her face was turned towards the door. She was beaten beyond recognition. She had over 20 gashes curved deep into her face and scalp. The sheets were covered with blood and the walls were dripping with heavy spatter. Her pajamas were partially removed, leaving her exposed. The autopsy reported that her time of death was around 4:30 am. Sadly, it also revealed that Marilyn had been 4 months pregnant with their second child. According to Samuel, he had been asleep downstairs when he heard Marilyn shout his name. He ran upstairs and found her being attacked by a “white form.” They fought but then Samuel had been hit on the back of his neck and was knocked out.
When he woke, Marilyn was dead and the white form was gone. He then ran to Chip’s room and thankfully saw him alive and sleeping soundly. He then went downstairs and then saw the white form exiting through the back door. He chased the tall and bushy-haired figure down to the shores of Lake Erie. Samuel then explained that he “lunged or jumped and grasped” at the strange figure but then he said, “I felt myself twisting or choking and that terminated my consciousness.” When Samuel came to, it was nearly dawn and his shirt and watch were missing. However, even though he was the only witness to the crime, Samuel became the most likely suspect.
On December 21 1954, after extensive deliberating for four days, the jury found Sheppard guilty of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison but staunchly maintained his innocence. Eventually, his life sentence was overturned and the real story about what happened to Marilyn Sheppard remains a mystery.
39. The Killing of Ken Rex McElroy
In Skidmore, Missouri on July 10, 1981, Ken Rex McElroy would be shot dead in the streets in broad daylight in this sleepy small town. There were amongst 60 witnesses that saw the event but, to this day, the crime remains unsolved.
Ken Rex McElroy grew up in a poor family and left school by the eighth grade. It was believed that he was possibly largely illiterate and at 18-years-old, he was injured by a metal slab falling on him at a construction site. The incident left him with chronic pain and some attested his bizarre and violent behavior to a head injury as a result of the accident. McElroy was reported as being a 270 pound giant of a man and a local farmer described him “I think that Ken simply wanted to be big and important and have people afraid of him when he walked down the street. And he got that. They were.”
McElroy made a decent living by leasing the land off of his farm, trading and racing dogs, as well as allegedly stealing livestock, grain, alcohol, gasoline, and antiques. He was in constant trouble with the law. His lawyer estimated that he was charged with various crimes at least 3 times a year. By some counts, he was indicted as many as 21 times but escaped conviction all but once. McElroy used to brag that his lawyer, Richard Gene McFadin, also represented the Mob and would keep him out of jail. Another tactic McElroy would use to avoid jail time was to intimidate witnesses by following them or park outside their homes and watch them until they were no longer willing to testify. Some of his bigger crimes were robbery, harassing/assaulting women, destroying property, threatening lives, and shooting at least two people, all of which he avoided jail for. Police were also afraid of confronting McElroy since he was almost always heavily armed and didn’t think twice before shooting a cop. The people of Skidmore felt abandoned by the justice system that couldn’t stop McElroy from causing havoc in their town.
On April 25, 1980, in Ernest “Bo” Bowenkamp’s general store, the store clerk, Evelyn Sumy, would ask McElroy’s 8-year-old daughter, Tanya, to return a piece of candy that she didn’t pay for. When McElroy learned of the situation, he became so enraged that he began stalking the Bowenkamp family. On July 8, 1980, McElroy drove to the alley behind the general store, once there he threatened Bo Bowenkamp and shot the 70-year-old grocer in the neck at close range with a shotgun. This was the second time he had shot someone (the first time was local farmer Romaine Henry whom McElroy shot in the stomach after Henry was chasing him off of Henry’s land). Miraculously, Bo Bownkamp survived the shot, and McElroy was arrested and charged with attempted murder.
His preliminary trial was set for August 18, 1980, and, in his usual fashion, McElroy tried to intimidate the Bowenkamp family and supporters from testifying. Bowenkamp’s wife said the following: “You can’t know how intimidating it was after that. Before his trial, he’d drive up to our house in his pickup at night and just sit there. Sometimes, he would fire his gun. It was frightening.” Nevertheless, McElroy was able to delay the trial almost 5 months to June 25, 1981.
During this time, the acting prosecuting attorney resigned and a new prosecutor, David Baird, was assigned the case. It is rumored that McElroy bullied the previous prosecutor to leave. Baird was only 3 years out of law school but accomplished the impossible. He was able to convict McElroy of a crime. Granted, he was only convicted of second-degree assault. The jury set a maximum sentence of two years and the judge freed him on a $40,000 bail bond pending the appeal. This is because Baird lessened the charge from “attempt to kill” to “knowingly caused serious physical injury.”
Soon after he was released, he was bizarrely spotted with a rifle and bayonet at the town’s local bar, D&G Tavern, where he was making graphic threats about killing Bo Bowenkamp. He was then arrested and then quickly released for violating bail by being armed.
