10 Most Baffling Unsolved Crimes
In an age of high-tech DNA analysis and expertly trained criminologists, unsolved crimes are remarkably rare. Therefore, when a team of investigators fails to find the perpetrators of a gruesome murder case or massive theft, these unsolved crimes go down in history as the most notorious and captivating dramas in history – providing fodder for endless news speculation and film adaptations. The real-life mystery involved in cases such as the following attracts many criminology experts, those eager to solve the questions that have eluded others for so long.
The Atlas Vampire Case
In 1932, in a small apartment in Stockholm, the dead body of an unnamed 32-year old woman was discovered by residents approximately 48 hours after her murder. The ensuing investigation showed that the woman, a prostitute, had been killed by a crushing blow to the skull. Given that murders of prostitutes were not especially rare; the story would not have been likely to attract significant media attention were it not for a peculiar note in the autopsy report. It appeared as though the killer, or someone else, had apparently been drinking the woman’s blood, thus earning the murderer his famous “vampire” title. No witnesses came forward with information regarding the disturbing case, and the absence of forensic technology prevented detectives from tracking down potential suspects. Therefore, this spine-chilling crime remains unsolved.
The John Middleton Clayton Murder
The notorious unsolved murder of John Middleton Clayton is one of the best and most extreme examples of dirty, dangerous politicking in American history. An Arkansas politician, Clayton was contesting his defeat in an 1888 Congressional election when he was ruthlessly gunned down by an unknown man, likely a hired hit man, while at home in his boardinghouse. Following his death, the House of Representatives found that Clayton’s political opponent had committed election fraud, and named him the winner of the election leading to suspicion that his opponent had orchestrated his murder. Despite strong suspicions, suspects were never named and the conspirators were never revealed.
Few nauseating murders have attracted as much consistent sensationalized attention as that of Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia. A young American woman, Short disappeared in Los Angeles on January 9, 1947, and her revoltingly mutilated body – spliced in half at the waist and completely drained of blood – was discovered six days later. Perhaps the creepiest and most recognizable mark of the Black Dahlia case is the Glasgow Smile – a laceration stretching from both sides of Short’s mouth to her ears – that her murderer had carved into her face. Most disturbingly of all, some have speculated that Short was still alive when she received these injuries. Many blame the failure to solve the case on journalists, who sensationalized facts and withheld key information from police in order to pursue their stories. The case has never failed to attract attention, and police have named hundreds of suspects and received at least fifty criminal confessions.
Elusive spy stories have always managed to captivate public attention, and the poisoning of Russian Federal Security Service operative was no exception. Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium, perhaps the first person ever to suffer such a fate, and died in a hospital days later. Despite rampant theories citing members of the Russian KGB and several investigation attempts, no individuals have been charged with Litvinenko’s merciless murder, and the nature of this mystery helped amass fear and hysteria regarding the growing popularity of biological and chemical weaponry.
D.B. Cooper Hijacking
D.B. Cooper remains infamous for being the only man in American history to hijack an airplane and get away with it. On November 24, 1971, Cooper boarded a plane and, following lift-off, claimed to have explosives strapped to his body. He demanded parachutes and $200,000 in ransom money when the plane landed in Seattle, for which he released the other passengers. After re-embarking, Cooper jumped off the plane, and was never seen again. Many sketches were put together and a massive manhunt was undertaken, but no trace of Cooper was found until 1980, when part of his ransom money was found near the Columbia River. No passengers or crew members were hurt, but D.B. Cooper’s remarkable feat, and the intrigue surrounding him, has made him something of a real-life James Bond.
The shocking case of a privileged six-year-old girl found dead in her basement became a national tragedy and a captivating, unsolved mystery. Born into an upper-middle-class family, Ramsey was found strangled in her basement on Christmas day, 1996. The inability of police to solve the case has been blamed largely on police ineptitude, and despite nearly fifteen years of investigations, no arrests have been made and no one has come forth in her murder. JonBenét’s case has garnered significant media attention, and has been described as “the perfect murder” because police have managed to find so few leads, despite fairly significant evidence.
Jack the Ripper
The unsolved crimes of Jack the Ripper have made him culturally emblematic – attracting flocks of tourists to London hotspots to be immersed in the fear and mystery of his activities. Over the course of eight weeks in 1888, a man committed at least five murders of prostitutes, and blatantly admitted to the crimes in letters submitted to London newspapers, signed “Jack the Ripper”. The disgustingly mangled remains of the women’s bodies – some with surgically removed organs- were the products of some of the most brutal murders recorded in history. Despite years of investigation, the most famous madman ever, the man named Jack the Ripper, has never been unmasked.
The Zodiac Killer
There is perhaps no more disturbing kind of serial killer than he who treats murder as a twisted game. For nearly a decade, the Zodiac Killer terrified the citizens of North California, and taunted policemen and detectives with personal phone calls and cryptic, coded messages offering clues to his identity. The killer claimed responsibility for multiple murders, and yet eluded capture.
Some of the most intriguing unsolved murders spark conspiracy theories, as is the case of Oscar Romero. A Salvadorian Archbishop, Oscar Romero was shot while performing a small service on March 24, 1980. Some believe the United States government orchestrated the killing, while others blame the country of El Salvador. At his funeral, a deadly bomb was detonated, heightening belief in a massive conspiracy. Despite rampant theories, the perpetrators of this assassination of a major public figure have never been identified, allegedly due to massive government cover-ups.
Unsolved gang murders are regrettably common, but the most baffling of these drive-by shootings involves one of the most famous rap artists of all time. Tupac Shakur, a multi-platinum recording artist, was riding in the front passenger seat of a friend’s car when a white Cadillac pulled up next to him on Las Vegas Boulevard on September 7, 1996. Several of the Cadillac’s passengers fired shots into Tupac’s car, striking him several times. Despite the incredible amount of press attention surrounding Tupac, the shooters have never been identified, though were presumably members of a rival gang.