One of the most baffling concepts within the human race is that of murder and yet, for those who believe in the story of Cain and Able, it is a concept which has long played a role in society. Murder cases frequently go unsolved not only for decades, but for centuries and for many people this fact is just as disconcerting as the murder case itself. In this article we will cover some of the most famous unsolved murder cases in history, read on if you dare.
- Amber Hagerman
- Andrew and Abby Borden
- The Axeman of New Orleans
- Betsy Aardsma
- The Black Dahlia
- Bob Crane
- The Boy in the Box
- Georgette Bauerdorf
- The Grimes Sisters
- The Hall-Mills Murder
- Jack the Ripper
- Jack the Stripper
- JonBenet Ramsey
- Julia Wallace
- Julie Ward
- The Lake Bodom Murders
- Lynne Harper
- Marilyn Reese Sheppard
- Mary Meyer
- Mary Rogers
- The Murder of Thelma Todd
- Olof Palme
- Oscar Romero
- Peter Ivers
- Rashawn Brazell
- Robert Wone
- Rose Harsent
- Suzanne Jovin
- The Zodiac Killer
Amber Rene Hagerman was just nine years old when she was abducted and murdered. Amber was riding her bike close to her grandparent’s home in Arlington, Texas on January 13, 1996 when she was snatched. Amber and her brother Ricky were riding around the block when they went a little further to an abandoned grocery store parking lot to ride on a ramp there that children often enjoyed riding on. Amber’s brother became worried that they were riding further than their mother had said to go so he told Amber he was returning home. Ricky started back home and Amber stayed for one more ride on the ramp. When Ricky got home the family asked about Amber and when he said that she had stayed a little longer the family sent him back to bring her home. Ricky returned, however, he could not find his sister. Jimmie Whitson, grandfather to Amber and Ricky jumped in to his truck and went to find her himself. At the parking lot Jimmie found a police car and pulled up next to it where the officer told him that a man close by had heard screaming and looked to see another man carrying a young girl in to his pickup truck. The man who lived close by had called 911 summoning the police officer but when the officer arrived at the scene all he found was a bicycle that Amber had been riding.
Amber’s family would appear on television pleading for her life and her safe return. Police believed that it was a stranger abduction that took place because the opportunity arose for the abductor. No witnesses were found other than the man who called 911 at the time of the abduction. Sadly, just four days after her abduction, Amber’s body was found naked in a creek bed near an apartment complex. Her throat had been cut. After finding Amber’s body, the police released a profile of who they believed the killer to be; however, this did not aid in capturing him.
While Amber’s killer has yet to be caught her legacy remains. The abduction and murder of Amber Hagerman led to the development of today’s Amber alert system.
Andrew and Abby Borden are names that are perhaps not as well known as that of their suspected murderer, daughter, Lizzie Borden. Andrew and Abby were parents to Lizzie Borden and on August 4, 1892 they were both found brutally murdered in their home. When the day began, Andrew Borden left home to go to work, leaving his wife, their daughter Lizzie and their Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan at the house. After coming home from work early the same morning he lay on the sofa to take a nap but he would never awaken. According to Lizzie, she came in to the living room to find her father dead on the sofa having suffered severe blunt force trauma to the head. Upstairs Lizzie also found her mother dead and mutilated much more than her father’s body. A later examination by the coroner would find that Abby Borden had been killed almost an hour before her husband died.
Suspicion of the deaths fell on to Lizzie, the couple’s daughter after it was found that on August 3 she had tried to purchase poison. Additional suspicion fell when it was discovered that Lizzie had burned a dress in a stove in the home. Lizzie was not the only suspect in the murder though; Bridget Sullivan was also under suspicion. The murder weapon was never discovered which made finding the murderer even more difficult; however, some suspected that an axe found in the basement was the weapon of choice in the killings. Lizzie Borden would eventually get arrested and tried for the murders but she was acquitted due to circumstantial evidence in June of 1893. Despite being acquitted of the murder charges, Lizzie would continue to be treated as an outcast for the rest of her life in Fall River, Massachusetts where she lived until her death in 1927.
The axeman of New Orleans is a serial killer who was known for being active throughout New Orleans, Louisiana from May 1918 to October 1919. The victims of the axeman were killed with an axe that was, in some cases, also used to break down the door of the home. While there were some ideas as to who the axeman could be, there was no evidence strong enough to convict anyone of the crime. Unlike many other serial killers, the axeman appeared to attack completely at random and with complete disregard for his victims and not all of those victims died as a result of their wounds. So random were his attacks that victims of the axeman included a pregnant woman and a young infant killed in its mother’s arms. The axeman continued to taunt the city with his crimes and even wrote letters to local newspapers in which he claimed to be a demon from Hell. The axeman seemed to enjoy the power that he held over others more than anything else and in one famous incident he wrote a letter to a local newspaper stating that he would strike again at fifteen minutes after midnight on March 19; however, any location where a jazz band was playing would be spared. Jazz music abounded that night and there were no killings. There are twelve identified victims of the axeman of New Orleans.
