6 Unbelievable Unsolved Crimes to Intrigue Your Inner Investigator
The viral popularity of true crime podcasts and documentaries like Serial and Making a Murderer has sparked the interest of millions across the globe. But once one of our trusty true crime series concludes or hits the off-season lull, the newfound reality of life as “armchair detectives” leaves us hungry for more!
We’re all too familiar with the unanswered questions surrounding some of our country’s most notorious unsolved crimes: Who is the Zodiac Killer? What happened to JonBenet Ramsey? Who killed Tupac and Biggie? Is O.J. actually innocent?
Let’s face it – it might be a while before the next Steven Avery or Adnan Syed works his or her way into the limelight. But there are a number of equally-intriguing cases that haven’t received as much press. In the meantime, let these six suspenseful unsolved crimes put your inner investigator to work.
6 Unsolved crimes that will leave you baffled
1. The disappearance of Maura Murray
If you’re a true internet sleuth, you may have stumbled across this case already. Maura Murray was 21 on February 9, 2004 when she crashed her car into a snow bank after losing control on a sharp turn of a New Hampshire highway. A passing school bus driver stopped to help, asking the young nursing student if he could call the police for her. She said she’d already called them using her cell phone.
Knowing the cell service in that area was non-existent, the bus driver retreated to his home to call for help. By the time law enforcement showed up just minutes later, Murray had vanished. Her odd behavior leading up to the night of the crash has left many baffled, and theories as to whether Murray left willingly or was met with foul play have circulated for more than 12 years. To this day, she’s never been seen or heard from.
You can learn more about the details of Maura Murray’s case here.
2. The death of Elisa Lam
If you’re looking for a truly bizarre case — one about which theories have taken every possible turn imaginable — then you may find your inner investigator intrigued by the disappearance and death of Elisa Lam. The 21-year-old Canadian native was embarking on a solo trip around California when she wound up staying at a notorious hotel on LA’s Skid Row.
It was in elevator surveillance footage of that hotel — four eerie and peculiar minutes of grainy video — that Lam was last seen in the early hours of February 1, 2013. She was officially declared missing a few days later and her body was found in one of the hotel’s rooftop water tanks three weeks after she vanished. The LAPD suspected foul play before ruling her cause of death as “undetermined” and later shifting the official ruling to “accidental.” Internet sleuths still have sizable doubts.
Interestingly enough, Elisa Lam’s case served as the inspiration for the fifth season of American Horror Story, subtitled, “Hotel.” You can learn more about the details of the case here.
3. The disappearance of Nicholas Barclay
The aftermath of Nicholas Barclay’s disappearance has transformed this case into one of the strangest and most confounding missing person cases of all time. The 13-year-old vanished after playing basketball with friends in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas in 1994. After exhaustive searches that turned up empty, his family held out hope.
Three years later, the Barclay family received word that he was in police custody in Spain, armed with a harrowing story of kidnapping, torture and abuse. They welcomed the boy back into their Texas home with open arms. But much to everyone’s surprise, a few months later a private investigator discovered that he was not, in fact, the long-lost 16-year-old Barclay, but a 23-year-old French con artist named Frederic Bourdin.
The real Nicholas Barclay has still not been found. You can learn more about his case here.
4. The murder of Amber Hagerman
We’ve become so familiar with the use of the term “Amber Alert” in modern newscasts that it can be alarmingly easy to forget it was inspired by a true life missing person’s case.
Amber Hagerman disappeared when she was nine years old as she rode her bicycle through a local grocery store parking lot on January 13, 1996. A blue truck was reportedly seen fleeing the scene. Despite days of national attention and constant law enforcement efforts, her body was later discovered just miles from the grocery store. More than 20 years and thousands of tips later, her killer remains to be identified.
You can learn more about the details of Amber Hagerman’s case here.
5. The disappearance of Adam Hecht
Adam Hecht was the 24-year-old son of a Hollywood producer and a tennis instructor when he went missing in June of 1989. In January of that same year, Hecht befriended a homeless man named Tony while on a breakfast outing with his brother. Just weeks later, he invited Tony to move in with him.
Hecht’s family had remarked that his behavior began to rapidly change after spending time with his new roommate, the two of them spending an increasing amount of time near LA’s Skid Row. This made it even more puzzling when Hecht abruptly disappeared while Tony remained living in his home, alleging he had no idea what happened to his friend and roommate. Just a few days later, Hecht’s mother visited the home and was met by Tony’s strange behavior, claiming he was her son.
Hecht’s car was found in Beverly Hills one month after he vanished with keys in the ignition, wallet on the front seat and an accumulation of parking tickets on the windshield. The family immediately suspected foul play at the hand of Tony, but authorities determined he wasn’t involved.
Adam Hecht has still never been seen or heard from. You can learn more about his case here.
6. The murder of Suzanne Jovin
Suzanne Jovin was 21 years old on December 21, 1998. She left the Yale University Police substation one night after dropping off keys to a university car she had borrowed. Half an hour later, she was found fatally wounded on a street corner just two miles away.
Over the years, several theories have emerged including authorities suspecting one of Jovin’s former professors and independent investigators suspecting an attempted random kidnapping gone wrong. But none of these have lasted the test of time as strongly as the notion that Jovin may have been murdered by a mentally disturbed Yale architecture student.
The young student’s face closely resembled a police sketch from an eyewitness account of a man running wildly down a nearby street around the time of the murder. The same man showed up at a former classmate’s doorstep in 2011, declaring that he’d become obsessed with Jovin’s murder. He died of an apparent suicide in 2012, and his involvement has not been investigated further by the police.
You can learn more details about the Suzanne Jovin cold case here.
Put your inner investigator to work
Each of these unsolved crimes is as puzzling as the next, which is why their answers have continued to evade the authorities investigating them. You can join the ranks of web sleuths across the globe in the efforts to discover the next big break in one of these cases.
If you’re itching to learn more about investigative techniques and specialized tactics to crack notorious cold cases, you might want to consider sniffing out the clues professionally. Learn more about investigative careers in our article: Private Investigator vs. Police Detective: Making the Case.
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