Due to reality TV, most people are familiar with the adage that the first 48 hours are the most important when it comes to solving a violent crime. The evidence is untainted; trails are still hot; details still fresh in witnesses’ minds; and, suspects most likely haven’t absconded yet. However, some cases defy all logic and investigation. As the old adage insinuates, the chance of solving these cases diminishes as the days, years, or even decades, pass. Even with today’s technology, years-old evidence sometimes just doesn’t hold up well-enough to be reliably tested. In these cases, the chance that the crime will ever be solved is almost nothing. But the mysteries persist. The bizarre nature of some of these unsolved crimes continue to baffle us, probably because theories abound and we’ll most likely never know the truth.
Almost everyone has heard of the notorious serial killers, Zodiac and Jack the Ripper. They were never caught; the murders never solved. But those are the well-known mysteries. There are many more bizarre crimes that have defied being solved for years; many of which most people know nothing about, or have long forgotten. Here we present a list of 15 of the most bizarre unsolved crimes still on the books. They’re all real and any one of them would make an excellent story for a movie (you couldn’t make some of this stuff up)! Besides, who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned mystery? So, as you’re reading, see if you can pick up on any details the authorities might have missed. Maybe you have what it takes to crack the case!
15. Murder In Paradise
Sir Harry Oakes, 1st Baronet of Nassau, was an American-born British-Canadian millionaire who made his fortune striking gold in the Klondike. He lived a luxurious lifestyle but was also known as a very generous man. He and his wife, Eunice, settled on the island of Nassau in the Bahamas, with his five children. Oakes’ arrival on the island proved to be an economic boom as he built mansions, a golf course, a hotel, and a country club. His generosity produced a hospital wing and public transportation. He employed numerous locals and his vicious death was a horrific shock to everyone on the island.
It was a rainy night of July 8, 1943; Oakes was alone as his family had been away on vacation. Sometime during the night, Sir Harry was brutally murdered in his bedroom. His body was discovered by a close friend, Sir Harold Christie, who was sleeping in a nearby guest room. The body had been soaked in gasoline and set ablaze. Blood splatter and smudged handprints were found nearby on partially burned furniture. Four small indentations were found on the left side of Oakes’ skull. Authorities were baffled and even called in two American detectives to assist in the investigation. To the detriment of the investigation, the Americans, in an effort to quickly solve the case, planted evidence to implicate the obvious suspect, Count Alfred de Marigny. De Marigny had eloped with and married Oakes’ daughter Nancy. De Marigny was proven innocent and the real murderer was never found.
14. The Ice Box Murders
It was June 23, 1965; Houston, Texas police were called out to check on an elderly couple that hadn’t been seen by their neighbors for some time. They were Fred Rogers, age 81, and his wife, Edwina, age 79. The responding patrolmen arrived to find the quaint house on Driscoll Street empty. For some reason, the officers decided to check the kitchen. One officer opened the refrigerator and they found nothing but stacked meat. As they were preparing to close the refrigerator door, they noticed a human head lying in the bottom vegetable bin. After a closer look, what at first appeared to be the remnants of a butchered hog was, in fact, the dismembered remains of the missing couple.
The investigation revealed that Fred and Edwina Rogers had actually been killed and had been dead a week before their bodies were placed inside the “ice box.” Fred had his head crushed and his organs flushed down his toilet. Edwina had been beaten and shot. The third resident of the house, their 43-year-old son Charles Rogers was missing and had not been seen for some time. Though there is no evidence linking him to the crime, Charles Rogers quickly became the prime suspect. However, even after an extensive search, no trace of Charles Rogers was ever found and it is believed by some that he might just be another victim instead of a suspect.
13. The Hall-Mills Murder
In Somerset, New Jersey, on September 16, 1922, the bodies of a man and woman were discovered in a field. Both were found on their backs and had been carefully positioned side by side. Both had their feet pointing in the direction of a nearby crabapple tree. The man’s hat was placed over his face, and his calling card placed at his feet. The bodies were identified as Edward W. Hall, a New Brunswick Episcopal priest, and Eleanor Mills, a married choir member of Hall’s church, with whom he was having an affair. Mills was found with her brown silk scarf wrapped around her throat. Her left hand had been carefully positioned to touch Hall’s right thigh. Hall was found with his right arm positioned to touch the woman’s neck. Both had been shot in the head with a .32-caliber pistol, the man once and the woman three times. The woman’s throat had also been cut. Torn up love letters were placed between their bodies. The investigation revealed that the pair had been murdered approximately two days earlier and then placed at the scene. The horrific case attracted immediate public and media attention.
