There’s a reason why Unsolved Mysteries has been one of the longest-running shows of all time – did you know it first broadcasted in January of 1987? To put that into perspective (for myself, at least) I was three when it aired. Yes. My age could be accurately shown on one hand.
Part of the reason it’s been successful has been because everyone loves a good mystery. Below, I’ve listed my personal top ten. Keep in mind that I’ve tried to make them as non-nightmare-inducing as possible.
1. Lois Duncan’s Daughter – Are you familiar with Lois Duncan? You might be, without knowing it. The popular young adult suspense author wrote books like I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Killing Mr. Griffith. Unfortuately, one of the titles in her collection was a non-fiction that was equally suspenseful. In 1992, Lois wrote Who Killed My Daughter? about 18-year-old Kaitlyn Arquette (Duncan’s daughter), who was shot to death on July 16, 1989 while coming home from a friend’s house.
The night she was killed, she told Lois that she was breaking up with her live-in boyfriend, Dung Nguyen. She warned her not to tell Dung she’d be at her friend’s house. After the incident, in the hospital, a friend of Kaitlyn’s told Lois and her husband Donald that Dung Nguyen and his friends were involved in an interstate insurance fraud ring that Kaitlyn had threatened to expose. With the help of private investigators, Lois and her husband learned more about the crime ring. Despite the evidence, the Albuquerque Police Department refused to follow up on any of the Duncan’s leads – possibly because, according to Lois, the crime group was linked to a small group of rogue cops.
As of 2004, the Duncans came to the clear conclusion that Kaitlyn was killed because, unfortunately, she just knew too much. The police wrote off the case as a random drive-by shooting. Kind of heartbreaking.
2. The Black Dahlia You probably know her best as The Black Dahlia, but Elizabeth Short earned the nickname after being the subject of one of the most famous murders in our time. Listen – I won’t get too graphic with this, but things were so terrible with her corpse that the woman who found it, Betty Bersinger, originally thought she was a discarded mannequin.
Short was killed on January 15, 1947, and the story was so newsworthy that more than 50 men and women have confessed to the murder. Newspapers began receiving personal items of Short as “proof”. However, they never figured out who really did it.
Sources say that reporters were the ones who made the crime unsolvable. By gaining so much media attention, actual evidence was trampled on. In fact, numerous tips from the public were never even passed on to police, as the reporters who received them were more excited about breaking “the story” first.
We should learn from history, right? So all of you reporters stalking every move of Lindsay Lohan – just let her be. Trust me, we’ll learn whether or not she punched some lady at the club from someone eventually.
3. Jack the Ripper – Everyone’s heard of Jack the Ripper, but do you know the real story behind him? No? Good, because he’s unidentified. After a series of murders – and, let’s say the victims of these murders were all women who did sexy things for money, and ended up getting cut in the throat – the name originated from a letter written by someone claiming to be the killer. And once again, the media ran with it. Some believe the letter was a hoax written by a journalists just to garner some interest in the story.
Since the murders were never solved, the stories surrounding the incidents became more like folklore. There have been so many theories that the term “Ripperology” was created to describe the study and analysis of them. It’s also a mystery as to whether or not this phrase inspired the band “Jessie and the Rippers”, and whether or not it’d be a legitimate word for Scrabble play.
4. A Rain of Seeds In 1979 – Here’s a less gory mystery for you – in fact, it’s actually pretty cool. Roland Moody, out of Southampton England, heard a strange noise on the roof of the conservatory attached to his house. Upon further investigation, he learned it was seeds that were showering down from the sky – small mustard seeds, to be exact. The next day, Moody had a similar experience with corn, pea, and bean seeds falling down over his garden. The strange occurrence only hit three houses in Moody’s neighborhood, and nobody was able to identify why.
This happened twenty five times, and produced five pounds of edible beans.
Yeah, sure. This story doesn’t include the murder and excitement of the others, but it’s still super weird.
5. Amelia Earhart – We’ve all heard of this amazing lady pilot, but her disappearance is still quite a mystery. Born on July 24th 1897, Earhart became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Not only that, but she authored a few books, and inspired other women who had a similar love for aviation. In early 1936, Earhart started planning a flight around the world, and Fred Noonan was chosen to be her second navigator. When the flight took place, vocal transmissions from Earhart were lost on Howland Island, and both voice and morse code transmissions failed to reach her. Sporadic signals were reported for four or five days after they had disappeared, but none brought any information as to where Earhart and Noonan were. The pair were searched for until July 19, 1937 – Earhart was declared legally dead on January 5th, 1939.