On July 10, 1981, there was a local meeting at the town’s Legion Hall, just down the street from the D&G Tavern. As many as 60 residents attended, including the mayor and the sheriff. During the meeting, the whole topic of discussion was what they could do legally to prevent McElroy from harming anyone else. County sheriff, Dan Estes, suggested a neighborhood watch but the mindset was said perfectly by an attendee: “we simply felt that the system had failed us. We all knew what McElroy was like, and there he was again and again. It seemed like no one could stop him.”
During the meeting, a local said that they had spotted McElroy and his young wife, Trena, on their way to grab drinks at the D&G Tavern. The meeting was quickly adjourned and the 60 odd people who were at that meeting quietly descended on the tavern, flanking McElroy’s truck. Some of the attendees went into the bar and waited for McElroy to finish his drinks. Upon returning to the truck, where Trena was sitting in the passenger seat, McElroy lit a cigarette. Trena then reported glancing over her shoulder and saw someone point a rifle towards the back of the truck, take aim at McElroy, and then shots were fired.
McElroy was shot at several times and hit twice, killing him. In all, there were 46 potential witnesses to the shooting, including Trena. No one called for an ambulance. Only Trena claimed to identify a gunman however, every other witness either was unable to name the person who had pulled the trigger or claimed not to have seen who fired the fatal shots. The DA declined to press charges. To this day, the person who shot Ken McElroy remains unknown.
We’re almost to the end of our list – the final few disturbing unsolved mysteries are up next on Weird Darkness.
40. The Michelle Von Emster Case
On April 15, 1994, in San Diego, California around Sunset Cliffs, two surfers found the body of 25-year-old Michelle Von Emster, floating face down in a kelp bed. The body was taken to the lifeguard headquarters. She was found naked, wearing only a brass bracelet and two rings. She had a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder and had long brown hair. Medical examiner Robert Engel also noted she had “large, tearing type wounds with missing tissue” as the body was missing most of its right leg. He believed that Michelle had not been in the water long and marked her death as “unknown.” Nevertheless, there was an overwhelming consensus that her death was caused by a shark attack.
One day later, on April 16, a formal autopsy was conducted by a medical examiner, Brian Blackbourne. In addition to her right leg being missing from the thigh down, Michelle’s neck was broken “as if she had been in a car wreck” and had broken ribs, scrapes, bruises, and contusions on her face. Sand was also found in her mouth, throat, lungs, and stomach. Furthermore, the autopsy revealed that she had been alive when the injuries were inflicted. According to Blackbourne’s timeline, he concluded that she got into the water around midnight and this was indeed a shark attack because lifeguards, harbor police, and marine biologists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography told him so.
However, there are things that don’t add up for the cause of death being a shark attack. Blackbourne had never seen a death caused by a shark before and neither had anyone who initially saw the body. The experts at the Scripps Institution had never seen Michelle’s body making their initial inquiries questionable.
Additionally, many experts say today that this death wasn’t caused by a Great White as the autopsy stated including Ralph Collier, the leading expert in Pacific Coast white shark behavior and ecology. After seeing Michelle’s body, Collier said “when a shark bites off part of a limb, the break is clean, almost like you put it on a table saw. What remained of Michelle’s femur was anything but. It looked like what happens when you get a piece of bamboo and whittle it down to a point with a knife. I’ve looked at close to 100 photos of cases that I have reviewed over the years, and I’ve never seen any bones that came to a point.” Plus, it’s important to note, once Michelle’s leg had been severed, she would have bled out quickly from a severed femoral artery. This would have made it extremely difficult to take a large breath, as she would have had to have done to get the sand into her stomach. This makes the theory that a shark forced her to the bottom of the ocean (where she took a breath and swallowed sand) extremely unlikely.
Officially, Michelle’s death is considered the result of a great white shark attack but the true nature and circumstances of her untimely demise remain a mystery.
41. The Pollock Sisters
In the 1940s, Florence and John Pollock were married and in 1946, after having two sons they welcomed their first daughter who was named Joanna. In 1951, Florence gave birth to another baby girl named Jacqueline. Despite their age differences, the two girls had an extremely close bond. Joanna liked to take care of Jacqueline and saw herself as the ultimate big sister. Since their mother was busy running the family’s grocery delivery business, Joanna saw herself as a second mother to her little sister. They enjoyed playing dress-up and pretend and generally enjoyed being around each other.
Eerily, Joanna would always state that she would never grow up to become a lady. She would always say that she would remain a child forever. No one took her seriously and chalked it up to the child’s creative imagination. On May 7, 1957, 6-year-old Jacqueline and 11-year-old Joanna were walking to church with a young neighborhood boy as they often did. While they were walking, a car came up behind them and purposefully hit them going at an incredibly high speed, killing all three of the children. The Pollock sisters died instantly and the little boy they were with died from his injuries at the hospital. The woman who was driving the car had just lost her children in a custody battle and was feeling angry and upset and was actually trying to take her own life.