There were many speculations as to who the axeman could have been, one such speculation indicated that perhaps the mafia was involved with the killings; however, the later crimes which included the murdering of the young infant were not characteristic of such a murderer. There was also rumor that a man named Joseph Momfre was responsible for the crimes and was eventually murdered by the widow of one of his victims; however, there is little evidence to indicate that this is actually true.
Betsy Aardsma was a 22 year old English major from Michigan attending Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania. On November 28, 1969, Betsy was in the library researching for a paper when she was stabbed once through the heart. It is believed that Betsy was stabbed sometime between 4:55 pm and 4:55pm. A minute after her stabbing Betsy fell to the floor and two men shouted to the desk clerk at the library that someone had better “help that girl” before running out of the library. The two men were never identified nor captured. First aid was administered to Betsy including mouth to mouth. By 5:19 pm Betsy had been taken to the Ritenour Health Center (the on campus hospital) where she was pronounced dead. At the time of her stabbing Betsy had been wearing a red dress and no one really knew how serious the wound had been. The single knife wound however, had pierced her heart – a fact which would not be uncovered until she was examined at the hospital. It was thought by those administering CPR that Betsy had suffered from a seizure since evidence of the stabbing was not particularly visible.
The case of the murder of Betsy Aardsma has never been solved over the past forty three years. The Pennsylvania State Police are still seeking information in the unsolved murder.
The Black Dahlia is a nickname used to refer to Elizabeth Short, born in 1924 and murdered in 1947. The body of Short was discovered in Leimert Park in Los Angeles on January 15, 1947. The case of the Black Dahlia has been publicized in book and film form, most significantly for the sheer gruesome nature of the crime. The body of Short was discovered mutilated with a cut across her waist that was so deep that it sliced her in half. Short had been completely drained of blood, she was nude and the corners of her mouth had been slashed up to her ears. The nude body appeared to have been posed with her hands above her head and her elbows bent at right angles. The cause of death is stated to have been blood loss from the cuts to her face combined with shock that resulted from a concussion she received before her death.
There have been a handful of suspects in the case of the Black Dahlia; however, no one has yet to be convicted of the crime and as time passes it is increasingly unlikely that anyone will pay for the crime. The killer of Short is suspected to have contacted the newspapers on numerous occasions when he felt that the coverage of the murder was tapering off and once even mailed an envelope containing personal possessions of Short to prove his involvement in the case. The envelope also contained a small address book with the name “Mark Hansen” on the cover, the last individual known to have seen Elizabeth Short alive. Due to the sheer sensationalism of the case, over the years many people came forward claiming to have plaid a role in the death of Short; however, no one has ever been convicted of the crime.
Bob Crane is most commonly known for his role as Colonel Robert E. Hogan in the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, but he is also known for the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. Crane was living in the Winfield Place Apartments in Scottsdale, Arizona in June of 1978. During this time he was acting at the Windmill Dinner Theater in his play Beginner’s Luck. On June 29th however, luck was not on Crane’s side and his co-star, Victoria Ann Berry discovered his body in his Winfield Place Apartment. Berry was supposed to be meeting Crane for lunch but when he didn’t show up for the meeting she went to his apartment in search of him.
When Bob Crane was found he had an electrical cord tried around his neck and had been bludgeoned to death. Investigators never did find the weapon that had been used to bludgeon him, but they suspect that it had been a camera tripod. A friend of Crane’s, John Henry Carpenter fell under suspicion at the time; however, since DNA testing did not exist at the time and insufficient evidence was present, no charges were filed against him. According to reports though, Carpenter had called Crane’s apartment multiple times and when he showed up there he was not surprised that the police were on the scene. This made investigators suspicious and they had Carpenters car impounded. Inside the car the police found blood which matched Bob Crane’s blood type but with no DNA testing at the time it was not possible to determine whether it was Crane’s blood or not. No one was charged with the murder.
In 1990 Maricopa County reopened the murder case and were able to retest the blood samples retrieved from Carpenter’s car. The DNA testing was inconclusive but a detective on the case found a picture of what he believed to be brain tissue in the car. The detectives on the case hoped that this would be enough to indict Carpenter for Crane’s murder and in June of 1992 Carpenter was arrested and charged with murder. An Arizona judge ruled that despite the evidence being lost, there was enough evidence to try Carpenter. Carpenter was eventually found not guilty and maintained this innocence until his death in 1998. With Carpenter cleared, Bob Crane’s death remains unsolved.
The boy in the box is the name used to refer to a murder victim who was discovered on February 25, 1957 in a cardboard box. The body of the boy indicated that he was approximately 4 to 6 years old at the time of his murder. Evidence shows that the young boy was murdered and left in the box in the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The boy’s body had been wrapped in a plaid blanket and placed in the box and left abandoned. The boy was discovered once by a muskrat trapper checking on his traps and a second time by a college student who spotted a rabbit in the area, neither reported the incident immediately. The day after his discovery though, the college student finally reported the incident.
