The 15 Most Mysterious People in History

Today, in this modern age, the ability to completely drop off the grid, to disappear, is very hard to do. There are cameras on every other block, in businesses, on the highways, and people snapping selfies everywhere you look; chances are you have been captured on some camera, somewhere, numerous times just today.

It seems inconceivable to think that anyone could remain unseen, or even anonymous, for very long. However, throughout history there have been people - not quiet folk living in seclusion - but people at the center of public and media attention who actually remained quite mysterious; their true identity unknown or shrouded in secrecy.

Some people like this you’ve undoubtedly heard of, or have had their real identities finally revealed, such as the notorious Deep Throat of Watergate fame. But others remain shrouded in mystery. Some have become historical and cultural icons. Some were famous, others infamous; spies, serial killers, mobsters, assassins. Almost all have made some sort of impact on history and died leaving many unanswered questions regarding their secretive lives.

In the absence of hard facts, wild accusations and bizarre stories have sprung up regarding the backgrounds and lives of some of these people. Are any of those stories true? We don’t know. Some have been around so long that they are accepted as truth. However, when it comes down to it, we just don’t know enough about many of these secretive individuals that were well-known enough to be famous, yet were able to hide their personal details from the public consciousness. Here we examine the lives of 15 of the most mysterious people in history.

15 Prince John Charles Francis


He was the youngest son of King George V and Queen Mary of the United Kingdom. He was born on July 12, 1905, with the newspapers heralding the birth of a new member of the British royal family. His older brothers were destined to be King George VI and Kind Edward VIII, but young Prince John was never in serious contention for the throne. This didn’t stop the very strict etiquette that governed his every public appearance. He led the life of a perfect young nobleman until around the age of four, when he collapsed to the floor in a seizure and was subsequently diagnosed with epilepsy. Drastic steps were taken to ensure that Prince John was never witnessed having a seizure in public, as that would show weakness in the royal family. Prince John and a small staff were relocated to Wood Farm, near the royal residence of Sandringham. It was here that the Prince’s life became shrouded in secrecy. Some say he was kept on a leash, so as not to hurt himself during a seizure, of course.

14 Mary Pearcey


Not much is known about Mary. We know she was born Mary Eleanor Wheeler, in England around 1866. She was involved with John Pearcey, and, though never married, began using his surname. After that relationship ended, she moved into the lodgings of Frank Hogg. At first, her relationship with Frank was good, but soon Frank admitted that he got a woman named Phoebe Styles pregnant and that the pair was going to be married. This devastated Mary but Frank assured her that their sexual relationship would remain unchanged. Soon after Phoebe gave birth, Mary decided she no longer could share Frank. She lured Phoebe and viciously stabbed her and smothered her young baby. She discarded the bodies near a rubbish heap where they were quickly found. The trail led back to Mary’s house where police found undeniable evidence of the crime. She was quickly arrested, convicted and executed in December 1890.

13 Aleister Crowley, The Most Wicked Man in the World


He was one of the most infamous occultists in history. He excelled in black magic, proclaimed himself a prophet, performed satanic rites, and sacrificed animals. Born Edward A. Crowley on October 12, 1875, in Warwickshire, England, he came from a wealthy family of strict Puritans. He rebelled against the stringent beliefs of his parents with his own mother believing he was the antichrist. He changed his name to Aleister to distance himself from his father. Aleister was sent to religious boarding schools, but was kicked out for engaging in homosexual behavior, and then another when he caught gonorrhea from a prostitute. He inherited his father’s money at 21, quit college and spent the rest of his life travelling the world.

12 Sergei Tretyakov


Sergei Tretyakov was born in Moscow, in October 1956. Called “Comrade J” by American intelligence officers, he was officially first secretary of the Russian mission in New York and senior aide to the Russian ambassador to the United Nations. In fact, he was a colonel in the Russian intelligence service (SVR), which replaced the old Soviet KGB. Tretyakov was responsible for all covert operations in New York City and at the United Nations. In 1997, he volunteered to become a double agent for the United States and eventually defected in 2000, with his wife and daughter. He was paid $2 million and placed in the Witness Protection Program.

