List of unsolved deaths

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This list of unsolved deaths includes cases where:

  • The cause of death could not be officially determined.
  • The person's identity could not be established after they were found dead.
  • The cause is known, but the manner of death (homicide, suicide, accident, overdosing) could not be determined.
  • Different official investigations have come to different conclusions.

Cases where there are unofficial alternative theories about deaths – the most common theory being that the death was a homicide – can be found under death conspiracy theories.

Unsolved murders[edit]

Unsolved deaths[edit]

Prehistoric[edit]

Ancient[edit]

  • Cleopatra (39), the last ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt, died on either 10 or 12 August 30 BCE in Alexandria. According to popular belief, Cleopatra committed suicide by allowing an asp (Egyptian cobra) to bite her. According to Greek and Roman historians, Cleopatra poisoned herself using either a toxic ointment or sharp implement such as a hairpin.[24] Primary source accounts are derived mainly from the works of the ancient Roman historians Strabo, Plutarch, and Cassius Dio. Modern scholars debate the validity of ancient reports involving snakebites as the cause of death and whether she was murdered. Some academics hypothesize that her Roman political rival Octavian forced her to commit suicide in the manner of her choosing. The location of Cleopatra's tomb is unknown.
  • Amcotts Moor Woman is the name of a bog body that was discovered in a bog close to Amcotts, Lincolnshire in England in 1747 of a female who lived during 200–400 CE.[25][26] Almost no details are known about her and the cause of her death remains a mystery.
  • The Younger Lady (25–35), who had lived during the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt is the informal name given to a mummy whose death cause is unknown who was discovered in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, in tomb KV35 by archaeologist Victor Loret in 1898.[27] Through recent DNA tests, this mummy has been identified as the mother of the pharaoh Tutankhamun, and a daughter of pharaoh Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye. Early speculation was that this mummy was the remains of Queen Nefertiti, which was proven to be incorrect.
  • Windeby I (16), is the name given to the bog body in 1952 that was preserved in a peat bog close to Windeby located in Northern Germany contained the remains of a teenage male who lived between 41 BCE and 118 CE.[28] His death cause is disputed and unknown.
  • Zoroaster (76), was an ancient male Iranian prophet who lived during 1000 BCE and was said to performed miracles and founded the religion now known as Zoroastrianism.[29] Zoroaster's cause of death is unknown, but it is said that Zoroaster was killed by invading Turanians around the time that he was last seen, but this was never confirmed.
  • Damendorf Man, is a German bog body discovered in 1900[30] in the See Moor at the village Damendorf in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany and was said to have died in 300 BCE. Only his hair, skin, nails and his few clothes were preserved, along with traces of some bones.[31] He was found with a leather belt, shoes, and a pair of breeches.[32] The man's identity and cause of death are unknown.
  • The Girl of the Uchter Moor (17–19), who is also known as "Moora", is the name given to the remains of female bog body discovered in the marshland near Uchte, Germany in 2000. She had lived during the Iron Age and had died between 764 and 515 BCE,[33] and the cause of her death is unknown.
  • The Borremose bodies are three bog bodies that were found in 1946 and 1948 in Himmerland, Denmark in the Borremose peat bog. They have been dated to have lived in the Nordic Bronze Age during 770 BCE. Their deaths causes are unknown.[34]
  • The Saltmen are the remains of six men who had lived during the remainder of the Achaemenid Dynasty (550–330 BCE) that were found in 2010 in the salt mines in Chehrabad on the southern part of the Hamzehlu village in the Zanjan Province in the country of Iran. Though it is known that most of them were accidentally killed by the collapse of galleries where they worked,[35] the deaths causes of the other saltmen remain unknown.
  • Alexander the Great (32), died in 323 BCE after a short illness.[36][37] Exactly what the illness was is a subject of debate; however, it is known that he was a heavy drinker throughout his life.
  • The Weerdinge Men were two bog bodies found naked in the southern part of Bourtanger Moor in 1904 Drenthe in the Netherlands. Though one of the men is known to have been murdered the cause of the other man's death is unknown.[38] They died between 160 BCE and 220 CE.
  • In October 2018 human remains were found in Rome that were thought to possibly be the remains of Emanuela Orlandi and Mirella Gregori who disappeared from Rome between 7 May 1983,[39] and 22 June 1983.[40] Early reports said the remains could have belonged to a female,[41] but tests results that were released on 1 February 2019 showed they were of an ancient Roman man who died between 190 and 230 CE,[40] whose identity and cause of death are unknown.
  • Orgetorix, 58 BCE, who was a wealthy aristocrat among the Helvetii, a Celtic-speaking people residing in what is now Switzerland during the consulship of Julius Caesar of the Roman Republic. He was trying to seize Gaul, and for this was put on trial.[42] After this his death cause is disputed.
  • Apollonius of Tyana (100), 100 CE, was a Greek Neopythagorean philosopher from the town of Tyana in the Roman province of Cappadocia in Anatolia.[43] It was said that he was able to disappear and immediately reappear in another place.[44] The circumstances of his death remain a mystery.[45]

Medieval[edit]

  • Princess Yongtai (15–16), 701, In both the Old Book of Tang and New Book of Tang, it is recorded that she was executed by Empress Wu Zetian with her brother and husband because of talking about the gossips about the two officials Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong, who were also the lovers of Empress Wu Zetian. However, from her epitaph, it was said she was pregnant while she died. From a piece of her pelvic bone, it has been presumed that she died from childbirth, because her pelvis seems to be smaller than other women at the same age. It is also suspected that she went into shock on hearing the news that her brother and husband had been executed, and it caused a fatal miscarriage.
  • Emperor Taizu of Song (49), the first emperor of Song Dynasty, died in 976.[46] There are no records about how he died. However, his younger brother was granted the throne due to the fact that he had two grown sons. There is a folk story “shadows by the candle and sounds from an axe” possibly indicating that he was murdered by his brother, but it may also have been a suicide.
  • Roopkund is a high altitude glacial lake in the Uttarakhand state of India. It lies in the lap of Trishul massif, located in the Himalayas. It is widely known for the hundreds of ancient human skeletons found at the edge of the lake.[47] The human skeletal remains are visible at its bottom when the snow melts.[48] Research generally points to a semi-legendary event where a group of people were killed in a sudden, violent hailstorm in the 9th century.[49] Studies placed the time of mass death around the 9th century CE (1,200 years old) and second group of skeletons were dated to 19th century CE.[50] The skeletons identities are unknown, but radiocarbon dating suggests that the older remains were deposited over an extended period or time, while the remains of the younger group were deposited during a single event.
  • King William II of England (43–44), 1100, was killed by an arrow while hunting; it may or may not have been an accident.[51]
  • Margaret Hanmer (49–50), 1420, was the wife of Owain Glyndŵr;[52] her death was never recorded and her body was never found.
  • Agnès Sorel (28), 1450, was a French woman who had committed adultery with King Charles VII of France, having four daughters with him.[53] Sorel died on 9 February 1450[54] from causes that are disputed.