While much attention was given to the case after it was reported and the boys face was posted all over the news and in the media, no one was ever charged with involvement in the case. There have been a few theories revolving around potential explanations for the young boy’s murder. The first theory states that the young boy had been killed while in a foster home close to the scene; however, this was later ruled out as police interviewed the man who ran the home. The second theory states that the young boy was sold by his parents in to a home that was extremely abusive, the daughter of the woman who was accused of the abuse came forward with the story; however, the accuser had a severe history of mental illness.
While no progress has been made in identifying the boy or his killer, mitochondrial DNA has been extracted from the boy’s tooth and is being run through the mitochondrial DNA database in an attempt to locate his identity.
Georgette Bauerdorf was just 20 years old at the time of her murder and was well known as the heiress to an oil fortune. At the time of her murder, Georgette was living in West Hollywood, California and her father, stepmother and sister were all living in New York City. Georgette was known to have spent time volunteering as a junior hostess in a Hollywood canteen where she often was seen dancing with enlisted men. According to accounts from friends, Georgette had a serviceman boyfriend who lived in El Paso. Authorities later revealed this man to be Private Jerome M. Brown from Chicago, Illinois. The day before she was killed, Georgette purchased an airline ticket to go to El Paso.
The night before she was killed, Georgette left work at the canteen and went home. During the same day she had met up with her father’s secretary for lunch and a shopping trip. The secretary, Mrs. Rose Gilbert, had said that Georgette was not distressed and in fact was in quite high spirits during their meeting. That same night however, Georgette is believed to have been attacked by a man who was lying in wait. According to police, the assailant had unscrewed the light bulb in the light outside Georgette’s apartment, his fingerprints were later found on the light bulb.
Georgette’s body was found face down in the bathtub and while her jewelry and other valuables were not taken, cash was stolen from her purse. Oddly enough however, a visible roll of $2 bills and a number of sterling silver pieces were not taken even though they were visible. Georgette’s sister’s car was also missing from the property and was later found in Los Angeles after it had run out of gas. According to the coroner, Georgette had put up a fight against her attacker and had bruises all over her body. Ultimately, Georgette was strangled and had a piece of towel put down her throat. A number of servicemen were questioned in Georgette’s murder but no one was ever found guilty.
Barbara and Patricia Grimes were sisters who lived in Chicago, Illinois until their disappearance on December 28, 1956. The girls aged 15 and 13 respectively left their home to go and watch Love Me Tender (and Elvis Presley movie) at a local movie theater. The girls arrived at the theater and were seen in line for popcorn at around 9:30pm. The movie ended at 11pm and the girls still had not returned home by 2:15am. The girl’s mother called the police and began one of the biggest missing person’s hunts in the history of Chicago state. The search was so big that even Elvis Presley himself issues a statement asking the girls to go home.
On January 22, 1957 however, the girls naked bodies were discovered by a construction worker named Leonard Prescott. The girls were found next to German Church Road. Much speculation took place by police and medical examiners as to when the girls died and what it was that killed them. The Chicago police crime lab confirmed however, that Barbara had been molested before she was killed.
Multiple suspects were interviewed and various eyewitness reports were made in the case, but none were found guilty and no reports (with the exception of the 9:30pm sighting of the girls) were ever substantiated.
On September 17, 1922 the bodies of Reverend Edward Wheeler Hall (41) and Eleanor Mills (34) were found in an apple orchard in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Mills had been shot three times and in addition she had her throat slashed. Hall had been shot once in the head. Both of the victims were covered with explicit love letters that they had written to each other and the Reverend also had his calling card placed on his feet. The murder suggests that the illicit affair between the two lovers had been discovered. The crime scene however, was improperly treated and the police work was shoddy at best. No autopsies were performed on either body. Four years after the murders however, a reporter found the calling card that had been sitting against Hall’s feet and had it tested for fingerprints. The prints matched those of Hall’s brother in law. As a result of this finding, Hall’s wife Frances, her brother William, her other brother Henry and their cousin Henry were all named as suspects in the murder case. The trial would take a month and deliberation would go on for six hours before they were all acquitted of the charges against them. No one has ever been held accountable for the murders.
No list of unsolved murders would be complete without mention of Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper is perhaps the single most infamous unsolved murder case in history to date. Ripper is known for his activity in the impoverished areas of the Whitechapel district in London in 1888. The victims of Jack the Ripper were most typically female prostitutes who had their throats slit before having their abdomens completely mutilated. It was widely speculated over the years that Jack the Ripper had some type of anatomy experience whether that of a butcher or a doctor because of the removal of specific organs from his victims. There are five well known Ripper victims: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. There were later murders in the Whitechapel area that some believe were attributed to Jack the Ripper; however, they differed from the five recognized victims of the Ripper.
Over the years there have been many speculations as to the identity of Jack the Ripper, but no speculation have ever been proven without a reasonable doubt and as time progresses the chance of ever discovering the true identity of the famed Ripper, is even more unlikely. Some of the suspected culprits for the murders include: local physicians, doctors, slaughterhouse workers, butchers and anyone else who had access to surgical materials and knowledge.
