List of unsolved deaths

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This list of unsolved deaths includes notable cases where victims have been murdered or have died under unsolved circumstances, including murders committed by unknown serial killers. The mysteriously-deceased are listed chronologically by year. (For 'serial killer cases' which span multiple years, entries are listed under the year the first murder took place.)

Unsolved murders[edit]

Before 1800[edit]

  • King William II of England, 1100, killed by an arrow while hunting. The consensus among historians is that this was not an accident.
  • King Eric V of Denmark, 1286, killed by several unidentified people while taking shelter for the night with a few companions in a barn.
  • Moctezuma II, 1520, Aztec emperor. According to Spanish accounts he was killed by his own people; according to Aztec accounts he was murdered by the Spanish.


Thomas Hindman
  • Mary Rogers, also known as the "Beautiful Cigar Girl". Her body was found in the Hudson River on July 28, 1841. The story became a national sensation and inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt" in 1842.
  • Fanny de Choiseul-Praslin, wife of French duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, died shortly after a beating and stabbing in the family's Paris apartment on 17 August 1847. Her husband was arrested, but committed suicide during trial, protesting his innocence all along. No other suspect has ever been identified. The scandal caused by the case helped to provoke the French Revolution of 1848.
  • Thomas C. Hindman, an American politician assassinated by one or more unknown assailants on 27 September 1868. The assassins fired through his parlor window while he was reading his newspaper with his children in Helena, Arkansas, United States.[1]
  • Benjamin Nathan, 56, a financier turned philanthropist, was found beaten to death in his New York City home on July 28, 1870. Several suspects were tried and acquitted in the ensuing years.
  • Sharon Tyndale, former Illinois Secretary of State, was robbed and shot fatally as he walked from his house in Springfield to the train station nearby early on the morning of April 29, 1871. No suspect was ever found.[2]
  • Henry Weston Smith, 49, a minister, was found dead on the road between his home in Crook City, South Dakota, and Deadwood, where he was going to give a sermon, on August 20, 1876. While he was not robbed, it has never been established who was responsible for his death, and what their motives were.
  • Martin DeFoor, 73, an early settler of Atlanta, Georgia, was along with his wife the victim of an unsolved axe murder on their farm on July 25, 1879.
  • John Henry Blake, 74, agent for one of Ireland's more despised British landlords, was shot and killed along with his driver on their way to Mass outside Loughrea on 29 June 1882. The case received considerable attention at the time because Blake's boss, Hubert de Burgh-Canning, 2nd Marquess of Clanricarde, was a nobleman. Although his wife survived the attack, she was unable to help identify any suspects, and the case remains unsolved.
  • John M. Clayton, American politician, shot and killed instantly by an unknown assailant on the evening of 29 January 1889 in Plumerville, Arkansas, after starting an investigation into the possible fraud of an election he took part in. After his death he was declared the winner of the election but his assassin was never found.[3]
  • Andrew Jackson Borden and Abby Durfee Borden, father and stepmother of Lizzie Borden, both killed in their family house in Fall River, Massachusetts on the morning of 4 August 1892, by blows from a hatchet. In the case of Andrew Borden, the hatchet blows not only crushed his skull but cleanly split his left eyeball. Lizzie was later arrested and charged for the murders. She was the only one in the house at the time of the killing of Mrs. Borden. Lizzie and the maid, Bridget Sullivan, were the only ones in the home when Mr. Borden was killed. She was acquitted by a jury in the following year of 1893 and the case remains unsolved.[4]
  • The Gatton murders occurred 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the rural Australian town of Gatton, Queensland, on December 26, 1898. Siblings Michael, Norah and Ellen Murphy were found deceased the morning after they left home to attend a dance in the town hall which had been cancelled. The bodies were arranged with the feet pointing west and both women had their hands tied with handkerchiefs. This signature aspect has never been repeated in Australian crime and to date remains a mystery.[5]


Sketch of the corpse of Little Lord Fauntleroy, unidentified since his discovery in 1921
  • William Goebel, an American politician who was shot and mortally wounded on the morning of 30 January 1900 by an unknown assailant in Frankfort, Kentucky, one day before being sworn in as Governor of Kentucky. The next day the dying Goebel was sworn in and, despite the best efforts of eighteen physicians attending him, died on the afternoon of 3 February 1900. Goebel remains the only state Governor in the United States to die by assassination while in office.[6]
  • Rose Harsent, a six-months-pregnant maid who was stabbed to death on 1 June 1902 in Suffolk, England by an unknown assailant. At the time it was alleged that the murderer was a preacher of the Primitive Methodist Chapel named William Gardiner, who was having an affair with the victim. Gardiner was tried twice for the murder but each time the jury failed to reach a verdict.[7][8] The case has been investigated in BBC One's Julian Fellowes Investigates.[9]
  • Al Swearengen, 59, famous as the operator of the Gem Theatre brothel in Deadwood, South Dakota, was found dead in a Denver street of a massive wound to his head on November 15, 1904. No suspects were ever named.
  • Elsie Sigel, 20, found strangled inside a trunk in an apartment in New York City's Chinatown on June 18, 1909, nine days after she had last been seen. The resident of the apartment, who had been having a love affair with her, was considered the prime suspect but was never arrested.
  • Elsie Paroubek, the five-year-old daughter of Czech immigrants. Is thought to have either wandered away from her home or was kidnapped in Chicago on April 8, 1911. Her disappearance was the subject of intense police investigation over three states, with massive newspaper coverage. Her body was found a month later. Elsie, under the name "Annie Aronburg" became one of the principal characters in Henry Darger's immense novel The Story of the Vivian Girls in the Realms of the Unreal.
  • Joseph Wilson, the sixty-year-old stationmaster was shot dead at Lintz Green railway station in the Northeast of England on 7 October 1911. His murder sparked one of the largest murder investigations in Northeast England.[10]
  • One suspect in the Villisca Axe Murders, which claimed eight lives in that Iowa town on the night of June 9–10, 1912, was tried twice and ultimately acquitted. Other suspects have been considered, but history has largely exonerated them as well.
  • John Bamford was considered the prime suspect in the 1917 Wonnangatta murders; however, his body was found early the following year. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head. Several theories have been advanced, but no suspects have ever been identified. In the late 1970s, Barclay's son, who later worked for a mutual friend of the two who had been an early suspect, made a statement suggesting he knew who the murderers were as well but declining to identify them.
  • James Colosimo, 42, gangster who led a precursor to the Chicago Outfit. He was shot and killed at his café on May 11, 1920. No one was ever charged with the killing; it is believed that Al Capone, then one of Colosimo's henchmen, was involved.
  • Joseph Bowne Elwell, 46, a bridge player, was shot and killed inside his locked house on June 11, 1920. One clearly false confession the next year was discarded, and no other suspects ever were identified. The intense media interest in the case inspired the development of the locked-room murder subgenre of detective fiction.[11]
  • Italian anarchists were suspected in the Wall Street bombing of September 16, 1920, which killed 38, making it the deadliest terrorist act in U.S. history at that point. Despite a number of arrests, no one was ever charged. One likely suspect, who was never arrested, fled to Italy shortly afterwards and never returned to the U.S.
  • Chrissie Venn, a thirteen-year-old girl who was murdered on or around 21 February 1921 near the township of North Motton, near Ulverstone, Tasmania.
  • "Little Lord Fauntleroy", an unidentified boy who was murdered in late 1920 or early 1921 and was found on 8 March 1921. He was killed by a blow to the head and drowning after being dropped into a quarry in Waukesha, Wisconsin, United States.[12]
  • Anthony D'Andrea, 48, an early Chicago Mafia boss, was shot and killed while entering his apartment on May 11, 1921, near the end of the city's aldermen's wars. No one was ever charged or named as a suspect.
  • Professional golfer James Douglas Edgar, 36, whose book The Gate to Golf changed the sport considerably, died shortly after he was found on an Atlanta street late at night with a leg wound. Reports that this was the consequence of his involvement in a love triangle have never led to any suspects being identified.
  • William Desmond Taylor, a popular Irish-born American actor and director of silent movies. Killed by a shot in the back on 1 February 1922 inside his bungalow. His murder, along with other Hollywood scandals, such as the Roscoe Arbuckle trial, led to a frenzy of sensational and often fabricated newspaper reports, and a deathbed confession of dubious veracity.
  • The Hinterkaifeck murders. Hinterkaifeck, a small farmstead between the Bavarian towns of Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen (approximately 70 km north of Munich), was the scene of one of the most puzzling crimes in German history. On the evening of 31 March 1922, the six inhabitants of the farm were killed with a pickaxe, and the murder is still unsolved.
  • Edward Hall and Eleanor Mills, both of New Brunswick, New Jersey, were found dead of gunshot wounds in a field in nearby Franklin Township on September 16, 1922. Hall, an Episcopalian priest, had apparently been having an extramarital affair with Mills, who sang in the church choir. His wife and her brothers were charged with the crime. After one of the first trials to attract heavy media interest, they were acquitted of all charges. No other suspects were ever identified.
  • The plane crash that killed early aviator B. H. DeLay, 31 a pioneering stunt pilot, on July 4, 1923 in Venice, California, was found to have been the result of sabotage to the aircraft. No one was ever formally charged or identified as a suspect.
  • The Janet Smith case. On July 26, 1924, the 22-year-old Scottish nursemaid was found dead of a gunshot wound to the temple in a home in an exclusive neighborhood of Vancouver, Canada. Although she was initially labeled a suicide (despite much evidence to the contrary), her friends were able to get the case reopened and deemed a murder. The initial suspect, Chinese houseboy Wong Foon Sing, was kidnapped and tortured for weeks in an unsuccessful attempt to extract a confession, causing a major scandal when it was discovered that various police officials and respected members of society were directly involved. Wong was eventually tried and acquitted for lack of evidence. A law was proposed, banning the employment of Orientals and white women in the same household, but failed to pass.


