It’s said there’s no such thing as a perfect crime. That may be true, but some crooks are able to get very, very lucky. After all, modern criminal solving techniques didn’t exist only a few decades ago so DNA and other items were ignored. There are also issues involving gender as it’s been long-speculated that some unsolved killings were by women, but men of the time refused to believe that was possible.
With today’s technology and such, it seems impossible that a case could continue to be unsolved, but there it is. Indeed, cable TV is littered with shows trying to figure out some of the famous cases of the past that are still unsolved, from thefts to murders to kidnappings and more. It’s remarkable just how many crooks have seemingly gotten away with things despite how huge their crimes were, managing to keep them quiet, often for years.
Of course, it’s easy to imagine a case that occurred decades ago unsolved, but some folks are still determined. Being the one to crack an “unsolvable” case is a major pull and many want that glory while others just want to solve a mystery. Some cases are more easily solved than others especially with thefts involving multiple people who can give something away. It continues throughout history, with many questioning which cases are truly done and over and which can still be solved. Some may indeed be solved, but others seem bound and determined to remain a mystery no matter what. That’s why they continue to fascinate us; we want to see just how unique a crime can be. Here are 8 cold cases that can still be solved and 7 that likely never will be, making crime investigations even more exciting to study.
15. COULD BE SOLVED: The Termites
Usually, termite insects are an annoyance for home-owners. However, in 2010, a group of very enterprising thieves co-opted the name for a sensational heist. Taking advantage of the huge system of tunnels underneath the city (many there for centuries), the thieves rented out a house not far from a Credit Lyonnais branch. They then spent a few days using pickaxes, hammers and even a flamethrower to cut through several layers of tunnels and finally break into the bank’s underground vault. They had timed it perfectly as the bank was closed for renovations and thus security lower than usual.
They cleaned out over 200 security deposit boxes worth roughly $34 million in US dollars, able to take their time moving the loot in and out of the tunnels. Once they were finally done, they started a fire that set off the sprinkler system and flooded the place. Thus, it took a few days for the damage to be assessed before the robbery was even discovered. The operation was professional to the point where police believe as many as 15 men were involved but “compartmentalized” so each only knew one bit to do and not give away the others. Still, with that many guys, the chances of one finally cracking is high and thus could lead to the Termites getting squashed.
14. WILL NEVER BE SOLVED: The Japanese Yen Heist
The sheer time and care it took to pull this off is impressive. In 1968, managers of a Tokyo bank began to receive threatening messages from someone claiming that a bomb was going to go off in their bank soon. A few days later, a truck containing 300 million yen ($800,000 in 1968 money) was being made with some of the managers on hand. A police officer came up to tell them the bank manager’s house had just been bombed as per the threats. They believed the truck was a target and smoke came pouring out from beneath it. The officer told everyone to flee and they did…as he hopped into the cab and drove off, leaving behind a road flare and smoke bomb.
All the evidence left behind was stuff that could be found anywhere, including the fake police motorcycle and thus no idea who was behind this. The money was never recovered and the statute of limitations long past with the idea the thief waited years before finally spending it. It remains one of the biggest thefts in Japanese history and likely it will never be solved.
13. COULD BE SOLVED: The Stolen Tucker Cross
In 1594, the San Pedro was caught in a hurricane trying to cross from Cuba to Spain. Its massive load of treasure was lost for nearly 400 years until diver Teddy Tucker discovered it. The greatest prize was a gorgeous 22 karat golden cross with huge emeralds placed upon it and is considered the single most valuable prize ever found in a shipwreck. He sold it to Bermuda so they could keep it in a special museum where it became quite the popular piece.
In 1975, the museum was preparing for a special visit from Queen Elizabeth II and so inspections of the items were made. During this, it was discovered that the Cross had been replaced with a replica and the real one stolen. It’s speculated the thieves melted down the gold and sold the emeralds although also rumors the Cross may have been bought for a private collector. If so, perhaps it could still be solved and finally put to rest how their treasure was lost.
