The World’s Most Famous Unsolved Murders

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Murder is most foul, but it’s even made worse when they remain unsolved.  This post covers some of the most infamous unsolved murder cases ever.  Remember, this is not as simple as a scary photobomb—this is definitely not for the fainthearted!

#1 Elizabeth Short

The nickname of Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, was murdered in 1947—found in Leimert Park, Los Angeles.  Her body was found mutilated and she had a slice across the waist so deep it cut her in half.  More horrific, she was completely nude with her hands above her head and elbows at right angles, drained of blood, and the corners of her mouth were slashed to the ears.  Although there were a number of suspects to the crime, no one has been convicted for her murder.

Elizabeth Short


#2 Barbara and Patricia Grimes

On December 28, 1956 in Chicago, Illinois, Barbara and Patricia Grimes (sisters), ages 15 and 13, respectively, went to watch a movie at a local theater.  When they didn’t come back from the movie, there was a huge missing person hunt implemented.  But by January 22, 1957, the girls’ naked bodies were found by a construction worker next to German Church Road.  The Chicago police crime lab confirmed that Barbara was also raped before she was murdered.  Although many suspects were questioned, none were found guilty of this double murder and rape.

Barbara and Patricia Grimes


#3 Jack the Ripper Murders

Perhaps one of the most infamous murderers in history, Jack the Ripper is well known for attacking in the poor areas of the Whitechapel district in London in 1888.  His victims were usually female prostitutes who got their throats slit and their abdomens mutilated.  Although many speculations remain as to Jack the Ripper’s identity, finding this out becomes more and more unlikely as more time passes by.

Jack the Ripper Murders


#4 JonBenét Ramsey

A more recent case, JonBenét Ramsey, a child beauty pageant contestant, was murdered in 1996 in her home in Boulder, Colorado.  Only 6 years old, her body was found in the basement of her house, just 8 hours after her parents reported she was missing.  JonBenét was struck on the head and strangled.  There is a theory that the child could have died at the hands of her parents and brother—but DNA evidence on JonBenét’s clothes say otherwise.  Even when a former schoolteacher, John Mark Karr confessed in 2006 to being involved in her death, his DNA was not a match.  Her DNA records are still in storage, waiting for a match to find her killer.

JonBenét Ramsey


#5 Olof Palme

The Swedish Prime Minister from October 14, 1969 to October 8, 1976, Olof Palme had strong views on very volatile issues.  This includes opposition to the Cold War, especially the role of the U.S. in the Vietnam War, which saw a number of nuclear weapons passing through Europe.  As a result, there were strained relationships between the U.S. and Sweden.  Palme did not want a security detail, thinking he was not in any danger.  But in February 28, 1986, when Palme and his wife were coming back from the theater, they were shot by an assassin.  Although Paline’s wife survived, Palme died upon arrival in the hospital.  A local thief and drug addict was arrested for Palme’s assassination, but his conviction was overturned.  Now, the crime remains unsolved, with some people believing that Palme was assasinated by the Russian KGB or the U.S. CIA because of his views about the Cold War.  Recently, German interrogation shows that the assassination was actually accomplished by a Yugoslavian UDBA operative in Croatia.  But none has been done about this recent discovery.

Olof Palme


#6 Rashawn Brazell

In February 2005, 19-year old Rahshawn Brazell disappeared from his Brooklyn home.  That day, he was scheduled to meet his accountant in the morning and his mother for lunch in Manhattan.  At 7:30AM, an unknown man rang the doorbell of Rashawn and he went downstairs to meet him.  Both walked to Gates Avenue Station.  Based on eyewitness accounts, they exited the subway at Nostrand Avenue station in Bedford, Stuyvesant.  This is the last time he was seen alive.  Four days after his disappearance, two bags of body parts were seen on the tracks at the subway station.  Even though fingerprints of the victim show that the body parts belong to Rashawn, no information has been found about the male that accompanied him.  There have also been no breaks or leads on this case.

Rashawn Brazell


#7 Rose Harsent

Also known as the Peasenhall Murder, Rose Harsent, a servant girl in Peasenhall, Suffolk, England, was found stabbed to death on the night of May 31, 1902.  Eventually, it was discovered that she was also 6 months pregnant.  Initially, the police though it was suicide, but then turned their eyes to the local Methodist preacher, William Gardiner.  Gardiner was thought to have been having an affair with Rose in 1901 and also fathered her unborn child.  It was quite suspicious, since he lived just down the street from where Rose worked as a servant, with his wife and 6 children.  Even though the police arrested Gardiner twice (1902 and 1903), both trials resulted in a hung jury and he was gradually acquitted.  When Gardiner died in 1941, he was never convicted of the murder.  Some think that it was actually Gardiner’s wife who committed the crime, but there is was no formal conviction made.