Due to confusion over jurisdiction, the crime scene was unsecured for some time and a curious public trampled the scene, handling and compromising evidence. Initially the investigation yielded no suspects. Speculation and public furore over the crime led to a second investigation in 1926, which focused on the priest’s wife, Frances Stevens, and her two brothers, Henry and Willie, as the main suspects. This resulted in the three going to trial for the crime in 1926. After a 30-day trial, the trio was acquitted due to lack of credible evidence. The gruesome case remains unsolved.
12. The Monster With 21 Faces
In 1984, two armed masked men, using a stolen key, entered the home of Katsuhisa Ezaki, president and CEO of Ezaki Glico, an international food company based in Osaka, Japan. After tying up his wife and children, the men kidnapped Ezaki. A ransom of 1 billion yen and 100 kg of gold bars was demanded in exchange for Ezaki’s release. Ezaki managed to escape three days later. His abductors escaped and , two weeks later, numerous cars in the company headquarters’ parking lot were set ablaze. Then, a container of hydrochloric acid and a menacing letter was found. This began a series of threatening letters from a group calling themselves “The Monster with 21 Faces.” The letters made threats to poison many of Glico’s products, resulting in the recall of millions of dollars worth of products. Then, after months of torment, their final letter read, “We forgive Glico!”
They then set their sights on other companies, Marudai Ham, House Foods Corporation, and Fujiya. To put an end to the threats, Marudai even agreed to pay a hefty ransom in hopes the police would catch the terrorists at the exchange. Though investigators chased a suspect, dubbed the “Fox-Eyed Man,” he was able to evade them. After a year of harassment, the police superintendent in charge of the case committed suicide in shame. Five days later, “The Monster with 21 Faces” sent a letter to the media berating the police for allowing them to get away with their crimes and offering their condolences to the fallen police officer. The group further announced that they would be no longer going after the food companies and, instead, be returning to more traditional criminal activities, because, as they said, “We are bad guys.” They were never heard from again.
11. The Bonded Vault Heist At The Hudson Fur Storage
On August 14, 1975, just after 8 A.M., one man, dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase, walked into the Hudson Fur Storage, in Providence, Rhode Island. He pulled a gun and locked all the workers into an office. Then, six accomplices entered the building, carrying drills, crowbars, and large duffle bags. The men appeared to know the secret of the business: the hidden vault containing 146 large safe-deposit boxes, each two-feet high, two-feet wide, and four-feet deep. This was possibly the safest bank that didn’t exist! This wasn’t really due to its secrecy, but because of who used it: the mob. Organized crime in New England was reputedly run by boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca. He had a reputation for violence and it was his syndicate that used the vault as storage for their cash, guns, gold, and jewellery.
The thieves went from one box to the next, filling seven bags stuffed with the loot. After an hour, they dragged their haul back to their van and disappeared. No one knows exactly how much in value the thieves got away with; the mob wasn’t exactly going to file a detailed report. Initial police reports indicate around $1 million; however, many believe it was closer to $30 million in cash and valuables, or more. That estimation is partly based on what the thieves chose to leave behind. Robbery detectives noted in their report that the thieves left literally tons of cash, gold and silver bars, and raw gem stones. Whatever they took must’ve been worth more than that! Rumors have it that the thieves split up the horde but then turned over all the really valuable stuff to Patriarca himself. No one really knows who pulled off the crime or if it really was an inside job.
10. Pennsylvania’s Mystery Head
On December 12, 2014, in rural Economy, Pennsylvania, a young boy got off his school bus and made a frightful discovery! He found a woman’s severed head! Investigators, through the wonders of medical science, were able to determine the head belonged to an older woman native to the Pennsylvania area. However, that’s about it; the head matched no known missing person reports and the body was never found. What’s even odder, the head was professionally embalmed. Therefore, it must belong to an already deceased woman in a mortuary. However, once again, this proved to be a dead end as well. No area mortuary, hospital, or even graveyard was aware of any missing heads! So, possibly the embalming wasn’t done, uh, well, professionally.
