It's a haunting thought that we live in a world where people are capable of hurting others by the most horrific means; there are those who entirely lack respect for the miracle of human life. As much as it is a comfort knowing that most of us will never experience such terrible dangers in our lives, there are some stories we hear that are so unimaginable they read like a work of disturbing fiction.
Within modern society there are rules and boundaries set by the law, and if these rules are broken then there will - we would expect - be punishment. Those who have committed heinous crimes are assured they will get their comeuppance. But then, shockingly for all, there are some crimes that are still to this very day left unsolved; evidence has been mounting, witnesses have given accounts and theorists come forward with new angles, yet still detectives can't catch these criminals.
Every decade there appears to be one real-life crime that shocks the world, but that nobody can quite work out. The following list has disturbing details of twisted violence, gruesome bodily harm, vicious murders and haunting disappearances; each of the following crimes to this very day have been left unsolved.
12 The Cabin 28 Murders
In 1981, a family holiday turned into four gruesome murders at a resort known as Keddie in Sierra Nevada, California; still, to this day, it remains unsolved. Staying in Cabin 28 were Gemma Sharp, her son John (15-years-old) and his friend Dana Wingate (aged 17-years-old). In the early hours of one April morning all three bodies were discovered by Sheila, Gemma's daughter, who had been having a sleepover in the cabin next door. Sheila found the three bound together with electrical wire and medical tape.
The post-mortem discovered that all three bodies had been hit with a claw-hammer, the young boy had his throat cut and there was a blade found at the scene of the crime which had been used with such force it was bent at a 25-degree angle. There was, however, one person missing from the crime scene; Tina Sharp, the 12-year-old daughter of Gemma who had been sleeping in the same cabin, but was absent from the crime scene. They found her skull three years after the murders and nearly 100 miles away from Cabin 28, although the rest of her remains were never found.
The now-demolished Keddie resort was said to situated in a hotbed of crime. The crimes were never solved, and no arrests were ever made in connection with the murders, though there have been many dead-end theories which try and understand just what happened that night.
11 The Death of JonBenét Ramsey
In 1996, JonBenét Ramsey was found murdered in her own home in Boulder, Colorado, aged just six-years-old. She was a well-known beauty queen and the daughter of a wealthy businessman. It became one of the most publicised police investigations throughout the late 90s.
Police were alerted when Ramsey was found missing from her bed one early morning, searches were carried out and just hours later her body was found in the basement of the house; she had a fractured skull, strangled with a cord and sexually molested. Many criticised the police for allowing Mr Ramsey to carry his daughter's body upstairs into the main house, and also for failing to separate the two parents then interviewing them immediately.
The public were venomous in their accusations of Ramsey's parents when evidence was released that the paper the ransom note was written on their own paper. Fiber found on Mrs Ramsey's clothing that was identical to the duct tape used to restrain her daughter. But in 2008, as DNA technology had advanced, police were able to clear all members of Ramsey's family as suspects. No further suspects have been arrested.
10 The Mad Axeman of New Orleans
There are few things scarier than a mad axe-man on the loose; between the years of 1918 and 1919 this is exactly the fear the residents of New Orleans, Louisiana had to live with. There were eight victims in total who had been axed to death in their own homes = although these were not suspected burglaries, as no possessions were taken.
The majority of the victims were of Italian-American descent; the media sensationalised that there were Mafia connections to the murders although no evidence could support this. The night of March 13, 1919 there was a letter said to be written by the Axeman himself stating that he would kill again that night but would not choose a place where a jazz band was playing. That night all the city halls were filled with citizens and jazz bands played all night; no murders were reported.
The New Orleans Axe Murderer even went as far as gloating in the same letter that he would never be caught. He wrote in his chilling letter;
"They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.
When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company"
9 The Disappearance of the Beaumont Children
Jane (9), Arnna (7) and Grant Beaumont (5) were three children from Somerton Park, Australia. On January 26, 1966 they took a five-minute bus journey to Glenelg beach. They were told by their parents to be back at noon. but by 3pm their parents became worried when the children still hadn't returned home. Little did they know, at this point, that the children would never return.
