Is there such thing as the perfect crime? Based on the startling accounts of horrifying crimes that have left authorities baffled, it seems possible. Crime is an unfortunate reality in every society – much crime goes largely unreported, while a small minority of shocking crimes hit headlines the world over on a weekly basis. When there a heinous crime grabs the attention of the media and fails to be solved, it tends to become sensationalised and conspiracy theories abound. There are many likely reasons for our fascination with unsolved crimes; one of them is fear, especially in a case of, for example, a relentless serial killer who’s still at large.
There are unsolved crimes which date back as far as centuries ago, having left police, detectives and criminologists bewildered – and the mystery is certainly intriguing. Crimes that have been solved are generally consigned the the pages of history and left well enough alone; they rarely gain the notoriety of the enigmatic, unsolved crimes.
While objective onlookers certainly find all this interesting, the families and friends and sometimes surviving victims of these unsolved crimes are left living a life of uncertainty, having failed to achieve justice or closure. Unsolved crimes could mean lifetimes wasted trying to solve them, careers tainted – or worse, innocent people being accused and wrongfully imprisoned in a reckless rush to tie up the loose ends and appease the media.
Here, we’re recounting stories of ten of the most mysterious crimes to remain unsolved. For many of these crimes there have been extensive investigations, documentary films, even novel written novels about the incidents. With such a wealth of information and speculation, we can but scratch the surface of these profound mysteries. With these 10 introductions to ten big mysteries, perhaps this article will inspire budding investigators to do some digging…
10. The Chicago Tylenol Poisonings
In the fall of 1982, seven people in Chicago died after taking Tylenol that was laced with cyanide. A 12-year old girl who complained of a cold and was given Tylenol by her parents became one of the first victims. Another victim, Adam Janus, died after taking the pill for his chest pains, and while his younger brother and sister-in-law grieved, they took some of Adam’s Tylenol and also died. Needless to say, the city of Chicago was in a panicked frenzy and police pulled the product from the shelves. This particular incident inspired fear, copycat crimes and hoaxes – yet, incredibly, pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson successfully bounced back from the consequent huge drop in their market share due to their honesty with the public and their cooperation with the FBI and the FDA.
Culprits behind the Tylenol poisonings have never been identified, but investigation are ongoing with advances in technology making a break in the case look slightly more likely. Between 2009 and 2011, the house of a James Lewis was searched in relation to the investigation, and Theodore John “Ted” Kaczynski – a mathematical genius, Harvard graduate and serial killer who’s known for opposing industrialism – is also under investigation. It was this horrifying incident that led the the creation of those tamper-proof caps we find on so many medications, foods and drinks.
9. JonBenét Ramsey
A truly tragic and bizarre unsolved crime, six-year old pageant queen JonBenét Ramsey’s murder was one of the most sensationalized murder investigations the world had ever known in 1996. With so much exposure, it’s hard to believe that the crime remains unsolved. The little girl’s body was found in the basement of her home, hours after the discovery of a ransom note (demanding almost the exact amount of her father’s bonus). Suspicion landed on the girl’s parents, John and Patsy Ramsey. There had been evidence that suggested the ransom note was written by Jonbenet’s mother, but this was never certainly proven. Mrs. Ramsey died in 2006, and John Ramsey has since remarried but charges have yet to be filed against anyone for JonBenét’s murder. As of 2009, Boulder’s District Attorney announced that there would be a renewed investigation into the murder.
8. Gardner Museum
Like the burning of the Alexandria Library, art historians and enthusiasts continue to mourn one of the greatest art heists in history. On St. Patrick’s Day in 1990, when the city was immersed in celebration, two men dressed as policemen stole 13 paintings from the Boston museum with an estimated value of $300 million. How did they do it? They simply knocked at the door and security let them in. To add insult to injury, the paintings were cut directly from the frames in a brutal manner. And to make matters worse, the museum was uninsured. Investigations ranged from mob bosses to the Irish Republican Army but the heist remains unsolved and the 13 paintings lost.
7. Tupac and Notorious B.I.G.
For those of our readers who still believe that Tupac and Biggie are still alive and hanging out on an island with Elvis and Michael Jackson, you may need to sit this section out. Because these two rappers met their end through very similar circumstances: a car pulled up next to the car in which they were riding in the passenger’s seat and opened fire, and only months apart, the conspiracy theories went crazy. The two murders have yet to be solved, and fingers continue to be pointed at gangs and even Sean Combs.
