Weird History
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Local Mysteries That Still Creep Us Out Even Though They're Solved

Updated September 28, 2021 17.4k votes 3.3k voters 378.1k views11 items

List RulesVote up all the solved mysteries that you find unnerving.

Local history is often weird history, and it's almost inevitable that if you dig deep enough, you'll learn about a creepy, disturbing, or just downright bizarre story that happened near you. Whether it's the eccentric, superstitious heiress who kept building onto her house for decades to appease spirits, or the European tourists who disappeared into thin air, history is full of mystery. More chilling is the fact that humans have continued to display what evil they're capable of throughout the centuries.  

Not only are some of these mysteries upsetting, they all have a curious element as well. And just because these mysteries were solved doesn't mean they won't still creep you out. Just a tip: You probably don't want to read this before bedtime.

  • 1

    A Perplexing Suicide Note Led Police To Discover Pots Of Body Parts In A Kitchen

    In New Orleans, LA, on an October night in 2006, the body of Zachary Bowen, an Iraq War veteran who was just 28 years old, was found on top of a parking garage. In his pocket, police found his dog tags, a suicide note, and a key to his girlfriend's apartment. The note read

    This is not accidental. I had to take my own life to pay for the one I took. If you send a patrol car to 826 N. Rampart, you will find the dismembered corpse of my girlfriend Addie in the oven, on the stove, and in the fridge and a full signed confession from myself... Zack Bowen.

    When police arrived at Addie Hall's apartment, that is exactly what they found. Her head was in a pot on the stove, as were her hands and feet, and her legs and arms were covered with seasoning salt on a roasting pan in the oven. Upon further searches of the scene, police found Bowen's journal, in which he calmly described how he strangled Hall to death and, not surprised that he had no remorse for the act, decided it was time to leave this world.

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  • 2

    A Murder Investigation Went Cold Until A Family Found A Drifter In Their Attic

    In the fall of 1941, while his wife Helen was recovering in the hospital from a broken hip, Philip Peters returned home to find a man going through his icebox. He confronted the man, and was promptly beaten to death by the intruder with a cast-iron stove shaker. Worried neighbors came to check on Peters that evening, as they usually saw him every day; that's when they discovered his body. 

    No evidence was found at the scene, dumbfounding the police. Even more mind-boggling were the calls from neighbors - and even Helen, once she returned home - insisting they heard someone in the house, or telling of odd smells. Every time officers responded, they found nothing suspicious. Helen eventually moved out and the house stayed vacant, yet calls from the neighbors continued.

    Police finally caught a break when two officers stationed in front of the house spotted a man inside. They rushed inside just in time to see a pair of spindly legs disappearing into an attic trapdoor. The suspect, Theodore Coneys, was apprehended and confessed to Peters's murder. Upon viewing the filthy, cramped quarters that Coneys had been living in for months, Officer Fred Zarnow declared, "A man would have to be a spider to stand it long up there." And so began the legend of "The Denver Spider Man."

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  • 3

    When Police Rescued A Recently Missing Child, They Also Found A Boy Who Had Been Missing For Four Years

    In January 2007, 13-year-old Ben Ownby disappeared from a school bus stop in rural Missouri. A witness saw the white pick-up truck that carried Ownby away, which eventually led police to a small one-bedroom apartment belonging to 41-year-old Michael Devlin. Upon arriving at the scene, investigators not only discovered Ownby alive and well, but another boy, Shawn Hornbeck, who had been missing from the area for four years sitting comfortably on the couch. 

    Devlin had quite literally been on the prowl in rural neighborhoods, looking for a young boy to victimize when he abducted Hornbeck and took him back to his apartment just 50 miles away. Eventually, Hornbeck was allowed out of the apartment to lead a relatively normal life, under the threat that if he tried to leave or tell anybody about his captivity, Devlin would kill his family. This arrangement, coupled with sexual abuse, lasted for four years, until Devlin decided Hornbeck was getting too old and he started looking for another victim. That's when he spotted Ownby at the bus stop.

    With the eyewitness tip fresh in mind, officers happened to be responding to an unrelated call at Devlin's apartment complex when they spotted the white pick-up. The next day, they questioned Devlin at the pizza shop he owned, which was just around the corner from the police station; he confessed to kidnapping not one but two boys.

    Authorities were stunned not only at his confession, but at the result: two abducted boys, found alive, not more than an hour's drive from their homes. Devlin received 74 life sentences for his crimes.

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  • Photo: Summer and Joseph Mcstay / Wikipedia / Fair Use
    4

    A Family Of Four Vanished Into Thin Air Until A Dirt Biker Made A Gruesome Discovery 

    When the McStay family vanished in February 2010, it was as if they had simply disappeared in the middle of an ordinary day at their Southern California home. The house had no signs of forced entry or other suspicious activity. There was no communication, no cellphone data, no credit card activity. Their groceries were left out on the counter, and their two dogs were left outside in the cold. What could have happened to this well-loved family?

    More than three years later, a dirt biker made a grisly discovery in the desert 100 miles away from the McStay home: a child's skull. This led investigators to a shallow grave containing the remains of all four McStays: Joseph, his wife Summer, and their preschool-aged sons Gianni and Joseph. Buried in the grave along with the remains was the weapon that killed them: a sledgehammer.

    The mystery went unsolved until another year later, when Joseph's friend and business partner Charles Merritt was arrested for the murders, thanks to cellphone tracking data and DNA analysis from the family's car found near the Mexican border. The likely motive? Around $42,000 that Merritt owed McStay.

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