To make matters more difficult, the woman’s eyes had been removed and replaced with fake ones, which is a common embalming practice. However, the fake eyes weren’t professional replacements, they were rubber toys; basically children’s bouncy balls commonly found in vending machines all over the country. So what was going on? Investigators initially thought the head must’ve fallen or possibly been thrown from a moving vehicle. But if that was the case, why didn’t the fake yes pop out? No, it was concluded that someone, for some reason, specifically placed the severed head in the precise spot where it was found. To this day, no one knows who the lady was or why her head was left there?
9. The Disappearance Of Pauline Picard
In April 1922, 2-year-old Pauline Picard went missing from home in Goas Al Ludu, France. The police and volunteers conducted an extensive search but no trace was found. A few weeks later, a young girl matching Pauline’s description was found wandering alone 300 miles away in Cherbourg. Her mother identified the young girl as Pauline. No one knew how the infant could’ve made it so far away. Oddly, the girl was very distant with her parents, and failed to respond when spoken to in her native dialect. After a few weeks, the Picards began to believe this might not actually be their daughter.
Then, a farmer was walking across the Picard farm when he found the viciously disfigured, naked, decapitated body of a young girl, with a skull nearby. The body was decayed past the point of positive visual identification but clothes found nearby matched the outfit Pauline was wearing the day she vanished. Interestingly, the location where the body was found had already been searched during the initial investigation, leading investigators to believe the body had recently been placed there. Then, as if things weren’t strange enough, the autopsy revealed the skull found was too large to have belonged to the young girl’s body. In fact, the skull was that of a full-grown adult male. Ultimately, the mystery kept deepening. The mystery girl from Cherbourg was sent to an orphanage, no one ever learning her real identity. The Picard family’s readiness to accept the girl as their own might be chalked up to wishful thinking. But was the body found on their property really Pauline? Where was her head? Whose head was found? Who killed them? Why? The mystery has endured for almost a hundred years and we’re no closer to solving now than we were then.
8. Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders
Keddie was a resort town in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada. Late in the evening on April 11, 1981, in Cabin 28, Glenna “Sue” Sharp, her teenage son John, and his friend, Dana Wingate, were all viciously murdered. The following morning, Sue’s 14-year-old daughter, Sheila, discovered the grisly scene when she returned from a sleepover nearby. The three victims had been tied with electrical wire and tape, bludgeoned with a claw hammer, stabbed repeatedly, with John having his throat slit and Dana strangled. One family member, 12-year-old Tina Sharp, was missing and presumed to have been abducted from the cabin. Three other children, Greg and Rick Sharp, and a friend, Justin, were found alive in one of the cabin’s bedrooms. Greg and Rick slept through the whole ordeal, leaving 12-year-old Justin the sole witness. His statement has been questioned throughout the years at it has changed three times since that fateful night. Justin’s first account came under a haphazard hypnosis session, then again under a polygraph examination, and then, years later, under a professional hypnosis session.
Though Keddie was a resort town, the population was made up of a cornucopia of suspects: drug traffickers, child molesters, professional criminals, corrupt cops, and at least one serial killer. In fact, staying in the cabin next door was Martin Smartt, Justin’s stepfather, and John Boubede, an infamous bank robber and reputed mob enforcer. The pair became prime suspects but no evidence was ever found to link anyone to the crime. The case grew cold and the investigation stalled. Eventually, three years later, the severed skull of Tina Sharp was found 95 miles from the crime scene. The rest of her body was never found and the murders remain unsolved.
7. The Locked Room Murder Of Joe Elwell
Early in the morning on June 11, 1920, housekeeper Marie Larsen, as was her routine, let herself into the elegant New York City apartment of its wealthy owner, Joe Elwell. Upon entering she made a frightful discovery and ran out screaming about a dead stranger in the apartment. The police were contacted and upon their arrival discovered that the dead man was no stranger, but Joe Elwell himself. Larsen could not be faulted for not recognizing her boss, as he was found minus the designer wigs and dentures that he normally wore. Elwell, a writer and expert on the game of bridge, had been shot once in the head.
The investigation revealed that the weapon was a .45 caliber automatic and it had been fired from a distance of about 1-2 meters (3-5 ft). The crime scene was perplexing. Though the murder weapon was missing, the bullet that killed Elwell was found neatly placed on a table. Sure, it might have ricocheted off a wall, but the bullet’s placement looked staged. The spent cartridge was found on the floor nearby. The angle of the bullet wound indicated that the killer had been crouching in front of Elwell when he killed him. His body was found sitting with an opened letter in his lap and unopened mail at his feet. Aside from Elwell’s, no other fingerprints were found at the scene and there was no sign of a struggle or forced entry. In fact, the apartment and the bedroom were locked when the housekeeper arrived that morning. Additionally, nothing appeared to have been stolen. This, and the fact that Elwell allowed himself to be seen without his signature wig and dentures, led police to believe he had to have known his killer. The murder remains a mystery to this day.