Upon reading the name “Jack the Stripper” many mistakenly believe that it is a typographical error of “Jack the Ripper;” however, the two cases are two different cases all together. The Jack the Stripper cases are also referred to as the Hammersmith murders or the Hammersmith nudes cases, and the London nude murders. Just like Jack the Ripper, Jack the Stripper was known for targeting prostitutes. He is believed to have killed six, but possibly eight prostitutes between the years of 1964 and 1965. The bodies of his victims were found dumped in London’s River Thames or dumped throughout London.
As with the case of Jack the Ripper, the case of Jack the Stripper had little evidence to point toward a suspect for the murders other than the presence of paint from a motor manufacturing plant that turned up on a number of the bodies. While there was no actual arrest in the case there have been a number of suspects. The most likely suspect in the murder cases was a Scottish security guard named Mungo Ireland. Ireland was tied to the case through his position as a security guard at a factory where the flecks of paint found on the bodies were traced to. Unfortunately for the case Ireland committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning shortly after the flecks of paint were traced back to the factory where he worked. The most significant piece of evidence that pointed to Ireland’s involvement in the cases was the suicide note that he left for his wife stating “I can’t stick it any longer” in addition to stating “To save you and the police looking for me I’ll be in the garage.” While this note could indicate an involvement in the cases, other evidence points to Ireland being out of town when one of the Stripper murders took place and that it could not have been his doing. A number of other suspects have been fingered in the case; however, none has ever been convicted.
The case of JonBenét Ramsey (pictured left – photo credit Biography.com) is a much more recent case which involved the murder of a child beauty pageant contestant who was killed in her home in Boulder, Colorado in 1996. At the time of her death JonBenét Ramsey was six years old and her body was discovered in the basement of her home eight hours after her parents reported her missing. JonBenét had been struck on the head and strangled. The most common theory in the murder of the six year old was that her parents and brother had played a role in her death; however, DNA evidence found on JonBenét’s clothes indicated that they were not involved; In July of 2008 both of JonBenét’s parents would be cleared in the investigation in to her death.
In December of 2003 DNA from blood found on JonBenét Ramsey’s clothes was collected and a DNA profile was created. The profile was placed in to CODIS (the FBI’S Combined DNA Index System) to maintain a record of its profile. To date there have been no matches to the DNA profile found on JonBenét Ramsey’s clothing. It was found, however, that in the months preceding JonBenét Ramsey’s death, there were more than 100 burglaries in the area. In 2006 a former schoolteacher, John Mark Karr confessed to being with JonBenét at the time of her death; however, his DNA profile did not match that of JonBenét and no charges were filed against Karr for involvement in the case. The mystery of JonBenét Ramsey’s death remains unsolved.
Julia Wallace was wife of William Herbert Wallace. Julia was found murdered on Tuesday January 20, 1931. The same year as Julia’s murder, William was convicted of the crime but his conviction would later be overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal. The case itself would go down in history for two reasons, firstly it was the first case in British legal history in which an appeal had been granted after evidence had been re-examined, and secondly because it is noted as an unbeatable case.
The night before Julia’s murder her husband was at the Liverpool Chess Club playing a chess game when he was handed a message. The message had been taken down over the telephone 25 minutes before William had arrived to play his scheduled chess game. The message demanded that William go to 25 Menlove Gardens East, Liverpool at 7:30 pm on Tuesday January 20. The intent of this meeting according to the note was to discuss insurance with one R.M. Qualtrough. The following evening William followed the instructions on the note and headed to the address in question. When he arrived close to the destination William found that there was no East Menlove Gardens. William asked many people, including a patrolling police officer and a newsagent to direct him to the address but no one was able to assist him in his search. William even tried calling in to 25 Menlove Gardens West but to no avail. William searched the area for forty five minutes before he returned home. When he reached his home William ran in to his next door neighbors who were leaving for the evening. William met them in the alley and informed them that he was unable to get in to his home through either the front or the back entrance. As his neighbors stood watching, William once again tried the back door only to get inside and find his wife beaten to death in the living room.
Two weeks later, William was arrested for the crime but based on re-examination of the evidence in an appeal; William was cleared of the murder. No one was ever held responsible for Julia’s death.
Julie Ward was a wildlife photographer who was murdered while on safari at the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya. Julie was 28 at the time of her disappearance while on a solo photography safari, her body was found a week after she went missing. When found, Julie’s body was burned and dismembered. Kenyan officials stated that Julie must have been struck by lightning and eaten by lions; however, her father was not willing to accept that explanation and continued to dig for answers. Julie’s father continued to push for answers until it was revealed that the coroner’s report on his daughter’s body had been altered. The report revealed that instead of having gnawed marks on her bones, his daughter’s bones had been cut by a sharp blade indicating that she had been murdered. Julie’s father John has spent more than £2 million seeking answers to his daughter’s death and has visited Kenya over 100 times in an effort to find more answers.