Early modern[edit]

19th century[edit]

Headstone of the Female Stranger
  • The Female Stranger (23), refers to an unnamed American woman who died in 1816 and was elevated to national intrigue by the mysterious headstone and romanticized tale.[64] Accounts of the stranger increase in oddity over time and help to incite further speculation as to the identity of the person buried in the grave. The reported location of the woman's death, Room 8 at Gadsby's Tavern, is also a tourist destination, and supposedly her ghostly visage can be seen standing at the window.
  • A boat with three skeletons of sailors was discovered that washed up on Ducie Island[65][66] during the 1820s–1830s, who are thought to be Obed Hendricks, William Bond and Joseph West[67] from the whaler Essex. Although it was suspected to be the missing boat piloted by Hendricks, and the corpses those of Hendricks, Bond, and West, the remains have never been positively identified.[68]
  • Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach (57), German legal scholar, died on 29 May 1833. The circumstances remain unclear – his family as well as he himself shortly before his death believed that he had been poisoned due to his protection of and research work on Kaspar Hauser, who himself died the same year under suspicious circumstances (see below).[69]
  • The events that led to the death of German youth Kaspar Hauser (21), remain a mystery,[70] just like many other points regarding his life and identity. On 14 December 1833, he came home with a deep stab wound in his chest of which he died three days later. While he had claimed to have been attacked, the court of enquiry doubted this due to inconsistencies in his claims and speculated that he wounded himself in order to seek attention and revive the fading public interest in him, a theory that is also supported by some historians today.
  • Thomas Simpson (31), was a Scottish Arctic explorer, Hudson's Bay Company agent and cousin of Company Governor Sir George Simpson. His violent death in what is now the state of Minnesota allegedly by suicide after gunning down two traveling companions in the wilderness on 6 June 1840 has long been a subject of controversy and has never been solved.[71]
  • Edgar Allan Poe (40), American writer, editor, and literary critic, died on 7 October 1849, under circumstances that remain mysterious. The circumstances leading up to it are uncertain and the cause of death is disputed. On 3 October 1849 he was found delirious in Baltimore, Maryland, "in great distress, and ... in need of immediate assistance", according to the man who found him, Joseph W. Walker.[72] He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died days later.
  • Zachary Taylor (65), was the 12th president of the United States, serving from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. Almost immediately after his death, rumors began to circulate that Taylor was poisoned by pro-slavery Southerners, and similar theories persisted into the 21st century.[73][74] In 1978, Hamilton Smith based his assassination theory on the timing of drugs, the lack of confirmed cholera outbreaks, and other material.[75] In the late 1980s, Clara Rising, a former professor at University of Florida, persuaded Taylor's closest living relative to agree to an exhumation so that his remains could be tested.[76] His death cause remains unknown.
  • Richard H. Barter (26), member of a stagecoach robbery gang active in California, was found dead outside Auburn on 12 July 1859. He had been ambushed and injured by law enforcement the day before, but it was unclear who had actually landed the fatal shot.[77][78]
  • Edward James Roye (57), was the first of Liberia's True Whig Party who had served as the fifth President of Liberia from 1870 until he was overthrown a year later and his death had followed on 11 February 1872.[79] The cause of his death remains unknown.
  • Zeng Guofan (60), a Chinese statesman, military general, and Confucian scholar of the late Qing dynasty. He is best known for raising and organizing the Xiang Army to aid the Qing military in suppressing the Taiping Rebellion and restoring the stability of the Qing Empire. Along with other prominent figures such as Zuo Zongtang and Li Hongzhang of his time, Zeng set the scene for the Tongzhi Restoration, an attempt to arrest the decline of the Qing dynasty,[80] He died on 12 March 1872 of mysterious reasons.
  • L'Inconnue de la Seine was the name given to an unidentified young woman who according to an often-repeated story, was pulled out of the River Seine at the Quai du Louvre in Paris around the late 1880s.[81] Since the body showed no signs of violence, suicide was suspected.[82]
  • Colorado rancher Gottlieb Fluhmann (55), was last seen alive in 1892. His disappearance was not resolved until his bones were found in a secluded Park County cave in 1944; the cause of his death could not be determined.[83]
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (53), who was the composer of a Sixth Symphony, called the "Pathétique", died in Saint Petersburg in November 1893 just nine days after it had debuted. His death cause is debated[84] and remains unsolved.

1900–1924[edit]

  • Sursinhji Takhtasinhji Gohil (26), popularly known by his pen name, Kalapi, was a Gujarati poet and the Thakor (prince) of Lathi state in Gujarat who died on 9 June 1900. He is mostly known for his poems depicting his own pathos. It is believed that Kalapi's love for a woman named Shobhana became a source of conflict with their acquaintance Rajba-Ramaba and gave her a motive to poison him.[85][86]
  • Gaetano Bresci (31), was an Italian anarchist who assassinated King Umberto I of Italy in Monza on 29 July 1900. Due to capital punishment being abolished 11 years earlier, he was sentenced to penal servitude at Santo Stefano Island, where he was found dead in his cell on 22 May 1901. While his death was reported as being suicide by hanging, it is believed that he had been murdered.[87]
  • David Park Barnitz (23), was a Harvard graduate and an American poet who died on 10 October 1901 from unclear circumstances as there are conflicting ideas about how he died.[88]
  • Paul Rée (51), was a German philosopher, author, and physician who died on 28 October 1901 after he fell into the Charnadüra Gorge in the Swiss Alps near Celerina when he was hiking.[89] It is unknown where it was a suicide or if Rée fell by accident.[90]
  • Émile Zola (62), French author who died on 29 September 1902[91][92] from carbon monoxide poisoning that was caused by a sealed chimney. His enemies were blamed for his death, but were not proven to have been actually responsible. It is also possible that Zola committed suicide.
  • In 1903 a skeleton was discovered in the Wichita Mountains in a grave site that was thought to have been that of Sequoyah (72–73),[93] who had disappeared in August 1843. This could not be proven to be true and the skeleton's identity and cause of death remain unknown.
  • German inventor Rudolf Diesel (55), disappeared in the English Channel in 1913 and was found dead at sea 10 days later. His cause of death is debated.[94]
  • Tom Thomson (39), a Canadian artist who was active in the early 20th century.[95] Though his career was short, he managed to produce around 400 oil sketches on small wood panels, as well as around 50 larger works on canvas. Thomson disappeared on 8 July 1917 and was found dead a few days later. It is unknown whether his death was murder or suicide.[96]
  • Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers (64), English magician and occultist who died of an unknown cause between 5–20 November 1918 in Paris.[97] The manner of death is unknown as his death certificate lists no cause for his death. Even though Violet Firth claimed Mathers’ death was the result of the Spanish influenza that occurred throughout 1918 and early 1919, the dearth of facts about Mathers' private life make it very difficult to determine what truly caused his death.
Silent film actress Virginia Rappe

1925–1949[edit]

