In this day and age, committing the perfect crime is becoming increasingly difficult. With the advent of advanced forensic sciences, and with news being constantly disseminated via television and Internet, very few crimes produce more questions than answers. This is why we are still mystified and intrigued by crimes that seem unsolvable, even in the age of surveillance cameras and DNA databases. However, these cases persist, stumping investigators and the general public alike. Whether they are decades-old cold cases or new incidents defying explanation, unsolved crimes make for some of the most perplexing and intriguing mysteries. The following cases have either remained totally unsolved, or have been “solved” with some suspect explanations that continue to inspire debate to this day. Can you be the one to find a suitable resolution to any of these chilling incidents?
10. The Archuleta County Jane and John Doe
In 1982, two bodies – one adult male and one adult female – washed up along the San Juan River near a Navajo Reservation in Archuleta County, Colorado. The female body was found a few weeks before the male’s remains were discovered, but authorities quickly tied the two corpses together, and deduced that they had been met with foul play. Autopsies would prove that this Jane Doe had been strangled to death, and John Doe had been shot twice with a small caliber weapon.
Other than determining HOW these unfortunate souls met their end, authorities were left without answers. To this day, neither John nor Jane Doe of Archuleta County have been identified, and their killer has never been apprehended. Authorities have had few clues to go on in a case that has failed to produce any substantive leads. Perhaps the greatest clue in the case was a weathered note found in the dead woman’s pocket. After much analysis and deciphering, the note was eventually found to be the name and phone number of one Marilyn Cobianco, a resident of the nearby Farmington, New Mexico. However, Cobianco didn’t recall ever meeting a woman meeting Jane Doe’s description and could not explain how her name and phone number ended up in a dead woman’s jeans pocket. The only clue found on John Doe was his t-shirt, which advertised a defunct brothel in Nevada. This clue failed to turn up any leads either.
But the case took a creepier turn a few years after the unknown couple was interred in a grave for unidentified victims in Archuleta County. When Colorado Bureau of Investigations agents went to see the graves, they found fresh flowers adorning John Doe’s resting place.
While theories such as drug cartel killings have been presented, no substantive evidence of the identities of John and Jane Doe, nor who killed them and why, has ever been determined.
9. Tour De France Winner, Ottavio Bottecchia
Ottavio Bottecchia was a talented Italian cyclist who became the first Italian to win the prestigious Tour de France in 1924, and followed that historic feat up with another victory in the world’s most famous cycling race in 1925. He was also the first man in the history of the race to lead Le Tour from start to finish. One might imagine that such a successful athlete in what was, at the time, a major sport would live a decorated and long life after his racing days ended. Bottecchia was not so fortunate.
On June 14, 1927, not even two years removed from his second Tour de France victory, Bottecchia was found dead on the side of the road in the village of Poenis (lolololol), Italy, not far from his home. His beloved bike was nearby, but totally undamaged, a few feet away from his body. No skidmarks were found to indicate that Bottecchia was forced off the road.
However, Bottecchia was in rough shape. His skull was smashed in, his collarbone was snapped, and several other bones were badly broken. Theories abounded; many suspected he died in a bike crash, while other surmised he had been mortally wounded in a fight. However, authorities eventually settled on the absolutely ridiculous notion that he died of sun stroke (you know, cause that is usually consistent with blunt force trauma to the head and all).
The eventual cause of death added ammunition to conspiracy theorists who believed Bottecchia was killed for speaking out against Italian Authoritarian Benito Mussolini, and his death covered up to protect a government hit on the cyclist.
Whichever theory you choose to believe, Ottavio Bottecchia’s death has never been adequately explained, and it is likely that his murderer died without ever seeing the inside of a jail cell.
8. Morgan Dana Harrington
Morgan Harrington was an attractive, vivacious 20-year-old who was attending college at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia. On October 17, 2009, Morgan and a few friends drove from Blacksburg to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia to attend a Metallica concert.
While the opening band was performing, Morgan decided to go use the restroom, figuring it was better to miss the opening act than her beloved Metallica. She was never seen alive again.
After Morgan failed to return for the beginning of Metallica’s performance, her friends became worried and called her on her cell phone. Morgan explained that she had not been allowed back in the venue due to a “no re-entry” policy. However, her friends were confused because THERE WERE BATHROOMS INSIDE THE ARENA. Morgan told her friends not to worry about her and that she would find a ride home. They assumed she would be fine and stayed for the duration of the concert.