To date there have been two trials concerning the murder of Julie Ward. The first of the two trials was held in 1992 when two park rangers were tried for murder; however, they were both acquitted. A second trial was held in 1998 and the head park warden was tried for the crime; however, he too was acquitted of the crime. John Ward believes that the Kenyan government has played a significant role in covering up his daughter’s death in an attempt to prevent it from impacting the tourist industry. Despite many investigations, the case of Julie Ward’s murder has never been solved.
On June 5, 1960 three teenagers were murdered at Lake Bodom in Finland. Early in the morning of June 5, 1060 four teenagers had been camping on the lake’s shores when sometime between 4 and 6 am an unknown suspect or number of suspects attacked all four of them. The four were attacked with a knife as well as a blunt object and while three of the four perished in this multiple homicide, one of the teens survived. The single survivor of the attacks was Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson. Gustafsson continued on with his life until 2004 when he became the subject of the investigation in to the murders. Gustafsson was charged with the murders but in October of 2005 the district court found him not guilty. Two of the three victims were just 15 at the time of their death and the third was 18 as was Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson. The three murder victims were all stabbed and bludgeoned. Gustafsson suffered a concussion, jaw and facial fractures as well as many bruises.
After the Lake Bodom murders there were a number of suspects including Pauli Luoma, a runaway from a local work department. Luoma was later cleared of the murders after his alibi was confirmed. Pentti Soininen was also a suspect for the crime. Soininen already convicted of a number of violent crimes as well as property crimes, allegedly admitted to committing the murders while in prison. There was an amount of skepticism about Soininen’s guilt but the truth would never actually be known since he hanged himself at a prisoner transport station in 1969. Valdemar Gyllstrom was another prime suspect in the Lake Bodom murders. Gyllstrom was a kiosk keeper from Oittaa and was known for his aggressive behavior and had apparently confessed to the murders before his death as a result of drowning in Lake Bodom in 1969. No evidence was found to indicate Gyllstrom in the murders although his wife did admit to his alibi for the crime being a lie since her husband had threatened to kill her if she told the truth about his absence the night of the murders. None of the suspects in the multiple murder case were ever convicted and the case remains unsolved.
Lynne Harper was a 12 year old girl who disappeared on June 9, 1959 from RCAF Station Clinton in Clinton, Ontario. Two days after her disappearance Lynne’s body was recovered on a farm. It was discovered that Lynne had been raped and strangled with her blouse.
Lynne Harper was born on August 31, 1946 in New Brunswick and was known by many as a headstrong and socially active child spending much of her time in Girl Guides, Bible Class and Sunday school. At the time of her disappearance, Lynne was attending Air Vice Marshal Hugh Campbell School in Clinton, Ontario. One of Lynne’s classmates, Steven Truscott who was in her shared 7/8th grade class was known to be one of the last to see Lynne on the day of her disappearance. Truscott gave Lynne a ride on his bicycle crossbar. According to Truscott when he was questioned in court about his interaction with Lynne, he left Lynne at the intersection of Highway 8 and County Road. The court Crown however, contended that Truscott had raped and murdered Lynne and left her where her body had later been recovered. Truscott asserted however, that he had turned to see Lynne getting in to a car just after he had left her at the intersection.
Truscott was taken in to custody on June 12 and on June 13 he was charged with the murder of Lynn Harper. His trial began on September 16 and on September 30 he was found guilty. Truscott made an appeal on January 21 which was dismissed. Another appeal was made, this time to the Supreme Court of Canada and was denied on February 24. While Truscott received a death sentence for his conviction, he received a commutation of his sentence and he was paroled on October 21, 1969. Revived interest in the Lynne Harper case came about in 2000 when a television interview renewed interest in the case. Attempts were made to recover damning DNA evidence from Lynne’s exhumed body; however, no such evidence was recovered. While Truscott was never declared to be innocent, the court ruled that there was no way to convict him of the crime without a reasonable doubt. Lynne’s family still believes that Truscott was responsible for their daughter’s death.
Marilyn Reese Sheppard was murdered on July 4, 1954 in her home in Bay Village, Ohio. Marilyn was pregnant at the time of her murder Marilyn’s husband, Sam Sheppard, claimed that his wife had been killed by a man with bushy hair who had also attacked him and rendered him unconscious twice. While this attack took place Marilyn and Sam’s son slept without awaking in his bedroom located just down the hallway. In the fall of 1954 Sam Sheppard was tried for the murder of his wife. The trial received much press publicity and was frequently compared to a carnival for the amount of attention and press coverage it received. The media was convinced that Sam had murdered his wife and so too was the jury. Sam was found guilty and went on to serve ten years in prison before he was granted a writ of habeas corpus on July 15, 1964. It was found that Sheppard had been denied due process in his trial and he was released from prison. A new trial for Sam was begun with his arraignment on September 8, 1966. Sam pleaded not guilty and on November 16th of the same year a not guilty verdict was reached.
Sam would be the inspiration for the film “The Fugitive” and would go on to a career as a professional wrestler. During this brief wrestling career, Sam Sheppard would go by the name “The Killer.” Many people believe that Sam really did kill his wife, but whether he did or not the case of the murder of Marilyn Reese Sheppard remains unsolved.