When learning about her children’s deaths, Florence fell into a deep depressionthat lasted quite a long time. John, on the other hand, had the spiritual belief that the girls were in heaven or that they’d be reincarnated. He said he would have dreams about the girls and also felt some sort of presence in their bedroom. He claimed that every time he would go in there, he felt like he wasn’t alone. John always had a fascination with reincarnation and would pray to God to bring his daughters back. Florence, on the other hand, was a very strict Catholic and never toyed with any of John’s notions about reincarnation. This put such a strain on their relationship that they almost got a divorce. However, they stayed together and got pregnant again.
From the beginning of the pregnancy, John thought that there were two babies despite the doctor only claiming one. However, John would keep insisting that there were two and the doctor was proved wrong on the day that twins Gillian and Jennifer were born on October 4, 1958. Twins never ran in the family and Florence never felt like she had two fetuses growing inside her. Eerily, the newborn twins had the exact same birthmarks that Joanna and Jacqueline had and it was this that Florence started to seriously consider her husband’s beliefs.
When the twins were old enough to talk, they began identifying and requesting toys that had belonged to their sisters who had passed on, they would also point out landmarks that only Joanna and Jaqueline would have known like the school they attended. Plus, sometimes, they would sometimes panic upon seeing cars and knew about street safety without either of their parents telling them about it.
The story of the Pollock Sisters made its way to Dr. Ian Stevenson, a psychologist who studied reincarnation. After studying thousands of reincarnation cases, Dr. Stevenson wrote a book telling of 14 he believed to have been real, including that of the Pollock Sisters. Whether or not the actual occurrence of reincarnation exists has yet to be explained.
42. The Disappearance of Paula Jean Welden
On December 1, 1946, a sophomore at Bennington College, 18-year-old Paula Jean Welden, told her roommate, Elizabeth Parker, she was going for a long walk but failed to return back to the shared space. Local witnesses reported having seen her on the 270-mile trail called Vermont’s Long Trail that cuts through Vermont to the Canadian border. A search party was immediately formed but no clues were found on the trail.
Soon after, the newspaper, the Bennington Banner said that “tantalizing and unquestionably strange leads” began to materialize and reported. There was one in particular made by a Massachusetts waitress that she’d served an agitated young woman matching Paula’s description. Upon learning of this lead, Paula’s father disappeared for 36 hours, supposedly in pursuit of the lead. Nevertheless, the authorities thought it was strange and it led to him becoming a prime suspect in Paula’s disappearance. Stories began circulating that Paula’s home life was not nearly as idyllic and picturesque as her parents had initially reported to the police. Apparently, Paula had not returned home for Thanksgiving the week prior, and she may have been upset about a disagreement with her father. While claiming his innocence, Paula’s father posited a theory that Paula was distraught about a boy she liked at school and that perhaps the boy should have been a suspect.
Over the next decade after Paula’s disappearance, a local Bennington man twice bragged to friends that he knew where Paula’s body was buried. However, he was unable to lead the police to any body. With no evidence of a crime, no body, and no forensic clues, the case grew cold and the fate of Paula Jean Welden was never discovered.
43. The Disappearance of the Flannan Isles Lighthouse Keepers
The Flannan Isles is a group of rocky, uninhabited islands off the Western coast of Scotland. The islands are best known to be adored by sheep and shepherds often sail their flock there to graze. Sheep that grazed on the Flannan Isles were believed to give birth to twins or recover from illness. Despite it being a paradise for the wooly critters, rumors of a haunted spirit have prevented shepherds from ever staying overnight.
In 1896, the Board of Trade funded the construction of a lighthouse on the largest of the Flannan Isles, Eilean Mòr. In December 1899, the lighthouse was completed and lit for the first time. Four lighthouse keepers were assigned to maintain the lighthouse and work a rotation of 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off. This meant there were always 3 men on the island, at the same time.
In mid-December 1900, the 3 men on the island were: the 43-year-old principal keeper, James Ducat, who had a wife, four children, and 20 years experience, the 40-year-old occasional keeper, Donald MacArthur who was married and covering for the first assistant keeper who was on sick leave, and the 28-year-old second assistant keeper, Thomas Marshall. The fourth keeper, Joseph Moore, was off duty.
Around midnight on December 15, the steamship Archtor passed by the Isles. Captain Holman noticed he could not see the light from the lighthouse even though the conditions should have allowed him to. When the Archtor arrived in port, they reported the light’s absence even though this was never communicated to the Northern Lighthouse Board. On December 26, the lighthouse tender ship, Hesperus, made a routine visit to Eilean Mòr. When nearing the island, Captain James Harvey found it odd that the Scottish flag had been removed from the flagpole. He then sounded the horn to get the attention of the three lighthouse keepers but there was no response. They then attempted firing a flare, but again, no response.