  • Rudolf Steiner (64), Austrian esotericist who developed anthroposophy and Waldorf education, died from illness on 30 March 1925, but the nature of the illness was never confirmed and remains controversial, with theories suggesting cancer or poisoning as the most probable causes.[101]
  • Ottavio Bottecchia (32), 1927, Italian cyclist, was found by the side of a road, covered with bruises and with a serious skull fracture. His undamaged bicycle was discovered propped against a nearby tree. Bottecchia was taken to a hospital, but died soon afterwards. An official inquiry concluded accidental death, but many[who?][weasel words] suspected that he had run afoul of the powerful and growing National Fascist Party in Italy at the time.[102]
  • José Rosario Oviedo (42), a Cuban rumba dancer known as "Malanga", died in 1927. The exact circumstances under which he died have never been known for certain.[103] One common account has it that he was murdered after a dance contest through broken glass hidden in his food, but no death certificate was ever filed and the location of his grave is unknown.
  • Pyotr Wrangel (49), was a Russian officer who died on 25 April 1928 from reasons that have been debated as his family stated that they think that he was poisoned by the butler of his brother.[104] This was never proven for certain though.
  • Cecil Kern (41–45), female American theater director stage and film actress who was reported to have died of a pulmonary hemorrhage on 1 June 1928 in a Manhattan hotel.[105] The cause of her death is not known for certain.
  • Alfred Loewenstein (51), was a Belgian financier who's believed to have fallen out of a plane's rear door while going to use the lavatory. He disappeared while crossing the North Sea on July 4, 1928, and his body was found in France 15 days later.[106] His death cause is unknown.
  • Starr Faithfull (25), a Greenwich Village flapper, was found drowned on the beach at Long Beach, Nassau County, New York on 8 June 1931. Although Faithfull had left a suicide note, her family contended that she was murdered by wealthy politician Andrew James Peters, former Mayor of Boston, who had allegedly sexually abused Faithfull for years beginning when she was 11 years old and paid the Faithfulls to keep silent about it. Despite a lengthy investigation, it was never determined whether Faithfull's death was homicide, suicide, or accident.[107]
  • Ivar Kreuger (52), a Swedish civil engineer, financier, entrepreneur and industrialist who died in a Paris hotel room on 12 March 1932.[108] Though it was thought it have been a suicide it may have also have been a murder.
  • Jay Ferdinand Towner III (23), a Princeton University undergraduate, was found dead on campus shortly after an 11 November 1933, football game.[109] He had suffered broken wrists and severe internal injuries. His death was variously attributed to a fall suffered in the stands during the game or a car accident amid conflicting accounts of his whereabouts prior to his death; its exact cause has never been determined.
  • Zachary Smith Reynolds (20), was the son of American millionaire and businessman R. J. Reynolds who died from a gunshot wound to the head on 6 July 1932, at his home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It is unclear if it was a suicide or a murder.[110]
  • Paul Bern (42), was an American film director, screenwriter from Wandsbek, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. He became the assistant to Irving Thalberg after he became the producer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He was found dead in Beverly Hills, California on 5 September 1932 after being shot.[111] Even though he left a note saying that he committed suicide it is also believed that his former ex-common-law wife had killed him as she very shortly later herself committed suicide.[112][113]
  • Ivo Pilar (59), was a Croatian lawyer, politician, publicist, and historian[114] who was found dead on 3 September 1933 at his home in Zagreb, Kingdom of Yugoslavia and it is unknown whether he was killed or if it was a suicide.[115]
  • Franziska Kessel (28), was a German politician who after being sent to jail in Mainz was found dead in her cell on 23 April 1934. It is unknown whether Kessel committed suicide was murdered.[116]
  • Thelma Todd (29), was an actress notable for appearing in multiple comedy films where she starred alongside Buster Keaton, Charley Chase, Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers. On the morning of Monday, 16 December 1935, she was found dead in her car inside the garage of Jewel Carmen, a former actress and former wife of Todd's lover and business partner, Roland West. Her death was determined to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. The exact circumstances of the case could not be determined and sparked wide speculations and theories. The case was officially closed as "accidental with possible suicide tendencies." It could never be determined and still sparks debate whether her death was accidental, suicide or murder.[117][118]
  • In the Requejada countryside dam which is located very close to Aguilar de Campoo, two bags were found that contained human bones that were thought to be missing girls from Spain who disappeared on 23 April 1992 in Reinosa,[119] who were named Virginia Guerrero and Manuela Torres on 9 October 1994. This was later proven to be untrue and that they were from in between 1936 and 1939 and were unknown victims of the Spanish Civil War, and their identities and cause of death remain unknown.
  • Robert Johnson (27), an early blues singer and guitarist, died on 16 August 1938, near Greenwood, Mississippi. The cause was not officially recorded. He was reportedly in extreme pain and suffering from convulsions;[120] this has led to theories he had been poisoned with strychnine by a jealous husband; however, the alleged poisoning is said to have taken place several days earlier and most strychnine deaths take place within hours of ingestion. Another report claims he died of syphilis or pneumonia. The uncertain location of his gravesite has made it impossible to exhume his body for further investigation.
  • Ghazi bin Faisal (27), who was King of Iraq, died in a mysterious accident involving a sports car he was driving on 4 April 1939. Some believe he was killed on the orders of Nuri as-Said.[121]
  • Eugeniusz Kazimirowski (63), was a Polish male member of the realism movement and a very accomplished painter died from unknown causes[122] in the city of Białystok on 23 September 1939.