Mary Meyer was a Washington DC socialite and a known close friend of President John F. Kennedy. In 1964, Mary Meyer was shot to death when going for a walk on October 12. A nearby mechanic who heard the gunshots is said to have seen an unidentified man standing over Mary’s body. According to the mechanic, the man was black and wore a light jacket, dark slacks and a dark cap. Mary had been shot in the heart and in the back of the head; both bullets were fired at extremely close range.
Shortly after the shooting, an African American man named Raymond Crump was arrested near the scene of the crime. Although Crump had no gum on him and had never been linked to owning a gun, he was tried for the crime of murder. On July 29, 1965, Crump would be acquitted of all charges. The murder of Mary Meyer remains unsolved.
Mary Rogers was commonly referred to as the “Beautiful Cigar Girl.” Mary was born in 1820 and her body was recovered on July 28, 1841 in the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey. During her life, Mary Rogers worked in a New York City tobacco shop owned by John Anderson. Mary was well paid since her beauty commonly invited more customers in to the shop. Mary was well known and liked by most clients of the shop and was known to pass flirting glances their way once in a while. On October 5, 1838 however Mary went missing from her home according to a New York Sun article. Mary’s mother, Phoebe Rogers told the New York Sun that she had found a suicide note from her daughter that was deemed by the coroner to be proof of her determination to commit suicide. On October 6th however, the Times and Commercial Intelligence newspaper reported that the disappearance was not actually a disappearance at all, rather, Mary had gone to Brooklyn to visit a friend. When Mary returned to work many believed that her disappearance had not been a hoax rather it had been a publicity stunt by the owner of the tobacco shop to get more business.
On July 25, 1841 though, Mary Rogers would go missing in a way. Mary told her fiancé, Daniel Payne that she was going to visit family on July 25th; however, three days later her body was recovered from the Hudson River in Hoboken. As beautiful and well loved as Mary had been her death caused quite the stir in local newspapers as well as nationally. What was released of the case indicted that Mary had been the subject of foul play being either murdered or dumped in the river and left for dead after abortionist Madame Restell had attempted to conduct a procedure on her. Months after the recovery of Mary’s body her fiancé would commit suicide by poison.
No one really knows what happened to Mary Rogers, many believe that she had been the victim of gang violence. One woman, Frederica Loss also came forward and told that Mary had certainly died after a failed abortion attempt by Madame Restell. The case would never be solved however when press coverage switched gears a couple of months later Samuel Adams was murdered by John C Colt. Although her murder was never solved, Mary Rogers was fictionalized in the Edgar Allan Poe story “The Mystery of Marie Roget.”
Thelma Todd, also known as Thelma Alice Todd and “Hot Toddy” was an actress on the American Hollywood scene in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Thelma Todd lived in an apartment above the café that she ran on the Roosevelt Highway, the Sidewalk Café. Just uphill from the café, Thelma had a garage. On December 15, 1035, Thelma Todd was found dead inside this garage, behind the steering wheel of her Packard convertible. At the time there were some who believed that she had committed suicide or accidentally killed herself while warming up her car in the garage; however, signs of foul play came to light. Thelma had blood on her mouth and there were traces on blood on the car as well along with a smudged hand print on the car door. Thelma’s blood alcohol level was too high to have allowed her to climb the 300 uphill steps to the garage in her high heel shoes. Despite these findings however, the death of Thelma Todd was ultimately ruled a suicide after the hearing of evidence that she was depressed and occasionally spoke of suicide. The facts still seem to indicate that there was foul play involved in her death though, but unfortunately for Thelma, no one will ever know what really happened in that garage.
Olof Palme was the prime minister of Sweden from October 14, 1969 to October 8, 1976. During his time as prime minister of Sweden, Palme had many strong opinions in regard to a number of highly volatile issues including the world powers involved in the Cold War, particularly for the role of the United States in the Vietnam War which put a number of nuclear weapons throughout Europe, something which Palme did not agree with at all. Palme’s criticism of the role of America in the Vietnam War cause extremely strained relationships between Sweden and the United States and it is because of this tension that many believe that the eventual assassination was a result of his opinions.
Palme spent much of his role as prime minister without a security detail, believing that he was not in any danger; however, just before midnight on February 28 of 1986, Palme and his wife were returning from the movie theater when they were fired on by an assassin. While Palme’s wife survived her gunshot wound, Palme was not so lucky and died upon his arrival to the hospital. One man, a local thief and drug addict was arrested for the crime and convicted; however, his conviction was later overturned leaving the crime unsolved. Many people believe that due to his strong opinions on the Cold War during his role as prime minister, that Palme was assassinated by members of the American CIA or perhaps the Russian KGB, but no proof has ever been discovered to support either theory.
More recently records from a German interrogation indicate that the assassination was carried out by a Yugoslavian UDBA operative who currently lives in Croatia; however, to date there has been little to come of this discovery.