Joseph Moore was on board the Hesperus and with no signal coming from the island, he was sent ashore. Upon arriving at Eilean Mòr east landing, nothing appeared amiss and everything seemed normal just as he had left it. He went up the island to find the entrance gate, the entrance door, and the door after that all shut. However, the kitchen door was found open and it was discovered that the fire had not been lit for several days. All of the clocks were stopped. “I then entered the rooms in succession,” Moore reported. “I found the beds empty just as they had left them in the early morning.”
The bodies of the three men were never found and their disappearance still remains a mystery to this day.
44. The Murder of Betty Shanks
On September 19, 1952, 22-year-old Betty Shanks got off the train at Days Road Terminus in Grange which is a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland in Australia. She was attending classes at the University of Queensland and after she got off the train, started her short walk home. However, she would never arrive.
Her violently beaten body was found on the corner of Carberry and Thomas streets in the garden of a house the next morning at 5:35 am by a policeman who lived nearby. At the time, it became one of Queensland’s most notorious investigations ever.
Despite many theories, a suspect was never convicted and her murder is still unsolved. There are many books written by authors speculating who did it and many have come forward and confessed but all of them have proven to be false. As of today, there is still a $50,000 AUS reward.
45. The Leatherman
The Leatherman was a particular vagabond who was famous for wearing his handmade leather clothes and traveled an annual route between the Connecticut River and the Hudson River, roughly from 1857 to 1889. His repeating voyage took him to certain towns in western Connecticut and eastern New York, and he would return to each town every 34 to 36 days.
Living in rock shelters, he stopped at towns along his 365-mile loop for food and supplies. It was unclear what he did for work. One shopkeeper kept a record of his usual store order: “one loaf of bread, a can of sardines, one pound of fancy crackers, a pie, two quarts of coffee, one gill of brandy and a bottle of beer.”
An article from the Burlington Free Press, dating to April 7th, 1870 refers to him as the “Leather-Clad Man” and states that he rarely spoke and when people addressed him would simply speak in monosyllables. According to rumors, he was from Picardy, France. Even though he was fluent in French, he communicated mostly with grunts and gestures, rarely using the little English that he knew. When asked about his background, he would abruptly end the conversation.
Even upon his death from cancer in 1889, the Leatherman’s true identity remained unknown and is still a mystery to this day.
46. The Severed Feet Mystery
In 2007, a girl was walking along a beach in British Columbia when she found a sneaker that had washed up onshore. To her horror, she found that a human foot was inside. Since then, a number of severed feet have washed ashore since then. The feet have been connected to five men, one a woman, and three of unknown sex. Throughout the years, the case still remains a mystery, with many theories floating around the general public and the media as to who the feet belonged to.
The Vancouver police managed to identify one foot in 2008, matching its DNA to a man who was described as suicidal. The authorities were then able to match two other found feet to a woman who was also believed to have committed suicide. Because of these findings, many speculate that the feet belong to those who jumped off a bridge to their deaths. However, because of the rarity of only feet and no other body parts showing up, some believe they were those of the victims of the Tsunami in 2004 since the make of the shoes has been all manufactured before 2004. Whatever the source these feet are coming from, they have left the world (and authorities) stumped.
47. The Case of Jeanette DePalma
In 1972 in Springfield, New Jersey, a dog brought a decomposing forearm to its owner. They quickly alerted police and this prompted a police search and a body was soon found afterward atop a cliff. The body was identified as Jeanette DePalmer, a 16-year-old who had gone missing for six weeks.
Like rapid-fire, rumors about the cause of her death began to spread. The hill where she was discovered was covered with occult symbols and many were led to believe that her body was placed on a makeshift altar. Many locals, plus even some police members, pointed their fingers at a coven of witches, otherwise known as Satanists, who were rumored to have used DePalma for a human sacrifice.
Because of a flood, many of the case’s details have been destroyed. However, some reports from local papers mention that police couldn’t determine the cause of death due to her badly decomposed body. Authorities investigated a local homeless man who was a prime suspect, only to find no connection with the killing. Many believed that DePalma may have provoked a group of Satan-worshipping teens at her high school since she was involved with a group that helped drug addicts find their faith in Christ. To this day, her death remains unsolved.
48. The Vanishing Of Cynthia Anderson
20-year-old Cynthia Anderson had been raised in a very religious household that followed a schedule that was filled with prayer meetings, swimming events, camping events, seasonal parties, and Sunday worship all organized by the church she and her family attended. Cynthia’s father, Michael Andersen, described his daughter as a “quiet and obedient kind of girl who never made waves yet had lots of friends.”
Cynthia was also a very attractive young woman and even though her parents had very strict rules, she had a boyfriend who was also a member of the church. That summer, her father reported that Cynthia was “spending a lot of time on her face and becoming a bit of a debutante.” Cynthia worked as a legal secretary in Toledo, Ohio but was preparing to quit to attend Bible College, the same one her boyfriend attended. By the way the job was going, her last day couldn’t come soon enough.