  • Kyrylo Studynsky (30–31), was a western Ukrainian cultural and political figure who was forced to leave Lviv in July 1941 and died shortly after[123] from unknown reasons.
  • The Unidentified body on Christmas Island is a body who was found on a life raft in the Indian Ocean, off that island, on 6 February 1942. He is widely believed to originate from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) cruiser HMAS Sydney,[124] which sank off Western Australia in November 1941, after a mutually destructive battle with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran.
  • Jeanette Loff (35), was an American actress, musician, and singer who came to prominence for her appearances in several Pathé Exchange and Universal Pictures films in the 1920s who died on 4 August 1942 from ammonia poisoning in Los Angeles. Though law enforcement was unable to determine whether her death was an accident or a suicide, Loff's family maintained that she had been murdered.[125][126] The real cause behind her death remains unknown.
  • Sidney Fox (34), was an American actress who acted both on stage and in movies.[127][128][129] On 15 November 1942 Fox died in Hollywood from after taking too many sleeping pills,[130] which was the result of either a suicide or an accidental overdose.
  • Władysław Sikorski (62), prime minister of the Polish Government in exile, was among 16 people killed on 4 July 1943 when their plane crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from the Royal Air Force base at Gibraltar Airport. The plane had not managed to gain sufficient altitude due to its elevators being prevented from working properly; British investigators found the cause was most likely an accident while their Polish counterparts called it undetermined.[131] The bodies of Sikorski's daughter, chief of staff and other key aides purportedly on the plane were never found,[132] and the plane's only survivor, the pilot, had uncharacteristically worn his life preserver in the cockpit.[133] Sabotage and a possible assassination have been suspected, with Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, or even rival factions in the Polish government in exile theorized to have been involved. Poland reopened the case in 2008; an exhumation of Sikorski's body found his injuries consistent with death from an air crash, ruling out some theories that he had been killed before being put on the plane, but the investigators still could not rule out the possibility of sabotage.[134] British files on the case will remain sealed until 2050.[135]
  • Bernard Gavrin (29), an American army private, went missing during the Battle of Saipan sometime between June 15 and July 9, 1944. His fate remained unclear until his remains were recovered by a Japanese non-profit group searching for remains of Japanese soldiers. He was positively identified via DNA testing, but his exact cause of death was not determined.[136]
  • Emil Hácha (72), a Czech lawyer, the third President of Czechoslovakia from 1938 to 1939, who died in Pankrác Prison on 27 June 1945[137] under mysterious circumstances, and his death cause remains unknown. Hácha had collaborated with the Nazis during the German occupation, and had been arrested by the Red Army after the liberation of Prague.
  • Lipót Klug (91), a Jewish-Hungarian[138] mathematician, professor who died towards the end of the Second world war on 24 March 1945[139] in what were said to have been strange circumstances, his true cause of death having never been revealed.
  • Viktors Eglītis (68), a Latvian art theorist and writer who died on 20 April 1945[140] in prison in Riga from unknown reasons.
  • King Ananda Mahidol of Thailand (20), died of gunshot wounds, either the product of suicide, accident or assassination, on 9 June 1946.[141] Mahidol's successor King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Prime Minister Pridi Banomyong, and the former Japanese intelligence officer Masanobu Tsuji have alternatively been accused of complicity.
  • The Body in the cylinder refers to a male decedent discovered within a partially sealed steel cylinder on a derelict WWII bomb site in Liverpool, England. The discovery was made on 13 July 1945 and it is believed that the body had lain undiscovered for 60 years. Inquiries named a strong (but unconfirmed) candidate for the identity of the decedent; however, the cause of death and the reason for their presence in the cylinder remain a mystery.[142]
  • Alexander Alekhine (53), the fourth World Chess Champion, was found dead in a hotel room in Estoril, Portugal on 24 March 1946. Several causes of death have been proposed, but the two most likely are a heart attack or choking on a piece of meat which was found lodged in his throat in an autopsy.[143]
  • Vera West. West was an American fashion designer and film costume designer, who worked for Universal Pictures. She was found dead in her swimming pool on 29 June 1947, having possibly committed suicide by drowning, although police were never able to ascertain the precise circumstances surrounding her death.[144]
  • The Trow Ghyll skeleton, discovered in a cave in rural north Yorkshire, England in 1947, remains unidentified.[145] The death probably occurred in 1941; the fact that the body was discovered with a glass bottle of cyanide has led to speculation that it was someone connected with espionage.
  • Jan Masaryk (61), 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.[146] The initial investigation concluded that he committed suicide by jumping out of the window, although many are convinced that he was pushed. A new investigation by the Czechoslovak government after the Velvet Revolution ruled his death a murder.
  • Sadanori Shimoyama (47), 1948, first director of Japanese National Railways, was last seen leaving his official car to go into a department store on his way to work the morning of 5 July of that year. Others reported seeing him at various train stations, and walking along one line, that afternoon. His dismembered body was found at noon the next day on the Jōban Line.[147] It had indisputably gotten that way as a result of being struck by a train, but the autopsy suggested he had died before being struck. That conclusion has been disputed, and whether his death was a suicide or murder remains undetermined.
  • Tamam Shud case, also known as the Mystery of the Somerton Man, is an unsolved case of an unidentified man found dead in 1948 on the Somerton Park beach.
  • Nora Gregor (47), whose full name was "Eleonora Hermina Gregor" was an Austrian actress who acted in both on stage and in movies who died on 20 January 1949 in Viña del Mar from a debated cause.[148][149]