12. WILL NEVER BE SOLVED: Jimmy Hoffa’s Body
That Jimmy Hoffa is dead is pretty much beyond question. It’s where his remains are that is the question. In the 1960s, Hoffa was one of the most powerful men in the country, a union organizer and President of the Teamster Union. Known for his fiery temper and outgoing manner, Hoffa took no prisoners, once famously having a clash with Robert Kennedy as he built the Teamsters into a power. But Hoffa’s work with the Mafia (which he saw as a way of strengthening the Teamsters) got him a prison sentence and after being pardoned, was forced to stay out of Teamster actions for years.
Hoffa was getting into dirtier stuff when in 1975, he vanished without a trace. Searches were made but nothing concrete and in 1982, he was legally declared dead. To this day, Hoffa is less famous for anything he did in life and rather the go-to example for an undiscovered body. It could be buried in any way of a thousand places in New York, dumped in a river or even in concrete. If it hasn’t been found by now it never will be and thus no one knows who took this man out.
11. COULD BE SOLVED: The Beaumont Children Disappearance
It’s a case that transformed Australian society in ways that continue today. On January 26, 1966, Jane, Anna and Grant Beaumont were with their parents Glenelg, a popular beachside resort on the coast of Australia. Nine-year-old Jane took her seven-year-old sister and four-year-old brother on their own to the beach, their parents feeling them old enough to go alone. When they failed to return, a search was quickly mounted. Police soon had eyewitness reports of the children playing with a blonde-haired man and leaving with him. For months, police and civilians canvassed the area and newspapers urged anyone with information to step forward. But no one did and the children were never found.
It was a jarring moment as parents across the nation realized the dangers of letting their kids unsupervised and sparked new push for child security. The mystery continues with many sadly believing the children to be dead but hopes they can still somehow be found or at least some closure with new leads popping up in the last year to finally give their still-living parents some peace and answer how this dark event occurred.
10. WILL NEVER BE SOLVED: DB Cooper
After all these years, he’s changed from a criminal to a folk hero. On November 24th, 1971, Flight 305, a Boeing 727, took off from Portland to Seattle. A quiet passenger handed a note to a flight attendant saying he had a bomb in his briefcase. He demanded $200,000 waiting for him at Tacoma Airport although some reports claim it was closer to a million if not more. Regardless, after getting the cash, Cooper got the plane to take off again, waited for it to get high enough, then parachuted out with the money. The story was a huge deal, people loving how daring Cooper was and the fact he got away with it added to his legend.
To this day, the mystery of what happened to Cooper continues. The fact the man never came out of his exile adds to it. Some say he died in the jump, others claim he has hidden away since and still others believe he’s any one of a dozen people alive today. Numerous claims have been made over what became of him but it seems unlikely the truth will ever come out and thus Cooper continues to be a legend.
9. COULD BE SOLVED: The Amsterdam Diamond Heist
It takes a lot of daring to try and rob one of the richest streets in the world. The Antwerp World Diamond Centre is home to stores, insurance brokers, cutters, cleaners and more who handle the most diamonds on the planet. On any given day, close to a billion dollars in gems is being sold, traded or cut. The street not only has huge security but its own private police force. In February of 2003, Leonardo Notarbartolo led a gang of roughly five men to manage to crack the supposedly unbeatable vault and soon began cleaning out safe deposit boxes. In all, they stole roughly $100 million in diamonds as well as cash and other items, a spectacular heist. It was a huge embarrassment to the AWDC who had long boasted of their ability to keep their customers safe.
Notarbartolo was arrested and convicted but, showing there is honor among thieves, has refused to name his accomplices or what happened to the loot. He actually claims they only stole $20 million and it was boosted for insurance fraud but that’s denied. Maybe Notarbartolo will eventually talk to reveal the truth and let folks realize who else pulled off this epic job.
