Alleged paranormal deaths, unsolved murder cases, and crimes that will most likely never be solved. What is so intriguing about death and the circumstances surrounding specific cases? From Reddit discussions breaking down crimes in great detail to cases that barely cause a blip on the social media scale, I have always found cold cases to be interesting. Is it because they are unsolved? Is it because some are shocking? Is it morbid curiosity? Honestly, what is it about unsolved crimes that we find so fascinating? I know I’m guilty of being intrigued beyond explanation. I cannot pinpoint why I like to research them so much, I just do. From the reason we have the AMBER alert to the evidence found in some of the most high-profile cases, I am here to share information about fifteen notorious unsolved cases from all over the world.
Although all of the crimes have a certain notoriety, I wasn’t aware of some of the details surrounding these cold cases. Some are more disconcerting than others, but that’s to be expected. If there are any on the list that I may have missed, mention them in the comments below!
Unfortunately, there will always be crimes. Unfortunately, a good portion will remain unsolved. Sadly, the circle of life will continue to function on a dangerous loop. Read on to see which I found to be the most famed in history.
15 Amber Hagerman
Sadly, Amber Hagerman is the reason we have what is known today as the “AMBER Alert.” Amber Hagerman was a nine-year-old little girl who lived in Arlington, Texas. On January 13, 1996, Amber’s neighbor witnessed her abduction. Despite frantic calls to the authorities and a search party, Amber remained gone. Her estimated time of death was somewhere between January 15, 1996, and January 17, 1996.
In broad daylight at a supermarket parking lot, Amber Hagerman was taken. I cannot imagine what her family went through, or why anyone at all would want to hurt a child. Honestly, children? It’s equally horrific and disturbing, and with any hope, perhaps her killer will be brought to justice.
14 The Atlas Vampire Case
Also known as the “Vampire Murder Case,” not many details are supplied for this case. Lilly Lindström was a 32-year-old prostitute who would entertain guests in her apartment. The last person to see Lilly alive was her downstairs neighbor and friend, Minnie Jannson. Her body was found on May 4, 1932, in the Atlas area of Stockholm.
Lilly had been dead for approximately two to three days before police broke into her apartment. She suffered blunt force trauma to the head, was completely naked and faced down on her bed, and a condom was found in her anus. Inspectors noted that a gravy ladle was found at the scene and upon further inspection of Lilly’s body, it was discovered that her body had been drained of some, if not all, of her blood.
13 The Taman Shud Case
This mystery also carries two names for a frame of reference. This case has been referred to as the “Taman Shud” (meaning “finished” or “ended”), or, the “Mystery of the Somerton Man.” On December 1, 1948, at approximately 6:30 AM, an unidentified man washed ashore on Somerton beach in Adelaide, South Australia. Months later, a piece of paper with the words Taman shud on it was found in the fob pocket of his pants. Yes, that’s right, months later this discovery was made.
Apparently, this scrap piece of paper had been torn out of a book called Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Although indentations of a phone number, another number, and text that resembled an encrypted message were on the back of the book, nothing ever came of it. There is a lot of information and speculation surrounding this case. One of the most interesting I found was a 60 Minutes investigation with a woman named Kate Thomson. She claims when her mother, Jessica Thomson, was interviewed by the authorities she lied stating she knew nothing of the man. However, Kate seems to think that her mother and this unidentified man may have been spies.
12 Jimmy Hoffa
American labor union leader, James Riddle Hoffa, disappeared in 1975. Also known as Jimmy Hoffa, he became the President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) union in 1958. He stood President until 1971. In his early years of the union, he became involved with organized crime. Hoffa went to trial for jury tampering, attempted bribery, and fraud in 1964. In 1967, he was sentenced to thirteen years in prison. In 1971, Hoffa came to an agreement with President Richard Nixon. He was to resign from his position within the union in exchange for an early release. Nixon would also Hoffa from union activities until 1980, which would have been his actual release date.
On July 30, 1975, Hoffa disappeared. He was supposedly meeting with two mafia leaders with the names of Anthony Giacalone and Anthony Provenzano. He made a call to his wife at around 2:30 p.m. stating the leaders never showed. That was the last anyone heard from him. On July 30, 1982, Hoffa was declared dead in absentia (presumed dead).
As the years have gone by, people came forward claiming to have been responsible for Hoffa’s death, however, none of the claims could be substantiated. Hoffa’s case remains open.
11 The Lead Masks Case
“16:30 estar no local determinado. 18:30 ingerir cápsulas, após efeito proteger could aguardar sinal mascara” (‘16:30 be at the specified location. 18:30 ingest capsules after the effect protect metals await signal mask’). These were the words written in a notebook next to two corpses found in Vintém Hill in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 20, 1966.