1950–1974[edit]

  • In 1951 human bones were found and were thought to be the remains of Percy Fawcett (57), who had disappeared on 29 May 1925 in Mato Grosso, Brazil,[150] This was proven to be untrue and they remain unidentified.
  • Syama Prasad Mukherjee (52), an Indian politician, died in a prison hospital 23 June 1953, one and a half months after his arrest for attempting to enter Jammu and Kashmir without a permit. The exact cause of death has never been disclosed; Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, whose government Mukherjee had resigned from in protest over Nehru's decision to normalise relations with Pakistan despite that country's treatment of its Hindu population, said at the time he made inquiries and was satisfied that his former minister's death was due to natural causes; speculation has continued that Mukherjee was actually murdered due to some unusual circumstances of his arrest and treatment.[151]
  • Raimondo Lanza di Trabia (39), was an Italian man who was successful in many fields. On 30 November 1954 in Rome, Lanza di Trabia died from circumstances that are suspicious after he fell out of a hotel room window.[152]
  • The Dyatlov Pass incident was the deaths 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. 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.[153]
The Lane Cove River. The bodies of Dr Gilbert Bogle and Margaret Chandler were discovered at this location on 1 January 1963
  • Barthélemy Boganda (48), who was Prime Minister of the Central African Republic died on 29 March 1959[154] in Boukpayanga during a mysterious plane crash.
  • Diana Barrymore (38), was an American actress who acted both on the stage and in movies and is a relative of American actress Drew Barrymore. Diana died before Drew was born. On 25 January 1960, Diana Barrymore died in her hometown of New York City.[155] At first her death was said to be the result of a drug overdose. After an autopsy was conducted, this was proven to be untrue.[156] Speculation included a theory that she might have committed suicide, but this was never proven. She had admitted publicly she was a recovering alcoholic. In July 1957, she gave an American television interview to Mike Wallace in which she said [video available for online viewing], “At the moment, I don’t drink. I hope to be able, one day, in perhaps the near future [or] the very distant future, to be able to drink like a normal human being. That may never be possible.”[157]
  • Dag Hammarskjöld (56), a Swedish economist and diplomat who served as the second Secretary-General of the United Nations died on 18 September 1961 in Ndola, Northern Rhodesia in a mysterious plane crash.[158]
  • Lucas Samalenge (33), a Katangese and Congolese politician who died under suspicious circumstances on 19 November 1961[159] in Lubumbashi.
  • 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 what the toxin was. It was suspected they had been murdered (possibly by Chandler's husband) although no suspect has ever been identified.[160] A 2006 TV documentary suggested their deaths were not due to foul play but the result of hydrogen sulfide gas leaking from the river bed and reaching dangerously high concentrations in the low-lying depressions where their bodies were found.
  • The death certificate of Dorothy Kilgallen (52), states that she died on 8 November 1965 from “acute ethanol and barbiturate intoxication / circumstances undetermined.” She was famous throughout the United States as a syndicated newspaper columnist and radio / television personality, most notably as a regular panelist on the longest running game show in history at the time, CBS's What's My Line. The New York City medical examiner James Luke categorized the cause of death as "circumstances undetermined.”[161]
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri (61), an Indian politician who was the second Prime Minister of India mysteriously died on 11 January 1966,[162][163] just hours after signing the Tashkent Declaration. His death cause is disputed.
  • The Lead Masks Case involves the death of two Brazilian electronic technicians, Manoel Pereira da Cruz and Miguel José Viana, whose bodies were discovered on 20 August 1966, in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[164] After an autopsy was performed the cause of death could not be proven since the organs were too badly ruined.[165]
  • Alvar Larsson (13), was a Swedish boy who disappeared on 16 April 1967 while going for a walk.[166][167] In November 1982, a human skull was found on a small island 6 km away that was identified as belonging to Larsson.[166] The disappearance attracted a lot of media coverage at the time and many theories as to what happened have been put forward. Thomas Quick has confessed to the crime,[168] but has recanted all his confessions.
  • John Frey, an Oakland, California, police officer, was fatally shot on the morning of 28 October 1967,[169] during a traffic stop where he had pulled over Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton, who was wounded in the shootout and convicted of voluntary manslaughter the following year. The gun Newton purportedly used was never found, and following two hung juries after the conviction was overturned on appeal in 1970 the district attorney's office announced it would not try him a fourth time. Newton suggested that Frey may have been shot by his partner; there has been no new investigation to determine whether this was the case and whether this was an accident.
  • Joan Robinson Hill (38), was a Texas socialite who died in 1969. At first ruled to have died of influenza following a brief hospitalization on 19 March,[170] 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[171] 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.
  • Edward Mutesa (45), who was Kabaka of the Kingdom of Buganda in Uganda died on 21 November 1969[172] from alcohol poisoning, in his London flat. He may have committed suicide or been poisoned by someone.
  • Mustafa Zaidi (40), Pakistani Urdu poet from India who died in Karachi from unknown reasons on 12 October 1970.[173][174] The case has never been solved.
  • Ronald Hughes (35), an American attorney who disappeared while on a camping trip in November 1970. He had been representing Leslie Van Houten in the Tate–LaBianca murder trial. His body was found in March 1971, but his cause of death could not be determined.[175]
  • The Isdal Woman was a partially charred unidentified corpse found on 29 November 1970, hidden off a hiking trail near Bergen, Norway. The official conclusion that her death was a suicide has not been widely accepted, since some believed she was murdered.[176] Her identity remains unknown and is considered one of Norway's most profound mysteries. The case has been the subject of intense speculation for many years.[177] Multiple investigations point to the possibility that she was a spy.[178]
  • Michael O'Sullivan (37), an American man who had a brief, but successful acting career,[179] was found dead at his apartment in San Francisco, California on 24 July 1971 with a bottle of sleeping pills next to him from what may have been a death by suicide.
  • Giangiacomo Feltrinelli (45), who had during the 1950s published the smuggled manuscript of Boris Pasternak's novel Doctor Zhivago, but later became a left-wing militant during Italy's Years of Lead, was found dead at the base of a power-line transmission tower outside Segrate, near his native Milan, on 15 March 1972.[180] It was believed that he had died when a bomb he was attempting to plant on the tower went off, and later testimony by other members of the Red Brigades supported this. However, the death was always viewed suspiciously, and in the 2010s forensic reports surfaced that suggested he had been tied to the tower before the bomb went off, with various intelligence agencies inside and outside of Italy suspected of responsibility.
  • Gia Scala (38), was American model and actress from Liverpool, Lancashire, England who on 30 April 1972 was found dead in her house that was in Hollywood Hills.[181] Her cause of death remains undetermined.
  • Nigel Green (47), was a character actor who was born in South Africa, and was raised in London, England, who died in Brighton, Sussex on 15 May 1972[182] after taking too many sleeping pills. It is unknown if this was a suicide or not.
  • Jeannette DePalma (16), was found dead and was believed to have been killed on or around 7 August 1972, in Springfield Township, New Jersey,[183] but now her death is thought perhaps to have been caused by a drug overdose instead.
  • Amaryllis Garnett was an English actress and diarist who appeared in various productions in the 1960s, with her most notabla appearance being Judith of Balbec from the original 1966 version of A Choice of Kings. With the onset of the 1970s, however, she fell into a deep depression, and on 6 May 1973, she was found drowned in the Chelsea river. Whether her drowning was accidental or a suicide remains unclear.[184]
  • Kafundanga Chingunji, served as the first Chief of Staff in the government of UNITA, pro-Western rebels, during the Angolan Civil War. Officially, Chingunji died from cerebral malaria in January 1974 on Angola's border with Zambia.[185] His wife and others who saw his body say someone poisoned Chingunji. Rumors later alleged Jonas Savimbi, the head of UNITA, ordered his assassination.[186] It is unknown for sure what the exact circumstances of the death are.
  • Karen Silkwood (28), a nuclear power whistleblower, died in a car accident on 13 November 1974, while driving to a meeting with a New York Times reporter in Oklahoma City.[187] Whether that accident involved another vehicle, whose driver may have deliberately run her off the road, or resulted from her own fatigue, remains a matter of debate.
  • Aman Andom (50), was an Ethiopian military figure and was the acting head of state of Ethiopia who died on 23 November 1974.[188] 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.

1975–1999[edit]