Born Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, Oscar Romero was recognized for his position as bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador. Oscar Romero was born in August of 1917 and went on to become the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador after Luis Chavez. On March 24, 1980 Oscar Romero was assassinated during a mass he was conducting at the hospital La Divina Providencia. The assassination of Romero immediately followed a sermon he had given the preceding day demanding that soldiers of El Salvador must stop repressing citizens and refusing them basic human rights as they were being instructed to do by the government. Romero instructed the soldiers to be men of God and follow the higher ruling of God himself. A 1993 report by the United Nations supports the theory that the assassination of Romero was carried out by a squad of men trained and funded by the United States, charging Roberto D’Aubuisson, a former Major with instructing the squad to carry out the plan for the assassination. One of the men who is identified to have been an active member of the death squad involved in the assassination, Álvaro Rafael Saravia, was found liable in 2004 for aiding, conspiring and participating in the assassination and was ordered to pay a fine of $10 million.
During the funeral of Romero, a smoke grenade was activated and multiple rifle shots heard across the square, somewhere between 30 and 50 individuals were killed and a number of others were wounded during the display. Even as the body of Romero was being laid to rest, the gunfire continued to ring out.
There is no concrete evidence to point to those responsible for the acts that killed Romero or those who were killed during his funeral, no one has officially been charged with the assassination while Saravia was charged with taking part in the assassination plan.
Peter Ivers was another big name in American entertainment whose death remains a mystery. Known for his position as an American musician, Ivers was the host of the New Wave Theater. In a strange similarity to the Bob Crane murder mystery, Ivers was also found bludgeoned to death in his Los Angeles apartment. Ivers was killed in his bed in his apartment which was located in a seedy part of LA. Ivers murderer was never identified either but the case is still open. In 2008 a book called “In Heaven Everything is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of the New Wave Theatre” was published by Josh Frank and Charlie Buckholtz. Upon researching for the book new evidence was unearthed in the case forcing the Los Angeles Police Department to reopen their investigation. Upon his death, hundreds of Ivers friends had flocked to his apartment to mourn their lost friend and in doing so they compromised much of the evidence that had possibly been in the apartment. This is just one reason that is given for the unsolved status of Ivers death, other believe that the laundry list of friends and acquaintances that Ivers had also contributed to the inability to solve his death.
A number of theories abound about the potential cause for Peter Iver’s murder. Some say that Ivers was killed as the result of a botched robbery. Others believed that Ivers was killed by one of the hecklers in the audience of the New Wave Theater. Unfortunately though, none of these theories came to fruition and the murder of Peter Ivers remains unsolved.
The case of the murder of Rashawn Brazell has gone down in history as one of the most horrific murder cases in New York State. 19 year old Rashawn disappeared from his Bushwick, Brooklyn home in February of 2005. Rashawn had been scheduled to meet his accountant on the morning of February 14, 2005 before heading out to meet his mother for lunch in Manhattan. That morning at around 7:30 AM an unknown male rang the buzzer for Rashawn and Rashawn went down to meet him and the two walked to Gates Avenue Station together. According to eyewitnesses, the two exited the subway at Nostrand Avenue station in Bedford, Stuyvesant. This is the last time that Rashawn Brazell would be seen alive. Four days later two bags of body parts were found on the tracks at the subway station according to the New York Post. The fingerprints of the victim were identified as being those of Rashawn Brazell. No other information has been recovered about the identity of the unknown male who accompanies Rashawn to the subway station and no breaks have been made in the case to date. Rashawn’s case has been profiled on America’s Most Wanted a total of five times on the television as well as three times on the radio, yet no new leads have been generated that can help to solve the murder of Rashawn.
Robert Eric Wone was living in Washington, DC at the time of his murder. Wone was 32 and living in Oakton, Virginia where he commuted to Washington, D.C. to work as a lawyer. On the night of his murder, Wone had been staying with some friends who lived just a mile from his office in D.C. At the time of his attack in August, 2006, the townhouse where Wone was staying was, strangely enough, not empty at the time of his attack. Also inside the home at the time of the attack were Victor Zaborsky, Joseph Prince and Dylan Ward. According to police, on the night of his death, Wone was restrained, incapacitated and sexually assaulted before he was stabbed to death.
Police spoke with the three men who lived in the home and found their calm behavior to be quite suspect. Although the men did call an ambulance, they were not seen as being distraught or eager to help the paramedics once they arrived. The men became suspects in the murder, although many suspected their involvement due to their homosexuality and the fact that Wone had been sexually interfered with prior to his death. Ultimately police found the crime scene to have been tampered with which led to more delay in the investigation. The three roommates would eventually be tried for obstruction however; all three were found not guilty. Wone’s wife would later file a civil lawsuit for wrongful death against the three men which would be settled for an undisclosed amount on August 3, 2011.
The murder of Robert Wone was never solved; however, it has become quite a popular case in Washington, DC particularly due to the involvement of the gay community.
