The Creepiest Unsolved Mysteries You Need to Know About
For every thriller movie or best-selling suspense novel, there’s a far more disturbing unsolved mystery that’s even creepier because it happened in real life.
Murder, disappearances, fires, ghost ships … these are the stories that will haunt you long after you finish reading them, and will leave you wondering — what REALLY happened? And — even scarier — could it happen again?
1. The Dyatlov Pass incident
It was February of 1959 when nine hikers enthusiastically set out for a camping trip in the mountains of Russia. The first evening, they made camp, had some dinner, and went to bed. What happened next is a mystery because none of the nine returned alive.
In late February, a rescue crew found their tent while searching the area. The weird part? It was ripped open from the inside. All around the area were footprints, some made by shoes, some by just socks, and some by bare feet. Deeper into the woods, the first two bodies were found, both naked except for underwear, which was especially strange in the below freezing weather. At first, their deaths were attributed to hypothermia, but additional examination along with the discovery of the other seven bodies changed that theory.
One body had evidence of blunt force trauma while another suffered third-degree burns. Yet another victim was discovered to have vomited blood. One was missing a tongue. Several pieces of the hikers’ clothing tested positive for radioactive contamination.
People blamed everything from the KGB to alien invasion for the incident, but a documentary filmmaker had an even more intriguing — and plausible — explanation for the mystery. A phenomenon known as “infrasound” happens when the wind interacts with topography to create an almost inaudible hum that causes people to suffer panic, dread, nausea, chills, increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing. It’s a long shot, but that could be what happened to the hikers.
Because if not… then what?
Next: Hitchhiking on this highway is a huge mistake.
2. The British Columbia highway disappearances
From 1969 to 2006, 18 women have either been murdered or gone missing from British Columbia Highway 16, nicknamed the “Highway of Tears.” A giant yellow sign cautions ladies from hitchhiking on this road, and warns that there’s a “Killer on the Loose!”
American serial killer Bobby Jack Fowler is suspected of three of the murders, but the others remain unsolved. The killer — or killers — are still out there.
Next: The last living sister doesn’t believe her siblings died in that fire.
3. The tragic case of the Sodder children
It was bad enough that the Sodder family home in West Virginia burnt to the ground on Christmas Eve in 1945. Luckily, five of their ten children were able to escape unscathed. But the others apparently vanished into thin air.
After meticulously processing the remnants of the home post-fire, there was no evidence recovered of their remains, which is physically impossible. Plus, there are some other sinister events that happened that night. For one, George Sodder attempted to rescue his family using his coal truck only to find it inoperable after it had been working fine the previous day. The phone lines to the house were cut. A witness claims she saw the five missing children looking out of a passing car the night they disappeared. There was also a sighting in nearby Charleston a week later, and in a statement, the witness claimed they were accompanied by two women and two men who looked to be Italian.
The Sodders assumed the kids were kidnapped because George had refused to join the local Italian mafia, or possibly because he made no secret of his distaste for Mussolini and his fascist regime. Still, the children were never found, even though the family kept up a billboard offering a reward for information until Jennie Sodder’s death in 1980. The only remaining Sodder sibling, Sylvia, still doesn’t believe her brothers and sisters died in that fire.
Next: This ship’s crew vanished into thin air.
4. The mystery of the Mary Celeste
In November of 1872, the great ship Mary Celeste set sail from New York and headed to Genoa, Italy. The ship roster included Captain Benjamin Briggs and seven crew members, among them his wife and two-year-old daughter. They had enough supplies on board for six months at sea and even carried a few luxury items, such as a sewing machine and upright piano. The daily log indicated no strange incidents during their journey.
That’s what makes it so strange that the ship was found adrift at sea one month later with no passengers on board. Nothing was stolen, there was no sign of damage, and the log didn’t indicate distress. All that was missing was one lifeboat — and everyone on board.
The crew of Mary Celeste was never recovered. Some speculate that pirates may have attacked, but that makes no sense since nothing was stolen. Others blame a deep sea monster. Recently, scientists speculated that there may have been an onboard explosion that somehow left no trace or damage.
We’ll never know for sure.
Next: Either this thief died, or he got away with $1 million.
5. Who is D.B. Cooper?
On November 24, 1971 Dan Cooper boarded a short Northwest Airlines flight from Portland to Seattle. Passengers described him as a man in his mid-40s with a dark suit, tie, and collared shirt. He got on the flight, lit a cigarette, ordered a bourbon and soda, and summoned a young flight attendant shortly after takeoff. She originally dismissed the note he handed her, thinking he was just giving her his phone number.