The previous year on a wall across from Cynthia’s desk that was viewable from outside the window, someone had spray-painted the words “I Love You Cindy” in large letters with smaller “by GW” in the corner. Cynthia was the only “Cindy” on that side of the strip mall where the graffiti was located. It seemed intentionally placed that only Cynthia could see it. However, Cynthia had no idea who GW could have been. The message remained there for 6 months until it was eventually covered up. The message appeared again, this time in bigger letters, but it became the least of Cynthia’s problems.
During the summer of 1981, Cynthia was being harassed by a number of anonymous phone calls with disturbing messages. This frightened her and she began experiencing nightmares about being attacked by a man. It got so bad that her job even installed an emergency buzzer at her desk and she kept her office doors locked at all times. Unfortunately, these precautions wouldn’t be enough.
On August 4, 1981, Cynthia skipped breakfast and left her parent’s house around 8:30 am to go to work. She arrived at the law office and was seen as late as 9:45 am. Around lunchtime, her employer, James Rabbitt, arrived at the office. The lights and radio were on but there was no sign of Cynthia. The scent of nail polish remover hung in the air and there was no note and the phones were still ringing off the hook. There were no signs of struggle and according to reports, the office door was still locked from the inside. Though her car was still in the parking lot, her keys and purse were missing. Eerily, a romance novel that Cynthia was reading was left open at her desk to a page where the protagonist was abducted at knifepoint.
Cynthia Andersen was never found and her case remains unsolved.
49. The Disappearance of Kyron Horman
On June 4, 2010, 7-year-old Kyron Horman was dropped off at Skyline Elementary School in Portland, Oregon by his stepmother Terri. She stayed with him as he attended the school’s science fair and walked him down the hall to his class and left the school around 8:45 am. However, he was never seen in his first-class and was instead marked as absent that day.
At 3:30 pm, Terri and her husband, Kyron’s father Kaine, walked with their daughter to the bus stop to meet Kyron. The bus driver told them that the boy had not boarded the bus after school, however, and to call the school to ask where he might be. Terri did ring the school, only to be informed by the school secretary that, as far as anyone there knew, Kyron had not been at school and that he had been marked absent. Realizing then that the boy was missing, the secretary called the police.
The search party for Kyron was extensive and primarily focused on the two-mile radius around Skyline Elementary and on Sauvie Island, which lies 6 miles away. The search for Kyron, which happened over a span of ten days, was the largest in Oregon history, and included over 1,300 searchers from Oregon, Washington, and California. A reward posted for information leading to the discovery of Kyron, which was initially $25,000, rose to $50,000 in July 2010. Despite the long search, no evidence was ever found.
Legal proceedings, including a lawsuit between Kyron’s mother, Desiree Young who claims that Terri Horman is responsible for the disappearance of Kyron, is still ongoing. However, Kyron’s whereabouts and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance is still a mystery.
50. The Bizarre Deaths at Dyatlov Pass
On the first night of February in 1959, nine hikers died mysteriously in the mountains of what is now Russia. On the night of the incident, the group had set up camp on a slope, enjoyed dinner, and got ready for bed —but never returned home.
On February 26, a search party found the hikers’ abandoned tent, which had been ripped open from the inside. Surrounding the area were footprints left by the group, some wearing socks, some wearing a single shoe, some barefoot, all of which followed to the edge of a forest that was nearby. Two bodies were found there, shoeless and wearing only underwear. Initially, it was believed they died by hypothermia but medical examiners took a look at the body as well as the seven others that were discovered over the months that followed and disproved that theory. One body had evidence of a blunt force trauma as the result of a brutal assault, another body had third-degree burns, one had been vomiting blood; and the last one was missing a tongue. Some of their clothing had been found to be radioactive.
The morbid theories that floated included KGB-interference, drug overdose, UFO, gravity anomalies, the Yeti, and a terrifying but real phenomenon called “infrasound” in which the wind interacts with the topography to create a barely audible hum that can induce powerful feelings of nausea, panic, dread, chills, nervousness, raised heartbeat rate, and breathing difficulties. The true cause of death for these adventures still remains unsolved.
Up next… Unsolved mysteries are fascinating… we want to know who was D.B. Cooper, and what happened to him. Who committed the Black Dahlia murder? Who was Jack the Ripper? But sometimes those unsolved mysteries get solved… and sometimes, the solving of the mystery makes them that much more disturbing.
STORY: PREVIOUSLY UNSOLVED MYSTERIES THAT ARE STILL DISTURBING=====
So much in life is built on following our safe, established patterns and being able to luxuriate in the familiar. When something unknown or unexplainable appears, we can’t help but be intrigued. And when an explanation for the unknown is offered, sometimes that explanation is still so extraordinary that, while it may close the mystery, it does nothing to settle our shaken nerves.
These mysteries have all been solved, but every one of them has left us disturbed.
