They Walk Among Us: 8 Cases Of Murder And Kidnapping That Remain Unsolved To This Day

1. The Chicago Tylenol Murders

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Public Domain

Occurring in 1982 in the Chicago metro are, the intentional poisoning of a number of people (seven died) resulted in federal anti-tamper packaging being required on all over the counter drugs.

The method of the murders was to place potassium cyanide into bottles of extra strength Tylenol. A very simple idea to be sure but in the 80s doing such a thing was considered such a violation of the social contract that almost no one would have thought to do such a thing. Leave it up to the mentally deranged to expand the public’s imagination for depravity.

It is believed by many that the person who committed the murders acquired the bottles of Tylenol over time from various stores and placed the cyanide tablets in the bottles before then returning them to store shelves.

via Unsolved Mysteries
via Unsolved Mysteries

Once Johnson & Johnson, the maker of the Tylenol, realized their product had been tampered with, their outreach to raise awareness was incredible. It included pulling all the product and running television ads warning that their product could contain cyanide. Police even ran warnings over loudspeakers in Chicago neighborhoods. This quick action likely saved lives.

However for the seven who died it was too late. Afterwards there were a couple of copycat actions including poisoned Excedrin capsules in 1986 which killed two. However, that turned out to be a woman killing her husband and one other and was not widespread.

The ultimate source of the Chicago Tylenol poisonings is still unknown today. The case was briefly reopened in 2009 but the suspect at the time was later cleared.

In more recent years, a whistleblower at J&J has claimed that the poisonings originated from within the Tylenol packaging facility but this allegation hasn’t gotten anyone any closer to finding exactly who did it.

2. The 2004 Jenner, California Double Murder

A photo the couple took not longer before their murder.
A photo the couple took not longer before their murder.

By all accounts, Jason S. Allen (26) and his fiancee Lindsay Cutshall (22) were an adventurous couple and devout. The two had met in 2002 while Cutshall was enrolled at Appalachian Bible College in West Virginia. In the Summer of 2004, the two were also serving as camp counsellors at a Christian camp in El Dorado.

Deciding on a weekend away, they took their red Ford Tempo and went on a road trip that finally ended up at River’s End restaurant and inn where they found there were no rooms to be rented out. Figuring this was all part of the roadtrip experience, the couple decided to sleep overnight on a nearby state beach and shared a sleeping bag. It was a terrible mistake.

At some point during the night, a killer found the couple asleep and murdered them using a .45 Caliber Marlin Model 1894 rifle. The couple’s bodies were spotted the next day by a helicopter and reported to authorities.

While some evidence was found, including DNA, it has never matched any in the national database. Additionally, the rifle used to kill the couple while they slept is an unusual caliber from a high end rifle maker. Used Marlin rifles of this model regularly command $1,000 on auction.

For years after the murder, Cutshall’s father, a preacher, used underlined passages from his daughter’s bible to plan his sermons. In one sermon, he is quoted as telling his congregation the following: “Did you know that Kathy and I, we pray for the man who killed our kids?… He’s our enemy, but he’s a person in need.”

The authorities released additional information about the murders in 2006 but no evidence has surfaced.

3. Lauria And Ashley

Family provided photo
Ashley Freemand and Lauria Bible via Family provided photo

In 1999 in Oklahoma, Ashley Freeman, and her best friend, Lauria Bible were having a sleepover at Ashley’s parents mobile home to celebrate Ashley’s birthday.

The next day the mobile home was found burned to the ground with the bodies of Ashley’s deceased parents inside. Ashley and Lauria, however, were nowhere to be found. Authorities scoured the U.S., Canada, and Mexico looking for the two girls but were unable to find any trace of them.

They did, however, come up with a theory of what they believe happened, home invasion. Forensic evidence indicates that both of Ashley’s parents were shot close range with a shotgun. The father’s face was nearly unrecognizable. However, oddly the only things missing from the couple’s trailer were the father’s extensive arrow head collection and the two girls. The father’s guns were left alone.

One wrinkle is that Ashley’s father was apparently involved in marijuana sales and had had trouble recently with unnamed friends of his coming by and bothering him, including some heated arguments.

Initially authorities believed that convicted killer Jeremy Jones was involved in the death and kidnapping and he originally wove an extensive tale to police when they took him into custody. He later recanted, however, and none of the details he’d given authorities panned out anyway and so he was released.

He later raped and murdered a woman in Alabama, was convicted and placed on death row.

As of 2016, the murders and kidnappings remain unsolved although Lauria Bible’s parents continue to hold out hope that they’re daughter is alive somewhere.

4. The West Memphis Three

via Wiki Commons
via Wiki Commons

Christopher Byers (7yo), Steve Branch (7yo), and Michael Moore (6yo) went missing in May 5th of 1993. Police and members of the community conducted searches that night and a “shoulder to shoulder” search the next day and located a black shoe in a drainage ditch. Not far from the shoe authorities found the bodies of all three boys. They had been stripped naked and hogtied.

Christopher Byers had lacerations on his body and his genitals had been mutilated.

The perversity of the crime shocked the West Memphis, AR community and they quickly identified three scapegoats as suspects, young men who had problems and who few would likely defend.

Jessie Misskelley, Jr. (17yo), Jason Baldwin (16yo), and Damien Echols (18yo) all had problems. Echols was mentally ill and receiving full disability from the state. He’d been institutionalized at one point. Both Baldwin and Misskelley had rap sheets full of vandalism and shoplifting. Both had dropped out of school. Misskelley was reported as having an IQ of only 72.