But Dan Cooper said, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.”
While the note remains a mystery since Mr. Cooper took it with him, it essentially demanded $200,000 cash (the equivalent of about $1 million today), four parachutes, and a fuel truck in Seattle upon landing. When the flight attendant shared the note with the pilot, the airline president gave his permission for full cooperation. No one on board knew what was happening.
The plane landed and an airline employee delivered the cash and parachutes. Cooper allowed the passengers and two flight attendants to disembark. While the plane was refueling, Cooper explained his plan: they would head towards Mexico with a stop in Nevada. Two hours later, they landed in Reno and Cooper was gone, never to be seen or heard from again.
A young boy on vacation in Oregon discovered some of the ransom money (identified using serial numbers) in 1980. Besides that, the only other thing they found was a parachute strap at one of Cooper’s potential landing sites.
Next: This story might make you reconsider your thoughts on reincarnation.
6. The incredible Pollock sisters
Do you believe in reincarnation? You might after this story.
In 1957, Joanna and Jacqueline Pollock died in a tragic car accident at the ages of 11 and 6. One year later, their mother gave birth to twins and named them Gillian and Jennifer.
Things started getting weird right around the time the twins learned how to talk. They started requesting toys that only their dead sisters knew about and pointing out landmarks (like their school) to their parents. They were also terrified of idling cars, saying things like, “The car is coming to get us!”
These types of occurrences faded away once the twins turned five and they went on to lead relatively normal lives. Still, when psychologist Dr. Ian Stevenson wrote a book about reincarnation, he included their story as one he believed was real.
Next: Her missing son was returned — only it wasn’t really her son.
7. The tale of Walter Collins, a real-life changeling
Sometimes, art imitates life. Take the 2008 Clint Eastwood film, Changeling, which was based on this true and terrible tale from the 1920s.
Christine Collins reported her nine-year-old son Walter missing in March of 1928. But when the LA police returned him to her care, she made a chilling discovery: the boy wasn’t Walter.
When Collins tried to explain the error, the police didn’t believe the single mom, and suggested she “try the boy out” before making any rash judgments. After Christine Collins was forcibly committed to a psychiatric hospital, the faux Walter finally admitted that he was 12-year-old Arthur Hutchins from Iowa.
The real Walter Collins’ body was never found, though many believe he was a victim of notorious child murderer Gordon Stewart Northcott. There was also no indication why the police were so obsessed with covering up Walter’s disappearance or their inability to find him.
Next: There’s no reason for these three men to have disappeared without a trace.
8. Disappearance at the Flannan Isles Lighthouse
Three keepers at the Flannan Isles Lighthouse off the coast of Scotland inexplicably vanished one night.
At least, that’s what it seems like. The three men charged with manning the lighthouse included Thomas Marshall, James Ducat, and Donald MacArthur (with a fourth man rotating on shore) were all mysteriously gone on the morning of December 26, 1900. The relief keeper who arrived to find the lighthouse empty noted that the only thing out of place was an overturned chair by the kitchen table. The bodies were never recovered.
Over the years people have speculated that the disappearances were caused by sea monsters, ghost ships, or foreign spies, but as for what really happened, the world will probably never know for sure.
Next: How can a bridge make dogs commit suicide?
9. The dog-killing Overtoun Bridge
There is a bridge in Scotland that lures canines to their death.
Since the 1960s, more than 50 dogs have died and hundreds of others have jumped but somehow survived the fall to jagged rocks below. Incredibly, those survivors often attempt a second leap.
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals has performed exhaustive investigations with no clear answers. For some reason, sane and healthy dogs simply leap from the same spot, and always on dry, sunny days. Many believe the bridge is haunted (a theory which took off when a man threw his baby off this same bridge in 1994). Some think a mink is spraying the area with a scent that inspires the dogs to jump while others think it’s a sound only dogs can hear. Whatever the reason, it remains wise to always talk this bridge with your dog firmly secured on a leash.
Next: Random people got poisoned but the killer was never caught.
10. The Chicago Tylenol murders
It wasn’t a good day for Johnson & Johnson.
The pharmaceutical giant was forced to pull $100 million worth of product off their shelves following a 1982 incident in Chicago. Someone tampered with Tylenol bottles in the area and laced some of the pills with cyanide, leading to seven deaths by poisoning and a nationwide panic.
Tamper-proof seals were invented to prevent this from ever happening again. To this day, the murderer has never been caught and no motive was established.
