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The true crime genre has exploded in recent years. Television specials, podcasts, and forums dedicated to discussing some of the most horrific and confusing cases in history have cropped up in staggering numbers. Netflix’s special, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, is proof of that. Long before the wildly popular special, internet sleuths have been discussing some truly baffling missing persons cases. These are just three that the internet is obsessed with.

True crime fans have spent years discussing College student Muara Murray 2004 disappereance

Maura Murray has been the subject of podcasts, a popular blog, and an Oxygen Network special. Murray’s case has grabbed a ton of true crime fans’ attention because it is surrounded by so much mystery. Murray was a 21-year-old nursing student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in February 2004. Murray made the rash decision to drive a beat-up vehicle into New Hampshire. During the impromptu trip, Murray got into a single-car accident. While neighbors called the police and watched the scene, Murray vanished into thin air.

Reddit users have spent hours pouring over evidence and trying to figure out what prompted Murray to leave her college campus at the start of the spring semester. There have been no answers, and no trace of Murray has ever been found. Podcasters Lance Reenstierna and Tim Pilleri have spent years dissecting the case but appear no closer to finding the missing woman.  

Lauren Spierer disappeared after a night of drinking in Bloomington, Indiana in 2011

Lauren Spierer, a 20-year-old college student, had just completed her sophomore year at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana when she disappeared after a night of drinking. She had completed her spring semester weeks earlier and was set to return home to New York to start a summer internship and then she disappeared. Surveillance cameras caught Spierer’s movements around town until about 2:51 on June 3, 2011.

From there, Spierer is believed to have entered the apartment of an acquaintance, and that was the last sighting of her. The men who last saw Spierer claim she left their apartment at 4:30 am to head back to her residence, which was several blocks away. Her boyfriend reported her as missing several hours later. He was not with her when she disappeared. Spierer’s case has been heavily discussed on podcasts and was featured on Real life Nightmare.

D.B Cooper was never found after he hijacked a plane and jumped out of it in 1971

Murray and Sperier’s disappearances confound internet sleuths, but there are dozens of similar tales. D.B. Cooper’s story is a markedly different true crime tale. In 1971, a man boarded a commercial airliner from Portland, Oregon, bound for Seattle, Washington. He paid cash for his ticket under an assumed pseudonym. Shortly after take-off, Cooper handed a flight attendant a note.

An FBI sketch of Northwest Airlines hijacker, D.B. Cooper. Cooper took control of a commerical airliner headed for Seattle in 1971. True crime fans have discussed him for decades.
An FBI sketch of D.B. Cooper | Time Life Pictures/Fbi/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

From there, Cooper held the plane hostage, claiming he had a bomb. FBI agents met Cooper’s demand for $200,000 and parachutes in exchange for the release of other fliers. According to Indy Star, The plane refueled and took off again after dropping off passengers as per Cooper’s instructions. Suddenly, Cooper made the rash decision to jump from the plane. While the FBI largely believes that Cooper didn’t survive the jump, internet sleuths are not convinced. His remains have never been found. True crime fans have thrown several names around over the years, but no one has been positively IDed as the hijacker.