Witnesses saw Morgan outside the venue, and stated that she did not appear to be with anyone, adding more mystery to who or what would have made her exit the arena entirely. The last confirmed sightings of Morgan placed her walking alongside the road, possibly hitchhiking, some distance from the concert venue.
Morgan’s disappearance was investigated tirelessly for weeks, and finally came to an end with a gruesome discovery. A farm owner living several miles outside of Charlottesville found skeletal remains on the outskirts of his property, about two miles off the map from any public road. The remains were tested and confirmed to be those of Morgan Harrington. She had allegedly met a violent end, and there were signs that she had been raped.
No evidence has surfaced pointing to Morgan’s final moments, or what made her leave the arena, and nobody has been charged with her murder to date.
7. Evelyn Hernandez
In 2002, while California (and the rest of the nation) was enraptured with the murder of Laci Peterson, another pregnant woman in Northern California died under mysterious, disturbing circumstances. On July 24, 2002, the dismembered torso of Evelyn Hernandez washed up in the San Francisco Bay, about two months after the nine-months-pregnant mother and her five-year old son had been reported missing. This find was especially gruesome, as the woman’s torso had had her unborn fetus cut out of her body before it was discarded in the water.
Theories spread wildly, linking her murder to that of Laci Peterson. Many believed that the two women shared the same killer, with many, including a California congressman, believing that both women had been killed on Satanic holy days as ritual killings by a rogue group of Devil-worshipping madmen. Of course, that theory was disproved once Scott Peterson was ultimately found guilty for his wife’s murder.
While many leads have been chased in the Hernandez case, nothing noteworthy has transpired in years. Hernandez’s head and limbs never washed ashore, and her unborn fetus and five year-old son Alexis, remain missing to this day.
6. Jonathan Luna
At the time of his death in 2003, Jonathan Luna was a reputable Assistant United States Attorney living in Baltimore, Maryland. On the night of December 3, 2003, Luna left the Baltimore Courthouse late at night, and began a strange trip that ultimately ended in his death at the hands of his own penknife.
Through surveillance cameras and toll stations, authorities were able to piece together most of Luna’s erratic, mysterious evening. After leaving the courthouse, Luna began driving Northeast to Delaware, which was strange, since he lived in Baltimore. He used his EZ Pass toll permit at several stations, but as he traveled further North, he began to pay for paper toll tickets instead.
After making several other strange stops, such as withdrawing $200 from an ATM in Delaware in the early hours of the morning and purchasing gas in Pennsylvania, Luna’s car was eventually parked in a remote parking lot in Denver, Pennsylvania, where it was spotted by a witness.
Approximately two hours after this sighting, employees of a nearby business noticed Luna’s car, driven into a nearby creek, and his body, facedown in the creek and lifeless. Initially, authorities ruled his death a suicide. But this is where the story gets even more eerie.
During the investigation, coroners discovered that Luna had been stabbed 36 times with his own pen knife. He had head injuries as well, and there was evidence that drowning was the ultimate cause of death, to boot. Strangely, the blood in Luna’s car was mostly centered in the REAR seats of the car, lending credence to a theory that somebody else had been driving him around all night. Luna’s blood was found on several toll tickets obtained on the drive, indicating that he had been injured for some time, but in surveillance footage from the gas station he entered shortly before his death, he did not appear wounded. Stranger still, Luna’s glasses – which he needed to drive – and his cell phone were found untouched on his desk.
No evidence of DNA belonging to anyone but Luna has been found, and his case remains shrouded in mystery.
5. Danny Casolaro
Danny Casolaro was a freelance journalist who was 44-years-old when he died under suspicious circumstances in 1991. Casolaro was found dead in a West Virginia Sheraton Hotel bathtub by a member of the hotel’s cleaning staff, his wrists having been slashed numerous times. Due to the presence of an alleged suicide note, most were quick to believe Casolaro had died at his own hand. But the mystery was not that simple.
The reports from the scene were somewhat sinister, as there was no trauma to Casolaro’s body that would indicate any sort of struggle. Also present in the bathroom was a corked bottle of red wine, a broken wine glass, an empty can of beer, a paper hotel glass coaster, and two white trash bags. When they lifted the body out, they found a single-edge razor blade at the bottom of the bloody bathwater. It seemed as though Casolaro could have simply been bathing when he was ambushed.