  • The Milaflores Massacre: Three Detroit gangsters were shot down in the Milaflores Apartments on March 28, 1927. The killings are widely believed to have been a revenge attack by members of The Purple Gang; two members were arrested the next day but never charged.
  • It is historically accepted that Al Capone ordered the St. Valentine's Day massacre of seven other gangsters in Chicago on February 14, 1929. But neither he nor any of the suspected gunmen (many of whom were dead themselves within a few years) were ever formally prosecuted for the crime.
  • The Wallace Case was the unsolved murder of Liverpool housewife Julia Wallace on 20 January 1931. Her husband, William Herbert Wallace, was convicted and sentenced to hang, but the verdict was overturned on appeal - the first such instance in British legal history. The chess-like quality of the puzzle has attracted a host of crime writers. Raymond Chandler said, 'The Wallace case is the nonpareil of all murder mysteries ... I call it the impossible murder because Wallace couldn’t have done it, and neither could anyone else. ... The Wallace case is unbeatable; it will always be unbeatable.'
  • Harry C. Beasley, 42, a Medal of Honor recipient who later became a Newark, Ohio, police officer, died after being shot while confronting robbers on July 2, 1931. No one was ever identified as a suspect.
  • Jack "Legs" Diamond, American gangster, was found shot to death in the Albany, New York, apartment of his mistress on the morning of December 18, 1931. While he had many enemies among the underworld who wanted him dead, Daniel P. O'Connell, boss of the city's political machine, claimed in an interview with author William Kennedy four decades later that he had ordered the killing after Diamond ignored police warnings to stay out of the city's rackets. The case remains officially unsolved.
  • The murder of Vera Page occurred on 14 December, 1931. Page was a 10-year-old schoolgirl from Notting Hill, London, who was last seen walking towards her own house, having visited her aunt to show her new swimming certificates she had been awarded. Her raped and strangled body was found two days later. Despite strong circumstantial evidence linking a local man named Percy Rush to the crime, a jury recorded an open verdict of "Murder by person or persons unknown."[13]
  • Vampire Murder Case is the nickname given to the case of an unknown assailant who committed the unsolved murder of a prostitute who was found dead with a crushed skull in her apartment on 4 May 1932 in Stockholm, Sweden. Police noted that someone had drunk her blood.
  • Investigators responding to a plane crash near Chesterton, Indiana, on October 10, 1933, found evidence that the aircraft had exploded in the air when a bomb was detonated aboard. The four passengers and three crew aboard all died. This is regarded as the first-ever proven case of sabotage in the history of commercial aviation; however no suspects have ever been identified.
Linda Agostini, formerly known as "Pyjama Girl" prior to the identification of her body
  • A badly burnt body found in a culvert on 27 August 1934 outside the town of Albury, New South Wales, Australia, was given the name Pyjama Girl for the clothing she wore. Ten years later she was officially identified as Linda Agostini, 26, who had gone missing a week before the body was found. Her husband was prosecuted for her murder and convicted of the lesser included charge of manslaughter; he served a six-year sentence and returned to his native Italy. However, in 2004 Richard Evans' book The Pyjama Girl Mystery noted discrepancies in the evidence and suggested the body might not actually have been Agostini's.
  • American journalist Walter Liggett, 49, was shot in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on December 9, 1935, while investigating connections between that state's governor and organized crime. No suspects were ever identified.
  • Pete Panto, 28, a labor leader who had fought Mafia control of the International Longshoremen's Association local on the Brooklyn docks, was found in a Lyndhurst, New Jersey lime pit in January 1941. He had not been seen since leaving his house on July 14, 1939. No one was ever arrested in the case; one suspect who was questioned about was found dead a month later.
  • Carlo Tresca, 63, an Italian American labor leader who led opposition to Fascism, Stalinism and Mafia control of unions, was shot dead at a Manhattan intersection on the night of January 11, 1943. Given the enemies he had made and their propensity for violence, the list of potential suspects was long; however the investigation was incomplete and no one was ever officially named. Historians believe the mostly likely suspect was mobster Carmine Galante, later acting boss of the Bonanno family, seen fleeing the scene, who had likely acted on the orders of a Bonanno underboss and Fascist sympathizer Tresca had threatened to expose.[14]
  • Sir Harry Oakes, an American-born British gold-mine owner and philanthropist who was found murdered in his mansion in Nassau, Bahamas on 8 July 1943. His murder became the subject of worldwide press coverage at the time as well as several books, films, and documentaries.[15]
  • Actor David Bacon, best known for playing Bob Barton in the Masked Marvel serials of the 1930s, died shortly after crashing his car in Santa Monica, California on September 12, 1943. Afterwards he was found to have been suffering from a stab wound to the chest; no suspect has ever been identified.
  • Georgette Bauerdorf, a 20-year-old oil heiress who was found face down in a bathtub in her home at West Hollywood, California on 12 October 1944. She had been strangled with a piece of towel stuffed down her throat, and although there was a large roll of $2 bills and thousands of dollars worth of sterling silver lying in an open trunk, Bauerdorf's jewelry and other valuables were not stolen. The police believe her murderer had unscrewed an automatic night light over the outside entrance of the apartment so it would not come on and lain in wait for her.[16]
  • The Black Dahlia (Elizabeth Short), a 22-year-old woman who was found severely mutilated and her body cut in half in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, California on 15 January 1947. Her unsolved murder has been the source of several books, films, and widespread speculation.[17]
  • Later that year in nearby Beverly Hills, on June 20, gangster Bugsy Siegel, known for making Las Vegas into a gambling destination, was shot several times with a high-powered carbine from outside as he read the newspaper at a friend's house. There are many suspects. Police believe he was killed by his own associates, but have never put together enough evidence against any one of them to declare the case solved.[18]
  • Taman Shud Case, an unidentified man was found dead on Somerton beach in Adelaide, South Australia on the morning of December 1, 1948 at 6:30 a.m. Also known as the Mystery of the Somerton Man, this case is considered "one of Australia's most profound mysteries", and no suspects have been named nor has the man ever been identified despite the best efforts of many world agencies. He was killed by an unknown poison with a piece of paper in his pocket that reads "Taman Shud", meaning "The End".
  • Emily Armstrong, found in a dry cleaner's shop in London, England on 14 April 1949, about an hour after she had been murdered. An autopsy showed she was beaten to death and her skull shattered by at least 22 blows from a blunt object, believed to be a claw hammer.[19]


  • Sir Jack Drummond, 61, British biochemist, was murdered along with his wife and daughter by the side of a river while traveling through southern France on 4 or 5 August 1952. Three local men were arrested and tried, one was convicted and sentenced to death, but that was later commuted and ultimately he was released on medical grounds. There has been much doubt about the case against him.
  • John Acropolis, 43, a New York labor leader with organized crime connections, was shot by an unknown assailant in Yonkers on August 26, 1952.
  • Jack Burris, 35, Mayes County, Oklahoma, county attorney, was killed by a shotgun blast just outside his house in June 1952. Investigators were unable to obtain a tape that purported to be the killer's confession later in the decade; there have been no suspects since then.
  • Babes in the Wood murders (Stanley Park), two unidentified boys located on 14 January 1953 in Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada. They were likely murdered in 1947.[20]
Kyllikki Saari (back right), murdered in Isojoki, 1953. Her case remains one of the Finlands most infamous unsolved murder cases
  • The body of Kyllikki Saari, 17, of Isojoki, Finland, was found on October 11, 1953, almost five months after she was last seen. Several suspects have been considered but no one has ever been prosecuted. The case remains one of the country's best-known mysteries.
  • On April 9, 1953, the body of 21-year-old Wilma Montesi washed up on a beach at Torvaianica, Italy, near Rome. The investigation delved into accounts of orgies and drug use in Roman society, but no one was ever charged.
  • Evelyn Hartley,15, from La Crosse, Wisconsin, was babysitting for Professor Viggo Rasmusen on the evening of October 24, 1953 when she was kidnapped. That was the night of the La Crosse football game and attendance was high. There were signs of a struggle in the living room where her broken glasses were left. In the basement there was blood and an open window where the kidnapper came in and took Evelyn out. Though her body was never found, weeks later bloody undergarments resembling hers were discovered on Highway 14, two miles south of La Crosse. There was a fifteen-minute window between the Rasmusens's leaving and her disappearance.[21]
  • Alma Preinkert, 58, registrar of the University of Maryland, was stabbed by an intruder in her Washington home on February 28, 1954 and died shortly afterwards. No suspect has ever been named.
  • Marilyn Reese Sheppard, wife of Sam Sheppard, attacked and killed in her home in Bay Village, Ohio, United States, on 4 July 1954. Sam Sheppard was later convicted of killing his pregnant wife, but this was overturned in 1966, and he was acquitted in a new trial. He claimed his wife was killed by a bushy-haired man who also attacked him and knocked him unconscious twice. Their son slept through the night, just down the hall from the bedroom in which his mother was murdered. The trial of Sam Sheppard received extensive publicity and was called "carnival atmosphere" by the U.S. Supreme Court.[22] The Sheppard case was a large part of the inspiration for the television series and later movie The Fugitive.
  • Carolyn Wasilewski, 14, was found dead in a rail yard near her Baltimore home on November 9, 1954. The case generated nationwide media attention, and police still get calls about the case, however no suspects have ever been named. Filmmaker John Waters says the case and the media frenzy over some aspects of Baltimore's youth culture of the time inspired his film Cry-Baby, later adapted into a Broadway musical.
  • William Morris Bioff, 55, a labor leader with organized-crime ties, was killed by a bomb that detonated when he started his car on the morning of November 4, 1955, outside his Illinois home. No suspects have ever been named.
  • Mafia boss Albert Anastasia, 55, was shot to death while being shaved at a Manhattan barbershop on October 25, 1957. The list of suspects includes many other organized-crime figures of the era; no one has ever been officially named although authorities think the actual assassins were members of the Boston-based Patriarca crime family, in keeping with the mob's practice of hiring for such major hits from out of town.
  • Barbara and Patricia Grimes disappeared on 28 December 1956, in Chicago, Illinois after going to a cinema to watch an Elvis Presley movie. Their disappearance launched one of the biggest missing-persons hunts in Chicago history. However, police were not able to determine what happened to the Grimes sisters.[23] On January 22, 1957 their naked bodies were found off a road near Willow Springs, Illinois. The corpses contained various bruises and marks (for example puncture wounds in the chest that may have come from an ice pick) that were never fully explained.
  • Geneva "Jean" Hilliker Ellroy, a 43-year-old divorced nurse, was found strangled to death near Arroyo High School in El Monte, California on 22 June 1958. No promising suspects were ever produced, though she was seen with an unknown man and woman in the hours before her death. The case received only superficial notice from the media, possibly due to the recent homicide of Johnny Stompanato. The victim's ten-year-old son James Ellroy, (then Lee Earle Ellroy), would become a bestselling crime novelist later in life and would revisit his mother's murder in his 1996 memoir, My Dark Places.[24]
  • Dancer Pearl Eaton, 60, was found dead in her Manhattan Beach, California, apartment on September 10, 1958. The police called the death a homicide, but never solved the case.
  • Gus Greenbaum, 62, another Chicago Outfit figure, was stabbed and beaten to death along with his wife in their Phoenix, Arizona, house on December 3, 1958, supposedly as punishment for his continued skimming of casino profits. No suspects were ever identified.
  • Lynne Harper, 12 years old, was last seen alive on 9 June 1959 riding on the handlebars of her friend Steven Truscott's bike near an air force base which is now Vanastra, Ontario, Canada. Two days later her body was discovered in a nearby farm woodlot. She had been raped and strangled with her own blouse. Fourteen-year-old Steven Murray Truscott was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder, becoming Canada's youngest person to be sentenced to death. The sentence was later commuted to life in prison. Truscott was held in custody for 10 years: in 2007 his conviction was ruled a miscarriage of justice, although he was not declared innocent.[25]
  • Almost 600 possible suspects have been considered in the Walker family murders of December 12, 1959, in which two children and their parents were shot by intruders at their Osprey, Florida, farmhouse. Among them are the two men executed by Kansas for the Clutter family murders, which formed the basis for Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.
  • All 34 passengers and crew aboard National Airlines Flight 2511 from New York to Miami were killed on January 6, 1960, when a bomb exploded aboard the plane in mid-flight. The FBI is still investigating the case and no suspects have been named.[26]
  • The Lake Bodom murders were an infamous multiple homicide that took place in Finland on 5 June 1960. That night four teenagers were camping on the shores of the Finnish lake when between 4 am and 6 am, they were attacked by an unknown individual or individuals with a knife and a blunt object. Three of them died, and the fourth one was wounded but survived. Although the sole survivor became a suspect for some time in 2004, the case remains unsolved and the killer(s) unidentified.[27]
  • Paul Guihard, 31, an Agence France-Presse reporter covering the Ole Miss Riot of 1962, was found dead near a building of what turned out to be a gunshot wound. He was the only journalist killed during the U.S. civil rights movement; his killer has never been identified.
  • Mary S. Sherman, 51, an orthopedic surgeon, was found dead of stab wounds and burns in her New Orleans apartment on July 21, 1964. No suspects have ever been named.
  • Mary Meyer, a socialite from Washington, D.C., and close friend of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.[28] Shot to death on 12 October 1964 by an unknown assailant after finishing a painting and going for a walk. She was heard screaming for help by a mechanic on a nearby road who also heard two gunshots and saw an unidentified man standing over her body. Her murder would later stir speculation relating to the Kennedy assassination.[29]
  • The bodies of Marianne Schmidt and Christine Sharrock, both 15, were found beaten and stabbed on Wanda Beach near Sydney on the morning of 11 January 1965, having last been seen on the beach the previous evening; the killer had apparently also attempted to rape them. Several suspects have been identified over the years, but none ever formally charged; a DNA sample was taken from the preserved blood and semen at the scene but it is not known if a match has been made.
  • No suspects have ever been identified in the July 8, 1965, bombing of Canadian Pacific Air Lines Flight 21 above British Columbia, which killed all 52 aboard.
  • Similarly, the bombing that killed all 66 passengers and crew of Cyprus Airways Flight 284 over the Mediterranean between Greece and Cyprus on 12 October 1965 remains unsolved.
  • For almost 30 years after Barbara Ann Hackmann Taylor's body was found alongside a road near Georgetown, Kentucky, on December 17, 1968, it was known only as "Tent Girl". Since her identification in 1998, what investigation that has been possible has identified her husband at that time, now dead.
  • Clarence 13X, 41, founder of Five-Percent Nation, a splinter group of the Nation of Islam, was fatally shot by a group of attackers in the lobby of his wife's Harlem apartment building on the morning of June 13, 1969. One suspect was arrested two months later; charges were dropped. New York police believe the murder was related to an extortion attempt; no other suspects have ever been named.
  • Betsy Aardsma was a 22-year-old woman from Holland, Michigan, United States and a graduate student at Penn State University, who was stabbed to death in broad daylight in the stacks of Pattee Library on Penn State's campus on 28 November 1969. She was stabbed a single time through the heart with a single-edged small knife. Approximately one minute later two men came from Betsy's location and told a desk clerk, "Somebody better help that girl," and then exited the library. The men were never identified. 25–35 minutes later Betsy arrived at a hospital where she was pronounced dead. She had been wearing a red dress, and since there was only a small amount of blood visible, no one immediately realized that she had been stabbed.[30]


