Crime-related dramas on TV and in film often make even the most mysterious cases seem relatively easy to solve. After a few scenes depicting frustration and bewilderment, the expert CSI agent or forensic scientist suddenly makes a case-breaking discovery by analyzing a piece of hair, pulling together cellphone data, or having a witness crack under pressure. Often, the heroes of these stories overcome another corrupt entity within their division to ensure that justice is served as they save the day.
While these dramas make for excellent and entertaining stories, they're often a far cry from reality. What happens when a killer leaves behind all his clothes at a crime scene, full of DNA, and experts still can't identify the perpetrator? Or when crooked law enforcement agents don't have anyone there to expose their evidence-meddling tactics? Or when a serial killer strikes a city, and no one finds out about it for years?
Unlike the popular mystery-solving dramas in the entertainment industry, these true crime stories are a collection of eerie mysteries that remain unsolved - despite the evidence and clues the murderers left behind.
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When A Search Party Went Out To Find Their Missing Coworker, They Found A House Of Horror Instead
In 2014, an Okada (motorcycle taxi) operator named Kazeem from Ibadan, Nigeria, sent distressed text messages to his friends and coworkers that he was being held captive in a remote forest. He begged for help, alerting loved ones that he had been lured to the site by two customers who asked him for a ride. Once he arrived, he was kidnapped.
When a search party assembled near the forest to find Kazeem, they found an abandoned building filled with rotting bodies, skeletons, and detached bones. A group of heavily malnourished people were shackled in leg irons in the building, and more were outside in the surrounding bush. The scene, which spanned more than 15 kilometers, was strewn with human remains and rotting parts. Kazeem wasn't among those whom law enforcement rescued.
Upon further investigation, authorities and local citizens found that the site, littered with abandoned buildings, had previously been used for construction work. Once it was abandoned, criminals adopted the space to run a business selling body parts for black magic rituals. Victims were raped, tortured, and slaughtered at the site, leaving passports, shoes, clothes, travel bags, and driver's licenses behind.
Although unaware of the full spectrum of atrocities happening close to their homes, residents near the forest knew the area was dangerous, especially at night. Multiple concerned citizens had placed calls to the police, but authorities never acted on the tips. Many people believed that victims still remained in the "house of horror" and rioted in an attempt to compel officers to continue searching for survivors.
- 21,491 VOTES
Two Different Paperboys Were Abducted In A Seemingly Quiet Iowa Town
Young John David Gosch left his West Des Moines home early in the morning on Sept. 5, 1982, to deliver newspapers throughout the neighborhood. He picked up the papers, placed them in his wagon, and then vanished. Multiple witnesses testified they saw Gosch retrieving the papers for delivery. When neighbors began calling his parents, expressing concern that they hadn't received their papers, John and Noreen Gosch went out looking for their son. They found his paper-filled wagon two blocks from their home, but their son was nowhere in sight.
One witness claimed he saw the 12-year-old talking to a man in a blue car close to the paper drop. Another mentioned Gosch told him the man had asked for directions and was following him along his route. The following year, a woman in Tulsa, OK, claimed she had spotted Gosch being chased by two men who dragged him away. She eerily recalled that the boy had yelled: "Please, lady, help me! My name is John David Gosch."
When another local paperboy, Eugene Martin, was abducted the following year, the Anderson Erikson Dairy company began printing photos of the kidnapped children on their milk cartons. By 1985, the milk carton project became a nationwide movement. Children in schools across the US stared at the faces of Martin, Gosch, and other missing children who were mysteriously kidnapped and never seen again.
In 1997, Noreen reported a 2:30 am visit from her son, now a 27-year-old man. From their conversation, she deduced he'd been part of pedophile ring, escaped, and then changed his identity because he was scared to come home.
- 31,397 VOTES
Asha Degree, Age 9, Packed Her Backpack, Walked Out Of Her House On A Rainy Night, And Vanished
On a rainy night in Shelby, NC, a nearby car accident caused a power outage. Harold Degree peeked in the bedroom shared by his two children, Asha and O'Bryant, around 2 am. They were both asleep, so he went back to the bedroom he shared with his wife, Iquilla.
When Iquilla went to wake the children for school the next morning, Asha was missing. O'Bryant, 10, told his parents he heard his 9-year-old sister's bed squeak in the middle of the night, but he assumed she was just shifting in her sleep. It was Valentine's Day, February 14, 2000.
After police arrived on the scene, they found no signs of forced entry. A canine unit surveyed the surrounding area with no luck, but leads were trickling in. Two witnesses called the Shelby police station asserting that they had seen Asha walking near Highway 18 around 4 am. When one of the witnesses approached the girl, she ran into the woods and was never seen again.
Investigators found Asha's hairbow in a shed the next day, subsequently spending seven days and 9,000 hours searching for any clues the missing girl may have left behind in the 2-by-3-mile area. They received numerous tips, but none led them any closer to learning of Asha's whereabouts. North Carolina's state investigation department partnered with the FBI to hunt for the girl, and Montel Williams and Oprah Winfrey even shared her story on national TV. But it took another year and a half before another clue was found.