Things got darker when Casolaro’s brother came forward, recalling a conversation the two had shared a few weeks prior, in which Casolaro warned “If anything happens to me, don’t believe it’s an accident.” Other friends and family members confirmed that Casolaro had spoken of threats on his life in the months before his demise. Casolaro’s journalistic interest in his last months centered heavily on what he called the “Octopus,” a network of individuals and institutions that he believed had secretly masterminded a series of scandals. It is believed he was in West Virginia to meet with a member of this cabal when he met his demise.
Nobody has ever been charged with the murder of Casolaro, and the members of “The Octopus” have never been exposed…if the organization exists at all.
4. Shannan Gilbert
In late 2010, the media became frenzied when reports of a serial killer at large in Long Island surfaced. Since the initial bodies were found, approximately 15 more women, mostly prostitutes, have been found murdered along a stretch of remote beach towns in Nassau County, New York. Allegedly the work of a serial killer who is still at large, public interest in the case of the Long Island Serial Killer remains strong. However, the case of Shannan Gilbert seems to be a little more complex than the rest of the deaths in the area, and she may not be a victim of this serial killer at all.
Shannan Gilbert was last seen alive in May 2010, near Gilgo Beach in Nassau County. An escort, she was at a client’s house, with her pimp waiting nearby, when she became incredibly frightened and erratic. Shannan ran from the house, ran away from her pimp – who tried to calm her down – and ran along the road for a bit before disappearing into the dense brush. During her frantic sprint, she called 911 and spoke of her life being in danger and someone wanting to kill her.
Several hours later, around 5:00 in the morning, Shannan appeared at the doorstep of a retiree named Gus Colletti, frantically pounding on his front door. He attempted to calm Shannan down, and asked her what was wrong. Shannan was hysterical, and just continued to repeat “help me” over and over. Obviously concerned, Colletti told Shannan everything was going to be okay, and that he was going to call the police. Apparently, this terrified Shannan, and she ran out Collett’s front door. She was never seen alive again.
Months later, Shannan’s decomposing remains were found in a marsh not far from where she went missing. The official cause of death? She tripped and fell in her hysteria, eventually succumbing to the elements.
Just who or what Shannan was running from that night remains a mystery, and officials do not believe her case in connected to the Long Island Serial Killer, despite the proximity of her body to other prostitutes found in the investigation.
3. The Gatton Murders
Here we have a case that has remained unsolved for centuries, but is every bit as eerie as strange murders in contemporary times. On December 26, 1898, Michael Murphy intended to return to his home in Gatton, Queensland, Australia with his two younger sisters, after a dance they planned to attend was cancelled. They were never made it home.
The next morning, a deputy was called to investigate a bizarre scene. Michael and his sisters had all been murdered in a field by the side of the road, and their bodies were positioned in a strange manner that has NEVER been repeated in any crime again. Michael and his sister Ellen were lying back to back, nearly touching each other, while the other sister, Norah lay in the same East/West orientation, on a neatly spread rug, 28 feet to the east. Both women had their hands tied behind their backs with handkerchiefs. Completing a triangle of sorts, the family’s horse cart was facing South, 17.5 feet from Michael and 36 feet from Norah. Their horse had been shot in the head and still lay between the shafts. The legs of all three siblings were arranged with the feet pointing west.
The police botched the crime scene, so much evidence was lost, but nobody has ever come up with a decent theory as to why this seemingly average family was killed, or why their assailant would have gone to such great lengths to arrange their bodies in a curious, triangular manner.
2. Mitrice Richardson
Sometimes, a mundane death is made much more suspicious due to the behavior of the deceased before they met their end. Such is the case with Mitrice Richardson, who was found dead in a ravine in the Santa Monica Mountains, in an area well-known for clandestine marijuana-growers, after going missing a year earlier upon being released from a Malibu police station. Mitrice likely died of exposure, perhaps after falling in the mountains. But why she was there, and her mental state when she went missing in the first place is far more suspicious.
In September 2009, Mitrice – a college-educated, working woman – took a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway from Long Beach, North to Malibu. A scenic, gorgeous drive, it was a perfectly normal road to drive along for people just wishing to take in the beautiful Oceanside scenery. Upon her arrival in Malibu, Mitrice decided to stop at an upscale, famous restaurant named Geoffrey’s. Then, things got strange.