*****In January 2007, 13-year-old Ben Ownby disappeared from a school bus stop in rural Missouri. A witness saw the white pick-up truck that carried Ownby away, which eventually led police to the one-bedroom apartment of 41-year-old Michael Devlin. Upon arriving at the scene, investigators not only discovered Ownby alive and well, but another boy, Shawn Hornbeck, who had been missing from the area for four years and was sitting comfortably on the couch. Devlin had quite literally been on the prowl in rural neighborhoods, looking for a boy to victimize when he abducted Hornbeck and took him back to his apartment just 50 miles away. Eventually, Hornbeck was allowed out of the apartment to lead a relatively normal life, under the threat that if he tried to leave or tell anybody about his captivity, Devlin would kill his family. This arrangement, coupled with sexual abuse, lasted for four years, until Devlin decided Hornbeck was getting too old and he started looking for another victim. That’s when he spotted Ownby at the bus stop. With the eyewitness tip fresh in mind, officers happened to be responding to an unrelated call at Devlin’s apartment complex when they spotted the white pick-up. The next day, they questioned Devlin at the pizza shop where he worked, which was just around the corner from the police station; he confessed to kidnapping not one but two boys. Authorities were stunned not only at his confession, but at the result: two abducted boys, found alive, not more than an hour’s drive from their homes. Devlin received 74 life sentences for his crimes.
***Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped in 1991, but the mystery of her whereabouts wasn’t solved until 2009, when she was found and rescued from her kidnappers, Phillip and Nancy Garrido. Dugard was 11 when the couple kidnapped her as she walked to the school bus stop in her neighborhood in Meyers, CA, near South Lake Tahoe. Philip and Nancy (a certified nursing assistant) held Dugard in captivity in a labyrinth of sheds and outbuildings Philip had built in their backyard. He regularly sexually assaulted Dugard and forced her to raise the two daughters she had with him. In August 2009, Phillip went to UC Berkeley to inquire about hosting religious events on the campus and brought along the two girls. A campus staff member, Lisa Campbell, immediately became suspicious of him and requested a background check, which revealed Phillip was a registered sex offender. He was required to attend a parole meeting, where authorities uncovered that the children were Dugard’s, and Dugard was the girl who had been kidnapped in 1991. Shortly afterward, police raided the Garrido home and arrested Phillip and Nancy, charging them with 29 felony counts. Phillip was sentenced to 431 years in prison, while Nancy received 36 years to life. Dugard was reunited with her family, and has since published two memoirs.
***On an October night in 2006 in New Orleans, the body of Zachary Bowen, an Iraq War veteran who was just 28 years old, was found on top of a parking garage. In his pocket, police discovered his dog tags, a suicide note, and a key to his girlfriend’s apartment. The note read: “This is not accidental. I had to take my own life to pay for the one I took. If you send a patrol car to 826 N. Rampart, you will find the dismembered corpse of my girlfriend Addie in the oven, on the stove, and in the fridge and a full signed confession from myself… Zack Bowen.” When police arrived at Addie Hall’s apartment, that is exactly what they found. Her head was in a pot on the stove, as were her hands and feet, and her legs and arms were covered with seasoning salt on a roasting pan in the oven. Upon further searches of the scene, police found Bowen’s journal, in which he calmly described how he strangled Hall to death and, not surprised that he had no remorse for the act, decided it was time to leave this world.
***In the fall of 1941, while his wife Helen was recovering in the hospital from a broken hip, Philip Peters returned home to find a man going through his icebox. He confronted the man, and was promptly beaten to death by the intruder with a cast-iron stove shaker. Worried neighbors came to check on Philip that evening, as they usually saw him every day; that’s when they discovered his body. No evidence was present at the scene, dumbfounding the police. Even more mind-boggling were the calls from neighbors – and even Helen, once she returned home – insisting they heard someone in the house, or telling of odd smells. Every time officers responded, they found nothing suspicious. Helen eventually moved out and the house stayed vacant, yet calls from the neighbors continued. Police finally caught a break when two officers stationed in front of the house spotted a man inside. They rushed in just in time to see a pair of spindly legs disappearing into an attic trapdoor. The suspect, Theodore Coneys, was apprehended and confessed to murdering Philip Peters. Upon viewing the filthy, cramped quarters Coneys had been living in for months, Officer Fred Zarnow declared, “A man would have to be a spider to stand it long up there.” And so began the legend of “The Denver Spider Man.”
***The so-called Golden State Killer began his spree in California in the 1970s: He typically went into homes, where he raped women and sometimes committed murder. The culprit eluded detection. His tendency to commit offenses in different parts of the state confounded investigators, who initially didn’t realize one person was responsible. As a result, his identity remained a mystery for decades. But DNA testing finally solved the mystery. In 2018, former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo was caught – now a senior in his 70s and still living in California. Investigators identified him through DNA that a relative had uploaded to a genealogy website. He eventually received several life sentences without the possibility of parole.
