In the 1980s, Unsolved Mysteries was a big television hit. As the name implies, and many recall, the show highlighted some of the strangest mysteries that had yet to be solved. Episodes about missing persons, unsolved murders, and strange phenomena captivated audiences.
There are many real-life mysteries from that decade that have still gone unsolved. While many of these stories here never made it onto the hit TV show, they are nonetheless another legacy of the '80s. These are real-life stories of whodunnit, what the heck happened, and how did they get away with that? Some are also just plain creepy. While they may not have all made national headlines, most of them have left the locals still scratching their heads. You may not have heard of these mysteries before, but you won't be able to forget them now.
- 13,084 VOTES
Where Is Cynthia Anderson?
At 20 years old, Cynthia Anderson was a well-behaved daughter and responsible young adult, working as a legal secretary at a law firm in Toledo, OH. She had grown up in a devoutly Christian family and was preparing to start Bible college in just a few weeks.
Cynthia, or Cindy as she was known, had been haunted by nightmares and an apparent stalker for months before her disappearance. Messages saying "I LOVE YOU CINDY BY GW" were written on the wall right outside her window at work. Then, somebody began calling her at work and harassing her. An emergency buzzer was installed at her desk.
The morning of August 4, 1981, Cindy went to work around 8:30, as usual. However, when the lawyers that she worked with came into the office around noon, there was no sign of her. Her car was still in the parking lot, but her purse was gone. The phones weren't placed on hold and the door was still locked from the inside, indicating Cindy hadn't planned on leaving. On her desk lay a novel, left open on perhaps the most violent part in the story - when a young woman is abducted at knifepoint.
Shortly after she disappeared, a phone call came into police headquarters. A woman whispered quietly and said Cynthia was being held in the basement of a white house. The family who owned the house also owned the one next door, and they were identical. It was their son, the caller said, who was holding Cynthia hostage. She hung up without leaving any more information. Police followed up on the lead but never found Cynthia or any hints of her whereabouts.
The alleged writer of the messages on the wall came forward, saying they were meant for a different Cindy. Similarly, a man with the initials GW who worked at the law firm was investigated, but authorities found no connection to Cindy's disappearance.
To this date, there have been no clues about Cindy's whereabouts. Her social security number and credit cards were never used. She was never seen again.
- 23,016 VOTES
Who Was The Chicago Tylenol Murderer?
In September 1982, a strange occurrence took place in and around Chicago, IL. It all began when 12-year-old Mary Kellerman woke up with a sore throat and runny nose. Her parents gave her one extra-strength Tylenol and sent her back to bed. At 7:00 that morning, she was discovered dead. That same day, September 29, 27-year-old Adam Janus also died shortly after taking an extra-strength Tylenol. His brother and sister-in-law, who met other family at Janus's house that day to console one another, both took some extra-strength Tylenol for the grief-induced headaches they were experiencing. Janus's brother Stanley died that same day, and his sister-in-law, Theresa, died a couple of days later.
Panic took over the city and the nation. Three more victims died shortly after consuming Tylenol - Mary McFarland, 35; Paula Prince, 35; and Mary Weiner, 27. All of them, it turned out, took Tylenol shortly before they died. At last, in early October, investigators drew the connection between the mysterious deaths and Tylenol. Each victim had unknowingly swallowed a capsule that had been laced with cyanide. The poisoning occurred after the bottles had already left the factory; someone, it appeared, poisoned the capsules and then placed the tampered Tylenol bottles back on the shelf.
Although investigators figured out how the Chicago victims died, they never captured the perpetrator. One man named James Lewis wrote a letter to Johnson & Johnson, who manufactured Tylenol, claiming to be the killer. He said he would stop the killings if he was paid $1 million. Police quickly ruled out Lewis as the actual suspect, but he was found guilty of extortion. No other leads or suspects were ever identified.
- 31,849 VOTES
What Happened To Beauty Queen Tammy Lynn Leppert?
Florida beauty queen and aspiring actor Tammy Lynn Leppert disappeared when she was just 18 years old. July 6, 1983, was the last day she was seen alive. She had been picked up by a friend to go to the beach that day. She left without even brushing her hair, her mother remembers. However, the two allegedly got into an argument along the way, and her friend instead dropped her off in front of the Glass Bank building in Cocoa Beach, FL.