Natalie Wood. Her husband has been named as a person of interest in her death
  • On 29 November 1981, actress Natalie Wood (43), who was a passenger on the yacht owned by her and her husband Robert Wagner, was found drowned near Santa Catalina Island, California. Two other people were on board the Wagners’ yacht at the time: actor Christopher Walken and Dennis Davern, a longtime employee of the Wagners who served as skipper of the yacht. While drowning 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.[195] In 2018, Wagner was identified as a person of interest.[196]
  • Don Kemp (34–35) was a New York advertising executive who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in Wyoming in 1982, where he had planned to begin a new life. His remains were discovered in 1986, but the circumstances surrounding his death, and whether it is homicidal in nature or not, remain unclear.[197]
  • Eduardo Frei Montalva (71), who was president of Chile from 1964 to 1970, died on 22 January 1982.[198] As of 2005, his death is being investigated because of allegations that he was poisoned.
  • The cause of death of the baby born to Joanne Hayes in Ireland's 1984 Kerry Babies case was never established.[199]
  • The YOGTZE case refers to the death of unemployed German food engineer Günther Stoll (34), which occurred on 26 October 1984, under strange and largely unknown circumstances, after leaving behind the cryptic message "YOGTZE."[200]
  • Samora Machel (53), a Mozambican politician, military commander, and revolutionary was killed on 19 October 1986[201] during a mysterious plane crash that was close to the Mozambican-South African border.
  • Cam Lyman (54–55), was a multimillionaire dog breeder from Westwood, Massachusetts who disappeared in the summer of 1987 and his body was found in a septic tank on his estate in Hopkinton, Rhode Island by the new owners of the house in December 1997.[202] Lyman's death remains a mystery.
  • On 11 October 1987, West German Christian Democratic Union politician Uwe Barschel (43) was found dead in a bathtub filled with water in his room at the Hotel Beau-Rivage in Geneva, Switzerland. He was fully clothed. Among others, the drug Lorazepam was found in his system. The circumstances of his death remain unclear and controversial, with suicide or murder both considered possible explanations and the case still being investigated in both directions.[203]
  • Whether the 17 August 1988 plane crash that killed Pakistani president Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (64), the country's longest-serving leader, and 30 others including the country's top military leaders and the U.S. ambassador, was an accident or foul play, the result of sabotage or a shootdown, is a matter of debate.[204] American investigators came to the former conclusion, while their Pakistani counterparts produced a report reaching the latter. Theories as to responsibility if it were an act of malice have put the blame on a number of domestic and foreign actors.
  • Said S. Bedair (40), was an Egyptian scientist in electrical, electronic and microwave engineering and a colonel in the Egyptian army. He died on 14 July 1989 in Alexandria of unclear circumstances, though his wife thinks it might have been a suicide.[205]
  • A skull fragment found in a wooded area of Baldwin, Pennsylvania in 1992 turned out to be that of Michael Rosenblum (25), of nearby Pittsburgh, who had not been seen since 14 February 1980, near where the bone was found.[206] While the cause of death could not be determined, circumstantial evidence accumulated over the years suggested that Baldwin's police department had covered up its own officers' involvement in Rosenblum's disappearance; the chief was fired over the allegations and reinstated a short time later.[207]
  • Divya Bharti (19), an Indian actress died in April 1993, after falling from the balcony of her apartment in Mumbai. The mysterious circumstances of her death have spawned a number of conspiracy theories. Mumbai Police closed the investigation citing lack of evidences.[208]
  • Mansour Rashid El-Kikhia was a Libyan politician and human rights activist known for his opposition to Muammar Gaddafi's regime. On 10 December 1993, he was kidnapped while on a diplomatic visit to Cairo, Egypt, allegedly by Mukhabarat operatives. His fate remained unclear until October 2012, when his body was found in a refrigerator in Tripoli, indicating that he had likely died while in custody.[209]
  • Zviad Gamsakhurdia (54), former president of Georgia, died on 31 December 1993 from circumstances that remain very unclear.[210] It is known that he died in the village of Khibula in the Samegrelo region of western Georgia.
  • Gloria Ramirez (31), a woman from Riverside, California who was dubbed "the Toxic Lady" and "the Toxic Woman" by the media when several hospital workers became ill after exposure to her body and blood, died on 19 February 1994 from complications related to her cervical cancer.[211] There are different ideas behind what caused the effects on the hospital workers, but the true cause remains unknown.
  • Caroline Byrne (24), an Australian model, was found at the bottom of a cliff at The Gap in Sydney on 8 June 1995. Her boyfriend at the time of her death was charged with killing her and was convicted, but was acquitted of the conviction in February 2012 as the decision was overturned.[212][213] It is unclear to whether her death is a murder or suicide.
  • Rock County John Doe, commonly referred as John Clinton Doe, was the name given to an unidentified set of skeletal remains estimated to be a young adult or teenage white male, which were found alongside Turtle Creek near Clinton, Rock County, Wisconsin on 26 November 1995.[214] His death cause is also unknown.
  • Green Boots is the name given to the unidentified corpse of a climber that became a landmark on the main Northeast ridge route of Mount Everest.[215][216] Though his identity has not been officially confirmed, he is believed to be Tsewang Paljor, an Indian climber who died on Mount Everest in 1996.
  • Mary Anderson is the name given to an unknown woman who committed suicide on 11 October 1996 in a hotel room in Seattle, Washington and her identity has never been revealed.[217]
  • Screenwriter Gary DeVore (55), left Santa Fe, New Mexico, on 28 June 1997, for Hollywood to drop off his final draft of the script for a remake of The Big Steal, a 1950 film about, in part, a man who stages his own disappearance. He never arrived, and was considered missing for a year until his body was found in his car in the California Aqueduct.[218] His hands were missing, and it did not appear from the position in which it was found that the car had gone into the waterway after an accident. No cause of death has been conclusively established.
  • Patricia Lee Partin, who was among four women who left Los Angeles, California and disappeared alongside Florinda Donner in 1998; her remains were found in the desert sands of Death Valley in 2003. Partin's cause of death remains unknown.[219]
  • Greek philosopher Dimitris Liantinis (55), disappeared on 1 June 1998. In July 2005 human bones were found in the area of the mountain Taygetos; forensic examinations verified that it was the body of Liantinis. No lethal substances were found to determine the cause of death.[220][221]
  • Kevin Hjalmarsson (4), Swedish boy who after going missing was found dead in Arvika on 16 August 1998.[222][223] Though he was originally thought to have been murdered, it is now claimed by the police that he is thought to have died of an unknown accident.
  • Yves Godard (43), was a French doctor who disappeared from a sailing boat with his two children in September 1999.[224] In 2000, a skull fragment belonging to his daughter Camille was found while some bone fragments of Dr Godard were discovered six years later in the English Channel.[225] No trace of his son or his wife (the latter did not go on the sailing trip and stayed at home) has ever been found, nor has any trace of the boat. However, investigators found traces of blood in the family home and in Godard's caravan, raising suspicion that Godard's wife was murdered. In 2012, the case was closed without charges. Prosecutors ruled out accidental death and believe that Dr Godard probably murdered his family before committing suicide at sea, but they also acknowledge that they are not certain of this.
  • Hangthong Thammawattana (49), a Thai businessman and politician who was found dead in the early hours of 6 September 1999 in his family's mansion.[226] from a gunshot wound. It is unknown if it was a suicide or murder.
  • Jorge Matute (23), was a Chilean forestry student who mysteriously disappeared in a discotheque that was located close to Concepción on 20 November 1999. In February 2004 in a road in Santa Juana Matute's remains were found and identified.[227] Matute's cause of death is unknown.

2000–2010[edit]