Manoel Pereira da Cruz and Miguel José Viana were two electronic technicians who had a series of bizarre events leading up to their deaths. Each man wore a formal suit, lead eye mask, and waterproof coat. No evidence of a struggle or signs of trauma were visible. Police pieced together a reconstructive narrative of events for both men that day which included boarding a bus and purchasing a water bottle (as an empty one was found by their corpses). An interview with the bartender notes that Miguel “seemed nervous” and frequently checked his watch. The bar is where the men were last seen alive.
Theories of foul play to UFO’s have circulated this case. Some even called them scientific spiritualists. However, nothing could concretely be determined. At the time, the coroner’s office was very busy. By the time the autopsy was performed for traces of any toxic substances, the bodies were too badly decomposed.
10 D. B. Cooper
D. B. Cooper, a media epithet used to refer to the unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727. The airline ticket purchased by the suspect was “Dan Cooper.” On November 24, 1971, between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, Cooper extorted $200,000 and parachuted off the Boeing 727. Although experts suggested that a jump from that high likely sent Cooper to his death, an active investigation for 45 years maintained. It is the only unsolved air piracy in American history.
In 1978, a placard containing instructions for lowering the aircraft were found by a deer hunter in Castle Rock, Washington. In 1980, a little boy uncovered three packets of ransom cash on the Columbia River. In 1988, a portion of a parachute was discovered from the bottom of the same stretch of the Columbia River. However, FBI experts determined it couldn’t be Cooper’s. In July 2016, the FBI officially suspended their active investigation of D. B. Cooper.
If you are still interested in this case, True Ink magazine has begun publishing hundred of pages received from FBI files in hopes this unsolved crime can finally be solved.
9 Gardner Museum
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On March 18, 1990, two men disguised as police officers came to the museum claiming to be answering a disturbance call. However, once inside, they tied up the security guards and stole $500 million in paintings resulting in the largest private property theft in history. Experts were a little puzzled as to why these men took the artwork they did since more expensive ones were left untouched.
The paintings stolen from the museum ranged from Manet to Degas to Rembrandt. The FBI stated that the stolen artwork had been moved through Philadelphia in the 2000s, leading them to believe these men could be part of a criminal organization based in New England and the mid-Atlantic.
This case remains open with a reward of $5 million to any information leading to the recovery of the art pieces.
8 Ciudad, Juarez
Since 1993, in the northern Mexico region of Ciudad, Juarez, Chihuahua, there have been hundreds of violent deaths of women and girls—called in Spanish feminicidio (“feminicide”). As of February 27, 2005, the number of murdered females is estimated to be around 370. Let that sink in for a moment.
Evidence suggests that there are common characteristics among the female victims. Most of them being young women, impoverished, and worked in factories or some other sector of an informal economy. These women also shared physical attributes such as dark skin, shorter hair, and a slender physique.
Among these shocking statistics are the way these women have been murdered. Rape, torture, and mutilation. There isn’t much else I can say about this other than it makes me feel ill.
7 Beaumont Children
On a hot day at Glenelg Beach near Adelaide, South Australia, on January 26, 1966, three children were alone playing on the beach. These kids were Jane, Arnna, and Grant Beaumont. Having gone for a swim the previous day, and it only being a few minutes away, it seemed like any other day. The eldest, Jane was nine-years-old, and in charge of her siblings.
They were supposed to be back around 2:00 PM, but when that time came, and no children arrived, Mrs. Beaumont became worried. A few eyewitnesses claimed to have seen the kids and everything being fine, although one account stated the children were hanging around a tall, lean blonde man.
It was a disappearance that took Australia by storm. Paranormal investigators were called for assistance, but nothing helped. A couple of years later, the Beaumont’s received mysterious letters claiming to have their children. Desperate to have their children back, they went to meet at the time and spot written on the note. However, when they got there, it was empty. They received another letter stating that the kids would now never be returned because authorities were present at the meetup. Some time after, the letters were discovered as a hoax. It was a teenager writing the letters as a joke. What a jackass.
6 William Desmond Taylor
A director of over fifty silent films in the 1910s into the 1920s, William Desmond Taylor, was well on his way to hitting Charlie Chaplin status in Hollywood. Born April 26, 1872, in Ireland, Taylor moved to Kansas in 1890, then New York, and eventually San Francisco.
On February 1, 1922, Taylor’s body was found in his bungalow in Westlake, Los Angeles. I don’t know if this speaks to “Old Hollywood,” but a crowd of onlookers did gather in his apartment around his dead body with one claiming to be a doctor and giving a false cause of death. Once a real autopsy was provided, the cause of death was determined to be shot in the back by a small caliber pistol which was never recovered.