***Back in 2005, when Nejdra “Netty” Nance was 17 and pregnant in Bridgeport, CT, she asked her mother, Ann Pettway, for her birth certificate so she could receive prenatal care from the state. When Pettway kept procrastinating about giving her the document, Nance decided to visit the Bureau of Vital Statistics in New Haven herself, providing her birthdate and name. No records came up, and officials visited her house to speak to Pettway. After the meeting, Pettway told Nance she was not her birth mother, and that Nance’s mother had left her daughter and never come back. Pettway said she did not remember anything more, and the pregnant teen took in the news and tried to go on with her life, especially after giving birth to her daughter, Samani. When Nance shared this story with an aunt she was close to, the aunt advised her to keep looking. Nance scoured the internet for missing children, using her birthdate as a reference. She wondered if DNA could help, but was told that tactic was “TV stuff.” She then searched the website of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and found a picture of a missing baby girl who looked just like her daughter Samani as an infant. This meant Nance could be that missing baby girl. She contacted the center, and over time, via a birthmark and DNA tests, Nance learned she was Carlina White, the missing daughter of Joy and Carl White. Nance had been taken by Pettway from the hospital when she was 19 days old; the reunion with her birth parents took place 23 years later. It sounds like a happy ending, but Netty/Carlina still had feelings for Pettway, and getting close to Carl did not come easily to her, although she did bond with Joy. Pettway gave herself up and received a 12-year prison sentence. Nance, who now officially goes by Carlina White, is a motivational speaker and Instagram model, although the last time she spoke publicly was at a 2014 conference.
***On August 2, 1947, the Star Dust, a plane operated by British South American Airlines, took off from Buenos Aires, Argentina, headed for Santiago, Chile. It never arrived. Minutes before the Star Dust was supposed to land in Chile, radio operators received a series of Morse code signals from the pilot that said the same thing: STENDEC. After sending the signal three times, the plane and its 11 passengers and crew disappeared. What happened to the plane? And what did STENDEC mean? The mysteries prompted a string of theories – ranging from hypoxia to UFOs – to explain the Star Dust’s disappearance and the meaning of STENDEC. Was it an anagram of “descent”? One theory is that it was code for “Severe Turbulence Encountered, Now Descending, Emergency Crash-landing.” Some of the mystery was laid to rest decades later. In 1998, mountain climbers found detritus on Mount Tupungato in the Andes, and authorities suspected it was the Star Dust. Two years later, soldiers from Argentina combed through the site of the impact and discovered that the freezing temperatures on Mount Tupungato actually preserved the body parts of the passengers. Although the plane’s wreckage has been found, the mystery of STENDEC endures.
***Sometimes a murder victim is deemed to have passed of natural causes. Although rare in modern times, this was the case with Greg Fleniken, who was discovered deceased in a hotel room in 2010. Initially a heart attack seemed to be the cause, but the medical examiner uncovered severe internal trauma and a small incision on Fleniken’s scrotum and deemed the death a homicide. Due to the lack of forthcoming results or evidence after almost a year, Fleniken’s wife Susie decided to hire a private investigator. While working alongside the police, the investigator examined the hotel room Fleniken had stayed in, where he found small indentations in the wall, filled with toothpaste. Further examination uncovered that a bullet had left the room next door and entered Fleniken’s room, piercing his scrotum and traveling through his body, causing severe internal damage. Police investigated the three men who had stayed in the next room over and learned that the guests had been drinking and fooling around with a loaded gun. The gun accidentally discharged and killed Fleniken. The man responsible for accidentally shooting Fleniken received a 10-year prison sentence.
***The story sounds like the beginning of a bad joke: Someone wakes up naked next to a Burger King dumpster – in this case in Richmond Hill, GA – with no recollection of the night before. For Benjaman Kyle, however, the situation was anything but funny. It wasn’t just the night before that was a complete blank; Kyle couldn’t remember his name, anyone he knew, or anything from the past 15 years of his life. Believing he was a drunk vagrant, police took him to the local hospital. He refused to eat or drink for nearly a week, and when he did start talking, he told nurses he had lived in the forest for 17 years and called everyone trying to help him “devils.” In extreme distress, he was transferred to a psychological ward and eventually a home for the indigent and homeless. For years, nurses and staff tried to help Benjaman Kyle (the name he eventually took) jog his memory. Detectives, journalists, and the FBI all tried to ascertain information to help identify who he really was, where he came from, or anyone who knew him – all to no avail. His photo was posted on various missing persons outlets, and his fingerprints run in the FBI database. Nothing. He went on all the major TV networks and even appeared on Dr. Phil. Numerous psychologists interviewed Kyle, trying to discern if he was lying, or to help him uncover hidden memories.