Rumors abound, but there were few facts for authorities to go off. Friends said she had been acting differently a few weeks before she disappeared - paranoid, distracted, on edge. She allegedly confided in some that at a recent cast party for the movie Spring Break, she had seen something she shouldn't have. She told her mom she thought someone was trying to kill her. Her paranoia led to a mental breakdown, and she was checked into a mental facility shortly before her disappearance. Some reports claimed Leppert may have been pregnant.
Even though her "friend" dropped her off miles away from her home and their original destination and was the last person to see her alive, he was never identified as a suspect. Serial rapist Christopher Wilder was at one time suspected of harming Leppert, as he had raped and murdered dozens of women in Florida. He had a habit of targeting models and luring them in with the promise of paid gigs. Authorities however could never tie Wilder to Leppert's disappearance.
Despite the fact that she was well-known and recognizable in the area, nobody saw anything suspicious that day. Leppert seems to have disappeared without a trace.
- 41,856 VOTES
Did Henry Thomas Spontaneously Combust?
Henry Thomas was a 73-year-old man living a relatively normal life in south Wales. In 1980, he was discovered dead in his home. His death, it seemed, was not as normal as his life had been. He appeared to have been sitting in his chair, with slippers nearby and eyeglasses that had fallen on the ground. All that was left was his skull, and the bottom part of his legs, with pants and socks still on. The rest of his body was turned to ashes, yet nothing else (aside from the chair he'd been sitting on) was burned. Thomas, it seemed, was the victim of spontaneous human combustion.
Initially, investigators thought some of the coal ashes from the nearby fireplace had somehow ignited Mr. Thomas. It became clear, after noticing that there was no sign of disturbance to the fire and no debris on the hearth, that that was not what happened. Thomas was not a smoker and thus did not fall asleep with a cigarette in his hand. There was no evidence of any external source of combustion, and there was no sign of any sort of forced entry or foul play.
Because there were no witnesses and no definitive clues, we'll likely never know if Thomas was a victim of spontaneous human combustion, or something even weirder.
- 51,562 VOTES
Were Sally McNelly And Shane Stewart The Victims Of A Satanic Cult?
On the morning of July 5, 1988, Shane Stewart's truck was found near the O.C. Fisher Reservoir, outside of San Angelo, TX. The keys were on the dashboard, and fast-food wrappers littered the interior. Stewart and his girlfriend, Sally McNelly, had last been seen together the night before, at a Fourth of July party and fireworks show. When his Camaro was found, with no sign of the two 16-year-olds, they were both reported missing.
A few months later in November, their bodies were found by hunters. It became clear that they had both been shot, but little other information could be ascertained. Rumors began circulating that the two had fallen victim to an evil group. McNelly's friends claimed she had been involved with a satanic cult and that Stewart got involved as well when the two started dating.
The couple had come forward to authorities when they were allegedly trying to get out of the cult, even showing them a weapon that the cult members had given McNelly. McNelly expressed fears that someone was trying to kill her. Two weeks later, the two teenagers were gone.
There seemed to be little other explanation for the strange murder of two innocent, love-struck teenagers. In 2017, almost 30 years later, investigators thought they got a hit when they arrested John Cyrus Gilbreath. With a warrant to search his home under drug trafficking charges, investigators found writings that mentioned McNelly and Stewart by name and indicated murder. They also found blood, a fingernail, and a lock of hair that had been saved. To this date, Gilbreath has only been named a person of interest in the case.
- 61,433 VOTES
Who Took The Lives Of 'The Boys On The Tracks'?
In 1987, a brutal murder occurred in Alexander, AR. Kevin Ives was 17 and his friend Don Henry was 16 when they were mysteriously killed, their bodies left on the train tracks to be run over. A rifle and flashlight were discovered near the bodies. There were many guesses but no other clues as to what happened to the boys that night.
That was, until 31 years later, when a former WWF wrestler named Billy Jack Haynes came forward with a revelation: he had witnessed the murder of the two boys that night. While he worked as a wrestler, Haynes would also run drugs throughout the country and serve as the enforcer or intimidation factor in other criminal enterprises. On the night the boys were murdered, he was allegedly acting as the muscle for a politician, who was watching a drug drop to see if someone was stealing money. Haynes claimed the boys were killed by others also working for this politician.
After dealing with the guilt for years, and finally sobering up, Haynes decided to reach out to the parents of Ives with the information he had. Although Haynes claims he's willing to divulge all of the names of those involved that night, his story has yet to be corroborated by authorities.