Lady of the Dunes (reconstructions pictured) was found murdered on July 26, 1974 in Provincetown, Massachusetts
  • The bodies of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe, both 29, were found in New Zealand's Waikato River near their Pukekawa farm, a month apart in August and September 1970. They had been reported missing on 22 June of that year, five days after last being seen; both had been killed with a rifle. After a short investigation, police arrested Arthur Thomas, another farmer, later that year. He was tried and convicted twice, but evidence that police had fabricated key evidence against him led to an inquiring commission that severely criticized two of the lead investigators without holding them accountable otherwise, and Prime Minister Rob Muldoon pardoned Thomas in 1979. Authorities have never identified any other suspects, although two journalists have written books proposing alternative theories of the case.
  • U.S. Army physician Jeffrey R. MacDonald was the only apparent survivor of the brutal murder of his wife and two daughters on the night of February 16–17, 1970 in their on-post home at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Investigators with the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID) came to believe his story of how a group of hippies chanting "Acid is groovy; kill the pigs" committed the crime, although the military justice system ultimately declined to pursue charges against MacDonald. Five years later, he was indicted for murder in federal court instead after constant pressure on authorities from his former father-in-law; in 1979 he was convicted and has been imprisoned ever since. He has maintained his original account since then. The case has been notable for the media attention it continues to generate—Joe McGinniss's bestselling Fatal Vision, written in collaboration with MacDonald but ultimately arguing for his guilt, became a TV minseries but has been criticized for McGinniss's apparent betrayal of MacDonald; a later book and documentary by Errol Morris have also criticized McGinniss and argued for MacDonald's innocence.
  • Little Miss Lake Panasoffkee was found in Lake Panasoffkee, Florida on 19 February 1971. She has never been identified and possibly originated from Greece.[31]
  • Joe Gallo, 43, was shot to death in a Manhattan clamhouse on April 7, 1972, as part of a war between New York City Mafia families. The investigation identified no suspects, although Frank Sheeran claimed shortly before his death 31 years later that he was the lone gunman.
  • On April 20, 1972, New York City police officer Philip Cardillo, 32, died in the hospital of a gunshot wound inflicted six days earlier during an incident at a Harlem mosque six days earlier. Another officer involved said he had seen one of the mosque's congregants, Louis 17X Dupree, standing over Cardillo with a gun pointed at his chest. Due to political complications resulting from the incident, suspects who had been in custody were not identified before being released and evidence was not collected at the scene; the detective in charge of investigating the shooting later claimed interference from senior officers impeded his efforts and procedures were ignored. Two years later, Dupree's first trial, based largely on the testimony of an informant, resulted in a hung jury and his second in an acquittal; he later served a prison sentence in North Carolina on drug charges and is currently in a Georgia prison on another charge. A later police informant in another case identified another suspect; he was never tried. Detectives who continue to investigate the case have complained that the FBI, which also had informants within the mosque, lied about what it knew in the past and is still withholding relevant information.[32]
  • Thomas Eboli, 61, acting boss of the Genovese crime family, was shot and killed as he walked from his girlfriend's house in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn to his car in the early hours of July 16, 1972. It has been speculated that he was killed over unpaid debts, but no one has ever been charged.
  • Yosef Alon, 43, a military attaché at the Israeli embassy in Washington, was shot fatally in his Chevy Chase driveway as he and his wife returned from a party shortly after midnight on July 1, 1973. The Palestinian Black September terrorist group claimed responsibility, in retaliation for the slaying of one its members by Israeli operatives, but officially the case remains unsolved.[33]
  • On December 20, 1973, Chicago Outfit member Richard Cain was shot to death by masked gunmen in Chicago.
  • Athalia Ponsell Lindsley, 56, a former model and Broadway dancer, was fatally assaulted with a machete on the porch of her St. Augustine, Florida, home on January 23, 1974. The investigation centered on a neighbor she was having a dispute with at the time; he was tried and acquitted due to mishandling of the evidence. No other suspects have been named.[34] Later that same year, on November 3, Frances Bemis, a socialite friend of Lindsley's who had reportedly been conducting her own investigation of the murder, was found with her skull crushed in the neighborhood. That case also remains unsolved.[34]
  • Lady of the Dunes, who remains unidentified, was found in Provincetown, Massachusetts on 26 July 1974. She may have been murdered by Whitey Bulger, who has yet to be charged with her murder.[35]
  • Writer Donald Goines, 37, was found shot dead in his Detroit apartment along with his wife on October 21, 1974. No suspects have ever been identified.
  • Arlis Perry, 19, was found dead in Stanford Memorial Church, where she had gone the previous night after an argument with her husband, on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, early on October 13, 1974. She had been beaten and sexually assaulted before her death but not raped; an ice pick found lodged into the base of her skull during the autopsy turned out to be the murder weapon. David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam" serial killer, told investigators he had heard details about the killing from another inmate purportedly linked to the Manson family, but they ultimately discounted his information. No other suspects have ever been identified.[36]
  • Betty van Patter, 52, bookkeeper for the Black Panther Party, was last seen leaving a San Francisco tavern on December 13, 1974. A few weeks later her beaten corpse was pulled out of San Francisco Bay. It has been believed that members of the party were behind her death, as she had reportedly uncovered financial irregularities that pointed toward criminal activity, but authorities have never named any suspects.[37]
  • Sam Giancana, 67, a longtime leader of the Chicago Outfit, was shot and killed in his kitchen on June 19, 1975, shortly before he was testify before a Senate subcommittee investigating possible CIA and Mafia collaboration in plots to assassinate John F. Kennedy over a decade earlier. This has led to much speculation as to who wanted him dead, with the actual shooter believed to be someone Giancana knew well. However, no charges have ever been brought in the case.
  • On 23 June 1975, the body of brothel keeper Shirley Finn was found shot dead in a parked car in South Perth, Australia. No suspects have ever been identified; the investigation is continuing.
  • Juanita Nielsen was last seen on July the 4th in Sydney Australia after a meeting in a club owned by a major figure of organized crime, she was a publisher, activist for conservation and community issues - particularly anti-development campaigns which may have led to her death.
  • Barbara Colby, an American actress from Venice, California, United States, was shot to death while walking with a colleague to his car on 24 July 1975. She died instantly from her wounds but her colleague was able to describe the shooting to the police before he also died from his wounds. He said the shooting occurred without reason or provocation and said that there were two gunmen whom he did not recognize. There was no attempt at robbery, and the killers and their motivation are still unknown.[38]
  • On the morning of October 31, 1975, the beaten body of Martha Moxley, 15, was found in the backyard of her Greenwich, Connecticut, house, Pieces of a golf club, the apparent murder weapon, were found nearby. She had last been seen at a nearby Halloween party the night before. Suspicion long fell on Michael Skakel, a cousin of the Kennedy family whose house the party had been held at, and in 2002 he was convicted of the crime. He has always maintained his innocence, and in 2013 an appeals court granted his request for a new trial on the grounds of insufficient representation by counsel; a ruling the state itself appealed the following year.[39]
  • The 1975 LaGuardia Airport bombing occurred on the evening of December 29, 1975, at the TWA baggage claim at New York's LaGuardia Airport, killing 11. It has been suspected that Croatian nationalists were behind it, due to a similar bomb found at Grand Central Terminal a year later, but the group responsible for that event has denied responsibility for the earlier attack. Officially it remains unsolved.
  • All 81 aboard died on 1 January 1976 when Middle East Airlines Flight 438 fell to the ground in Saudi Arabia after a bombing. No suspects were ever identified.
  • Jim Leslie, 38, a publicist and lobbyist for the government of Shreveport, Louisiana, was shot fatally in the parking lot of a Baton Rouge hotel July 9, 1976, on his way to celebrate a legislative victory. Shreveport's public safety commissioner, George W. D'Artois, was charged with ordering the murder but died before he could face trial. No one has ever been identified as the actual gunman.
  • World War II German colonel Joachim Peiper, 61, who led the troops responsible for the Malmédy massacre as a member of the Waffen-SS was shot at his home in Traves, Haute-Saône, in eastern France, on the night of 14 July 1976. His still-unidentified killers then burned his house down.
  • Seewen murder case: 5 people were shot during Pentecost weekend 1976 in a weekend house near the Swiss village Seewen. Although the weapon was found in 1996, the murderer remains unknown.
  • The Sumter County Does were shot to death in Sumter County, South Carolina on 9 August 1976. Neither have been identified.[35]
  • The stabbing deaths of Suzanne Armstrong and Susan Bartlett occurred on 10 January 1977 in Collingwood, Australia. These murders have been linked to the disappearance of a North Melbourne woman two years earlier. However, no suspect has ever been named.
  • Frank Bompensiero, 71, a longtime Mafia contract killer, was himself shot and killed on February 1, 1977, while making a phone call in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego, California. Several defendants were arrested and charged with the killing. One died before trial and the others were acquitted.
  • Another Mafia assassin, Charles Nicoletti, 60, was shot three times in the back of the head while waiting in his car outside a Northlake, Illinois, restaurant on March 29, 1977. No suspects were ever identified.
  • Mickey Spillane, 42, head of the Westies, the last major Irish-American criminal organization in New York City, was killed outside his Queens apartment. It is believed one of his underlings ordered the crime in order to take control of the organization from him, but police have never formally suspected anyone.
  • Australian wallpaper designer Florence Broadhurst, 78, was found bludgeoned to death in her Paddington studio on 15 October 1977. No one has ever been officially named as a suspect; speculation has ranged from serial killer John Wayne Glover to an acquaintance (the evidence suggests she knew her killer, and s/he was familiar with the layout of her studio).
  • Mississippi County Does were found murdered on 17 June 1978. Although both of these unidentified people were found in different states, they are believed to have been killed by the same person, as they were both seen together before their murders.[40]
  • Bob Crane, an American actor best known for his role in Hogan's Heroes, was discovered bludgeoned to death with a weapon that was never found (but was believed by police to be a camera tripod) at the Winfield Place Apartments in Scottsdale, Ariz., on June 29, 1978. Crane had allegedly called his friend John Henry Carpenter the night before to tell him their friendship was over. Crane was involved in the underground sexual scene and filmed his numerous escapades with the help of Carpenter, who was an audio-visual expert.[41][42][43][44] Police reportedly found blood smears in Carpenter's car that matched Crane's blood type, but no charges were filed against Carpenter for more than a decade. When he was charged in 1994, he was acquitted. Carpenter maintained his innocence until his death in 1998, and the case is now officially cold.[45]
  • The Burger Chef murders of four employees of that restaurant outside Speedway, Indiana on November 17, 1978, have never been solved despite extensive investigation.
  • Perry County Jane Doe was found on 20 June 1979 in Perry County, Pennsylvania. Her body has never been identified.[46]
  • Raymond Washington, original founder of the notorious South Central Los Angeles street gang that came to be known as the Crips was murdered on August 9, 1979. Washington was shot dead at the age of 25 when he walked up to a car on the corner of 64th and San Pedro Streets in Los Angeles. At the time of his death, Washington no longer had any real control over the gang he originally founded. He wanted to unite warring gangs in peace and had always opposed guns. Different theories exist on why he was killed and who did it but no one was ever arrested for his murder.[47]
  • Sahara Sue's body was found on 14 August 1979. She was never identified although she wore dentures at a very young age.[48]
  • Tammy Vincent's body remained unidentified for 31 years after it was found beaten, shot, stabbed and set afire after her death on a beach near Tiburon, California, on September 26, 1979. It is believed the 17-year-old runaway may be a victim of Gary Ridgway, the "Green River killer," although she likely died because she was due to testify in court against a pimp.
  • An unidentified woman known as "Orange Socks" was found murdered on 31 October 1979 in Georgetown, Texas. Henry Lee Lucas falsely confessed to her murder but was later acquitted.[49]
  • The body of Tammy Alexander, 16, of Brooksville, Florida, was found in a cornfield off U.S. Route 20 in Caledonia, New York on November 9, 1979. She had been shot twice the night before. She remained unidentified, known as Caledonia Jane Doe or Cali Doe, for over 35 years until being identified via a DNA match with her sisters in 2015. Law enforcement in both states are continuing to investigate.[50]