Rose Harsent


#8 Andrew and Abby Borden

Parents to Lizzie Borden, Andrew and Abby Borden were found brutally murdered in their house.  Based on Lizzie’s accounts of the day, she saw her father dead on the living room sofa, suffering from a serious blunt force trauma on the head.  On the next floor, Lizzie saw her mother mutilated much more than her father.  Based on the coroner’s examinations, Abby was killed almost an hour earlier before Andrew.  Suspicions fell on Lizzie, after it was discovered that she bought poison on August 3 and burned a dress in a stove at her home.  Their Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan was also a suspect.  What made the solving of the case more difficult was that the murder weapon was never discovered, although some speculate that it was the axe in the basement that was actually used.  Lizzie was arrested and tried for the murders, but acquitted because of the evidence being circumstantial.  But even though she was acquitted, Lizzie was continually treated as a pariah for the remaining part of her live in Fall River, Massachusetts until her death in 1927.

Andrew and Abby Borden


#9 Betsy Aardsma

A 22-year old student at Pennsylvania State University, Betsy Aardsma, in November 28, 1969, was in the library researching, when she was stabbed once through the heart.  Right after the stabbing, Betsy fell and two men shouted at the desk clerk to help her, before running out.  The two men were never identified nor arrested.  She eventually died after she was rushed to the hospital.  The case has not been solved until now and the police are still looking for information to her unsolved murder.

Betsy Aardsma


#10 Edward Wheeler Hall and Eleanor Mills

The dead bodies of Rev. Edward Wheeler Hall and Eleanor Mills were found in September 17, 1922 at an apple orchard in New Jersey.  Hall was shot once in the head and Mills shot three times and her throat was slashed.  Their bodies were covered in explicit love letters that they wrote to each other, with Hall’s calling card at his feet.  The murder indicates the discovery of their affair.  But because of shoddy police work, no arrests could be made.  Four years later, a reporter discovered the calling card on Hall’s feet and tested it for fingerprints and it matched the brother-in-law of Hall.  Due to this, Hall’s wife and her 2 brothers and cousin were named as suspects.  But after a month of trial, they were all acquitted.  No one was still held accountable for these murders.

Edward Wheeler Hall and Eleanor Mills


#11 Julie Ward

A wildlife photographer, Julie Ward was found murdered, a week after she went missing, while on safari at the Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya.  With her body was dismembered and burned.  Kenyan officials said that she must have been struck by lightning and eaten by lions, but her father would not accept this explanation.  It was revealed eventually through a coroner’s report that Julie’s body had been altered, showing cuts by a sharp blade and not gnawed marks, indicating that she was indeed murdered.  Even though two trials were conducted for the murder of Julie all suspects were acquitted and the murder remains unsolved.

Julie Ward


#12 Marilyn Reese Sheppard

Marilyn Reese Sheppard was found murdered at her home in Ohio in July 4, 1954.  Her husband, Sam Sheppard, stated that his wife was killed by a bushy-haired man who attacked him and made him unconscious twice.  In the fall of 1954, Sam was tried and found guilty of murdering his wife.  The trial received a lot of media attention and it was actually connoted to a carnival.    Sam served 10 years in prison and was given a writ of habeas corpus on July 15, 1964 when it was found that he was denied due process.  He was subsequently released from prison.  His new trial began on September 8, 1966 and he received a not guilty verdict on November 16 for the same year.  Although many still believe Sam killed his wife, the mysterious murder of Marilyn Reese is still unsolved to this day.

Marilyn Reese Sheppard


#13 Mary Meyer

A Washington D.C. socialite and a close friend of JFK, Mary Meyer was shot in the heart and at the back of the head in October 12, 1964 while going for a walk.  A mechanic who heard the shots said that an unidentified man who was black and wore a light jacket, hovered over Mary’s body.  A little bit after the shooting, Raymond Crump was arrested near the scene of the crime, even though he had no gun on him nor even owned one.  He was later acquitted of the charges and Mary’s murder is still unsolved.

Mary Meyer


#14 Thelma Todd

Thelma Alice Todd or “Hot Toddy” was an American Hollywood actress in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  She lived in an apartment on top of the cafe she ran, called the Sidewalk Cafe on Roosevelt Highway.  Uphill from the cafe, Thelma had a garage.  In December 15, 1935, Thelma was found dead in the garage behind the steering wheel of her convertible.  Some believed she committed suicide or accidentally killed herself while warming up her car.  Eventually, people started to think it might be foul play.  Thelma had blood on her mouth, as well as traces on the car and a smudged hand print on the car door.  Also, her blood alcohol level was too high for her to climb 300 steps going uphill to the garage in her high heels.  But even with these findings, Thelma’s death was still ruled a suicide, given that she was depressed and sometimes talked about suicide.

Thelma Todd


#15 Zodiac Killer Murders

Next to Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac Killer would have to be the next notorious.  With greater than 2,500 suspects, no one is still accountable for the murders.  The Zodiac Killer is known to have murdered at least 5 victims in San Francisco, Vallejo, Lake Berryessa, and Benicia from December 1968 to October 1969, targeting males and females between 16 to 29.  The murderer claimed to have killed 37 people, but due to poor forensic technology, the police could not come up with a solid suspect.

Zodiac Killer Murders

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