The parents went to the beach to search for their offspring and at 7pm that evening they finally alerted the police that all three children were missing. The next day, police began questioning those who had last seen the children. A 74 year old woman said that she had seen a blonde man on the beach, lying down in the grass and watching the children. Then later, she said she witnessed the same man playing with the children.
The local shop claimed that the children had been in that day to buy small amounts of food, but it transpired that their mother had not given them any money. This prompted the police to question where they had got the funds from. A separate eye witness said they had seen the three children leave the beach with the same man described by the elderly lady; this prompted one of the biggest searches to be carried out in Australia as the children were now an abduction case.
The three Beaumont children were never found. Today, they would be aged 57, 55 and 53-years-old.
8 The Mad Butcher of Cleveland
During the years of 1934 and 1938 in Cleveland, Ohio there were thirteen victims, seven males and six females, who had all been dismembered and mutilated. The unnamed killer was labelled the "Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run". Of all the victims. only two were able to be identified, such was the severity of his killings. This also prompted a theory that the Mad Butcher picked only drifters to butcher so they would not cause a stir if discovered missing.
In 1997, a new theory about the killings came to light, with many believing that the murders were carried out by several different people instead of just one serial killer. There were also arguments that the autopsy report had never concluded if the cuts were inflicted by an expert or an amateur. To this day there has been no resolution; only further speculation.
7 The Shooting of William Desmond Taylor
William Desmond Taylor was a well respected film director who was found dead at his Hollywood home in 1922. When his body was first discovered, the police believed that he was killed by a haemorrhage - but when they lifted his body from the ground they found a .38 caliber bullet hole in the back of his head.
What confused the detectives was just how many suspects there were. He was being stalked by a war veteran who he had previously given aid too; a young lady named Mary Miles Minter had left him several, obsessive love letters; Minter's mother was known as an incredibly controlling woman who disagreed with her daughter's obsession with Taylor. There was also comedian Mabel Normand who was found in his house when the shooting took place, and was seen rummaging through his drawers. Taylor also tackled the drug trade head on, so many considered him a marked man.
The case is still open today and despite the long list of potential suspects it becomes more and more apparent that nobody will ever know who really shot Taylor.
6 The Murder of the Black Dahlia
In 1947, Elizabeth Short was murdered in such a gruesome manner that it became publicised to the point that she posthumously gained her own nickname as "The Black Dahlia". Many movies and books have been inspired by the murder which still remains unsolved.
Short's body had been discovered at Leimert Park in Los Angeles. The killer had severed her body completely at the waist and drained the corpse of all its blood; it was also discovered that the body had been washed. Her face had been slashed from the corners of her mouth to the ears and there were multiple cuts on her thighs and breasts. The two separate parts of Short's corpse had been positioned a foot away from each other and "posed" with her hands over her head and legs spread. The body was hidden in the bushes at a park.
After the body had been identified as Elizabeth Short, the Los Angeles Examiner rang her mother to say she had won first prize in a beauty contest so they could get as much information from her for their scoop in the newspaper. It wasn't until after they had spoken together for quite sometime that they finally informed her that Elizabeth had been murdered. As the crime had so much notoriety in the press, over 50 men confessed to the murder; however the case remains unsolved.
5 The Murder of Nicole Brown
Nicole Brown was once the wife of ex-professional football player, O.J Simpson who she met in 1977 when she was working as a waitress in Beverly Hills. Although Simpson was still married to his first wife, the couple began dating which prompted him to finalise a divorce in 1980. Simpson and Brown then married in 1985, they had two children together but divorced in 1992. Three years earlier, O.J. had pleaded no contest to spousal abuse.