Numerous theories have emerged since Amelia’s disappearance – one being that she changed her name and identity (to Irene Craigmile Bolam), and moved to New Jersey. Others involve way more technical terminology involving aviation that are way over my head. (I admit my inadequacies.)
6. Carly Simon – You’re So Vain – Because seriously, Carly – who is that song about? In January of 1973 the song was released – Carly had married James Taylor a month before, which sparked interest as to which ex-boyfriend the lyrics were meant for. Being that Carly admitted it was written about someone famous, could it have been Mick Jagger? Warren Beatty? Or even Yusuf Islam (or as you’d know him then, Cat Stevens)?
From a Rolling Stone interview in 1973, Carly had this to say:
What can you say. The more someone withholds information, the more aggravating it is to not have the answer. (Are you secretly telling us it IS about James?)
7. The Loch Ness Monster – Out of all the possibly fictional lake monsters, Nessie is probably the most famous. Belief in the animal’s existence dates back to 1933. While scientists state that Nessie is just a myth, there have been numerous photographs and sonar readings that lead people to believe it (she?) actually exists.
The monster was originally spotted by a man named Hugh Gray, who spotted a large creature emerging from the lake around the loch. While he took many pictures, they all appeared to be blurry. Some argue it’s a dog swimming towards the camera (possibly carrying a stick), yet others see something completely different. An otter, a diving bird, an eel – who knows. It was like the world’s first Magic Eye.
The way I interpret it is, Nessie is quite similar to Big Foot. The only difference is that as of today, Nessie doesn’t have a reality shows of cryptozoologists trying to find her.
8. The Zodiac Killer – Between December 1968 and October 1969, four men and three women were murdered by an unknown killer who operated out of Northern California. The suspect was only known by his pen name of “Zodiac”, which was noted in letters that included four cryptograms – only one which has been solved. While the case is inactive, it’s still open – meaning that despite happening such a long time ago, police are still hunting down clues to catch the culprit.
The killer claimed that each of his cryptograms would reveal his identity, and also demanded that the letters be printed on the front page of the Vallejo Times Herald, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The San Francisco Examiner – and if they weren’t, he’d continue his killing spree.
When the papers printed the letters with a sidebar saying that they were unsure if the letters were a hoax, the killer wrote back with intimate details of the murders. Communication continued for awhile, and more murders were reportedly linked to the killer.
Similarly to the Black Dahlia murderer, numerous people have attempt to confess to being the Zodiac Killer. But, there has been little proof to positively identify anyone to the crimes.
9. D.B. Cooper – This might be the weirdest mystery on the list. In 1971, a stranger that’s now known in the media as “D.B. Cooper” hijacked a Boein 727 aircraft between Portland and Seattle. While he checked in as “Dan Cooper”, it’s been noted that this was probably a fictional moniker. D.B. boarded the plane, ordered a drink, had a cigarette, and then passed a note onto a flight attendant stating that he had a bomb and demanded money – and parachutes. While he got everything he asked for, he was said to be a complete gentleman throughout the entire process – even tipping the attendant for his drink tab.
Some have assumed that D.B. didn’t survive after parachuting off the plane, but since then, numerous people have sent tips to the police claiming that their relatives might have been the infamous “D.B.” One of the more notable accounts was Kenneth Christiansen, reported by his brother Lyle. Christiansen enlisted in the Army in 1944 and was trained as a paratrooper, and bought a house with cash after the hijacking. After being diagnosed with cancer, Kenneth told Lyle “There is something you should know, but I cannot tell you.” The Christiansen family discovered a lot of unknown money from Kenneth after his passing.
Another possible suspect was named In 2011 – A woman named Marla Cooper claimed that her uncle, Lynn Doyle Cooper, was planning something “suspicious” the day before the flight was hijacked, and came home wearing a bloody shirt.
10. The Mothman – First sighted in 1926 and heavily reported on in 1967, the Mothman was first spotted in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia. The first report on the creature had the headline of “Couples See Man-Sized Bird…Creature…Something”
Jerome Clark, a UFOlogist (yes, that’s a thing) interviewed numerous people after the initial event – all who have claimed to spot the Mothman, with comments like “It seems like it doesn’t want to hurt you. It just wants to communicate with you.” Well, that’s a relief.
So what’s this Mothman look like? A lot of witnesses said he resembled a “large bird with red eyes”, while others claim he was a “flying man with ten foot wings”. Common belief is that the sighting was really of a Sandhill Crane that migrated out of its migration route, but hey – you never know.
One thing that the Mothman has over other possibly fictional beasts, is his own museum – The Mothman Museum ad Research Center opened in 2005.
What are some of your favorite unsolved mysteries? Feel like debunking any of the mysteries listed above? Sound off in the comments!