Pastel drawing of Óscar Romero
  • Óscar Romero, the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, was killed by a shot to the heart on 24 March 1980 while celebrating Mass at a small chapel located in a hospital. It is believed, but never proven, that the assassins were members of Salvadoran death squads. During the funeral ceremony, a bomb exploded on the Cathedral square and shots were fired. Many people were killed during the subsequent mass panic.[51]
  • The explosion that killed all 81 on board Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870 near the Italian island of Ustica on 27 June 1980 has been variously attributed to a bomb or a missile strike. Whatever the cause, the investigations have been criticized as ineffective, and no suspects identified.
  • Walker County Jane Doe, an unidentified girl whose body was found on 1 November 1980 in Huntsville, Texas, United States. A possible runaway matching her description was reported by a witness to have asked for directions to a prison unit, which she never arrived to. The victim was killed by strangulation and beating, also being sexually assaulted.[52][53]
  • The Keddie Murders, in which four people were found dead in Keddie, California on April 11 (and possibly into April 12), 1981.[54]
  • Pima County Jane Doe, an unidentified young woman found in Tucson, Arizona on April 11, 1981 after being strangled. In late 2014, a photograph of an unidentified female was found in the possession of a convicted murderer who denied requests to state who the subject was. Some believe the victim and the girl in the picture were the same person.[55]
  • Buckskin Girl, an unidentified young woman found in Troy, Ohio on 23 April 1981. She had been beaten and strangled to death.[56]
  • Raymond Nels Nelson, Administrative Assistant to Senator Claiborne Pell and former bureau chief of The Providence Journal, Rhode Island. He was found bludgeoned to death with a typewriter in his Washington, D.C. apartment on June 1, 1981.[57]
  • Ken McElroy, 47, long considered the "town bully" of Skidmore, Missouri, was shot dead while in the cab of his pickup truck on July 10, 1981. None of the 46 potential witnesses to the crime have ever come forward to identify a suspect.[58]
  • Marcel Francisci, 62, French member of Union Corse criminal organization who created the French Connection drug pipeline, was shot fatally as he walked to his car from his Paris apartment on 16 January 1982. No suspects have ever been identified.
  • Roberto Calvi, 62, CEO of Banco Ambrosiano, found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in London on 17 June 1982. Initially considered a suicide, authorities later changed their minds and investigated it as a homicide. An Italian court acquitted five defendants in 2009; charges against a sixth defendant were later dropped.[59]
  • The body of a strangled teenage girl found on July 1, 1982, outside Baytown, Texas, remained unidentified for 32 years. In 2014 the corpse's DNA was matched to Michelle Garvey, a 15-year-old runaway from Connecticut. The investigation is continuing.[60]
  • In Blairstown, New Jersey, an unidentified girl dubbed "Princess Doe" was found on 15 July 1982. Extensive research and investigation to find who she and her killer were have been unsuccessful.[61]
  • The FBI continues to investigate the Chicago Tylenol murders which took place in late 1982, but has not identified any suspects.[62]
  • Peter Ivers, television host and musician, was found bludgeoned to death in his Los Angeles apartment in 1983. The murder was never solved, although on the basis of new information found in the book In Heaven Everything Is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre (2008) by Josh Frank and Charlie Buckholtz, the Los Angeles Police Department has reopened their investigation into Ivers' death.
  • Gérard Lebovici, 51, French film producer, was found in his car on 7 March 1984 in a Paris parking garage. He had been shot several times two days earlier. No suspects have ever been identified.
  • Vernon County Jane Doe, an unidentified victim was found on 4 May 1984 near Westby, Wisconsin. Her hands were severed and never found, making identification through fingerprinting impossible.[63]
  • Catrine da Costa, Swedish prostitute. Parts of her dismembered body were found in Solna, just outside of Stockholm, during the summer of 1984.
  • Lenny Breau, 42, music teacher and guitarist. His body was found floating in the swimming pool at his Los Angeles apartment complex on August 12, 1984; the coroner's office found that rather than having drowned he was strangled. While his wife was suspected, she was never charged, and no one else has been.[64]
  • Grégory Villemin, a 4-year-old boy in Lépanges-sur-Vologne, France, disappeared from the sandbox in front of his house on October 16, 1984, and was found in the Vologne river nearby several hours later, although the evidence later suggested he had been drowned somewhere else and placed in the river. His father later fatally shot a relative initially suspected of the killing due to a series of anonymous notes sent to various people in town, and his mother was tried for the offense in a pair of trials that became an international media sensation. She was acquitted, and the case remains open and unsolved.
  • Christine Jessop, an eight-year-old girl of Queensville, Ontario, was raped and murdered in October 1984. Her next-door neighbour, Guy Paul Morin, was wrongly convicted of the crime in 1992 but DNA testing led to a subsequent overturning of this verdict in 1995.[65][66]
  • Günther Stoll, a German food-engineer, is suspected to have been murdered under strange circumstances on 26 October 1984, after leaving behind the cryptic message "YOGTZE."
  • Tscherim Soobzokov, 59, a Circassian refugee in the United States, died on September 6, 1985, of injuries suffered when a pipe bomb exploded outside his house almost a month earlier. An anonymous caller, claiming that Soobzokov had been a Nazi collaborator during World War II, claimed credit for the bombing on behalf of the Jewish Defense League (JDL); however the organization has formally denied any responsibility. No other suspects have ever been identified.[67]
  • Alex Odeh, 41, western regional director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, was killed by a bomb as he opened his office door in Santa Ana, California, on October 11, 1985. The FBI has identified several members of the JDL in this crime as well. Most subsequently fled to Israel as suspects, while the group as a whole denied any responsibility. Two, Robert and Rochelle Manning, who were suspects in other bombings believed to have been carried out by the group, have been tried in American courts. After a mistrial in her case, Rochelle Manning went to Israel to join her husband, who was extradited in 1993 and convicted of one of the other bombings; he is currently serving a life sentence. Another suspect, already in prison, agreed to cooperate but was killed by a fellow inmate shortly thereafter. The FBI continues to pursue the extradition of the other JDL members who are believed to be living in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba.[68]
  • Dian Fossey, an American zoologist who observed and studied gorilla groups over a period of 18 years in Rwanda. She was brutally murdered in the bedroom of her cabin on 26 December 1985. Her skull had been split by a native panga, which she had confiscated from poachers years earlier and hung as a decoration on the wall of her cabin. Fossey was found dead beside her bed, two meters away from a hole that was cut into the wall of her cabin on the day of her murder.[69] Her assistant, Wayne McGuire, was tried and convicted of murder by a Rwandan court in absentia, although that verdict has been extensively questioned, and he has not returned to the country to be sentenced.
  • Olof Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden and the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party was shot in the back while walking home from a cinema together with his wife shortly after 11 pm on 28 February 1986 in Stockholm, Sweden.[70]
  • Alejandro Gonzalez Malave, Puerto Rican who was involved in the Cerro Maravilla murders case, was shot at his mother's home on April 29, 1986. The assailants were never apprehended.[71]
  • Julie Ward, murdered in Kenya on September 6, 1988 while on safari in the Masai Mara game reserve. Her burned and dismembered body was found on September 13, 1988, a week after she went missing. The original statement by Kenyan officials was that she had been eaten by lions and struck by lightning but this was later revised to say she was murdered.[72]
  • Jaclyn Dowaliby, 7, disappeared from her home in Midlothian, Illinois during the night of September 10, 1988. Her body was found in a nearby dump four days later. Her mother and adoptive father were charged with her murder; she was acquitted and he was convicted, a verdict later overturned on appeal due to lack of evidence. No other suspects have been named since then.
  • Seymour and Arlene Tankleff were found murdered in their Long Island home on September 17, 1988. Their 17-year-old son Martin was charged with the crime and convicted, a verdict overturned on appeal in 2004; the state decided in 2008 not to retry him.[73] His lawyers accused the police detective who originally arrested Martin of having lied during the investigation to cover for a business associate who they believe was the actual killer; he denies it. Neither the business associate nor anyone else have ever been formally named as a suspect.[74]
  • Thomas Pellagatti, 23, better known as drag queen Venus Xtravaganza, featured in the documentary film Paris is Burning, was found strangled under a New York City hotel bed on December 21, 1988, four days after having been killed. There are no suspects.[75]
  • Poker player and historian John Holmes Jenkins, 49, was killed by a gunshot to the back of the head near Bastrop, Texas on April 16, 1989. Local investigators ruled it a suicide and said the gun had been misplaced somehow.[76]


