There are not many things worse than a brutal crime…except maybe a brutal crime that has yet to be solved. Of course, while not all of the crimes on this list would be classified as brutal, they are all equally unsolved. From the violent murders of Jack the Ripper to the largest diamond heist in history, millions of dollars and man hours have gone into trying to solve them. Here are the 25 most frustrating unsolved crimes ever.
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Possibly one of the most famous unsolved crimes ever, in 1888 there were eleven brutal murders committed in the Whitechapel District of London’s east end. All of the victims were prostitutes murdered by the same killer who became known as “Jack the Ripper” and who’s identity has never been uncovered.
John Middleton Clayton Murder
The notorious murder of John Middleton Clayton on January 29, 1889 in Pinkerton, Arkansas happened while he was contesting his defeat for a seat in congress. He was gunned down in front of his home and despite the $5,000 reward, an investigation by the Pinkerton detectives, and strong suspicions, no one was charged or implicated. After his death, the House of Representatives found that his opponent had in fact committed election fraud.
Andrew and Abby Borden
The murder of husband and wife Andrew and Abby Borden on August 4, 1892 attracted media attention not only due to their affluence in Fall River, Massachusetts, but also for the fact that the suspect who was tried and acquitted was a family member named Lizzie Borden. Andrew sustained 11 blows from an axe on his head while taking a nap on the couch, while Abby, who died an hour or so before him, had suffered 18 or 19 blows. Speculations about properties, strained relationships, and food poisoning abounded.
The Axeman of New Orleans
The feared “boogeyman,” who created a mass hysteria in New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century, first appeared on May 23, 1918 when a local grocer named Joseph Maggio and his wife were found butchered in their sleep with an axe which was found in the room still covered with the couple’s blood. The entryway was a chiseled panel in the rear door and the only clue to the murder, as no valuables were taken, was a message written in chalk near the couple’s home. The Axeman killed at least 8 more people until it stopped and the killer was never found.
The Atlas Vampire Case
In 1932 in Stockholm, Sweden, an unnamed 32-year-old prostitute was found dead approximately 48 hours after her murder. Though murders of prostitute weren’t that rare at the time, the woman who had been killed by a crushing blow to the skull had attracted significant media attention as it appeared in the autopsy note that the killer had apparently been drinking the woman’s blood. Due to the absence of forensic technology and the lack of witnesses, this spine-chilling mystery remained unsolved.
The Black Dahlia
This is a moniker given to a 22-year old aspiring starlet named Elizabeth Short, due to her dark hair and wardrobe, who was the victim of a gruesome and much-publicized murder. Her body was found mutilated, sliced with surgical precision and drained of blood on January 15, 1947 in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, California. The oldest unsolved case in LA was the subject of widespread speculations that led to a number of suspects but no convictions.
The Taman Shud Case
This unsolved case that received world wide attention involved an unidentified man that was found dead on the morning of December 1, 1948 on Somertonebeach in Adelaide, South Australia. Despite the best efforts of numerous agencies and governments around the world the man was never identified and the only clue was a piece of scrap paper in his pocket that had two words written on it from the final page of the Rubaiyat: “taman shud”, which translates to “ended”.
The killing of Marilyn Sheppard in her family’s home on July 1954 in Cleveland led to the conviction of her husband, neurosurgeon Dr. Sam Sheppard. However, he maintained his innocence throughout and always claimed it was a “dark-hair intruder.” Dr.Sheppard was acquitted when the US Supreme Court overturned his convictions due to the excessive media hype that may have influenced his trial, and was still seeking his wife’s killer until his death in 1970. His son, who was 7 years-old at the time of the brutal killing and was just sleeping next door when it happened, continues his family’s quest up until this day.
Boy in the Box
This was a name given to an unidentified murdered boy, about 4 to 6 years old, whose naked body was found in a cardboard box on the edge of the Susquehanna Road in Northeast Philadelphia on February 25, 1957. He had numerous bruises on his entire body and in spite of being featured on a television series such as “America’s Most Wanted,” his identity remains unknown.
Jack the Stripper
copycat of “Jack the Ripper,” this serial killer was nicknamed “Jack the Stripper” for the killings of eight prostitutes between 1964 and 1965 whose bodies were dumped in the River Thames. Though a young man who committed suicide was implicated in the murder, there was no solid evidence to link him to the crimes and just like the crimes of Jack the Ripper, the Stripper’s reign of panic seem to cease on its own.
The Lead Masks Case
On August 17, 1966 two repairmen, Miguel Jose Viana and Manoel Pereira da Cruz, left Campos dos Gostacazes, Brazil to buy some supplies for a car. Three days later they were found dead by a teenager in Vintem Hill. The odd thing about the case was the fact that both men were wearing identical impermeable suits and lead eye masks with no holes like the one worn to protect from radiation. Found on the scene were empty water bottles, two towels, and notebook containing the words: “16:30 be at agreed place, 18:30 swallow capsules after effect protect metals wait for mask signal.” The money for the car was not found and these items did not present any clues but led to more questions that up to now are unanswered.
The Zodiac Killings
These bizarre and notorious killings are one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time, second only to the top contender Jack the Ripper. The ‘Zodiac Killer,’ as the assailant came to be known, was involved in the killings around the San Francisco area from December 1968 to October 1969, though he may have slain others before and after this as well. He had killed seven people, four men and three women and taunted the police with coded, clue-laden messages that he sent out to San Francisco newspapers for over a decade. Although over 2,500 suspects were investigated by the police, it was never officially solved and still remains open until today.
