Historic Solved Mysteries That We Learned About In 2021

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Vote up all the mysteries that were impressively solved.

History is full of mysterious stories that captivate us. Whether they are stories of international intrigue involving major players, or tales of everyday people who find themselves in extraordinary, and sometimes horrific, situations, that element of not knowing every detail enthralls us, driving us to seek out the answer to what happened.

Sometimes the most mysterious stories actually do have answers. Though the twists and turns may lead to sometimes sad conclusions, we can at least feel closure knowing the answers to once unanswerable questions. Throughout the year 2021, we found out about solved mysteries that are sometimes hard to believe. These were the most intriguing.

  • A Girl Was Finally Found When Her Kidnapper Went Out With Their Children
    Photo: El Dorado Sheriff's Office / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    2,200 VOTES

    A Girl Was Finally Found When Her Kidnapper Went Out With Their Children

    Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped in 1991, but the mystery of her whereabouts wasn't solved until 2009 when she was found and rescued from her kidnappers, Phillip and Nancy Garrido.

    Dugard was 11 when Phillip kidnapped her as she walked to the school bus stop in her California neighborhood. She was held in captivity in a labyrinth of sheds and outbuildings Philip had built in his backyard. Phillip regularly sexually assaulted her and forced her to raise two children that she had with him.

    In August 2009, Phillip went to UC Berkeley to inquire about hosting religious events on the campus and brought along his two children. A campus staff member, Lisa Campbell, immediately became suspicious of him and requested a background check. This check revealed that Phillip was a registered sex offender. He was required to attend a parole meeting, where it was uncovered that the children were Dugard's, and Dugard was the girl who had been kidnapped in 1991.

    Shortly after, police raided the Garrido home and arrested Phillip and his wife Nancy. The couple was charged with 29 felony counts, and Phillip was sentenced to 431 years in prison while Nancy was sentenced to 36 years to life. Dugard was reunited with her family.

  • It Took Decades For The Identity Of The Golden State Killer To Be Revealed
    Photo: Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    1,738 VOTES

    It Took Decades For The Identity Of The Golden State Killer To Be Revealed

    The so-called Golden State Killer began his spree in California in the 1970s: He typically went into homes, where he raped and sometimes murdered.

    The culprit eluded detection. His tendency to commit offenses in different parts of the state confounded investigators, who initially didn't realize one person was responsible. As a result, his identity remained a mystery for decades.

    But DNA testing finally solved the mystery. In 2018, former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo was caught. Investigators identified him through DNA that a relative had uploaded to a genealogy website.

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    3,047 VOTES

    The Apparent Poisoning Of A Child Proved To Be A Medical Condition

    In 1989, Patty Stallings was detained under allegations that she had poisoned her son Ryan Stallings. Stallings had her son admitted to the hospital when she noticed he had been ill. After running tests, doctors concluded he had high levels of a substance known as ethylene glycol in his blood. This compound is most commonly found in antifreeze. Stallings and her husband were questioned, but they both profusely denied allegations of poisoning their son.

    After two weeks, Ryan was released but placed in foster care, where Stallings and her husband were allowed to visit him for only an hour every week. But during the sixth week, when Stallings spent a short time alone with her son, he became sick again and was rushed to the hospital; doctors believed he was allegedly poisoned again. This evidence allowed police to make an arrest, and two days later, Ryan died. Despite Stallings's claims of innocence, doctors and police were adamant that she was responsible.

    While awaiting trial in prison, Stallings had her second child, who also became sick and had symptoms similar to Ryan's. The baby was diagnosed with a rare condition known as methylmalonic acidemia, which allows the body to produce a compound known as propionic acid, similar to ethylene glycol. Despite this finding, Stallings was still convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1991.

    However, a couple of years later, the charges against Stallings were dismissed when renowned scientists investigating the case revealed their findings. They deemed her innocent, because Ryan also had methylmalonic acidemia.

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    1,337 VOTES

    Researchers Discovered Vanished Ships From The Franklin Expedition After More Than 150 Years

    In 1845, Captain Sir John Franklin and his crew set off to find a route through the Northwest Passage on two ships: HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. But the entire expedition was lost in the Canadian Arctic.

    The hunt to locate the lost expedition happened soon after officials in Great Britain realized it had gone missing. Franklin's wife, Jane, was especially instrumental in organizing search parties to find her husband and his crew

    Though the searches turned up objects associated with the expedition, as well as a few gravesites, the ships went undiscovered.

    It turns out the search parties overlooked key sources: The Inuit knew what happened to the Franklin expedition, but European colonizers in the 19th century weren't interested in hearing what they had to say.

    In 2014, researchers finally found the wreck of HMS Erebus. They made the discovery with the help of Inuit historians. Two years later, they tracked down the Terror, too.

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    1,573 VOTES

    A Man Who Appeared To Have Died Of Natural Causes Was Actually Shot Through The Scrotum

    Sometimes a murder victim is deemed to have died of natural causes. Although rare in modern times, this happened to be the case with Greg Fleniken. In 2010, Fleniken was discovered dead in his hotel room, presumably from a heart attack, but the medical examiner uncovered severe internal damage and a small incision on his scrotum and deemed the death a homicide.

    Due to the lack of forthcoming results or evidence after almost a year, Fleniken's wife decided to hire a private investigator. Working alongside police, the private investigator examined the hotel room Fleniken stayed in, where he found small indentations in the wall that had been filled with toothpaste. Investigators discovered that a bullet had left the room next door and entered Fleniken's room, piercing his scrotum and traveling through his body, causing severe internal damage.

    Police investigated the three men who were staying in the neighboring room and learned they had been drinking and fooling around with a loaded gun, which accidentally discharged and killed Fleniken. They were unaware of his death until the next day.

    The man responsible for accidentally discharging the gun was sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

  • Azaria Chamberlain's Parents Claimed A Dingo Stole Her, But Authorities Refused To Believe Them
    Photo: Lankner / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    1,392 VOTES

    Azaria Chamberlain's Parents Claimed A Dingo Stole Her, But Authorities Refused To Believe Them

    In August 1980, Michael and Lindy Chamberlain of Australia and their three children - Aidan, Reagan, and 9-week-old Azaria - went camping near Uluru in the Northern Territory.

    The camping trip ended in tragedy when they discovered Azaria was missing from the campsite. A bereft Lindy told authorities a dingo (a wild Australian dog) had taken her baby from the tent.

    Though the medical examiner initially accepted Lindy's story, other authorities remained unconvinced. Instead, they detained, convicted, and imprisoned Lindy for the murder of her daughter - even though Azaria's body was nowhere to be found. 

    What happened to Azaria?

    Azaria's body has never been discovered, but a key piece of evidence has. In 1986, a tourist fell from Uluru (a large rock in the area) while hiking. The search for the tourist turned up the dress Azaria had been wearing when she disappeared - and it was found near a dingo den. Lindy's original story, it seemed, was correct.

    In 2012, Azaria's death certificate was finally changed to state death by dingo.