The murder of Rose Harsent is more often referred to as the Peasenhall Murder. Rose Harsent was a servant girl at a central home in Peasenhall, Suffolk, England. On the night of May 31, 1902 at approximately midnight and during a thunderstorm, Rose Harsent was murdered. Rose was found stabbed to death and it was soon discovered that she was six months pregnant at the time of her death. At first the police called to the scene believed it was a suicide but their investigation soon turned up other theories. Local Methodist preacher William Gardiner was believed to have been having an affair with Rose in 1901 and was also alleged to be the father of her unborn child. At the time of the murder, Gardiner had a wife and six children and lived just down the street from the home where Rose worked as a servant. Police arrested Gardiner twice as a suspect in Rose’s murder, once in 1902 and once in 1903, however, both trials resulted with a hung jury and the trial was acquitted. Very few people in the case history of English law have ever been tried for murder with the result being no verdict at all. In 1941, Gardiner died without ever being convicted of Rose’s murder. Some believe that Gardiner was innocent after all and it was his jealous wife who murdered Rose, but no one was ever formally convicted of the crime.
Suzanne Jovin was a 21 year old senior at Yale University at the time of her murder in 1998. Jovin was found stabbed to death off campus and the investigation in to her death has yet to yield a valid suspect. Jovin was a German born American student who volunteered as a tutor, sang in chorus and worked in the Davenport dining hall on campus.
On the night of her murder, Jovin was headed to the Yale police communications center on the old Yale campus. She decided to walk there to return keys to a car that she had borrowed. At approximately 9:22pm, Jovin ran in to a classmate, Peter Stein who was out getting a breath of air. Stein mentioned that Jovin had not mentioned plans for the rest of the evening other than to say that she was very tired and looked forward to going to bed when she got home. Stein noticed that Jovin was holding a sheet of paper in her hand but said that she did not look agitated or nervous. It is believed that after this encounter, Jovin returned the keys to the car that she had borrowed and she was last seen between 9:25 and 9:30pm. At the time of her last sighting, Jovin was walking northeast on College Street.
At 9:55 pm someone called 911 and reported seeing a woman bleeding around 2 miles from where Jovin was last seen alive. Four minutes after the call the police arrived on the scene and found Jovin who had been stabbed 17 times in the back of the head and neck. Jovin also had her throat slit. There were no signs of robbery; however, Jovin had left her wallet back in her room. At 10:26pm Jovin was pronounced dead at Yale New Haven Hospital.
Investigators in Jovin’s murder found DNA under Jovin’s fingernails of her left hand, Jovin’s fingerprints along with an unknown person’s partial palm print on a soda bottle close to where her body was found and the tip of the knife used to kill Jovin. In addition to this evidence, observers noted a brown van that had been parked adjacent to where Jovin’s body was found, a man running the opposite direction to where Jovin’s body was found and the mention of an unknown “someone” by Jovin in an email sent shortly before her death. While Jovin’s thesis advisor was once believed to have played a role in her death, he was never found guilty and her murder remains an unsolved crime.
The Zodiac Killer goes down in history as the second most notorious unsolved serial murder plague under Jack the Ripper. More than 2,500 suspects were interviewed in connection to the Zodiac Killer case and yet not one of them was held accountable and the cases were never solved. The Zodiac Killer is known to have murdered at least five victims in Benicia, Lake Berryessa, Vallejo and San Francisco between December of 1968 and October of 1969. The targets of the Zodiac Killer’s attacks were both men and women between the ages of 16 and 29. In total, known victims of the Zodiac Killer include four men and three women, five of which were murdered. It is very possible that there were other victims of the Zodiac Killer that were never identified due to a lack of evidence linking them to him or the other victims. The Zodiac Killer himself claimed to have taken the lives of 37 people in total. The case of the Zodiac Killer was never solved and although there were a few “good” suspects at the time, there simply was no way of tying any one of them to the murders conclusively due to poor forensic technology. The Zodiac utilized letters and newspaper coverage to taunt local authorities, included in these letters were four cryptograms, only one of which was every solved definitively. It was through his letters that the Zodiac Killer got his nickname.
Over time, many people have come forward with their own theories about who the Zodiac Killer is, some of whom claim it is their friend or even their father. Unfortunately, studies of evidence and items belonging to these people have yet to prove any conclusive connection to the Zodiac Killer.
The Horror of the Unsolved Murder
Regardless of when the crime occurred or who the victim was, there is no such thing as a victimless murder. With every single crime that involves the loss of life, there are a handful of lives at minimum that will never be the same again. The crimes listed above detail only a small sampling of the world’s most recognized unsolved murders and unfortunately the number of cases on this list continues to grow. While our methods of solving crime have certainly advanced since the time of Jack the Ripper, they have still not managed to advance enough to be able to track down killers like the killer of JonBenét Ramsey. It is the hope of many that someday we will be able to track the committers of these heinous crimes down through mandatory DNA samples; however the possible infringement of human rights makes this a questionable practice. So what can be done to help to find out who is guilty of many of these unsolved murders? Unfortunately there is nothing more than can be done at this time other than keeping these cases alive until a new method of processing evidence surfaces or until new evidence arises to help to keep society a much safer place to reside.
Top 10 Unsolved Murders [Video]
For those that want more, here’s a creepy montage of some of the most notorious murders that remain unsolved to this day.