D.B. Cooper was just a media epithet given to an unidentified passenger who hijacked Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington on November 24, 1971 and demanded a ransom of $200,000 that he received at the Seattle airport. He demanded the pilot to fly back to Oregon and en route opened the rear door and parachuted into the dark with 21 lbs of $20 bills strapped to his body. Neither he nor the money was ever found, except for $5,580 that was found years later at the Columbia River. This is the only unsolved airplane hijacking in American aviation history.
The gangster and labor union president was last seen in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan on July 30, 1975 waiting to meet someone at 2am. Finally declared dead seven years later in 1982, his body was never recovered and to this day, speculations abound as to what happened.
The Glico-Morinaga Case
The Glico-Morinaga case, also known by its official designation Metropolitan Designated Case 114, was a famous extortion case in 1980s Japan, primarily directed at the Japanese industrial confectioneries Ezaki Glico and Morinaga and currently remains unsolved. The entire case spanned 17 months from the initial kidnapping of the president of Glico to the last known communication from the prime suspect, a person or group known only as the “The Monster with 21 Faces”. The case captured the Japanese public’s imagination and many commentators refer to this incident as a turning point in Japanese society in which the image of a crime-free and safe Japan was dispelled.
Oscar Romero, a bishop in El Salvador, was shot on 24 March 1980 while celebrating Mass at a small chapel located in a hospital called “La Divina Providencia,” one day after a sermon in which he had called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God’s higher order and to stop carrying out the government’s repression and violations of basic human rights. The killers were said to be government affiliated, but no one ever claimed responsibility.
Swedish politician and a prime minister from 1982 to 1986, Olof Palme was known for his referendum to remove all nuclear reactors from Sweden. When elected as prime minister, he tried to restore socialist economic polices and had been very outspoken on his stance in European security. He was assassinated on February 28, 1986 while walking home with his wife after a visit to the cinema. Though a number of conspiracy theories had been proposed on the motive of the murder, the killer was not found.
The Gardner Museum, named after Isabella Stewart Gardner experienced the world’s biggest art heist ever on St. Patrick’s Day in 1990. Two men, who posed as policemen sent to purportedly investigate something stole 13 paintings worth an estimated $300 million. The artworks, which were hacked from their frames, were apparently uninsured and in spite of a $5 million reward, they were never found.
Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls
Tupac Shakur, listed as one of the most successful gangsta rappers ever, was killed in a drive-by shooting a few hours away after the Mike Tyson-Bruce Sheldon match in September 1996 that he attended with his record producer Suge Knight in Las Vegas. He died from injuries six days later and six months later, his rival Biggie Smalls, 24, was also gunned down in Los Angeles. Rumors have it that the two former friends became entangled in hip-hop’s East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry when Shakur switched teams. Investigations made by the Los Angeles Times suggested that it was Smalls who paid the Southside Crips to gun down Shakur. Meanwhile, a documentarian named Nick Broomfield, implicated Suge Knight, who allegedly got rid of Smalls to confuse authorities. Whatever the truth is, no one knows as both cases remains open.
six-year-old beauty queen of a wealthy Boulder, Colorado executive was found bludgeoned and strangled to death in the basement of her family home around Christmas of 1996. Clashes between the family and the police and district attorney fed the media frenzy while public speculations centered on her parents John and Patsy Ramsey. They appeared in media channels for years defending their innocence and demanded justice for their daughter, until they were cleared from any involvement in 2008 through the newly-discovered DNA evidence. Who the real culprit was, however, remains a mystery.
Amber Hagerman, 9, and her little brother Ricky, 5, were pedaling their bikes to an abandoned grocery store on the afternoon of January 13, 1996. Ricky went home alone, and an eyewitness, a 78-year old retiree, accounted that Amber was biking alone when a man in a dark pickup grabbed her and pulled her into the vehicle. He contacted the police, who did a massive search along with some volunteers in the area. She was found four days later on a creek bed, dead and sexually assaulted for the two days she had been kept alive. No suspects had been found but this led to the start of the now well known Amber Alert, an international child abduction alert bulletin.
On July 27, 2004, the body of Alma Brisa Molina Baca, a 34-year old factory worker, was found dead in an empty lot in Ciudad Juaréz, Mexico. She has been raped and strangled just like the 1,000 women or so, who “disappeared” since 1993, most of them dumped in the desert. This decade-long killing spree, which targets the poor workers at nearby ‘maquiladoras’ or factories, has sparked Amnesty International and other human rights advocates worldwide to urge the Mexican authorities to find the killers.
The Amsterdam Diamond Heist
This is not as disturbing as some of the other crimes, but what is crazy about this heist is the fact that it was pulled off in broad daylight before multiple witnesses. Two men disguised as KLM employees rode a stolen car from the cargo terminal of Amsterdam Schipol Airport and hijacked a truck carrying uncut diamonds estimated at US $118 million bound for Antwerp. The police hinted at an inside job though they have yet to solve the case.
you like spy stories, this will definitely captivate you. A former officer of the Russian Federal Security Officer, FSB and KGB, Alexander Litvinenko had received political asylum in the United Kingdom. However, on November 1, 2006, he became the first person ever to be poisoned with polonium. He died a few days later and speculations on who could inflict such merciless murder became rampant though no one was charged. The mystery only fanned the fear and mass hysteria regarding the use of biological and chemical weapons.
The Salish Sea Foot Mystery
When several detached feet washed up on the shores of the Salish Sea in British Columbia, some officials didn’t think it too odd as they may have come from boating accidents or plane crashes. What was strange about these feet, however, was the fact that they kept washing up and every single one of them had running shoes on. Speculations range from suicides to tsunami victims but as of yet, there has been no official conclusion.