6. D.B. Cooper
On the Northwest Orient Airlines flight 305 from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington, sat a man named D.B. Cooper in seat 18E on Thanksgiving in 1971. Cooper threatened to blow up the plane unless he received $200,000 in cash. He collected the money in the Seattle airport and demanded that the pilot fly him back to Oregon. While airborne, Cooper opened the rear door and parachuted off the plane into the dark with the money strapped to his torso. Cooper and the money were never found and the case remains as the FBI’s only unsolved plane hijacking. About $5,880 of the money was found on the Columbia River several years later, but that’s about it.
5. The Monster With 21 Faces
In the 1980’s, a group called “The Monster With 21 Faces” (called “Monster” from here on out) terrorized local Japanese food giant, Ezaki Glico. First, two armed men broke into his house and kidnapped the company’s president. They held him in a warehouse and called the company demanding a ransom of 100 million Yen and 100 kilos of gold bullion. Luckily, Glico escaped, but did so before being able to identify his kidnappers. “Monster” wasn’t done yet though. The company parking lot was set on fire a few weeks later, and then the letters began to appear. One of the letters stated that “Monster” poisoned Ezaki Glico’s candies, causing the company to lose $21 million and compelling them to fire 450 part time workers after pulling their products from the shelves. “Monster” eventually moved on from Glico and continued to terrorize corporate giants for years to come, all without getting caught.
4. The Disembodied Feet
Perhaps this one might have a logical explanation, but that doesn’t make it any less creepy, and this epidemic has yet to be officially solved. In August of 2007, five human feet washed up on the shores of Vancouver, British Colombia. The feet were still clad in sneakers, and came with no body, head, clothes – nothing. Coroners and medical experts have stated that once a body is dead and starts decomposing, it is easy for feet to separate at the ankle from the rest of the body. So where are the bodies? The feet were tested and one of them belonged to a man who was missing for several months, and it has been speculated that the feet could belong to victims of the 2005 plane crash off the Quadra Island. Authorities and civilians are still looking at this case as a potential murder.
3. The Zodiac Killings
An unknown serial killer was terrorizing the Bay Area in 1969, sending encrypted letters to local San Francisco newspapers. Starting with the shooting murders of a couple in a lovers’ lane type enclave, at least 10 people were killed by the unknown assailant. What made the murders and the killer become a media sensation was the way he would mentally mess with reporters and the authorities and sending puzzle-type letters that readers would try to solve nationwide. The Zodiac Killer even dropped hints about his next victims, including a threat to shoot a bus full of children. The killer was never caught and the murders remain unsolved, although several suspects have been named; as recently as February 2014, it was revealed that a man told authorities that his friend, Louie Myers, confessed to being the killer in 2001 before his death. Still, no suspect has been apprehended.
2. Jack the Ripper
We all know about the infamous murders in London’s Whitechapel district, conducted by the infamous serial killer only known as Jack the Ripper. Even though the murders took place all the way back in 1888, there are people to this day that obsess over these unsolved crimes, ever lovingly called “Ripperologists.” If you were a prostitute between August and November of 1888, you had to be extra cautious, as you would be the Ripper’s primary target. At least five prostitutes were gruesomely murdered, and no culprit was ever captured. Among the wild speculations, the Ripper’s identity has been suggested as Prince Albert Victor, or Lewis Carroll (who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), or the royal physician, Sir William Gull.
1. The Black Dahlia
On January 15th, 1947, the body of 22-year old Elizabeth Short was found on North Avenue between 39th and Coliseum Street in Los Angeles, California. The nature of her body was nothing less than horrific; her body naked, surgically cut in half, and drained of its blood along with 3-inch gashes on both sides of her mouth, creating a haunting smile. The Black Dahlia murder marked a partnership with police and the media, as people came forward confessing to be the murderer as well as accusing others of the act, only to be debunked by the authorities. Because Short was in the midst of mourning her lost love, she often found companionship with random men at jazz clubs, thus making it nearly impossible to figure who she was with on the night she died. The case remains unsolved even in 2014, and has inspired numerous books and movies.