11 Jerome of Novia Scotia


1863 Novia Scotia, a Canadian province, was relatively remote. The main industry was fishing. One cold morning, two fishermen in Digby County went down to the shore and sighted a man sitting in the sand. He had a loaf of bread and jug next to him but appeared to be quite cold as if he had been sitting out all night. The approached him and saw that he was missing the lower half of both of his legs. They carried the stranger back to their village to get medical aid. The fisherman questioned the man but though he appeared to understand he would not respond, only mumbling something that sounded like “Jerome,” which ended up being what the villagers dubbed the man. A doctor noted that Jerome’s legs had to have been skillfully amputated recently, but it was unknown by whom, why, where, or even how he came to be left on the shoreline. Jerome sure wasn’t saying.

10 The Leatherman


He was a man that everybody knew, yet knew nothing about. His arrival, lock clockwork, every 35 days, was anticipated by many in the small towns along the Hudson and Connecticut rivers. He would appear, strolling down Main Street, with his familiar walking stick and unique clothes. He was “the Leatherman.” No one knew his real name; he was only referred to by his appearance. He wore an entire outfit hand-stitched together of scraps of leather. He was well-liked and treated the locals with kindness and respect. He was fluent in French and English, but most often communicated with grunts. For decades, he would visit the same homes in each town. Each household would always prepare extra food pending his arrival and the local schools would even close early to herald his passage. Children would leave out pennies for him only to return and find that he had replaced them with newer coins.

9 Who Really Was Jeffrey Alan Lash?


On July 17, 2015, Los Angeles Police discovered the lifeless body of a man inside a parked car. The man was Jeffrey Alan Lash, a 60-year-old area resident. Lash had been dead for some time, approximately two weeks. He lived with his long-time partner Catherine Nebron, yet he was never reported missing. Police questioning of Nebron led to astonishing revelations. Nebron stated that Lash collapsed on July 4th and refused medical attention, and passed away shortly after. Lash had asked to be left in his vehicle and the government would retrieve his body.

8 Robert Johnson’s Deal With The Devil


Robert Johnson is proclaimed by many as being one of the finest Blues musicians that ever lived. Yet, despite his musical legacy, his life is full of mystery. Johnson was born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, in May 1911. His family moved from town to town throughout the South. He was interested in music at an early age and was a skillful harmonica player. However, he possessed no known talent for the guitar. As a young adult, he left home and wandered for several months. Upon his return, he possessed guitar-playing skills beyond any that had been seen before. Skills no one could believe he learned in such a short time. Rumors spread that he had made a deal with the Devil to gain his talent. They say Johnson came across the Devil at a crossroads. The Devil tuned-up a guitar and handed it to Johnson to play, with the rest being history. Johnson only furthered the rumors when he wrote the song, “Me and the Devil.”

7 Alexander Solonik, the Superkiller


Solonik was a former police officer and marksman famous for his ability to shoot accurately with either hand. He was born in 1960, in Kurgan, Russia. In the late 1980s, he was arrested for rape and imprisoned. As a former policeman, he was targeted for death. However, he was able to fend off multiple attacks and eventually earned his fellow inmates’ respect. In 1990, he escaped prison and began a career as the most infamous Russian contract killer of all time. He was given many nicknames, the most famous being “Superkiller,” and “Alexander the Great.” In 1994, police officers cornered Solonik and he shot several policemen before being captured in Moscow. He was imprisoned in Moscow’s impregnable Detention Center 1, but Solonik did the impossible and escaped, again. He fled to Greece where he set up a new base of operations.