Racine County Jane Doe (reconstruction pictured), unidentified since her discovery in 1999
  • The body of Amy Mihaljevic, 10, was found in Ruggles Township, Ohio, on February 10, 1990. She had been abducted from a Bay Village shopping center three months earlier. No suspects have ever been named, although police have been exploring some promising leads in recent years.[77]
  • Despite extensive investigation and publicity, the gunmen who killed four people, including two children, at a Las Cruces, New Mexico, bowling alley on February 10, 1990, have never been identified or apprehended.[78]
  • The body of Joanna Parrish, 20, a British exchange student in the Burgundy region of France, was found in the Yonne River near Auxerre on 17 May 1990, a day after she had last been seen going to set up a private English lesson. Serial killer Michel Fourniret was initially suspected of responsibility for her death, and charged, but the case was dropped when prosecutors decided they had insufficient evidence. Investigations of another suspect began in 2012.
  • The dismembered body of gay porn star William Arnold Newton, 25, was found in a Los Angeles trash container on October 29, 1990. No suspects have ever been named.[79]
  • The body of French Baptist minister Joseph Doucé, 45, was found in a forest in October 1990, two months after he was last seen being led away from his apartment by two men who claimed to be police officers. No suspect has ever been identified.
  • On November 20, 1990, the body of Susan Poupart was discovered in Wisconsin's Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, six months after she had last been seen leaving a party in Lac du Flambeau. The two men she was last seen with have been considered suspects. Charges against one led to several hearings in 2007, but were dropped after witnesses failed to testify. The investigation continues.[80]
  • Karmein Chan, 13, was abducted from her family's home in Templestowe, Victoria by an unidentified man who was later dubbed "Mr. Cruel" by Melbourne newspapers on April 13, 1991. Her body was discovered on April 9, 1992 in Thomastown, she had been shot in the head. Though Victoria Police knew a great deal about the perpetrator from previous, non-fatal child abductions and rapes dating back to 1985,[81] there has never been enough evidence to charge any of the 27,000 men interviewed at the time.[82] The case is still open with a second police operation, Taskforce Apollo, formed in 2010 to examine new evidence and material from the original Operation Spectrum.[83] If the perpetrator is still alive he would be between approximately 60 and 75 years old in 2014.[84] The murder of Karmein Chan is still one of the extensive and expensive investigations in Victorian history, with a combination of investigative errors and the perpetrator's precautions preventing his identification and arrest.[85]
  • Ioan P. Culianu, 41, a Romanian American professor of religion at the University of Chicago, was shot in the back of the head in a bathroom of the university's divinity school building on May 21, 1991. While rightist Romanian nationalists in the then-new Romanian government of Ion Iliescu, some of whom openly celebrated his death, and members of the Communist-era Securitate intelligence service were suspected, along with occultists who also clashed with Culianu, no one has ever been formally identified as one.[86]
  • On December 6, 1991, police in Austin, Texas, discovered the bodies of four young women, stripped, bound and shot in the head, after a nighttime fire at a yogurt shop. Eight years later, two suspects were convicted, but those convictions were overturned in 2009 and charges dismissed due to questions about the DNA evidence. No other suspects have ever been named although the investigation is continuing.[87]
  • A suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into the Israeli embassy in Argentina on 17 March 1992, killing 29 in the deadliest attack ever on an Israeli diplomatic mission. Argentinian officials have said they strongly believe Iran was behind the attack and have identified suspects, but have yet to formally prosecute any although an arrest warrant has been issued for Imad Mughniyah for his involvement in both this attack and the deadlier AMIA bombing two years later.
  • Colin Ridgway, 56, the first Australian to play in the National Football League, was murdered in his University Park, Texas, home on May 13, 1993. Police suspect a man serving time in Florida for a 2011 murder committed the crime after being hired by Ridgway's wife and his father; however, they have not found sufficient evidence to arrest anyone.[88]
  • The body of Holly Piirainen, 10, was found on October 23, 1993, in the woods of Brimfield, Massachusetts. She had disappeared in August while visiting her grandparents in nearby Sturbridge. Police have identified two persons of interest, one of whom died in 2003, the other of whom has been named in connection with the Molly Bish murder which occurred several years later in the region. Neither has been named as a suspect in the case, however.[89]
  • Inokashira Park dismemberment incident in Japan, April 23, 1994.[90]
  • Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, found dead of multiple stab wounds in front of her condo in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles late on the night of June 12, 1994. Her ex-husband, former professional football star O.J. Simpson, was arrested and charged with the crime two days later; after an eight-month trial covered heavily by the media, in which the defense argued that there had been extensive mishandling of the evidence and that some investigators were racially biased, he was acquitted. However, strong public sentiment remained that he was guilty, and he was held liable in a suit by the victims' families later. No other suspects have ever been identified.[91]
  • The 18 July 1994 suicide bombing of a Jewish organization's building in Buenos Aires killed 85, surpassing the similar attack on the Israeli embassy two years earlier as Argentina's deadliest terror attack. Five suspects, four of whom were local police officers, were acquitted in a 2004 trial; the investigating judge was removed from the case and later impeached after it was disclosed that he had paid for evidence. British authorities arrested an Iranian suspect named by Argentina in 2003 but declined to extradite him due to weak evidence. No other suspects have been named although investigations continue, one of which has since led to the unsolved death of Alberto Nisman, the investigating prosecutor.
  • The day after that bombing, another suicide bomber brought down a plane in Panama, killing 21, 12 of whom were Jews. While an apparently fictitious Arab terrorist organization claimed responsibility, no suspects have ever been identified.
  • Irish crime boss Martin "The General" Cahill, 45, was shot and killed at a Dublin intersection on 18 August 1994. The Provisional IRA claimed responsibility, citing Cahill's dealings with the Ulster Volunteer Force; however, it has also been reported that the IRA took exception to this only after being paid by two of Cahill's subordinates who were not eager to share profits from a drug operation with him. No arrests have ever been made.
  • Deanna Cremin, a 17-year-old girl from Somerville, Massachusetts, United States, was murdered on March 30, 1995. Her body was found behind a senior housing complex. An autopsy revealed she had been strangled. She was last seen alive by her boyfriend who, unlike on other occasions when he would walk her to the door, walked her only halfway and she continued on her own toward her house. Her murder remains unsolved.[92]
  • Mitchell Bates, a sleeping-car attendant for Amtrak, was killed when the Sunset Limited derailed on October 9, 1995, near Palo Verde, Arizona. Investigators later found notes from a group identified as the "Sons of the Gestapo", supposedly angry over the Waco Siege earlier that year. The tracks were found to have been tampered with in a way that circumvented safety warning systems, suggesting a perpetrator with knowledge of rail operations. No suspects have ever been identified, however, although the FBI believes the real plan was to rob a passing freight and there were no terrorist motivations.
  • Jacksonville Jane Doe, a body found on 6 December 1995. She is believed to have been murdered in the early 1990s and was then disposed of in Jacksonville, North Carolina. She has never been identified.[93]
  • The body of Barbara Barnes, a Steubenville, Ohio, 13-year-old, was found strangled on a riverbed on February 22, 1996, over two months after she was last seen walking to school. Some of her relatives have been suspected, but the case remains open.[94]
  • Amber Hagerman, victim of an abduction and murder. On 13 January 1996, the 10-year old girl was kidnapped while riding her bike near her grandparents' home in Arlington, Texas. Four days later, a man walking his dog found her body in a creek bed. An autopsy revealed that her throat had been cut. Although a $75,000 reward was offered for information leading to Hagerman's killer, the perpetrator was never found. Her murder would later inspire the creation of the AMBER Alert system.[95]
  • Tupac Shakur, a top-selling American Rapper who was shot four times in a drive-by shooting on 7 September 1996, in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. He died six days later of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest at the University Medical Center.[96]
  • Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Wife of French filmmaker Daniel Toscan du Plantier, found beaten to death outside her home in Toormore near Schull in County Cork, Ireland, on the morning of the 23 December 1996. Former French President Jacques Chirac was a friend of the couple and gave the case national attention. The main suspect, Ian Bailey, has been questioned 2 times by the Irish Authorities in relation to the murder, but the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) decided not to prosecute. In early April, 2010 the French authorities issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Bailey. On 24th, April, 2010 the Gardaí in Ireland arrested Ian Bailey and brought him in front of the High Court in Dublin to appeal his extradition. This case is ongoing and is expected to take many months.[97][98]
  • JonBenét Ramsey, a six-year-old American girl who had competed in child beauty pageants, was made famous by her Christmastime murder and the subsequent media coverage. She was found dead in the basement of her parents' home in Boulder, Colorado, on December 26, 1996, nearly eight hours after she was reported missing. The official cause of death was asphyxia due to strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma. After several grand jury hearings, the case is still unsolved.[99] Her parents were suspects, but authorities eventually confirmed that the couple had been cleared of any involvement.[100]
  • On February 5, 1997, Richard Aderson, 47, a school administrator from LaGrange, New York, had a minor collision with another driver just before crossing the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge along Interstate 84. Across the river, just outside Fishkill, the two pulled over to exchange information. After they argued briefly, the other driver shot Aderson. He was able to describe the assailant and his vehicle before dying at the scene. A sketch has been circulated, but no suspect has ever been identified.[101]
  • The Notorious B.I.G., a famous Brooklyn rapper killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting on 9 March 1997, in Los Angeles, California, United States. Even though a composite sketch[102] of the perpetrator was made, the case is still unsolved.
  • Jane Thurgood-Dove, 35, was shot outside her car, in full view of her young children, as she pulled into the driveway of her home in the Melbourne suburb of Niddrie on 6 November 1997; the killer escaped into a waiting getaway car which was found, burnt, shortly afterwards not too far away.[103] Her husband and a police official believed to have been infatuated with her have been eliminated as suspects. More recently a theory has been floated that the killers were members of a local biker gang who had mistaken her for their real target, another local woman of similar appearance married to a fellow criminal. Police believe that the shooter and getaway car driver have since died of a heart attack and boating accident respectively; they have offered the remaining participant immunity if he testifies against the man whom they believe ordered the killing.[104]
  • On 1 January 1998, the body of Australian 14-month-old Jaidyn Leskie was found in a lake far from his home. He had been kidnapped the previous June. Greg Domaszczewicz, acquitted of the murder charge after a 1998 trial, was nevertheless found by a 2006 inquest to have had at least a contributing role in the crime, including the disposal of the body. However, current double jeopardy laws in Victoria do not allow the state to try him again, and the case is still officially unsolved.
  • Father Alfred Kunz, 56, a Roman Catholic priest, was found with his throat cut on March 4, 1998, in his Dane, Wisconsin, church. A wide pool of initial suspects was narrowed to one unnamed individual by 2009, whom police say they still track in the hope that eventually they will have enough evidence to arrest.[105][106]
  • On March 25, 1998, NASCAR driver Chris Trickle, 24, died of injuries sustained in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting on February 9, 1997. A quirk in Nevada law at the time meant that the gunmen could not be prosecuted for his murder, since his death had occurred more than a year and a day after the attack; it was subsequently changed. No suspects have ever been identified, and the case is considered cold.[107]
  • Ita Martadinata Haryono, an Indonesian human rights activist, found dead on 9 October 1998 in her bedroom in Central Jakarta, Indonesia. She was stabbed ten times and her neck had been slashed. The murder occurred just three days after a Jakarta press conference held by the human rights organizations she had been involved with.[108]
  • Suzanne Jovin, a 21-year-old senior at Yale University, was found stabbed to death on December 4, 1998 on the campus of Yale.[109] Allegations that her thesis advisor was a suspect led to the end of his career at Yale, but the crime remains unsolved.
  • A badly mutilated body found deep in a New South Wales state forest in January 1999 was identified as Lois Roberts, 38, of Lismore, who had not been seen since leaving the police station in Nimbin the previous July 31. The case remains open.
  • Big L, a Harlem rapper, was shot multiple times in the head and chest near his Harlem home on February 15, 1999.[110]
  • The body of Immigration and Naturalization Service attorney Joyce Chiang, 28, was found in the Potomac River in April 1999 by a canoeist, three months after she had last been seen. Washington police, who had initially called the case a suicide, later changed their minds and said it was a homicide. They have suspects, who are currently in prison, but have not publicly identified them.[111]
  • Jill Dando, an English journalist and television presenter who worked for the BBC for 14 years. She was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head on 26 April 1999, after leaving the home of her fiancé. Her death sparked "Operation Oxborough", the biggest murder inquiry and largest criminal investigation since the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.[112]
  • On June 12, 1999, exactly seven months after her disappearance, the body of 13-year-old Christina Marie Williams was found on the former Fort Ord Army base next to California's Monterey Bay. A sketch of a suspected abductor was widely distributed, but neither he nor any other potential suspects have been identified.
  • Ricky McCormick whose body was found in a field by sheriff's officers in St. Charles County, Missouri, on June 30, 1999. The only clues to the mystery are two notes in his pockets, apparently written in a complex cipher.[113]
  • On 21 July 1999, the unidentified Racine County Jane Doe was found murdered. She was tortured for several weeks before her body was found in Raymond, Wisconsin.[114]
  • Raonaid Murray, an Irish young woman stabbed to death at the age of 17 within a few hundred metres of her home in Glenageary, Co. Dublin, in the early hours of Saturday morning, 4 September 1999.[115]