On Aug. 3, 2001, construction workers at a site 30 miles from Asha's home found her missing backpack. Inside was a New Kids On The Block shirt and a school library book, McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss. Unfortunately, the discovery did nothing to further progress in the case. A few prison inmates claimed they knew who murdered the girl and where she was buried, and tips continued to come in slowly. Unfortunately, they all led to dead ends. As of June 17, 2021, Asha was still missing, and no one knows why she left her home in the middle of a rainstorm, or what became of her after.
- 41,383 VOTES
Timmothy Pitzen Disappeared After His Mother Took Him Out Of School To Go On Vacation, Then Committed Suicide
On May 11, 2011, Timmothy Pitzen's mother surprised her son by taking him out of school for a three-day vacation around their home in Aurora, IL. The duo visited Brookfield Zoo in a Chicago suburb, the Key Lime Cove Resort in Gurnee, and the Kalahari Resort across the state line in Wisconsin. It was the last time they were seen together alive.
Law enforcement found Amy Fry-Pitzen's body in a motel room on May 14. Reports say she took her own life, leaving behind a note indicating her son was safe. However, the 6-year-old boy was never found. When the police found Fry-Pitzen's vehicle in a parking lot, there was an unsettling amount of blood in the backseat. DNA testing proved it was Timmothy's, but family members told investigators the boy had suffered from a severe nosebleed the previous year. Additionally, the knife Fry-Pitzen used to take her life had only her own blood on the blade.
Based on her cellphone records and video footage, the last time the pair saw one another was approximately 5 miles northwest of Sterling, IL, where Fry-Pitzen made her last phone call. Her phone and Timmothy's backpack and toys remained missing for years. In 2019, a teenager came forward, claiming to be the missing child. However, DNA testing proved otherwise; he was actually 23-year-old Brian Rini, a person with mental health issues. He was sentenced to two years in prison. Whether Timmothy met a tragic fate or is hidden somewhere, alive and well, is unknown.
- 51,543 VOTES
A Family Was Murdered In Their Home While Three Children In The Adjoining Room Slept Through The Massacre
After divorcing her husband, Sue Sharp and her five children moved from Connecticut to Keddie, CA, to make a new start. Sue, her 15-year-old son John, 14-year-old daughter Sheila, 12-year-old daughter Tina, and 10- and 5-year-old sons Rick and Greg got along well with the neighbors, quickly making friends in their new hometown. However, their sense of belonging came to a violent and tragic halt in the early morning of April 12, 1981. Sheila returned home from the neighbor's house that morning and was met with a horrific scene.
Her mother, her brother John, and his friend Dana Wingate had been brutally murdered while she was away. Meanwhile, Rick and Greg and a visiting friend were asleep in the adjoining bedroom. The children had apparently slept through the deadly attack, and 12-year-old Tina was missing. After opening the front door and witnessing the grotesque scene, Sheila immediately ran back to her neighbors to call the police.
The three victims, bound by medical and electrical tape, had been bludgeoned, stabbed, and strangled. First responders reported blood all over the crime scene: on the walls, the bottoms of the victims' feet, the ceilings, the floors, the bedding in Tina's room, the furniture, and the back steps. The scene was so grotesque that investigators didn't even realize Tina was missing until hours later.
Authorities never caught the murderers, and it took three years to find Tina's body. The FBI and local police made numerous mistakes throughout the investigation, leading the community to speculate that the investigators were somehow involved in or covering up for the murderers. Although investigators never pinpointed a motive, they speculated Sue was having an affair with her neighbor. As soon as the local sheriff realized his friends were the main suspects in the case, he advised them to leave town. The neighbor's wife even went to the police with a letter that her husband wrote, confessing to the crimes.
Despite the incriminating evidence, no one followed up on the lead. When investigators reopened the case in 2013, they found evidence that the neighbors and the authorities who questioned them might have been involved in a drug-smuggling ring. They also found a weathered hammer and knife that might have been used as murder weapons. However, no one has ever been charged for the massacre.
- 61,194 VOTES
An Assassin Murdered An Entire Family, Then Spent Hours In The House Eating Ice Cream And Relaxing
While the rest of the world prepared to ring in 2001, the Miyazawa family lay dead in their Setagaya, Tokyo, home. On December 30, 2000, Mikio, his wife Yasuko, and their 8-year-old daughter Niina, were stabbed to death, while their 6-year-old son Rei was strangled. When detectives arrived at the scene the following day, they found fingerprint evidence suggesting the killer spent several hours in the home after he murdered the Miyazawa family, eating ice cream, drinking tea, taking a nap on the living room couch, and playing on the family computer.
The unknown suspect left a surprising amount of evidence behind, including his clothes and the murder weapon. Investigators initially believed they would identify and catch the murderer quickly. Now, more than 20 years later, detectives still have no answers.
However, law enforcement's inability to determine a suspect isn't due to a lack of effort or necessary skills. Around 280,000 officers have worked on the case, scrubbing the killer's clothing, accessories, and weapons for DNA and clues. Even the killer's bowel movements, which he left unflushed in the family's toilet, were tested so authorities could learn about the suspect's last meal before the attack.
After tracing where the killer purchased his clothes and knife, scientists analyzed bird droppings found on the murderer's sweater. Detectives also analyzed the killer's DNA to learn his ethnicity and ancestral origins. Still, every clue so far has led to a dead end.