Graveyard Shift

The Creepiest Unexplained Stories In America 

Jacob Shelton
Updated March 23, 2020 754.1k views 19 items

Ax murderers! Serial killers on the loose! Sounds that will drive men to madness! You’ll find all that and more on this list of the creepiest unexplained stories from the US. America has only been around for a little over 200 years, but in that short amount of time, we’ve managed to build up a considerable amount of spooky phenomena and mysterious events.

Creepy unexplained stories in America tend to rest heavily on unsolved murders or unexplainable deaths, and at times, it seems like an answer is waiting for us just out of reach. None of the stories on this list contain any answers, and the tales that do seem to tie themselves up tend to do so with a string of messy questions.

These creepy American stories come from all over the United States, proving that there’s not one area that’s more susceptible to strange crime than any other - except for New Jersey. That place is a weirdo hot-spot. If you’re an amateur sleuth, there are certainly a few ongoing cases on this list of American unexplained stories that could use your expertise. Just make sure to call your mom before you go venturing into the dark marshes of hidden America.  

The Zodiac Killer
The Zodiac Killer is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Creepiest Unexplained Stories In America
Photo: San Francisco Police Department/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Zodiac Killer is arguably the most famous unsolved collection of serial killings that America has ever experienced. No other crime spree, save for the Jack the Ripper murders of the 19th century, has captured the imaginations of gawkers, copycats, and conspiracy theorists in the way that the Zodiac did.

Depending on which timeline you follow, the Zodiac's murder spree either began in 1963 or 1968 when a mysterious killer began gunning down couples and taunting the police with letters that featured a hard-to-crack cipher. The murders abruptly ended in the '70s, but wild theories about the killer's identity persist to this day. 

The Cleveland Torso Murders
The Cleveland Torso Murd... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Creepiest Unexplained Stories In America
Photo: FBI / CPD/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

In 1934, Cleveland (and the surrounding Ohio area) was besieged with a series of vicious murders identified only by the body parts left behind in their wake: torsos. Beginning with the torso of a woman that washed up on the shore of Lake Erie, a four-year wave of fear and body parts spread over the city, centralized in Kingsbury Run, a poor neighborhood where families with nowhere to live set up shantytowns.

After the Lady of the Lake was discovered, two castrated men were found, followed by the remains of a woman tucked inside two baskets, and the body of a tattooed man who had been drained of all his blood. In 1938, the police burned Kingsbury Run to the ground in order to flush out the killer, and although they arrested a bricklayer named Frank Dolezal (who was later found hanging in a jail cell), he was exonerated in 2010 by new evidence released by Cuyahoga Community College. The murders stopped after the violent police raid, but the killer was never caught.

The Cecil Hotel Water Tank Mystery
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

In 2013, Elisa Lam checked into the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, a building that's played host to serial killers, ghosts, and more. No one knows why Lam, a college student from Vancouver, was staying in one of LA's seediest hotels, but a video of her final moments provides some insight into her mental state.

Some have theorized that she was being chased by an unseen prowler, while others believe that Lam was the victim of a ghost of the Cecil hotel. Whatever the case, when Lam was found floating in a water tank on top of the Cecil more than two weeks after she went missing, the police ruled her death an accidental drowning. The Cecil was rebranded as the "Stay On Main" in 2016, but the mystery of Elisa Lam, and the rest of The Cecil's inhabitants, lives on. 

The Long Island Serial Killer
The Long Island Serial K... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Creepiest Unexplained Stories In America
Photo: Mitchazenia/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Long Island Serial Killer is the name given to an unknown murderer who used the marshes along the remote Ocean Parkway on Long Island, NY, which stretches 15 miles along the coast of Nassau and Suffolk counties, as a dumping ground for his victims. Since 1996, there have been several bodies (and, in some cases, body parts) found that have been linked to the killer. Nearly all of the victims have been female sex workers. Police estimate that there have been at least 11 victims of the Long Island Serial Killer because it has been difficult to conclusively tie all the crimes together.

The most recent possible victim was the 2013 murder of a 31-year-old woman Natasha Jugo, whose body was spotted floating in the ocean months after her car was discovered near Ocean Parkway. There are many theories about the crimes, including that there are multiple killers, and the local police might be covering up a larger conspiracy. In December 2015, the FBI joined the investigation into the crimes following allegations that the Suffolk County Police Department was improperly handling the case. For now, many questions remain unanswered.