TR Robertson — There are lots of mysteries in this world. Mysteries dealing with anthropology, history, the arts, and everything in between. Another area of mystery surrounds criminal activity, especially violent crimes that have yet to be solved. When researching this topic, it is amazing how many of these types of crimes have not been solved and how many are still under investigation today. Here is a list of “whodunits?” that have stumped the authorities for years and years and lots of speculation surrounds each one. These will center on some of the unsolved and unusual murders in the world.
The Whitechapel Murders – The murderer of the five (maybe more) prostitutes is known. It was Jack the Ripper. But the identity of this person is still a mystery today. Numerous documentaries, movies and books have been written about the supposed person who committed these crimes that terrorized London in the late 1800’s; but the actually identity is still not known to this day. The names of Walter Sickert, Prince Albert Victor and Sir William Gull have been speculated, but again without definite proof.
The Black Dahlia Murder – In 1947, the body of Elizabeth Short was found mutilated in a Los Angeles lot, the body drained of blood. Called the Black Dahlia, because of her hair and clothing style, numerous books and several movies have alluded to possible murder suspects, but again the crime was never solved. An estimated 150 suspects were considered for the crime.
Marilyn Sheppard Murder – In 1954, a pregnant Marilyn Sheppard was murdered while her 7-year-old son slept in the next room of the family home. Dr. Sam Sheppard was accused and convicted, only to have the case overturned by the Supreme Court on the grounds that excessive publicity influenced the trial. At the retrial, he was acquitted. Up until his death in 1970, Sheppard searched for his wife’s killer, who still has not been identified today.
The Zodiac Killings – From the late 1960’s until 1978, San Francisco and the surrounding community was both held in fear and the authorities taunted by a series of murders and attempted murders by a person dubbed The Zodiac Killer, a name labeled to this killer due to the inscriptions attached to letters sent to the police and San Francisco newspapers. The letters were coded and hard to decipher. Only a couple of the letters have been fully deciphered. Some thought the killings stopped because the killer might have been picked up for other crimes, but others say the killer has never been caught. Again, numerous books and movies have been dedicated to trying to establish who the Zodiac Killer really was.
The Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa – In July of 1975, deposed Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa disappeared from a Detroit restaurant. The whereabouts of his body and his killer has never been established. The body supposedly was under Giants Football Stadium, or in a Pennsylvania mineshaft or in Northern Michigan. Hit man Frank Sheeran was listed in a book as the killer, but never proven. Geraldo Rivera dedicated a one-hour program to unearthing what he thought was Hoffa’s corpse location, only to be proven incorrect. Still a mystery today.
JonBenet Ramsey Murder – six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the basement of the families Boulder, Colorado, home along with an odd ransom note and evidence suggesting there was no forced entry into the home. The young girl had once been entered in several child beauty pageants. The father said he discovered the body, which appeared staged at the scene. The parents were suspect for several months and gave numerous television interviews. No charges for the crime were filed against the parents, although they were suspect for hindering the investigation. A crime with speculation, but no conclusion.
The Love Me Tender Murders – Young sisters Barbara and Patricia Grimes disappeared on a cold Chicago evening on December 28, 1956, starting one of the most intensive missing persons cases in Chicago history. After one month of searching, their naked bodies were found on the side of a local road. Supposedly, the coroner said the girls died from exposure within four hours of their disappearance. His conclusions have been widely disputed and one reason for the delay in continued investigations of this case, which is unsolved.
The Murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman – One of the City of Los Angeles most notorious unsolved crimes is the June 1994 death of the ex-wife of O.J. Simpson and friend Ron Goldman. They were brutally stabbed at Nicole’s home. O.J. Simpson was the defendant in the murder trial, which many felt was poorly handled from the start, beginning with the police investigation, the forensics investigation and the L.A. D.A.’s trial proceedings. Simpson was not convicted of the crimes, but he was found guilty in a civil lawsuit.
The Murder of Bob Crane – Bob Crane was a television star of the 1960’s comedy show “Hogan’s Heroes”. In 1978, he was found beaten and strangled with an electric cord in Scottsdale, Arizona. Crane had a rather notorious personal life, many relationships despite being married. Some blame a friend of Crane’s, John Henry Carpenter, for his behavior. Carpenter was arrested for the murder, but again poor handling of the investigation by the Scottsdale Police, which did not have a homicide unit at that time, would lead to Carpenter’s acquittal. No one else has ever been arrested for this murder.
Tainted Tylenol Murders – In 1982, seven people died in Chicago after taking Extra-Strength Tylenol in capsule form. The capsules had been laced with cyanide. The pills had come from different factories, leading to the belief that tampering had occurred in local stores where the pills were sold. At one time it was believed the Unabomber was responsible, but the pattern for the crime and other evidence did not match the crime. To this day the FBI has not solved this crime.
The Missing Sodder Children – On Christmas Eve, 1945, in Fayetteville, West Virginia, nine of the ten Sodder children and their parents, George and Jenn, went to bed. At midnight, the house caught fire. George, Jenn and four children managed to get out safely. The other five children could not be found. No bodies in the house, no charred bones, nothing to indicate what happened to these children. Many theories as to what had happened, including a possible firebombing of the house and a kidnapping of these children due to George’s antifascist views against Benito Mussolini. Whatever the reason, the children have never been located.
The Sims Family Murders – On October 22, 1966, Robert and Helen Sims and their daughter, Joy, were found dead in their Tallahassee, Florida, Home by the oldest daughter, Jeanie, who had been babysitting. A massive search was launched for the killer. What is unusual about this crime is there is no motive for this crime, no suspects ever listed, no charges brought against anyone and little evidence at the crime scene. An unsolved and perhaps never to be solved crime.
The Missing Girls of Fort Worth – On December 23, 1974, Mary Rachel Trlica, Julie Anne Moseley, and Lisa Renee Wilson, ages 17, 14, and 9 respectively, went shopping at the Seminary South Shopping Mall. They were never seen again. Mary was married and a note was sent to her husband indicating the trio was going to Houston. This note is felt to have been forged. There was some indication her husband was involved with her sister Debra and the sister may have been involved with the disappearance. The police feel the three girls did leave the Mall with someone they knew. Who that person was and what happened next has never been solved.
There are many more stories of unsolved crimes and violent occurrences and Part II will deal with some of those in other countries, many involving Americans in other countries. For more information on any of the crimes listed in this article, Google the names of the victims and read a wealth of information about each crime. You can also find a site that goes through every state in the nation that points out various unsolved cases from each state. The list is quite lengthy.