6. The Horror In Room 1046
In Kansas City, Missouri, on January 2, 1935, Roland T. Owen checked into the Hotel President. He was given room 1046. He brought no luggage. Later, a maid went to clean the room. Owen appeared nervous and had the shades tightly drawn. She said every time she went up to his room over the next day or so, he would be sitting in the dark, sometimes his door would be locked from the outside. A day later, the switchboard operator noticed Owen’s telephone kept being left off the hook. The bellboy went up to put it back on the hook. He found Owen lying on the bed naked, the phone knocked onto the ground. He fixed the phone and quickly left the room. The next morning, the phone was again off the hook. When the bellboy went up he found Owen naked in the dark, crouching on the floor, holding his bloody head in his hands. He turned the light on and saw blood all over the walls. The police were immediately called.
It appeared Owen had been tied up, repeatedly stabbed, beaten brutally and had his skull fractured. When asked what happened, Owen responded, “I fell against the bathtub.” There was absolutely no clothing found in the room. Owen was rushed to the hospital but fell into a coma and died. Investigators could find no record of a “Roland T Owen,” and believed it was a fake name. His body was taken to a funeral home and publicly displayed in hopes that someone would recognize him. No one did, but an anonymous caller asked that the body’s disposal be delayed until they could wire money to cover the costs of a decent burial. Shortly afterward, cash arrived, special delivery, anonymously, and “Owen” was buried in Memorial Park Cemetery. Later, in 1936, a woman identified the man as her 17-year-old brother, Artemus Ogletree, who left home in 1934. What he had gotten mixed up in and why he was killed is still a mystery.
5. The Skeleton In The Bedroom
Ada Constance Kent was once a popular British actress, appearing in both film and stage productions. As she grew older, Kent decided to retire to the English countryside. Wealthy and unmarried, Kent lived a solitary lifestyle in the quaint village of Fingringhoe, Essex. In 1939, a concerned friend reported her missing after having not seen her in 3 months. The friend went to Kent’s home and searched for her but told police she was nowhere to be found. Police verified by searching Kent’s home and the surrounding area. They found the door to her cottage unlocked, and a tray with some food still resting on the dining table. A copy of Romeo & Juliet was laid open in a chair near the fireplace and Kent’s coat was hanging on the hook by the door. It appeared as though Kent had vanished.
The search went cold until March 1949, when a bank contacted the local police in regards to Kent’s account. It seems a number of large deposits were made into her account over the past few years. The last deposit was made in September 1948. Police decided to check Kent’s cottage once more in case she or someone had returned. This time they were shocked when the found, lying in the bedroom, a fully clothed skeleton! Next to the skeleton was an empty bottle marked “POISON.” The police noted that, other than being dusty, the cottage appeared as it did all those years prior; although, surprisingly, they made no mention of seeing the book on the chair. Scotland Yard conducted a forensic examination on the skeleton and came to the conclusion that it was not the body of Ada Constance Kent, as it was too large and most likely belonged to a male. This baffling mystery remains unsolved.
4. Charles Morgan, Secret Agent?
In 1977, Charles Morgan lived a rather mundane life. He owned an escrow company and lived quietly with his family in Tucson, Arizona. Then, on March 22, he vanished without a trace. Three days later, he stumbled into home in the middle of the night. When questioned by his wife, he claimed he couldn’t speak, but wrote a crazy note claiming that someone had coated his throat with a hallucinogenic drug. He insisted she not contact the police. Later, after recovering, Morgan refused to discuss the episode except to intimate that it had to do with his secret work as an agent for the Treasury Department. Two months later, he vanished again, and was later found dead in the desert. He had been shot once in the head.