In the parking lot outside of the restaurant, Mitrice exited her car and waited for the valet, but by the time he was ready to park her car, he found her seated in his vehicle, which was nearby with the door open. The valet asked Mitrice what she was doing in his car. “It’s subliminal,” she said and muttered about avenging the death of Michael Jackson. Her behavior only escalated in weirdness. She asked the valet if “Vanessa” was at the restaurant, and to keep an eye out for a girl with tattooed arms. The valet knew no such woman.
Once inside, Mitrice sat down alone and ordered an expensive, foofy drink and a Kobe steak. Soon, however, Mitrice seated herself at a table with a large party she did not know and tried to join the conversation, speaking unintelligibly about astrological signs. Mitrice went back and forth between her table and the strangers’ table, speaking nonsense for quite some time. After her newfound “friends” finished dinner and left, Mitrice tried to walk out without paying.
The manager caught her and asked if she planned on paying, to which she replied that she was “busted” and giggled. Mitrice’s bizarre behavior continued, telling the manager that she was from Mars and would pay for her bill in sexual favors. Eventually, the manager called the police stating that “We have a guest here who is refusing to pay her bill, she sounds really crazy…. She may be on drugs or something.”
Mitrice was eventually taken to jail after Police arrived and found empty booze bottles and marijuana in her car. She was booked, at which point police spoke to her grandmother, with whom she was close. Despite her grandmother’s protests to keep her overnight, Mitrice was released from the Malibu substation, several miles from her car. Mitrice was sighted walking alongside the road, and then again later, several miles away, by a resident who said a black woman matching Mitrice’s description was peering through windows in his backyard.
The next time anyone saw Mitrice was when her body was recovered nearly a year later. Whether she was met with foul play, and what caused her erratic behavior, remains incredibly mysterious.
1. Elisa Lam
Much like the case of Mitrice Richardson, what makes the Elisa Lam case so disturbing is her behavior leading up to her demise. Although, if Mitrice Richardson’s behavior can be described as strange, Elisa’s can be described as inexplicable.
Elisa Lam’s lifeless body was found on February 19, 2013 in a water tank above the Hotel Cecil in the Skid Row neighborhood of Los Angeles. The hotel already had a spotty reputation, as it had previously been the base for serial killers, including the notorious “Night Stalker,” Richard Ramirez. Authorities ruled Elisa Lam’s death an accidental drowning. However, most people are far from satisfied with this explanation.
To begin, the water tank in which Lam’s body was found, was so tightly sealed that authorities had to drill a freaking hole in it and empty the tank to get her body out. To even access the tank, Lam would have had to inconspicuously make her way through several locked, alarmed doors that are supposedly inaccessible to everyone but staff members with the proper keys. Even if Lam were to have made it THAT far, she would have had to climb a rooftop ladder, unlock a heavy, padlocked door, and crawl into the water tank. Sounds unlikely. But this isn’t NEARLY the creepiest part of the Elisa Lam mystery.
After Elisa went missing (she was only found because hotel residents complained of foul drinking water…EWWWWEWWWEWWW), a video surfaced. The video was from a surveillance camera in a Hotel Cecil elevator, and it shows some incredibly disturbing footage. In the video, Lam gets into the elevator, and presses all of the buttons. Bizzare enough. But then, the FREAKING DOOR DOESN’T CLOSE. This clearly disturbs Elisa too, as she begins to frantically peer outside the elevator as if someone is watching her or following her. She seems frightened, and cowers down, as if hiding. The DOOR STILL FAILS TO CLOSE. After some time, Elisa exits the elevator for good, and stands outside it, gesturing VERY strangely (read: non-humanly), as if talking to somebody, or something off camera. Then, she walks away, still contorted in a downright freaky manner. This was the last anyone saw Elisa Lam until her corpse was found in the rooftop water tank.
Nobody has been able to explain Lam’s behaviors in the video, and a toxicology screen showed she had NO drugs or alcohol in her system before she died. Did Elisa Lam have a crazy psychological breakdown and somehow kill herself? Did she fall victim to an unsavory member of the hotel staff? Or was she killed by something far more bizarre and unexplainable? It seems likely we will never know.