8. WILL NEVER BE SOLVED: Jack The Ripper
It’s the case that never ceases to fascinate. True, they have been killers with bigger body counts but something about Jack the Ripper still makes him the go-to for senseless crimes. Five prostitutes brutally murdered with a mocking note on “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper.” He vanished as quickly as he came although, for years, rumors abounded of more murders in his style. Slews of books have been written as he’s become a major part of pop culture with ideas of him as everything from a time traveler to a demon. More than one author has claimed to have “solved” his identity over the years but each theory has its detractors. The theories have ranged from a local painter to a variety of immigrants to Queen Victoria’s personal physician and even Prince Albert Victor. But given it’s been over 129 years, the truth is likely never to be known. Alan Moore once suggested the Ripper was a demon from Hell who returned there and that’s as likely a guess as possible for a man whose murder spree is legendary.
7. COULD BE SOLVED: JonBenet Ramsey
Over 20 years later, it captures the imagination. There have been several savage crimes but not like this. JonBenet Patricia Ramsey was a child beauty pageant contestant, a gorgeous little girl in blonde curls and loving manner. So when she was reported missing then found murdered eight hours later, the case got massive attention. Over the years, suspicion has fallen on a variety of people, including her own parents although the D.A. has cleared them.
In 2006, John Mark Karr confessed to having killed her, which seemed to end it. But it was soon discovered that he was just lying to get publicity as none of his DNA matched the crime scene. The mystery continues but many are still pushing to find out more as the family and slews of investigators continue the hunt. That the killer can be undiscovered after all that seems hard to believe as everyone from TV networks to slews of cable shows want to find out who did it. Thus, it seems that eventually the truth will come out to put this mystery to bed.
6. WILL NEVER BE SOLVED: The Torso Killer
Eliot Ness is famous for his takedown of Al Capone that inspired “The Untouchables” legend. But less famous is that in 1930, Ness had moved on to be chief of police in Cleveland. During his tenure, the city was hit by what may be one of the most overlooked serial killers in American history. Twelve victims were confirmed although speculation was another half-dozen could have been the work of the same figure; men, and women, all from the lower rungs of society. They were all beheaded and often cut in half (hence the name), a truly brutal murder style for its time. Ness was part of the investigation thanks to his fame with the killer actually placing the remains of two victims in view of city hall.
Despite a huge manhunt, however, the killer was never caught or identified and the killings ceased in 1938. Suspects abound, including the idea this wasn’t a single man but somehow differing killings much alike and the bad autopsy work of the time missed how they weren’t truly connected. However it is, the long time since and the way the case is often forgotten means it’s unlikely the truth behind the Torso case will ever be found out.
5. COULD BE SOLVED: Litvinenko’s Poisoning
Some say Russia has changed from the dark times of the USSR and the KGB. Alexander Litvinenko is proof that things haven’t shifted that much. A former member of Russian intelligence, he was facing prosecution for being outspoken on the brutal measures of the FSB and against President Vladimir Putin. Fleeing to the United Kingdom, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and checked into a hospital. It turned out he was poisoned by polonium-210, a deadly radiation that killed him within a week. Naturally, the speculation was that he was silenced on orders from Putin himself to ensure he didn’t spill the beans on dark secrets. But other theories abound such as how this was someone wanting to make Putin look bad and picked Litvinenko as an easy target.
There’s even talk of how it was a personal beef from an old rival as the man made a lot of enemies in his day and even Russian businessmen not wanting him to mess up a deal of theirs. It’s secret now but speculation is that the truth lie in files that can eventually be made public when Putin finally leaves power to reveal the truth and bring this bizarre murder to rest.