  • Lolo Ferrari (37), was a French dancer, singer and film actress who also performed in pornography and was known for her large surgically-enhanced breasts.[228][229] Ferrari was found deceased on the morning of 5 March 2000, of causes which have never been determined.[230]
  • Rodney Marks (32), an Australian astrophysicist, died of a sudden illness on 12 May 2000 at Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica.[231] It was not possible for his body to be flown to New Zealand and autopsied until after the Antarctic winter ended six months later; the cause of death was found to have been methanol poisoning. Suicide was ruled out, as he did not seem to have a motive and had readily sought treatment for his apparent illness, nor did an accidental overdose seem likely, either, as there was plenty of alcoholic drink available for consumption at the base should he have wanted it. The New Zealand police believed instead that the methanol had been "unknowingly" introduced into Marks' system but could not conclusively call the case a homicide. Further investigation has been frustrated by the refusal of American agencies to share their findings, the global dispersal of researchers and personnel at the base that winter, the 2006 disappearance of the doctor who treated Marks, and the loss of any possible crime-scene evidence during the winter after Marks' death.
  • Soad Hosny (58), was an actress from Cairo, Egypt,[232] who died after in London after she mysteriously fell from the balcony of her friend's apartment on 21 June 2001.[233]
  • On 11 August 2001, Irish musician Paul Cunniffe (40), formerly of the bands Blaze X and the Saw Doctors, died in a fall in the London neighborhood of Whitechapel. The circumstances that led to the fall, or even exactly where it occurred, however, remain unknown. His is one of several deaths among friends and acquaintances of Pete Doherty.[234]
  • Tempe Girl is the name given to an unidentified decedent whose body was discovered on 27 April 2002 in Tempe, Arizona. She had died of cocaine intoxication – ruled to be neither an accident nor a homicide – one day before the discovery of her body.[235] She is believed to have been of either Hispanic or Native American ethnicity and was allegedly picked up while hitchhiking, claiming she had been effectively disowned by her own mother for her frequent recreational drug use.[236][237]
  • Abu Nidal (65), Palestinian terrorist leader behind the 1985 Rome and Vienna airport attacks, already suffering from leukemia, was reported to have died from a gunshot wound in Baghdad on 16 August 2002. Iraq's government at the time claimed his death was a suicide;[238] the Fatah Revolutionary Council Nidal founded claimed he was assassinated on Saddam Hussein's orders to prevent his possible capture during the American invasion of Iraq that began six months later.[239]
  • Jeremiah Duggan (23), a British student studying in Paris, was found dead on a highway in Wiesbaden, Germany, early on 27 March 2003. The initial investigation concluded he had committed suicide by running into traffic. However, his mother, noting that he had called her in great distress over his involvement with the LaRouche movement, who may have discovered that he was British and Jewish, within an hour of his death, never accepted that theory, and a later investigation found evidence that the accident may have been staged to cover an earlier beating. The case was reopened in 2012 after extensive litigation in England, resulting in a change of the cause of death to "unexplained", with the note that Duggan may have been involved in some sort of "altercation" beforehand.[240]
Jürgen Möllemann. Suspicion remains Möllemann may have committed suicide as opposed to his death being via misadventure
  • Jürgen Möllemann (57), German Free Democratic Party politician, died on 5 June 2003 in a parachuting incident at Marl-Lohmühle. His death was investigated by the Essen district attorney's office, which published a final report on 9 July 2003. While outside interference was ruled out, no definite verdict was reached on whether Möllemann committed suicide or had died via misadventure.[241] Shortly before his death, Möllemann, a passionate and experienced skydiver, had been confronted with allegations he had been involved in illegal arms deals and evaded taxes on millions of euros he allegedly earned from these activities. To enable a full investigation on these charges, the Bundestag lifted his parliamentary immunity on 5 June 2003 at 12:28, 22 minutes before his death. The tax evasion charges were dropped after his death.
  • Singer-songwriter Elliott Smith (34), died of stab wounds inflicted in his Los Angeles home on 21 October 2003. His girlfriend claims she got out of the shower after an argument, having heard him scream, to find him with the knife sticking out of his chest, and found a short suicide note on a Post-It shortly thereafter. While he did indeed have a history of depression and drug addiction, friends say he was actively working to finish an album at the time and seemed optimistic. The coroner found the stab wounds were inconsistent with a suicide attempt but could not say it was a homicide either; the cause of the stabbing remains undetermined and has not been further investigated.[242]
  • 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 4 December 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.[243]
  • Lamduan Armitage was a formerly unidentified woman whose body was discovered in 2004 on the mountain Pen-y-ghent in Yorkshire, England, leading her to become known as the Lady of the Hills. The woman was found to have originally come from somewhere in South-East Asia, but despite an international police investigation, the identity of the woman, and how she arrived at the location remained a mystery until 2019.[244] The woman was identified in March 2019 through DNA testing.[245] Her cause of death remains unknown.[246]
  • Alonzo Brooks (23), American man who went missing from La Cygne, Kansas on 3 April 2004 and was found dead about a month later on 1 May 2004.[247] After the pathologists did an autopsy they have not yet been able to tell the cause of his death.[248]
  • The coroner investigating the death of Richard Lancelyn Green (51), a British Arthur Conan Doyle scholar who was found garrotted with a shoelace on his bed in his home on 27 April 2004,[249] returned an open verdict. Many of his friends and family suspected homicide as he had complained of someone following him in his efforts to stop the auction of a cache of Doyle's personal papers that he believed to have been wrongfully acquired. However, despite suicide by garrotte being unusual and difficult, some investigators believed that he had followed the example of one of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories in which a woman stages her suicide to look like a murder.
  • John Garang (60), Sudanese politician and former rebel revolutionary leader, died on 30 July 2005 in New Cush, Sudan[250] in a suspicious helicopter crash.
  • Barbara Precht's (69) body was found on 29 November 2006 in Cincinnati, Ohio. She remained unidentified until November 2014. Her husband was later located and is considered a person of interest in her death, which has unknown circumstances.[251]
  • Joyce Carol Vincent (38), was found dead in her London flat in January 2006, two 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.[252]
  • Rey Rivera (32), American writer who was working for Stansberry and Associates who went missing from his house on 16 May 2006 and was found dead on Belvedere Hotel on 24 May 2006, in Mount Vernon, Baltimore[253] Even though the Baltimore Police Department has claimed that his death was most likely to be a suicide,[254] this has not been proven to be the case.
  • Bob Woolmer (58), Pakistan's national cricket coach, was found dead in his hotel room on 18 March 2007, after losing in the Cricket World Cup 2007 in the West Indies. Investigators at first ruled the death a suicide,[255][256] but the jury that heard the inquest returned an open verdict.
  • Three years after the body of Corryn Rayney (44), was found in the Perth suburb of Kings Park, Western Australia a week after her 7 August 2007 disappearance, her husband Lloyd was charged in her murder even though a cause of death had not been determined.[257] A judge acquitted him at his 2012 trial, finding the largely circumstantial case was further compromised by police misconduct. The verdict was upheld on appeal the following year; Rayney and his lawyers have called for two known sex criminals to be investigated as well.
  • The Salish Sea human foot discoveries are the severed feet found from 20 August 2007 to 1 January 2019 that are known to belong to people[258] who are thought to be dead. The circumstances behind these events remain unclear.
  • 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 had not seen her in over a month. Casey claimed the girl had been kidnapped by a nanny 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 cover-up. Later, her father came forward with his own explanation: Casey had allegedly been known to drug Caylee to entice her to sleep so Casey could leave Caylee home alone and go out with friends for the evening. He alleges Casey or a friend accidentally overdosed Caylee, killing her, and in a panic, made up the kidnapping story as a cover.[259]
  • American guitarist Hiram Bullock (52), died on 25 July 2008 of an undetermined cause.[260] While it was known that he had tongue cancer and was still in treatment, he was believed to have completely recovered from the disease, which is why some sources dispute cancer as the cause of death and suggest that he died as a result of his drug addiction problems.[261][262]
  • American professional wrestler Steven James Bisson (32), who went by the ring name of "Steve Bradley" was found dead on 4 December 2008 in Manchester, New Hampshire in a parking lot across the street from a pro wrestling school in where he once operated. Bradley's cause of death is undetermined,[263] as the autopsy could not reveal what he died from, so his death remains a mystery.
  • The Peter Bergmann case is an unsolved mystery pertaining to the death of an unidentified man in County Sligo, Ireland, whose naked body was found on a beach; the autopsy found no signs of drowning or foul play and thus the cause of death remains undetermined. From 12 to 16 June 2009, a man using the alias "Peter Bergmann" visited the coastal seaport town of Sligo in northwest Ireland. He used this alias to check into the Sligo City Hotel, where he stayed during the majority of his visit, and was described by hotel staff and tenants as having a heavy German accent. Despite conducting a five-month investigation into the death of "Peter Bergmann", the Garda Síochána have never been able to identify the man or develop any leads in the case.[264]
  • Skeletal remains found in a dry creek bed in California's Malibu Canyon on 9 August 2010, turned out to be those of Mitrice Richardson (25). She had last been seen on the night of 16 September 2009 in the backyard of a former local television news anchor, after being arrested for marijuana possession and failure to pay the bill at a local restaurant where she had been acting strangely, behavior that investigating officers did not believe was caused by alcohol or drugs. The coroner has said her death did not appear to be a homicide, but the body was too decayed to determine the exact cause of death.[265]