Not until 2016, when adoption researchers – using Kyle’s DNA and that of other donors – were able to finally solve the mystery. Benjaman Kyle was William Burgess Powell (or possibly William Brent Powell), a man from Indiana who had cut ties with his allegedly abusive family in the 1970s, then moved around from job to job. Although his identity was eventually solved, there was still no record for virtually the last 20+ years of his life. That mystery has yet to be solved.
***Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee were 19 when Ku Klux Klan members drowned them in the Mississippi River in 1964. The Mississippi police botched the case, allegedly out of prejudice, and those responsible never faced the consequences of their crimes. In 2004, documentary filmmaker David Ridgen teamed up with one of the victim’s brothers, Thomas Moore, to further research the killings. The men discovered that James Ford Seale, the previously identified alleged killer, still eluded the law. Moore and Ridgen confronted the former Klansman at his house and eventually convinced authorities to reopen the case. Seale stood trial and received a conviction in 2007 of life in prison.
***In 2006, writer, actor, and director Adrienne Shelly was found deceased in her apartment of an apparent suicide. She had given no indication or clue that she had ever been at risk of taking her own life. Authorities were baffled by how they had found her, as there was an unknown shoe print near her body. Authorities discovered construction worker Diego Pillco was the culprit after they managed to match his boot print to the one found near Shelly’s body. Allegedly, he and Shelly got into an argument over a noise complaint, which led to her slapping him. In a fit of rage, he punched Shelly so hard she fell unconscious. Reportedly, he feared he would be deported, so he staged her body to look like a suicide, leading to her unfortunate demise.
***Teenagers Cheryl Miller and Pamela (sometimes spelled Pamella) Jackson were supposed to attend an outdoor party near their hometown in South Dakota in May 1971. But they never made it. For decades, the mystery of the young women’s disappearance haunted their community. Decades later, Miller and Jackson’s families finally got an answer. In September 2013, a drought caused water levels in the area to drop. The level in nearby Brule Creek was low enough to reveal an old Studebaker, with its wheels up in the shallow water. It was soon clear the girls’ remains were there as well; investigators even found Miller’s purse still inside. The discovery helped authorities determine that it had been a tragic incident, not foul play. Somehow, the driver lost control of the vehicle as they headed to the party, and the car ended up in the creek, trapping the girls inside.
***Angela Hernandez was traveling from Oregon to California to visit family when she suddenly went missing. On July 5, 2018, she sent her family a text message saying she was pulling over in a grocery store parking lot to sleep in her car. After texting the following morning that she was getting back on the road, communication suddenly stopped. Her family could not reach Hernandez via phone, prompting them to contact authorities on July 6. While heavy fog initially hampered search efforts, eventually two hikers in Big Sur, CA, noticed the wrecked remains of Hernandez’s SUV at the bottom of a cliff and called police. Emergency responders found Hernandez alive in a rocky spot in the mountains after being missing for seven days. She reportedly used the radiator hose from her car to siphon water from a nearby creek while awaiting rescue.
***Every year, forensic science is evolving and adapting to better solve criminal cases. Genetic genealogy is the latest scientific tool for solving cold cases throughout the US. After three decades, the 1987 cold case of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg was solved with the aid of GEDMatch, a public ancestry website. A genealogist used the site to link William Talbot II to the deaths of the missing couple. This finding led to his trial and conviction, putting to rest the mystery surrounding what happened to Cook and Van Cuylenborg.
***When Lori Ruff took her own life in 2010, Social Security investigator Joe Velling discovered she was not who she had claimed to be. After conducting an investigation, he determined Ruff had stolen the identity of a 2-year-old girl killed in a fire decades ago. Although Velling knew from whom she had stolen the identity, he could not determine her true identity for years. He tried to uncover Ruff’s identity by running a story on her in the Seattle Times, hoping someone would recognize her, but the effort yielded no results. In 2016, a forensic genealogist contacted Velling, claiming he had uncovered a list of people related to Ruff based on DNA and had created a family tree. With this family tree, Velling, who was now retired, found a relative to contact. After meeting with the family member, he finally determined the identity of the woman known as Lori Ruff; she was actually Kimberley McLean, a teenage runaway who left home when she turned 18.
Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from – doing so helps the show to get noticed! You can also email me anytime with your questions or comments through the website at WeirdDarkness.com. That’s also where you can find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks I’ve narrated, shop the Weird Darkness store, sign up for the email newsletter to win monthly prizes, find other podcasts that I host, and find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Plus if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY – or call the DARKLINE toll free at 1-877-277-5944. That’s 1-877-277-5944.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“Why We Love Mysteries” by Christina Hoag for Medium
“Disturbing Unsolved Mysteries” by Maryn Liles for Parade
“Previously Unsolved Mysteries That Are Still Disturbing” by Will Morgan for Ranker’s Weird History
Again, you can find link to all of these stories in the show notes.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD’.” – Jeremiah 17:5
And a final thought… “Trials are not enemies of faith but are opportunities to prove God’s faithfulness.” — Author Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.