Rashawn Brazell, murdered in 2005
  • A 17 August 2000 bombing at the Centrs shopping mall in Riga, the capital of Latvia, killed one person. A suspect arrested and tried for planting one of the bombs was acquitted a year later by the country's Supreme Court; no one else has ever been identified.
  • Susan Berman, 55, the daughter of a prominent organized-crime figure who became a successful journalist, was found dead in her home in Los Angeles's Benedict Canyon on December 24, 2000. The cause of death was a single execution-style gunshot to the head. It was reported that she had agreed to talk to New York State Police, who had just reopened their investigation into the 1982 disappearance of her college friend Robert Durst's wife.[116] Durst was known to have been elsewhere in California at the time. In 2015, following the final episode of an HBO documentary series on the crime in which, after viewing evidence that appeared to link him more closely to the killing, Durst whispered an apparent confession into a microphone he wasn't aware was open, he was arrested in New Orleans and charged with the murder.[117]
  • Jill-Lyn Euto, an 18 year old student, was found stabbed to death in her sixth-floor apartment at 600 James St, Syracuse, NY on 28 January 2001. No arrests have been made.[118]
  • The gunshot murder of Bonnie Lee Bakley, while she waited in a car for her husband actor Robert Blake in Studio City, remains officially unsolved. He was tried and acquitted, but later held liable in a civil suit brought by Bakley's family.[119]
  • Thomas C. Wales (born 1952) was an American federal prosecutor and gun control advocate. On October 11, 2001, he was killed by a bullet fired through the window of his basement home-office in Seattle, Washington. No suspects have been charged, and the investigation continues.[120]
  • John Gilbride, 34, a baggage handler for US Airways at Philadelphia airport, was shot dead in his car outside his home in Maple Shade, New Jersey on September 10, 2002. He was involved in a custody dispute with his former wife, the widow of the founder of the radical group MOVE, and was worried that members of the group might carry out threats they had made to kill him. While other former members of MOVE believe the group is responsible, and current members assert in turn that the murder was either faked or that the government did it in an attempt to frame them, it has also been suggested that gambling debts were involved. No suspects have been identified.[121]
  • Jennifer Servo, 22, a TV news reporter, was found beaten and strangled in her Abilene, Texas, apartment on September 16, 2002. Police have suspected either her former boyfriend or a coworker she had begun a new relationship with, but so far lack the evidence to arrest either.[122]
  • The body of Molly Bish, 16, of Warren, Massachusetts, was found in woods near neighboring Palmer on June 9, 2003, almost three years after she was last seen by her mother when she dropped her off at her lifeguarding job. Several suspects have been investigated, but no arrests have been made.[123]
  • John Whitehead, 55, half of the McFadden & Whitehead songwriting team, was shot fatally while fixing a car outside his Philadelphia home on May 11, 2004. It may have been a case of mistaken identity; however, no suspects have been named.
  • Lindsay Cutshall, 22, and her fiancé Jason S. Allen, 26, both counselors at a nearby Christian summer camp, were found shot dead on a public beach near Jenner, California, on August 18, 2004. The autopsy established that they had died around three days earlier. Two possible suspects have been named; one is in prison for another murder committed around the same time and the other died in 2009. The investigation continues.[124]
  • The body of a 2-year-old boy found wrapped in a blanket off an interstate highway near Napierville. in DuPage County, Illinois, on October 8, 2005, was identified six years later as Atcel Olmedo. The exact cause of death was impossible to determine due to the condition of his remains, but it appeared he had been severely beaten. His mother and stepfather are considered possible suspects; they are believed to have returned to Mexico.
  • The Jeff Davis 8: Eight women, all involved in prostitution and/or drugs, were found dead in Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, between 2005 and 2009. Investigators initially believed they were murdered by a serial killer, but reporting by Ethan Brown has suggested instead that there are multiple suspects, and local law enforcement personnel may be complicit.[125]
  • Rashawn Brazell, disappeared after leaving his home in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York, United States, on the morning of 14 February 2005. His dismembered body parts were later found in garbage bags. America's Most Wanted profiled the case five times, most recently in 2008.[126][127]
  • Mario Condello, 53, a member of the Australian Mafia, was fatally shot in the driveway of his Brighton home on 6 February 2006, the day before he was to stand trial for plotting to murder another mob boss, Carl Williams.[128] While Williams would later be convicted of in turn conspiring to have Condello murdered, and police believe the killer was a hit man currently in prison for another killing, the murder officially remains unsolved.
  • The strangled body of Chanel Petro-Nixon, 17, was found in a garbage bag on a Brooklyn street June 22, 2006, four days after she had been reported missing. No suspects have ever been identified.[129]
  • Robert Wone, age 32, was murdered on August 2, 2006, in his friend's Washington, D.C., apartment. He was "restrained, incapacitated, and sexually assaulted" prior to his death. The only individuals present in the apartment at the time were its three residents, all friends of Wone. They have denied involvement and insisted that an intruder committed the crime. Authorities claim that there was no evidence of a break-in: the apartment appeared to be washed and cleaned, the three residents appeared freshly showered, and the evidence was not consistent with the residents' accounts. In addition, the residents tampered with the crime scene, waited an inordinate amount of time to call 911, and exhibited strange behavior when paramedics and police arrived. Authorities believe that either some or all of the three house-mates murdered Wone and engaged in a cover-up.[130][131]
  • The unidentified body of Lavender Doe was found on 6 October 2006 in Kilgore, Texas. She died shortly before she was found, but was not recognizable because her body had been badly burned.[132]
  • Bryan Pata, 22, a defensive lineman for the University of Miami football team, was shot dead outside his apartment on November 7, 2006. No suspects have been identified.[133]
  • Helen Hill, 36, animator, was shot fatally during an attempted robbery of her home in the Faubourg Marigny section of New Orleans on January 4, 2007. Her death was one of six murders in the city that day, which inspired a protest march demanding a safer city in the wake of the disruptions caused by Hurricane Katrina. No suspect has ever been identified.[134]
  • Colorado marijuana activist Ken Gorman, 51, was shot and killed in his home on February 17, 2007. The case remains open.
  • Paul Quinn, 21, died on 20 October 2007 in Drogheda, Ireland, after being beaten with farm implements by a group of people with such length and severity as to literally break every major bone in his body. It is believed his death was the result of a feud with local IRA members. No suspects have been named.
  • John Pezzenti, 55, a wildlife photographer, was found shot dead in his Anchorage, Alaska, apartment December 3, 2007. Neither a motive nor a suspect has emerged from the investigation.
  • Lane Bryant shooting – on February 2, 2008, a gunman trying to rob a Lane Bryant store killed five women (a manager and four customers). The shooter has not been apprehended, although police do not consider it a "cold case" yet.[135]
  • The Fond du Lac County Jane Doe, found on 23 November 2008 in Ashford, Wisconsin. No arrests have been made and her body has never been identified.[136]