In June, 1994, when she was aged just 35-years-old, Nicole was murdered in her own him in Los Angeles, California alongside her good friend and restaurant waiter Ronald Lyle Goldman. Her cause of death was multiple stab wounds to the head and neck, she had several wounds on her hands which were considered self-defence against her attacker. The wounds to her neck were so severe that the larynx could clearly be seen.
O.J. was put through a criminal trial on two counts of murder after evidence found and collected at the scene led detectives to believe he had committed the murders. Although substantial evidence was against him, Simpson was given a not-guilty verdict and Nicole Brown's killer still remains unknown.
4 The Shooting of Tupac
In 1996, rapper and actor Tupac "2Pac" Shakur died after seven days in a coma. He had been shot in Las Vegas, in a drive-by crime. He was declared dead by doctors when they could no longer stop the internal bleeding; at just 25-years-old, his body was cremated.
Although nobody was charged with the murder, there have been many theories about who the potential killer could have been. The majority believed it was a rival gang who killed him. There have also been many theories that Tupac was helping the FBI investigate the Death Row record label and was granted a new identity under the witness protection act.
Former Death Row record label boss, Marion "Suge" Knight, made outlandish claims a few years ago that Tupac was alive and well. He said in an interview with TMZ:
"Why you think nobody been arrested if they said they the one killed Tupac? Because Tupac not dead. Tupac not dead, n***a. If he was dead they'd be arresting those dudes for murder. You know he somewhere smoking a Cuban cigar on an island somewhere".
3 The Disappearance of Madeline McCann
On May 3rd 2007, 3-year-old Madeleine "Maddie" McCann disappeared during a family holiday to Praia da Luz; a resort in Algarve, Portugal. Her parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, had put Maddie and her two younger twin siblings to bed that night then dined with friends at a local restaurant 160 feet away from the apartment. The couples regularly checked on the children as they slept but during one of the routine checks at 10pm they discovered Maddie was no longer in her bed.
Family friend Jane Tanner joined them on the holiday and became a significant witness after reporting a man seen carrying a young child away from the resort 50 minutes before Maddie was reported missing.
The McCanns were considered suspects in 2007, but their names were cleared a year later. The McCanns lost trust in the Portuguese police so they hired their own private detectives; eventually Scotland Yard became involved and the inquiry is continued to date with very little new evidence. Maddie would be eleven-years-old if she was found now. The case has been labelled by the media as "the most heavily reported missing-person case in modern history".
2 The Zodiac Killings
Throughout the late 1960's and early 1970's, San Francisco was terrorized by a killer who labelled himself "Zodiac", he would attack couples in secluded parts of the city. Zodiac was said to be responsible for five murders and known to taunt detectives by sending letters detailing the killings to the press. The first death was of college student, Cheri Jo Bates. A letter supposedly sent from the killer read: "Bates had to die. There will be more".
Three more couples were shot and killed, the Zodiac sent several codes to the newspapers and demanded that they be printed or he would kill again. Above is an image that was released by the police at the time of the deaths; it was a mockup of what the suspected Zodiac killer looked like based on eyewitnesses at the murder scenes. But Zodiac was never found and he still remains, to this day, another unsolved murdering spree.
1 Who Was Jack The Ripper?
Jack The Ripper was inspiration for many books, movies, poems and chilling tales throughout history. This is the name given to the unidentified serial killer who would reign terror in impoverished areas around Whitechapel, London in 1888. The old newspapers would either report his name as The Ripper or use "The Whitechapel Murderer" or "Leather Apron".
He would mainly attack female prostitutes in the slums and their bodies would often be discovered with their throats cut or internal organs removed. The Ripper was one of the first criminals in history to be profiled, a detective on the case said that there was little skill to his body mutilations. They also believed the killer would be quite solitary and have extreme episodes of erotic-mania.
Although none of the victims were attacked sexually, the bodies would often be left in sexually degrading positions with their wounds exposed which led investigators to believe that Jack The Ripper would receive sexual satisfaction from the attacks. There are many museums in and around the Whitechapel area of London which are open to the public who are still, a century on, curious about the killings.