His death was ruled a suicide, even though he had been shot in the back of his head (how they justified that one is a mystery unto itself…). Oddly, he was found wearing a bulletproof vest, with one of his own teeth in his pocket, as well as a $2 bill in his underwear, which was annotated with seven Spanish surnames and a Bible citation: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8. It’s also interesting to note that prior to Morgan’s body being discovered, his wife received an anonymous call from a woman, referring to herself only as “Green Eyes.” The mysterious woman said nothing except “Ecclesiastes 12:1-8,” before hanging up. The reading of that passage is, “’Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!’” “Green Eyes” later contacted the police and informed them that just before his death, Morgan showed her a briefcase filled with $60,000 cash, and was hoping to use it to pay off a hitman that was after him. The woman disappeared and no money was every recovered at the crime scene.
3. The Somerton Man
The Somerton Man, or “The Tamam Shud Case,” refers to an unsolved mystery involving the corpse of an unidentified man that was found on December 1, 1948, on Somerton Beach in Adelaide, South Australia. The case is so-called for the phrase, tamám shud, meaning “ended” or “finished” in Persian, which was printed on a scrap of paper found in a hidden pocket of the deceased man’s pants. He was estimated to have been in his early 40s, was well-dressed; although his clothes had all their labels removed and he was missing his wallet. He was found lying in the sand with his head resting on the seawall, his legs extended and his feet crossed. He had a half-smoked cigarette resting on the right collar of his coat, held in position by his cheek.
No cause of death was ever determined and there was no record of his fingerprints or dental history anywhere in the English-speaking world. What is known is that a suitcase belonging to the man was left in the cloakroom of Adelaide’s railway station on November 30. This is known due to a thread card of a type not common to Australia having been found inside the case. The same thread was used to fix a pocket in the mystery man’s trousers. Was he murdered? If so, how and why? Did he commit suicide? Is his death simply the result of natural causes? It is unlikely that we will ever learn the truth.
2. The Black Dahlia
This is possibly the most famous Hollywood murder. It all started on January 15, 1947, when 22-year-old aspiring actress Elizabeth Short was found dead on South Norton Avenue, between Coliseum and West 39th streets, in a vacant lot in Los Angeles. Her body had been gruesomely cut in half and drained of blood. Gashes measuring 8 cm each had been carved into the corners of her mouth, giving the appearance of an eerie clown-type smile. She also had several cuts to her thighs and breasts and her body had been neatly posed. She also had numerous bruises to her head. A forensic examination revealed she died as a result of loss of blood from the cuts to her face as well as shock from being struck in the head. She was last seen wearing a jet black tailored dress, hence her post-mortem nickname, The Black Dahlia.
Her murder became a top story, not only because of where it occurred, but because the police worked in conjunction with the press circulate clues in hopes of identifying a suspect. Several people confessed, but all were later proved to be publicity seekers. Short’s private life became public knowledge and a sad tale of a young girl prowling the Hollywood night life, visiting jazz clubs, befriending many men, all in hopes of making it big in showbiz. Police were never able to accurately identify where or with whom she might have spent her final night. There were numerous rumors and theories about her murder, and several people have offered up deceased relatives as possible suspects. However, the case still remains one of the oldest unsolved murder cases in Los Angeles.
1. The Hinterkaifeck Mystery
Hinterkaifeck is a small farm hidden in the Bavarian woods of Germany, approximately 70 km north of Munich. It is the site of one of the most perplexing unsolved crimes in German history. On the evening of Friday, March 31, 1922, the six residents of the farm were brutally murdered with a pickaxe-like tool called a mattock. The victims were an elderly married couple, Andreas Gruber and his wife, Cäzilia; their widowed daughter, Viktoria, and her two children, Josef and Cäzilia, ages 2 and 7, respectively; and the maid, Maria Baumgartner. Maria was new to the farm and had just arrived that very same day. Oddly, the previous maid quit claiming that the farm had a demonic presence. A few days prior to the murders, Gruber told his neighbors that he had found mysterious footprints in the snow leading from the forest to his farm, but none leading back. He also spoke of hearing footsteps in the attic and that his house keys went missing.
It is believed that the family was lured out to the barn one by one, where their heads were split apart by a single swift blow. Then the killer went into the house and killed 2-year-old Josef, as he lay asleep in his mother’s bedroom. The killer then proceeded to murder Maria Baumgartner in her bedroom. The bodies were found the following Monday, all meticulously stacked and covered in the barn. Evidence points to the killer staying on the farm over the weekend, as fresh food was eaten in the kitchen, the cattle were fed daily, and smoke from the fireplace was seen by neighbors, yet no valuables were taken. It seems bizarre that the killer would remain in the home for several days after committing such a heinous crime.