Next: No one knows if they were murdered or they just left.
11. The lost colony of Roanoke
You may remember this one from history class.
One of the first English colonies in what is now the United States of America was founded by John White in 1587. Named Roanoke Island and situated on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, this colony was populated by a group of 115 people hoping to build a better life in the New World.
John White left for supplies and returned three years later to a ghost town. All the houses had been carefully dismantled and there was no sign of struggle. Before leaving, White instructed the settlers to carve a cross into a nearby tree if they were taken by force. But there was no cross — only the word “Croatoan,” which was the name of a native tribe that the English considered allies.
While some theorized that the colonists must have been slaughtered by the Powhatan tribe, archaeological finds do not support this suggestion, and the remains recovered are believed to belong to a group who arrived earlier than the missing people in question. And while others think that the colonists and the Croatans may have mixed and married, so far no DNA evidence supports this.
Next: Some people suspect the government knows more than they’re letting on.
12. The case of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370
While many cold cases on the list can be attributed to lack of modern investigative techniques and DNA testing, that’s not the case for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.
On March 8, 2014, a Boeing 777 carrying 239 passengers and crew disappeared over the Indian Ocean. Despite a $160 million search effort, all that was recovered was 20 pieces of aircraft debris. The Prime Minister of Malaysia was frustratingly closed-lipped on the situation, leading some conspiracy theorists to start formulating ideas of what really happened.
Some ideas include hijacking, crew suicide (spurred by the pilot’s marital issues), a fire on the flight, a meteor strike, a vertical crash, or even alien abduction. But years later, the mysterious disappearance still has more questions than answers.
Next: Nobody knows who took the photos after the hikers died.
13. The mystery of the missing hikers in Panama
Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers got lost while hiking the mountains of Panama in April 2014. Following a search that spanned several weeks, their remains were found a few miles up from a river where their hike began, along with a backpack full of supplies.
It would all seem like a cut and dried lost hiker tale except for the creepy part — the camera found with their stuff. The photos started out with pictures of the hikers on their excursion but then suddenly diverts into about 100 photos of night shots next to a river, the back of a head, and just blackness. The dark pictures appear to be taken many days after the hikers went missing.
Cell phone records prove that at least one hiker was alive for days after getting lost and was trying to get a signal on their cell phone. But the question remains — who was taking the creepy pictures?
Next: This story plays out like a movie that was made years before the event occurred.
14. The girl in the hotel water tank
A 21-year-old Canadian college student named Elisa Lam went missing at the end of January in 2013 and was found two weeks later in the water tank of the Cecil Hotel where she had been staying. But the weird part is the events leading up to that. Security footage showed Elisa acting erratically, but toxicology reports ruled out any kind of drugs. She is last seen walking into an elevator and hiding as though someone is chasing her.
The hotel guests complained of black water, which is what led to the discovery of Lam’s body in the first place. Weirdly, the real-life event mimicked the 2005 film Dark Water, where a girl is found dead in a hotel water tank. Another strange and creepy coincidence was how a tuberculosis test used in the area near the hotel where Elisa Lam died was named LAM-ELISA.
Next: The killer helped themselves to the family’s food.
15. The Hinterkaifeck farm murders
Talk about a killer with no shame.
Andreas Gruber told a neighbor about some strange things happening around his house — incidents like footprints leading up to the house but not back, noises in the attic, and items mysteriously disappearing. In March of 1922, he and his wife Cazilla, their daughter Viktoria, and her children Cazilla and Josef along with the housemaid Maria were discovered brutally murdered with a pickaxe.
Worse still? Apparently, 7-year-old Cazilla survived for some time after the attack and proceeded to pull out her own hair. Worse than that? The killer stayed on living in the house after killing everyone. He or she fed the animals, ate their food, and warmed himself by the fire before disappearing into the wilderness forever.
Next: They had a great day at the beach and then disappeared forever.
16. The disappearance of the Beaumont children
9-year-old Jane, 7-year-old Arnna, and 4-year-old Grant Beaumont took a five-minute bus ride to Glenelg Beach in Adelaide, Australia. They were never seen again.
Witnesses claim the kids were playing with a young man near the beach and they were also spotted purchasing snacks at a local store. Even though they were supposed to return home on the noon bus, a police officer reported that he saw the kids headed home at 3 PM.
After the disappearance, hoax letters began arriving which claimed the kids were being held hostage by their parents. Perhaps coincidentally and perhaps not, this is the same area that an unidentified body washed up on the beach in 1948.
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