Els Borst, murdered in 2014
  • The body of Morgan Dana Harrington, 20, a student at Virginia Tech, was found in a remote area outside Charlottesville, Virginia, on January 26, 2010, four months after she was last seen reportedly attempting to hitch a ride home from a concert. She had been beaten severely and raped. Police suspect the crime is related to similar abduction murders in the area, including the more recent Hannah Graham case.[137]
  • Lorenzo González Cacho, 8, of Dorado, Puerto Rico, was pronounced dead on arrival at a clinic his mother brought him to on March 9, 2010. She claimed his injuries had resulted from a fall from bed; this was contradicted by an autopsy which revealed severe facial and head wounds, as well as some stabbing injuries. She and several other people in the house at the time have been publicly identified as suspects, but not charged.[138]
  • A worker at a landfill outside Wilmington, Delaware, spotted the body of John P. Wheeler III, 66, founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and an official who had served in the Department of Defense under Republican administrations, in some waste being unloaded on December 31, 2010. He had been beaten to death sometime after being seen at an intersection downtown the preceding afternoon; witnesses who had seen him in various locations around Wilmington over the previous two days said he had appeared somewhat confused and disoriented but sober, claiming at one point to have been robbed, but refused offers of help. He was reportedly involved in a feud with a neighbor and may have been involved in an attempted arson; no suspects have emerged.[139]
  • Gavin Smith (57), an executive with 20th Century Fox, was last seen leaving a friend's house in Oak Park, California, on May 1, 2012.[140] On May 7, he was reportedly seen with an unidentified woman at a restaurant in Morro Bay, California.[141] His car was found nine months later at a storage facility and was connected to a person of interest; police consider the case a homicide investigation.[142] In 2014 he was declared legally dead from the night of his disappearance.[143] His body was found on October 26, 2014 by hikers in a rural area of Palmdale.[144] Three months later, in January 2015, the police charged John Creech, already serving time for a federal drug conviction, with the crime.[145]
  • The person or persons behind the Annecy shootings, in which an Iraqi-born British engineer, several of his family members and a French cyclist were murdered at a campsite in the French Alps on 5 September 2012, have never been identified officially, and the case remains under investigation.
  • Keith Ratliff, 32, producer of the popular YouTube gun-enthusiast channel FPSRussia, was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head in his custom gun shop in Carnesville, Georgia, on the evening of January 3, 2013, about 24 hours after he had last been seen alive. Police believe he knew his killer, as none of his guns were taken nor used to kill him, and he would have only allowed an acquaintance to get close enough to him to do it. The investigation is continuing.[146]
  • In the early morning hours of 11 January 2013, Paris police forced their way into a local Kurdish information center, where they found the bodies of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) cofounder Sakine Cansız, 55, Fidan Doğan, 33 and Leyla Söylemez, a younger woman. They had last been seen in the office where they were found the previous afternoon. Nothing had been taken, all were shot execution-style and the killer or killer locked the door after leaving, suggesting that someone acquainted with at least one of the victims committed the crime with the intention of killing all three.[147] At the time peace talks were beginning between the PKK and the Turkish government after years of military conflict; this and a feud within the PKK were suggested as motives. However, no suspects have yet been identified.
  • Police Officer Jason Ellis, 35. Shot and killed while returning home from work on the Bluegrass Parkway near Bardstown, Kentucky in the early morning hours of May 25, 2013. Debris was placed in the road and an assailant killed Officer Ellis with a shotgun from a nearby hill as he exited his marked patrol car to clear the debris. No suspects have been identified.[148]
  • Els Borst, 81-year-old former Dutch politician, found dead in her home on February 10, 2014. Police later released a statement that concluded that she had been killed two days earlier.[149][150][151][152]
  • Dan Markel, 41, a law professor at Florida State University, was shot as he pulled into the driveway of his Tallahassee home on July 19, 2014; he died the next day. No suspects have been identified; police are investigating the possibility his death was linked to hostile commentary he had received online.[153]

Unsolved serial killer murders[edit]


3 October 1888 Illustrated London News contemporary depiction of Jack the Ripper





  • The Long Island serial killer dumped the bodies of 10 sex workers in and around Gilgo Beach, New York, USA, over the last 15 years.

Suspected serial killers[edit]

  • John Bodkin Adams, a physician suspected of being a serial killer, England. One alleged victim, Gertrude Hullett, was found to have committed suicide at the inquest in 1956, but Dr. Adams was indicted for her murder the following year. The case was then dropped by the prosecution via a nolle prosequi, an action described by the judge as an "abuse of process."

Other unsolved deaths[edit]

Before 1899[edit]


  • Émile Zola, 1902, French author, died in Paris in 1902 of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a stopped chimney. His enemies were blamed, but nothing was proved.
  • Death of Rudolf Diesel, 1913, the place is unknown and many theories are given about Diesel's death. He disappeared in the English Channel and was found dead at sea ten days later.
  • Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, 1918, well-known magician and occultist, died of an unknown cause; it is known that he had many enemies. The manner of death is unknown; his death certificate lists no cause of death. Violet Firth (Dion Fortune) claimed his death was the result of the 1918 flu pandemic. As few facts are known about Mathers' private life, verification of such claims are very difficult.
  • Michael Collins, 1922, Commander-in-chief of the Irish Army. Was shot by an unknown assailant at Béal na Bláth, County Cork, Ireland. Ostensibly it was during a military ambush, but the inconsistent and incomplete nature of the records related to his death has given rise to many theories in the years since.
  • Thomas H. Ince, 1924, movie studio head who died on November 19 shortly after being evacuated from William Randolph Hearst's yacht, the Oneida. The official verdict was that the 42-year-old's death was due to natural causes, but speculation has persisted that he was actually shot, perhaps unintentionally.


  • Ottavio Bottecchia, 1927, Italian Cyclist, was found by the side of a road, covered with bruises and with a serious skull fracture. His bicycle was undamaged, propped against a nearby tree. He was brought to a hospital but died soon afterwards. An official inquiry concluded accidental death but many suspected that he had run afoul of the powerful and growing fascist movement in Italy at the time.
  • Death of Ivar Kreuger, 1932, in a Paris hotel room. Probable suicide.
  • The shooting death of 29-year-old artist Ginny Augustin on June 1, 1937 at a mansion in Highland Mills, New York, was officially ruled a suicide, but not all the evidence is consistent with that theory, and rumors that it was homicide have persisted.
  • Ghazi of Iraq, 1939, King of Iraq, died in a mysterious accident involving a sports car he was driving. Some believe he was killed on the orders of Nuri as-Said.
  • Abe Reles, a contract killer for Murder, Inc., fell to his death from the window of a Coney Island hotel in the early hours of November 12, 1941. The death was officially ruled an accident ten years later, but given his status as a government witness at the time, suspicion that he was killed has never entirely been dispelled.
  • King Ananda Mahidol of Thailand, 1946. Died of gunshot wounds; suicide, accident or assassination.
  • Jan Masaryk, 1948, son of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk; Czech diplomat, politician and Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia, was found dead in the courtyard of the Foreign Ministry below his bathroom window. The initial investigation concluded that he committed suicide by jumping out of the window, although many are convinced that he was pushed.