4. WILL NEVER BE SOLVED: The British Beirut Bank Job
If you had to pick the perfect cover for a robbery, you can’t do much better than a civil war. In 1976, Beirut was beginning to tear itself apart over their various issues and chaos soon reigning. A group of men decided this was a good chance to make some money the old-fashioned way. They headed to the local British Bank, not wasting time with alarms, fancy stuff or trickery. Instead, they blasted a hole into the wall and stormed in with automatic weapons. They headed to the “impregnable” vault and while it took several hours and a lot of plastic explosives, they eventually got it open. With the city already covered with explosives, no one noticed a few more going off. Working as fast as they could, the men moved several packs of cash and gold bullion to a waiting truck.
By the time they were done roughly $20 million in gold (worth nearly $50 million today) was gone. Who was behind it is up in the air as each side in the conflict blamed the other for using this to beef up their budget for the fight. The gold was never recovered and the chaos of the war means it’s likely whoever was involved is long dead and thus this will be one of the odder robberies in history.
3. COULD BE SOLVED: The Mexico City Museum Heist
In December of 1985, Mexico City was recovering from a devastating earthquake that turned much of the city into a ruin. While many were recovering, someone saw this as an opportunity. On Christmas Eve, the National Museum of Anthropology was having a quiet night with only eight guards on duty, all of whom would rather be with their families than be at work. Coming in, they were rocked to discover that several showcases had been robbed overnight. The thieves knew what they were doing, picking pieces that could fit into a suitcase for easy transport and moving fast. While historic, the pieces from the Maya, Aztec, Zapotec and Miztec eras were also quite valuable. A piece of a jade monkey alone was valued at $20 million on the black market.
A few years later, the museum claimed some had been found but it turned out to be mostly forgeries created to trick some investors. The real treasures and whoever was behind the theft are unknown but authorities still are looking. The fact is, you can’t really hide this sort of stuff forever and sooner or later, someone will reveal what happened to this haul.
2. WILL NEVER BE SOLVED: The Plymouth Mail Truck Robbery
It’s a heist so epic, it’s inspired numerous Hollywood take-offs yet the real deal is more eventful. On August 14th, 1962, a mail truck was transporting money from Cape Cod to the Federal Reserve in Boston. On Route 53 in Plymouth, the truck was suddenly pulled over by two police officers who then pulled guns on the driver. Tying up the driver and guard, the two men quickly took over the truck and systematically dropped off money at several spots. Finally leaving the truck and the two occupants inside, the men vanished and with them went $1.5 million, the largest cash heist of its time. The media went wild with suspects often named despite how the FBI couldn’t find any evidence of any guilt to them. The reward for information soon rivalled the take itself but no one could give up any systematic clues.
The statute of limitations passed but the truth behind the robbery remains unknown. Some believe it was the work of famed mobster John “Red” Kelley who helped pull off the 1968 Boston Brinks hold-up. He never admitted to it before his death and the fact none of the money has popped up since makes it even harder to figure out. With no one coming forward, it’s likely the true folks behind this incredible haul will never be identified.
1. COULD BE SOLVED: The Gardner Museum Heist
Usually, private museums aren’t too notable. Sure, they can have some unique items but not high on the risk level. A major exception is Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, named after its founder who donated slews of art she collected over her life for the public to enjoy. A popular tourist stop, the museum was open on March 18th, 1990 when a pair of men in police uniforms stopped by, claiming there was a disturbance call. Once let inside, they quickly subdued the staff and proceeded to steal 13 works of art for a total of $500 million. There was some confusion as they ignored more valuable works for lesser-known items but the haul was still quite impressive. One alone, “The Concert” is one of the only known works by Vermeer and believed to be worth $200 million alone, alone with the only seascape by Rembrandt.
The FBI and Boston police have searched extensively with the belief the paintings are in the hands of private collectors who enjoy seeing them by themselves. Suspicion has fallen on many, including mobster Robert Gentile although he hasn’t talked yet. It seems hard to believe no one can talk after all these years and thus, with a $10 million reward offered, the chances of the truth being found are still out there. Today, the museum still has the empty frames set up, waiting for them to be filled and hopes it can happen.
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