At trial, Misskelley was convicted and sentenced to life in prison plus 40 years despite no physical evidence being present connecting him to the crime. In their own trials, Baldwin and Echols were accused of killing the three boys in a satanic ritual and both were sentenced to life in prison. Echols specifically was singled out for knowing about the mutilation of Byers genitals despite that detail being broadly reported on the news at the time.

By 2003, the case began to fall apart as one witness recanted her entire statement and claimed police had threatened to take her children if she didn’t do as they said. DNA testing in 2007 failed to connect any of the three to the physical evidence gathered at the scene of the murders.

Eventually, under enormous public pressure, the state arrived at a bizarre plea deal with the three seemingly in order to save face over the sloppy investigation that had resulted in their convictions in the first place. All three were released in 2011.

The true killer of those three boys on that Memphis Spring day in 1993 remains unknown.

5. The Murder Of Adam Walsh

via Wiki Commons
via Wiki Commons

Only six years of age at the time of his abduction in 1981, Adam was taken from a Sears department store in Hollywood, Florida on July 27th of that year. His body was later found near Abacoa, Florida. He had been decapitated.

While technically unsolved, authorities believe that Adam was kidnapped by a drifter named Ottis Toole. Taken into custody under suspicion of Adam’s murder, Toole originally confessed to having kidnapped and killed him but was later released after he recanted his confession due to authorities also losing physical evidence that allegedly indicated he had committed the murder.

Additionally, Toole’s sometime partner in crime and lover, Henry Lee Lucas, stated that not only had Toole killed Adam but that Toole himself had held Adam’s severed head.

Ottis Toole, 36, shown in this undated photo.
Ottis Toole, 36, shown in this undated photo.

Toole died in prison of liver failure in 1996. He had been convicted of the murders of six other individuals but never of Adam’s murder. Authorities declared him the murderer in 2008 with no physical evidence.

Others theorize that Jeffrey Dahmer was Adam’s murder since he lived close to where Adam was originally taken and because he owned a blue van matching one seen leaving the mall the day of Adam’s abduction.

Adam’s father is John Walsh who went on to host “America’s Most Wanted” and become a victim’s advocate after Adam’s death.

6. The Giant, The Killer, And The Old Man


Collectively a part of known as the Nivelles Gang, the individuals referred to as the Giant, the Killer, and the Old Man were considered to be but three members of a larger group of individuals who carried out the murders of twenty eight individuals between 1982 and 1985 in Brussels, Belgium.

The murders were always conducted during armed robberies. One hallmark of the gang was that it would commit extreme acts of violence in comparison to the perceived reward of the theft. Additionally, they robbed very public areas such as supermarkets and restaurants and customers were murdered for no discernible reason.

As an example, in 1983 the group robbed a jewelry store and stole gems of low value but still murdered two people there. In another case, a restaurant was raided but nothing was taken but the killed someone anyway. In other cases they robbed stores of things like coffee and tea and then killed the shop attendant.

During the group’s last robbery they appeared to have become completely unhinged, wearing face paint and shooting adults and children alike who dared to look at them with a shotgun, execution style.

This final robbery culminated with the Giant exchanging fire with police while the getaway car eluded them and escaped. One member of the group escaped into nearby woods and was believed to be wounded but he was never found.

Weapons used by the gang have never been recovered and the one DNA sample authorities recovered has never been matched. They haven’t been heard from since.

7. The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run

Torso Murder death mask display at the Cleveland Police Museum.
Torso Murder death mask display at the Cleveland Police Museum.

Occurring in the Great Depression of the 1930s when people very often had to leave their homes to travel across the country for work and when homelessness was extremely high, the Mad Butcher or Cleveland Torso Murderer, claimed the lives of between twelve and twenty people. The killer was called the “Torso Murderer” because he only ever left a victim’s torso to be found, dismembering their body completely and always decapitating it. Most male victims were castrated as well.

Even more upsetting is that the killer seemed to target drifters nearly exclusively. As a result, only three of the killer’s victims were ever identified. The rest remain unknown to this day.

In 1939, the police arrested their first suspect and extracted two confessions from him. He later died in the jail where he was being held and was found to have six broken ribs that he didn’t have before being arrested. Clearly the police had beaten him until he confessed to crimes he hadn’t committed.

One other suspect, a doctor and veteran of the first World War specializing in amputations, was interviewed and two early polygraph tests were administered. The doctor failed both but was never charged since he was the first cousin of an Ohio Congressman and political enemy of the Chief of Police.

No one was ever arrested and no more than two suspects, one of whom died in police custody, were ever identified.

8. The Disappearance Of Tara Calico

19-year-old Tara Calico was kidnapped on September 20th, 1988 while on her morning bike ride. While her broken walkman was later found, neither her nor her bike ever were. Police in Belen, New Mexico developed no leads.

One year later, the above Polaroid photograph was found in a parking lot in Port St. Joe, Florida near where a white van had been parked. The girl in the photo is considered to be Calico by both her friends and family namely due to a scar on her leg that she received in a car wreck and the presence of the book “My Sweet Audrina” by V.C. Andrews, Calico’s favorite book.

The boy in the photo was identified by the boy’s parents as Michael Henley however authorities believe this to be unlikely.

More harrowing where Calico is concerned is that the film used in the Polaroid was not available until 1989 meaning that she had been held that entire time.

Two other photos were found in different sites in 1990, one in California on a construction site. The other photo appeared to have been taken on an Amtrak train and is believed to likely be a hoax. Neither of these photos were ever released to the public.

While assertions and theories have since come out regarding what became of Calico, no physical evidence has ever accompanied it. Her disappearance remains unsolved to this day. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Daniel Hayes

Ask me anything as long as it’s safe for all ages and just fantastically interesting.

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