If you’re looking for some stories to make you shiver this Halloween, you don’t have to look farther than the newspaper, as real-life mysteries can often be the most spine-tingling of all. This being the case, we’ve gathered three famous unsolved mysteries from the papers that will be sure to send shivers up your spine this October.
Despite being immortalized by the rhyme “Lizzie Borden took an ax / And gave her mother forty whacks; / And when she saw what she had done / She gave her father forty-one,” Lizzie Borden was actually found not guilty of the ax murders of her father and stepmother. The pair was found murdered at their home in Massachusetts on August 4, 1892, the father struck with an ax 10 or 11 times and the stepmother struck 17. Lizzie, age 32 at the time, was the prime suspect, as she was one of the only people home at the time of the murders. She was arrested and tried but was eventually acquitted, since there was a lack of hard evidence. No one else was ever charged with the murders.
Read about it in the newspaper:
- “The Millionaire Murder Mystery,” August 9, 1892, Pittsburg Dispatch
- “The Borden Murders,” August 25, 1892, Star-Gazette
- “Free from Guilt,” June 21, 1893, San Francisco Call
On November 24, 1971, an airplane passenger going by the pseudonym Dan Cooper hijacked a plane flying between Portland and Seattle. Using a bomb as a threat, Cooper requested that he be given $200,000 in cash and 4 parachutes. When the plane landed in Seattle, Cooper was granted his requests, and per his orders, the plane took off once again, headed toward Mexico City via Reno, Nevada. However, somewhere between Seattle and Reno, Cooper jumped out of the plane, likely in southern Washington. Despite a massive search operation, Cooper was never found, and the true identity of Cooper, as well as what happened to him, remains unsolved to this day.
Read about it in the newspaper:
- “Man Leaps from Plane with $200,000 Ransom,” November 25, 1971, Ukiah Daily Journal
- “Skyjacker Becoming Folk Hero,” January 7, 1972, Lansing State Journal
- “Kiddies Find Tattered Bills of D.B. Cooper Loot in Sand,” February 13, 1980, Muncie Evening Press
The Black Dahlia
On January 15, 1947, 22-year-old waitress and aspiring actress Elizabeth Short was found brutally murdered in Los Angeles. Most notably, her upper body had been completely severed from her lower half, and her body had been drained of blood. The gruesome nature of her death made it a media sensation, and Short became known in the press as the Black Dahlia. Despite a plethora of suspects and false confessions, no one was ever tried for her murder, and it is still unsolved today.
Read about it in the newspaper:
- “Girl Tortured, Murdered by Fiend in Los Angeles; Clues to Identity of Both Lacking,” January 16, 1947, Daily Times
- “Sex Fiend Slaying Victim Identified by Fingerprint Records of FBI,” January 17, 1947, Los Angeles Times
- “Dahlia Slayer Taunts Police,” January 27, 1947, News-Journal
Learn more about these and other unsolved mysteries on Newspapers.com!
26 thoughts on “Find: Famous American Unsolved Mysteries”
There was a deaf dumb lady found murdered in Louisville, Kentucky. Found in a basement bathroom, under the pavilion, in Shawnee Park. This was in late 1940″s or early 1950’s. Her murderer was never found.
In rural Frankfort, Kentucky, approximately 80 or 82 years ago, there was a young girl about 12 or 14 years old found murdered. Her body had been severed into pieces, strung on fence wire, and thrown into different sink holes. Her murderer was never found.
Really! A “deaf dumb” lady! So she was deaf and unable to utter a vocal sound? That term “deaf and dumb” has always been offensive to the deaf community. Yeah I get that that is the way many back in the day would refer to the deaf in that manner, but it was an unnecessary and demeaning way to describe anyone with a hearing loss. Please adjust your language accordingly. Thank you.
You would get better results from talking to people if rather than being indignantly offended, you instead politely explained to the OP that the phrase “deaf and dumb” is offensive. Most people who have no exposure to the deaf community simply don’t realize that. I’m sure that the OP did not mean to be offensive.
One of the definitions of dumb is unable to make a sound. I don’t think ‘deaf and dumb’ was ever intended to be demeaning and was probably not originally taken as offensive until the word ‘dumb’ became more widely used in relation to intelligence.
I agree and would imagine that persons so afflicted would have other more pressing concerns then intentions garnered from word definitions.
Words, words, words . . .
How about the loaded words like “niggardly” that gets everybody riled up? Please, everybody, get a clue. Read a dictionary, or at least Google words before you make fools of yourselvs.
