Throughout history societies have been rocked by gruesome and shocking murders that have spread panic on the streets of towns and cities. The killers are often tracked down by police and brought to trial. However, some cases are never solved and have become shrouded in mystery. This piece will take a look at the 10 most chilling unsolved murders in history.
The crimes of Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper is the name attached to one of history’s most ruthless serial killers. The murderer, who was never identified, shocked London by killing and mutilating at least five prostitutes in 1888. The killer is accredited with the murders of Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. However, some experts have sought to link the Ripper with a further six killings. The title of Jack the Ripper was coined by the media after someone claiming to be responsible for the killings sent a letter to a news agency using the name.
The case of the Cleveland Torso Murderer
The Cleveland Torso Murderer beheaded and dismembered at least 12 victims in Cleveland, Ohio, in the late 1930s. The murderer, who targeted drifters and people living in depression era shanty towns, was one the first serial killers to gain notoriety in the United States. Despite the fact that the case was investigated by Elliot Ness, who would later become the leader of the famous law enforcement team known as The Untouchables, it was never solved.
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The Kaspar Hauser riddle
Kaspar Hauser appeared on the streets of Nuremburg in Germany as a teenager in 1828 claiming to have been raised in a darkened cell for almost his entire life. He was taken into care while constantly repeating the phrase “I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was,” a line which he said his captor had taught him. His case received international attention and some even claimed that he was of royal lineage and linked him to the Grand Duke of Baden. Further intrigue was added by the mysterious circumstances of his death in 1833. Hauser claimed to have been stabbed by a stranger after being lured into the court garden in the city of Ansbach. He died from his wounds five days later and police found a coded message left by the supposed killer at the scene of the crime. Many suspect that he actually stabbed himself to revive interest in his story. His headstone reads: “Here lies Kaspar Hauser, riddle of his time. His birth was unknown, his death mysterious.”
The green bicycle case
Bella Wright was killed by a shot to the head as she rode her bicycle near Gaulby in Leicestershire in 1919. Prior to her death, the young factory worker had been seen with a man on a green bicycle. Former soldier Ronald Light was arrested on suspicion of her murder and jurors at his trial heard that he had been seen disposing of a bicycle in a local river, where a gun was also later found. However, despite this evidence and the fact that Light had been seen riding a bicycle with Wright before her death, he was acquitted of the murder.
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The Wallace murder case
The brutal murder of Julia Wallace in Liverpool in 1931 remains a mystery to this day. Her husband William Herbert Wallace, a collection agent for an insurance firm, was originally sentenced to death after being convicted of beating her to death at their home in the Anfield area of the city. The prosecution had successfully argued that he had attempted to cover up his crime by elaborately engineering an alibi revolving around an appointment with an insurance client who in reality did not exist. However, his conviction was later overturned by the Court of Appeal in London. An investigation by journalist Roger Wilkes 50 years after the killing pointed to Richard Gordon Parry, a junior staff member at the insurance firm, as being a potential suspect in the case.
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The strange death of Evelyn Foster
Evelyn Foster was found lying semi-conscious and severely burned next to her taxi in Northumberland in 1931. Before the 27-year-old died, she managed tell police how she had been attacked by a smartly dressed man in a bowler hat who had flagged her taxi down near Otterburn village. Miss Foster claimed that the man had sexually assaulted her in the back of the car before dousing her in petrol and setting her alight. A jury at the local coroner’s court ruled the cause of death to be “wilful murder”. However, police were unable to find any suspects and some senior officers implied she had set herself alight in a botched attempt to torch her car to claim insurance money.
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The scandalous death of a high-society girl
The body of Starr Faithfull, a beautiful high-society girl, was found washed up at Long Beach, near Long Island, New York, in 1931. She was dressed in a ball gown and it is believed she had been partying on the ocean liner the RMS Mauretania on the night of her death. The details of her double life that emerged during the police investigation shocked American society. It became clear that the graduate of some of the finest finishing schools in New York had actually been a drug and alcohol fuelled wild child. Personal diaries outlining her sexual adventures with prominent politicians and industrialists caused a scandal in the newspapers. Suicide notes also emerged during the investigation but Nassau County District Attorney Elvin Edwards stuck to his belief that she had been “silenced” to protect powerful interests.
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The Black Dahlia Avenger
The badly mutilated body of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, nicknamed "The Black Dahlia", was found on the streets of Los Angeles, California, in 1947. She had been severed at the waist and drained of blood, while her face, breasts and thighs had also been slashed. It is believed she was killed after being held captive and tortured. The brutal murder was never solved despite taunting letters being sent to police and newspapers from a person calling themselves "The Black Dahlia Avenger”.
The disappearance of Dorothy Forstein
The Dorothy Forstein disappearance case is shrouded in a special aura of mystery. Firstly, the housewife was savagely beaten by a stranger who entered her home in Philadelphia in 1945. Then five years later, she was kidnapped from her home at night by a man who told her daughter that her mother was ill and that the youngster should go back to bed. The culprit left no evidence at the scene and Forstein never reappeared.
The Tylenol murders
An FBI investigation and a US$100,000 reward was not enough to bring the poisoner behind these murders in the United States to justice. Seven people died in the Chicago area after taking Tylenol, a brand of paracetamol, that had been laced with potassium cyanide. Police discovered that the tampered bottles originated from different factories and came up with the theory that the murderer had placed the poisoned medicine in supermarkets and drug stores. Tamper-proof bottles were developed after the deaths to prevent further incidents.