  • The Dyatlov Pass incident was the death of nine hikers on the Kholat Syakhl mountain in the northern Ural Mountains range on 2 February 1959; all the bodies were not recovered until that May. While most of the victims were found to have died of hypothermia after apparently abandoning their tent high on an exposed mountainside, two had fractured skulls, two had broken ribs, and one was missing her tongue. After testing, the clothing of some of the victims was found to be highly radioactive. There were no witnesses or survivors to provide any testimony, and the cause of death was listed as a "compelling natural force", most likely an avalanche, by Soviet investigators.[157]
  • Abner Zwillman, 54, described as the "Al Capone of New Jersey", was found hanged in his West Orange home on February 27, 1959. The official verdict was suicide, with his growing tax problems cited as a motive, but others have noted that police found bruises on his wrists suggesting he was tied up before being hanged by others, and that he was scheduled to appear before a Senate committee investigating organized crime. Lucky Luciano reportedly confirmed that it was a homicide shortly before his own death three years later.
  • Dr Gilbert Stanley Bogle, 39, and Margaret Olive Chandler, 29, were found dead, both partially undressed, near the banks of the Lane Cove River in Sydney, Australia, on 1 January 1963. Their bluish pallor and the presence of vomit and excrement led to a finding that they had been poisoned, but the coroner was unable to determine at the time what the toxin was, and it was suspected they had been murdered (possibly by Chandler's husband) although no suspects have ever been identified. A 2006 TV documentary, however, has suggested their deaths were not due to foul play but natural, the result of hydrogen sulfide leaking from the river bed and reaching dangerously high concentrations in the air of the low-lying depressions near the river where their bodies were found.
  • Dorothy Kilgallen, 1965, New York City, death certificate reads "acute ethanol and barbiturate intoxication / circumstances undetermined." People who have said publicly that she could have been murdered (perhaps by needle injection after drinking an unknown amount of alcohol) include Larry King, Dominick Dunne, Bob Bach, who booked the mystery guests on Kilgallen's TV show What's My Line?, and Manhattan-based magazine writer and novelist Mary Brannum Bringle.[158] Bringle was a colleague of Patricia Bosworth at Screen Stars magazine in 1965 when a strange anonymous phone call reached the magazine's office and the male phone caller informed Bringle that Dorothy Kilgallen had been murdered.[158]
  • Lead Masks Case in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1966.
  • Edward Mutesa, 1969, died, possibly from alcohol poisoning, in his London flat.
  • Joan Robinson Hill, 1969, Texas socialite. At first ruled to have died of influenza following a brief hospitalization on July 20, suspicions were aroused when her body was released to the funeral home and embalmed before a legally required autopsy could be carried out. Despite the compromised evidence, three autopsies, all with their own irregularities, were performed and her husband John eventually became the only person indicted by a Texas grand jury for murder by omission, or failing to take proper action in the face of a life-threatening situation. The first attempt to prosecute him ended in a mistrial in 1972; he was murdered before he could be retried and the gunman who was suspected of his murder died in a police shootout. Two other alleged accomplices were later convicted.
  • Isdal Woman, a partially charred corpse found on November 29, 1970, hidden off a hiking trail near Bergen, Norway. She has never been identified, despite extensive investigation. The official conclusion that her death was a suicide has not been widely accepted.[159]
  • Bruce Lee, 1973, Hong Kong martial arts film star, took a nap before dinner on July 20 while finishing Enter the Dragon and was pronounced dead at a local hospital later that evening. The official verdict was that it was accidental, resulting from a freak drug interaction, but other pathologists have questioned that and offered other theories in the years since then; rumors have also circulated that he was poisoned.[160]
  • Aman Mikael Andom, 1974, Ethiopian military figure, sources say that he committed suicide, while others say that he was killed by political rivals among the coup leadership, possibly including Mengistu Haile Mariam.
  • Haile Selassie, 1975, Emperor of Ethiopia until his deposition in 1974. His death was officially said to be from natural causes, but a persistent allegation is that he was smothered with a pillow.
  • Nuclear-power whistleblower Karen Silkwood died in a car accident on November 13, 1974, while driving to a meeting with a New York Times reporter in Oklahoma City. Whether that accident involved another vehicle, which may even have deliberately run her off the road, or resulted from her own fatigue has always been a matter of debate.


  • On November 29, 1981, actress Natalie Wood, who had been boating with her husband Robert Wagner and fellow actor Christopher Walken, was found drowned near Santa Catalina Island, California. While that has always been accepted as the direct cause of her death, the circumstances under which she went into the water have never been clear, and after reopening the investigation in 2012 the coroner changed the cause of death from "accident" to "undetermined", based on cuts and bruises on her body that may or may not have been suffered before her death.[161]
  • Eduardo Frei Montalva, 1982, president of Chile from 1964 to 1970. As of 2005, his death is being investigated because of allegations that he was poisoned.
  • On 20 September 1987, the Dana Point Jane Doe was found at the bottom of a cliff in Dana Point, California. Her death was ruled a suicide but some speculate she may have been pushed. She has never been identified.[162]
  • Uwe Barschel, 43, minister-president of Schleswig-Holstein, was found dead in his hotel bathroom, fully dressed in a full tub of water, on 11 October 1987. The cause of death has never been conclusively established.
  • Zviad Gamsakhurdia, 1993, former president of Georgia, died in circumstances that were (and still are) very unclear. It is known that he died in the village of Khibula in the Samegrelo region of western Georgia.
  • Gary Kildall, 1994, computing pioneer and developer of the CP/M operating system. While blunt force trauma indisputably led to his death, it has never been established whether that injury resulted from an accidental fall or an assault.


  • Abu Nidal, 65, Palestinian terrorist leader behind the 1985 Rome and Vienna airport attacks, already suffering from leukemia, was reported to have died of a gunshot wound in Baghdad on 16 August 2002. Iraq's government at the time claimed his death was a suicide;[163] the Palestinians believe he was assassinated on Saddam Hussein's orders to prevent his possible capture during the American invasion of Iraq that began six months later.[164]
  • Jonathan Luna, 38, an assistant U.S. attorney from Baltimore, was found dead of multiple stab wounds inflicted with his own penknife in Denver, Pennsylvania, on the morning of December 4, 2003, in a stream underneath his car, which had been driven there overnight from Baltimore. The FBI, which has jurisdiction over the possible murder of any U.S. federal employee, found that Luna had mounting financial problems and was facing an investigation over missing money at his office, considered it a suicide or botched attempt at staging a kidnapping. However, the Lancaster County coroner's office, pointing to evidence suggesting he had been abducted and someone else was driving for at least the final stage of his drive, ruled it a homicide and considers the case open.[165]
  • Barbara Precht's body was found on 29 November 2006 in Cincinnati, Ohio. She remained unidentified until November 2014. Her husband was located later on and is considered a person of interest in her death, which has unknown circumstances.[166]
  • Enrique Salinas, 52, brother of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas. Found with a plastic bag over his head in a parked car on 6 December 2004. The vehicle was abandoned in the upmarket municipality of Huixquilucan, Estado de México outskirts of Mexico City.
  • Joyce Carol Vincent, 38, was found dead in her London flat in December 2006, three years after she had died, by which time the body had decomposed so much as to make identifying a cause of death impossible; her story was profiled in the 2011 documentary Dreams of a Life.[167]
  • Two-year-old Caylee Anthony, of Orlando, Florida, was reported missing by her grandmother in the summer of 2008, when she learned that her daughter Casey hadn't seen her in over a month. Casey claimed the girl had been kidnapped by someone no one else but she had ever met, and circumstantial evidence led to her arrest on murder charges that fall. A tip that could have led to the body's discovery in August was not fully acted upon until December; by then the body was so decomposed that it was impossible to establish how Caylee had died, although the coroner ruled it homicide. Casey Anthony, despite public sentiment strongly against her, was acquitted of the murder and child-abuse charges (but convicted of the lesser charges of lying to the police) after a heavily covered trial in 2011, where her lawyer claimed that Caylee had accidentally drowned in the family pool and Casey's domineering father had led a coverup.
  • Bob Woolmer, Pakistan's coach found dead in his hotel room after losing in the Cricket World Cup 2007 in the West Indies. Investigators at first ruled the death a suicide, but the jury that heard the inquest was not so sure and returned an open verdict.


  • On 23 August 2010, the partially decomposed body of Gareth Williams, 32, a Welsh mathematician who worked for British intelligence GCHQ, but who was seconded to MI6 at the time of his death, was found in a padlocked bag in the bathroom of a safe house in the London neighborhood of Pimlico. It was determined he had been dead for about a week. Due to the nature of his work, the investigation had to withhold details of it and some other aspects from any material made public; his family and friends allege that the Metropolitan Police compromised and mishandled key forensic evidence in the early stages of their response. An initial investigation by the coroner's office concluded that the death was a homicide; a later re-investigation by the police claimed that it was instead an accident.
  • The body of Elisa Lam, 21, a Canadian tourist, was found on February 19, 2013, in the water tank on the roof of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, where she had been staying prior to her disappearance 20 days earlier.[168] The coroner ruled that she had drowned accidentally, but took six months to release a report, and questions have been raised about how she got into the tank in the first place, particularly in light of her bizarre actions an elevator surveillance video, the last known sighting of her.[169]
  • On November 15–16, 2013, skeletal remains of two adults and child were found in a field outside Red Oak, Oklahoma. A year later they were identified as the Jamison family, who had gone missing in 2009 while looking into some land they wanted to purchase. Their abandoned pickup truck was three miles (4.8 km) from where their bodies were found. No cause of death has been determined.
  • Alberto Nisman, 51, an Argentine federal prosecutor, was found dead in his apartment of a single gunshot wound to the head on January 18, 2015. He had been investigating the 1994 AMIA bombing, Argentina's deadliest terror attack, and had publicly accused President Cristina Kirchner and other high officials close to her of covering up for suspects in the case for foreign-policy reasons; he was scheduled to present these allegations to Congress the next day. While some of the circumstances of his death are consistent with an early statement that he committed suicide, friends and relatives say that he was eagerly looking ahead to his appearance before Congress and did not seem depressed or despondent at all. Kirchner has suggested the country's intelligence services were behind the killing, since he was about to expose their attempts to bring her down, and called for them to be dismantled. The case remains under investigation.[170]

Date of death disputed[edit]

  • Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish humanitarian who worked in Budapest, Hungary, was most likely executed in Russia in or around 1947 after being captured by the Red Army in 1945. Death is dated by Soviet authorities as 16 July 1947, but this is disputed; remains an unsolved case.

See also[edit]


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