William Desmond Taylor, an official cold case.
5 Cleveland Torso Murderer
And yet another famous unsolved crime with a second name. Also known as the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run, this crime was that of an unidentified serial killer in the Cleveland area in the 1930s. The official number of victims attributed to this serial killer is twelve, with recent research showing a number possibly closer to twenty.
Consequently, all of the male and female victims were “working poor” or “lower class” which were easy prey among the Depression-era Cleveland. They had no choice but to live in the ramshackle towns known as the Cleveland Flats.
The Torso Murderer beheaded and dismembered his victims, sometimes also cutting the torso in half. The cause of death for most cases was decapitation itself. A significant portion of the male victims was castrated. Even more grim? Most of the victims weren’t found until a considerable amount of time had passed since their deaths (some cases a year or more). Factor in that the victims’ heads were often not found, identification was made nearly impossible.
4 Tylenol Poisonings
Chicago, 1982. Poisoning deaths resulting from drug tampering were prevalent in the Metropolitan area. The victims had all taken Tylenol capsules laced with potassium cyanide. In total, seven deaths occurred from the tampering, inspiring 270 more copycats. One case involved a twelve-year-old complaining of a cold, yet dying hours later.
Obviously, much concern and suspicion arose, which led to the new packaging of over the counter drugs. I suppose that is the only solace in which we can walk away. New packaging, new standards, a new wave of the way we consume medicine. Remember back in the 1980s there were no tamper-proof bottles with seals.
3 The Death of Edgar Allan Poe
One of the greatest poets, well, ever, succumbed to mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. Heading home to New York from Richmond, Maryland, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore completely delirious spouting off incoherent babble. Unfortunately, he never became aware enough to explain what had happened to him between Richmond and Baltimore. He died on October 7, 1849. All documents including Poe’s death certificate have been lost. The cause of mortality was never concretely determined. Some theories say he was drugged; others say he was murdered.
Poe’s death was very close to the election, as such, it was suggested that he could have been a victim of cooping—a form of electoral fraud in which the unwilling were forced to vote. Whatever the reason for his crazed ending on the streets, it was not at all what he deserved.
“LO! Death has reared himself a throneIn a strange city lying aloneFar down within the dim West,Where the good and the bad and the worst and the bestHave gone to their eternal rest.” – The City in the Sea by Edgar Allan PoeNicole Brown/Ron Goldman
2 Nicole Brown/Ron Goldman
O.J. did it. The end.
When I was just entering high school, this case was the equivalent of what would be considered "viral" these days. Nicole, wife of O.J. Simpson, and Ron Goldman, a waiter, and friend of Nicole were both murdered in 1994. Goldman, just shy of his 26th birthday had stopped by the Brentwood, Los Angeles home to return a pair of sunglasses left at the restaurant he worked at by Nicole’s mother. He was stabbed to death in the walkway of the Simpson home. A reconstruction by the police suggests he may have tried to stave off the attacker, but lost his life in the process.
Nicole Brown was also found murdered outside her home with multiple stab wounds, including the gaping wound in her neck. She also had defense wounds on her hands. Although O.J. was acquitted of both murders, he was later found liable for the deaths in a civil trial.
1 Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur
A Mike Tyson fight ended at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tupac and Suge Knight (former CEO of Death Row Records) get into a car to head out for presumably some late night festivities. At a stoplight, a white four-door Cadillac pulls up next to them and the next thing you know, rapid gunfire goes off. Knight took a bullet to his right lung but managed to drive a mile down the road before being pulled over and getting help. Knight was released from the hospital the next day, September 8, 1996, but said nothing until September 11, 1996 (how eerie, right?). Sadly, Shakur faired much worse. On September 13, 1996, he died of internal bleeding. He was twenty-five years old.
Also known as Christopher Wallace and Biggie Smalls, B.I.G. met the same fate. In March of 1997, Wallace was in Los Angeles to promote his second album and admitted to hiring extra security because he feared for his safety. The East Coast-West Coast feud (a feud between artists and fans of the East Coast and West Coast that lasted from 1991-1997), along with Tupac’s recent death caused for concern. After an event, Wallace was also at a stoplight when a dark colored Chevy Impala SS pulled up alongside him, inside, a male drew a 9 mm blue-steel pistol and fired at the GMC Suburban; four bullets hit Wallace. He was twenty-four years old.
A sad waste of two lives. Both way too young and way too incredibly talented to have had such an ugly end. One thing is for sure; neither one is forgotten.