Creepy Unsolved Mysteries From Texas
Something about unexplained mysteries demands attention. The number of unsolved crimes in Texas is higher than in most states, due both to the sheer size of the Lone Star State and the amount of empty, desolate space where dastardly deeds can be committed without discovery. Even as the populations of cities like Houston, Dallas, and Austin grow into the millions, there are still areas near each urban center where it's possible to be entirely off the grid.
That is why this Texas list features crimes from both the past and modern day. With improvements in evidence collection, DNA testing, and investigative tools, Texas law enforcement and families alike hope these cold cases will eventually be solved. For now, this list illustrates unexplained crimes that took place in the great state of Texas.
The Ice Box Murders
On June 23, 1965, Houston police officers forced their way into the house of Fred and Edwina Rogers at the request of their nephew Marvin, who was concerned that his phone calls had gone unanswered for a couple of days. The police checked the house, and an officer found what he thought to be numerous pieces of a butchered hog in the refrigerator. As he was closing the refrigerator door, the officer saw two human heads in the vegetable bins. The heads were those of Fred and Edwina. The couple had been murdered.
Fred and Edwina's son, 43-year-old Charles Rogers, disappeared right after, and remains the only suspect in a case that is officially unsolved.
The Orchard Apartment Murders
On July 27, 1979, one of Alys Rankin's coworkers went to pick her up from her Orchard Apartments home in southwest Houston. The coworker, Bob Smith, arrived to find the door slightly ajar. When he entered, he found 33-year-old Rankin lying in her bed, disrobed, feet tied together, and with a pillow over her upper body. When he removed the pillow, he saw her head had been cut off. She had also been sexually assaulted. Police have never recovered her missing head.
Two weeks later, and two floors above Rankin, a friend found the body of 25-year-old Mary Michael Calcutta in her bathroom. She had been stabbed multiple times, so hard that the knife blade bent. The working theory is that these were just two of potentially many victims of an unidentified serial killer.
The Texas Killing Fields
There is a stretch of I-45 South between Houston and Galveston where police have found the bodies of more than 30 young women and children since the 1970s. A federal agent who has been working the case unsuccessfully for years described the Texas Killing Fields as "a perfect place for killing someone and getting away with it."
Law enforcement investigated Robert Abel, a known sex offender, but was not able to link him to the crimes. Although locals initially maintained the assumption that the victims were the result of one perpetrator, the number of bodies indicates that multiple killers have used the remote area to dispose of their victims’ bodies.
The Lover's Lane Murders
The "Lover's Lane" murders took place in an undeveloped, wooded area of West Houston on the night of August 23, 1990. That night, 22-year-old Cheryl Henry and her 21-year-old boyfriend Andy Atkinson parked in a deserted spot popular with young couples in the area.
Law enforcement found the couple's car at the scene, with their bodies in the woods close by. Both of their necks sustained damage, and Cheryl had been sexually assaulted. The unknown assailant had attempted to bury her under a wood pile, and Andy was found bound to a tree.
In 2008, forensic investigators analyzed a semen sample taken from Henry in 1990 and matched it to another unsolved rape case. The woman provided officers with a description of her attacker. Although there have been no arrests, Houston authorities have a sketch of the suspected killer.
The Texarkana Moonlight Murders
Between February 22, 1946 and May 3, 1946, weekends became dangerous in and around Texarkana, Texas, now known as “the town that dreaded sundown.” A perpetrator known as "the Phantom Killer" attacked couples within a three-month period, claiming five lives. The incidents only occurred late at night and were usually three weeks apart.
The Texas Rangers, including the famous M. T. "Lone Wolf" Gonzaullas, were drafted to help catch the Phantom Killer, whom witnesses described as a man wearing a sack with cut-out eye holes. Recent investigations point to Youell Swinney as a likely culprit, but he was never arrested or convicted for the slayings.
The Austin Yogurt Shop Murders
On December 6, 1991, an Austin police officer saw a fire coming from an I Can't Believe It's Yogurt! shop on his patrol. After the blaze was extinguished, investigators found the bodies of four girls between the ages of 13 and 17 in the charred remains of the store. The girls had been bound with their own clothing and fatally shot.
Over 50 people have confessed to the killings, including Kenneth McDuff, a known serial killer who was ruled out as a suspect and later executed in 1998. Authorities arrested four other men. Two of them, Robert Springsteen Jr. and Michael Scott, were convicted of the crime, but the state has since released them due to 6th amendment violations and lack of evidence.