More education,less knee-jerks
Dumb in that sense meant that because they couldn’t hear, they hadn’t learned to speak
I looked up ‘dumb’ and its first meaning was ‘unable or unwilling to speak’…… I understand it being misinterpreted, but no offense was intended, so no apology should be expected. A bit of polite information could be given by you, but no criticism and no apology expected.
My father had polio, leaving him with a walk resembling Frankenstein’s monster. If he slipped or tripped, he was going down, and at 6’1′ 220 lbs, he was not easy to get back on his feet.
Over the decades, activists repeatedly took offense at the current description of his condition and demanded that it be described in a new way. My father’s reaction was “I don’t care if you call me crippled, lame, handicapped, disabled, or physically disadvantaged. What I care about is that I cannot run and cannot walk properly.”
Have you taken a poll of your fellow sufferers to ensure that they all feel your way?
David Powers – In the early ’90s I commanded the Naval Aviation Depot in San Diego. Our monthly command newsletter published an article on American Sign Language and in it we referred to “persons who were hearing and speech impaired.” The article was well received, receiving only one negative comment. One of our “impaired” folks let us know in no uncertain terms that he was deaf and dumb and proud of it and using euphemisms was a demeaning put down. It was about that time that I threw up my hands and decided to not care any more because it is an impossible goal to try to please the general population. You prove my point.
Doesn’t anybody research the cold case murders in Oregon? Read “Murder and Mayhem in Portland Oregon”
by J D Chandler (2013).
I have actually solved two, one from his book. In case anyone’s interested.
Who should I contact with the information?
The police or the author.
How about the Tylenol murders in Chicago which started in 1982? Six adults and one child died after taking Tylenol Extra Strength capsules which had been laced with cyanide. I believe that this case contributed to the safety caps and tamper-proof sealants as well as the warnings which are now routine on just about all OTC products sold in the U.S.
My mom remembers those murders, since she was living in the Chicago region at that time. She threw away all Tylenol products, and didn’t buy more until she felt they were safe again.
Acetaminophen is a dicey medicine without the cyanide
There was a girl named Lydia Fowler that was found dead under a little bridge on Mann Road, Indianapolis, Indiana. It was around 1960 or 61. Someone said she went to a movie downtown and never returned home.
I have always wondered whether anyone ever found out who murdered her. I would like to know.
A 2010 book entitled “Historic Indianapolis Crimes: Murder and Mystery in the Circle City” by Fred D. Cavender states the case has not been solved. See GoogleBooks: (TinyURL link): http://tinyurl.com/y73jylsx , ‘The Case of the Missing Clerk’.
There was a girl who worked at a store in Agawam, MA who was taken from the store and found murdered later. I think this was in the 1980’s or 1990’s. The girl was young, about 19 years old, I think. Agawam is a quiet town near Springfield, MA. I have never heard anything about the murder since. To the best of my knowledge, no suspect was ever reported.
19-year-old Linda Rousseau of St. Paul MN was found in a shallow grave three months or so after she disappeared on her way to get some fast food. We had taken typing class together in summer school, so I remember her well. I hope her killer is found.
It was 1970 when she disappeared.
How about the unsolved Hall-Mills murder, one of the big 1920s ballyhoo cases, replete with courtroom drama?
One case that’s always intrigued me is the “The Boy in the Box” murder. In February 1957 a young boy, estimated age 3-7, was found dead in a cardboard box along a road in Fox Chase area of Pennsylvania. Cause of death was blunt force trauma. He’s never been identified and the case remains unsolved. He’s often referred to as “America’s Unknown Child”.
The Billy Joe McGlaster mystery of 1967, as far as I know, has never been solved. I think about him every June 3rd.
The 1912 Vilisca, Iowa ax murders of a family of 6 (father, mother, 4 young children) and 2 young sisters who were on a sleep over with the children, has never been solved. People say the house is haunted with the ghosts of the children. You can stay overnight in the house and find out for yourself, if you dare.
In a small village in Sherburn, MN a young lady 17, 18 years of age was taken from her vehicle. The vehicle was found running with her purse still on the seat. Unfortunately, she was found just a few miles from her home murdered. This occurred in 1969, 1970 and still remains unsolved. Babysitter of mine so I knew her very well.
In 1881 my GGGGrandmother, her married daughter and daughters son were found brutally murdered at her sheep ranch near Mission Espada, San Antonio, Texas. Suspects were the shepheard, and daughters husband or unsub. case was never solved or tried. Three remains were recovered while constructing I-410 in the 1960s, but were disposed off.
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