What's even creepier than a murder? One where the body of the victim is never identified.
Unexplained and unidentified corpses are found from time to time, and despite efforts to find their killers and put their bodies to rest, investigators aren't always able to solve these gruesome crimes. Known as John and Jane Does, these mysterious murder victims captivate the imagination of many. Who were they? What happened to them? Why did they die?
The task of figuring out who these people are is often hard and fruitless. Authorities trying to crack cases with unexplained corpses face uphill battles when trying to resolve these murders. They involve men, women and children of all ages, all races and all across the world. While nameless, they live forever in their mysteriousness.
The Tamam Shud Case
The 'Tamam Shud' case is considered by many as one of Australia's most profound mysteries. The case, also referred to as the "Mystery of the Somerton Man," is about more than just an unidentified body. It’s about the cryptic coding found in the man’s possession, and that no one knows what actually killed him. On December 1, 1948, a man’s body was found in Somerton Beach in South Australia. In his pocket was a torn page from a book of poems entitled Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. On it was the phrase "tamám shud" meaning "ended" or "finished" in Persian.
Police located the copy of the book the page was ripped from, and inside of the back cover were written indentations. They deciphered a telephone number, but the other number and seemingly random text is believed to be an encrypted message. Investigators were never able to figure out the code or the man's identity.
The discovery of the body coupled with the growing concerns of the Cold War and an increased public concern over international espionage caused some to speculate the man was a spy. No one ever figured out who the man was, what his code means, how he died, or what he was doing in the first place.
Bear Brook Murders
In 1985, a hunter out in New Hampshire’s Bear Brook State Park, made a shocking discovery. He found the bodies of a woman in her mid twenties to early thirties and a young girl, both beaten, wrapped in plastic, and stuffed into a metal drum. Police were unable to identify the two victims and the case went cold.
In May 2000, a detective decided to reopen the case and visit the crime scene. To everyone’s horror, two more bodies were found about 300 feet away from the first two victims. They, too, were concealed in a metal drum, and while their cause of death was undetermined, it did date back to the same time period as the first two victims.
They were much younger than the first child, one was between 2 and 4 years old and the other was only 1 to 3 years old. DNA testing concluded that two of the children were maternally related to the woman, the third could have been a paternal half-sister or cousin to the other children. The identities of the family remain unknown. There was nothing in the database to link the girls to a father, a missing person's report, or any other family members.
Beth Doe Found Under a Bridge
On December 20, 1976, three suitcases were found under a bridge in Carbon County, Pennsylvania. Inside were the remains of a pregnant woman believed to be between 16 and 22-years-old. The woman had been strangled, shot in the neck, and then completely dismembered - even her eyes, nose and breasts had been removed. Among the remains were also the remains of her unborn baby. The only lead police had was numbers and letters that could have been a license plate number written on one of her hands. Investigators never determined who she was or what the numbers meant. She was buried under the name “Beth Doe” and her murder, sadly, remains unsolved to this day.
Orange Socks Lying on the Side of the Road
On Halloween 1979, someone spotted a naked body lying alongside Interstate 35 in Texas. Upon further inspection, the body was that of a woman who was wearing nothing but a pair of orange socks. She had been strangled to death and dumped over the guardrail. Other than a mother of pearl ring and the orange socks, there were no clues as to who this woman was. Police working the case referred to her only as “orange socks.”
Investigators believed she was a prostitute and drifter because, in addition to having no one recognize her or report her missing, she suffered from gonorrhea. It also appeared as though she was using a towel in place of a sanitary napkin.
Serial killer Henry Lee Lucas claimed he picked her up hitchhiking, killer her, and raped her corpse. But there was no evidence to support this claim, and Lucas contradicted himself quite a bit during this alleged confession - as he did with over 6,000 other bogus murder confessions. Her real name remains a mystery. Tragically, it seems, she will forever be known as “orange socks.”