6 The Babushka Lady


November 22, 1963, was a day full of tragedy, confusion, and mystery. In the days following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, investigators were busy taking statements and combing through photographs, trying to make sense of what had transpired. They relied heavily on those who might have filmed or photographed the procession when the shots were fired. In the mayhem that followed the shooting, bystanders fled for cover in all directions, as it was not clear from where the shots came from.

5 Who Was Prisoner X?


Prisoner X is a term used by the Israeli government that refers to a prisoner that they have only recently admitted they held. All they will release is that they were holding a Prisoner X, he was a dual citizen and that he committed suicide on February 13, 2013. They would not give his true identity. They refuse to comment on the crimes for which he was being held, or whether he was ever even tried or convicted. Australian journalist Trevor Bormann has theorized that the mysterious prisoner was actually Israeli-Australian man, Ben Zygier. As a young adult, he moved to Israel but visited Australia frequently. He became an attorney and travelled extensively. Interestingly enough, Australia began investigating Zygier as possibly being a Mossad agent and an Israeli spy.

4 Kaspar Hauser


In May 1828, a teenage boy was found wandering the streets of Nürnberg, Germany, alone and mumbling. Taken to the local police station, the boy wrote his name, Kaspar Hauser, and said only that his father was once a cavalry officer and he wanted to be one too. Later, he explained that he had been held alone in a small cell for as long as he could remember, by an unknown person. All he was given was some bread and water, a blanket and a few toys. The local schoolmaster took Hauser in and tried to educate him.

3 The Green Children of Woolpit


It was 12th century England, possibly during the reign of King Stephen or King Henry II, when two children appeared on the edge of a field in the village of Woolpit, in Suffok, England. The area was agriculturally rich and densely populated at this point in Middle Ages. The children were found by reapers working the fields at harvest time near some ditches that had been excavated to trap wolves. The young boy and girl had skin with a green tint and spoke an unknown language. Their clothes were made from unfamiliar materials and no one knew from where they came. They children were taken into the village, where they were eventually taken in by a local landowner named Sir Richard de Caine of Wilkes. The children were sick and ultimately the boy died. However, the girl recovered and over the years learned to speak English. She began to tell the story of their origins. According to her, they came from a place called St. Martin’s Land, which existed underground, in permanent twilight.

2 The Man in the Iron Mask


I’m not talking about Leonardo DiCaprio, but the real story has been around for centuries and has been portrayed in books and movies. What is astonishing is that the Man in the Iron Mask is no work of fiction. He was a real prisoner of King Louis XIV of France, who was imprisoned for years in the infamous Bastille. There has been so much conjecture and rumors about him that historians may never be able to discover his true identity. Here is what we do know about him. He was a prisoner held elsewhere in France until his transfer to the Bastille in 1698 and held there until his death on November 19, 1703. A death certificate was issued under the name Monsieur de Marchiel, but this is strongly believed to be an alias. His age unknown, some saying he was in his 40’s, others that he was in his 60’s, at the time of his death.

1 Tamam Shud


The Tamam Shud Case is an unsolved mystery, sometimes referred to as the Somerton Man, involving the corpse of an unidentified man that was found on the morning of December 1, 1948, on Somerton Beach, just south of Adelaide, in South Australia. The body was found on the Somerton beach, 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. The case is so-called for the phrase, tamámshud, 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. This phrase was recognized as being the final words of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, a popular book of the time.

Six weeks later, a suitcase with evidence linking it to the man was found in the Adelaide Railway Station, where it had been left the morning before his death. Some items were found bearing the names, “Kean,” “Keane,” and “T. Keane;” however, there is no record of anyone matching the names being missing. Some months after that, a copy of the Rubáiyát was found which was missing the “Tamam Shud” portion of its final page. The person who found it claimed that someone threw the book into his parked car near Somerton Beach, where the body was found. The mystery has been the subject of intense speculation and amateur investigation regarding the identity of the unidentified man, the events leading up to his death, as well as the cause of death, which all remain unknown.


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The 15 Most Mysterious People in History