2010–2019[edit]

  • 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 neighbourhood of Pimlico.[266] 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.
  • Rajiv Dixit (43), an Indian public speaker and social activist who died on 30 November 2010 in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh,[267] after his meal was poisoned. It is claimed that Dixit refused to undergo emergency medical treatment, as he did not trust Allopathic medicine, and died shortly thereafter. No autopsy was ever conducted so it remains unknown whether Dixit was deliberately poisoned, committed suicide, or if a person or persons covered up the truth.[268]
  • British citizen Lee Bradley Brown (39), was arrested by Dubai police while on holiday there 6 April 2011 and charged with assault after an incident between him and a hotel maid; accounts of the circumstances differ. Held without bail, he died in custody six days later after, police claimed, being beaten by cellmates; later they said he had "thrown himself on the ground repeatedly." An autopsy, however, found instead that Brown had, under the influence of hashish, choked on his own vomit. British officials who were allowed to examine the body disputed that conclusion, saying they saw no evidence of choking or blunt force trauma; Dubai authorities have declined repeated requests to share evidence such as CCTV footage from the original incident and the police station that might clarify matters. A coroner's inquest in the UK that considered only the autopsy report and the diplomats' reports returned an open verdict.[269]
  • Tom J. Anderson (35), formerly known by his birth name "Ahmad Rezaee" was a businessman and the eldest son of Iranian Major General Mohsen Rezaee. On 12 November 2011, he was found dead in the Gloria Hotel, located in Dubai Media City where he was staying. There are different theories about how he died, yet the cause of his death remains unknown.[270][271]
  • Stephen Corrigan (48), an Irish man who disappeared on 22 November 2011,[272] and on 9 April 2020 some remains of his skeleton were found in Rathmines, Dublin.[273][274] Corrigan's death cause is unknown.
  • Exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky (67), was found dead in his home near Ascot, Berkshire on 23 March 2013. At first glance he had hanged himself; he had recently lost what remained of his fortune, and some other close friends had unexpectedly died, which had left him despondent. The police soon ruled the case a suicide, but at the inquest, Berezovsky's daughter, who believes her father was murdered at the behest of the Russian government, introduced a report by a German pathologist that cast enough doubt for the coroner to return an open verdict.[275]
  • A worker at a Fenton, Missouri, senior living facility found the body of Shirley Rae Neumann, 78, on the grounds outside the facility on the afternoon of October 31, 2013. At first it appeared that Neumann, who suffered from advanced arthritis and dementia, had fallen from the balcony of her apartment, since its railing had been broken, and the county coroner ruled the death accidental. But tests also found a level of the sedative Zolpidem in her blood that was eight times higher than a normal dose would have left. The last person to see Neumann alive was her daughter, Pam Hupp. Hupp told staff that her mother would not be leaving her apartment the next day, and stood to benefit financially from her mother's death. Hupp had also pleaded guilty to another murder that prosecutors alleged she had committed to point suspicion at the husband of a murdered friend of Hupp's who had been acquitted at a retrial after spending several years in prison, a murder in which Hupp herself has been implicated as the real killer. After these events, a new coroner changed the finding to undetermined.[276]
  • On 15–16 November 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.[277]
  • The decomposing remains of Canadian journalist Dave Walker (57), were found in Cambodia's Angkor temple complex on 1 May 2014,[278] ending a search that began shortly after he failed to return to his hotel's guest house on the night of 14 February. While the medical examiner concluded that he had died weeks earlier, the cause of Walker's death could not be determined.
  • Bone fragments found along the Rio Culebra near Boquete, Panama, in late June 2014 were matched to Lisanne Froon, 22, and Kris Kremers, 21, of Amersfoort, the Netherlands. The two had last been seen alive on 1 April when they went for a hike on the popular El Pianista trail. After unsuccessful initial searches a backpack belonging to the women was turned in by a local. It contained their phones, a Canon camera and personal effects. After two months small fraction of their remains was found as well. The women's cell phones showed that they had repeatedly attempted to contact emergency numbers shortly after taking pictures of themselves at the Continental Divide. Those calls had continued over several days, and Froon's camera contained 90 photographs taken in the night of 8 April, seven days after their disappearance. Most of the photos showed the jungle in the dark, but some of them contained rock formations, and small pieces of paper and other items in close-up and one contained the back of Kremers's head. It was impossible to determine from the remains that were found exactly how they had died. Local officials believe the women suffered an accidental injury shortly after getting lost in a network of trails in the region's cloud forests and got lost in the wilderness around Volcán Barú; however, Panamanian lawyers for their families have pointed to failings of the investigation and suggested both women could have met with foul play.[279]
  • On 27 June 2014, the body of Andrew Sadek (20), was recovered from the Red River near Breckenridge, Minnesota, with a small-caliber gunshot wound and a backpack full of rocks. He had last been seen by a security camera leaving his dorm at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton around 2 a.m. on 1 May. At the time of his disappearance he had been working as a confidential informant for local police as a result of his own arrest for selling marijuana on campus, which could otherwise have resulted in a long prison sentence. It has not been determined yet whether his death was suicide or murder. Like Rachel Hoffman's death, the case has been used as an example of the mishandling of youthful CIs by police.[280]
  • Gennadiy Tsypkalov (43), was a political and military figure of the unrecognized Luhansk People's Republic (LPR). According to officials of the Luhansk People's Republic, Tsypkalov had committed suicide on 17 May 2014,[281] yet according to some of Tsypkalov's colleagues whom Igor Plotnitsky dismissed, the leadership of LPR murdered Tsypkalov.[282][283] His true death cause is unknown for sure.
  • John Anthony Walker (77), was a United States Navy chief warrant officer and communications specialist convicted of spying for the Soviet Union from 1968 to 1985,[284] who died on 28 August 2014 of unknown causes, while still in prison.[285]
  • Lennon Lacy was a student who went to West Bladen High School located in Bladenboro, North Carolina who was found dead in the center of a mobile home community hanging from the frame of a swing set[286] on 29 August 2014. It is unclear whether he committed suicide or was murdered.
  • John Sheridan (72), formerly New Jersey's Transportation Commissioner, was found dead in his Skillman home along with his wife Joyce on the morning of 28 September 2014. The bodies were in an upstairs bedroom where a fire had been set; they were found with multiple stab wounds. An original ruling of murder-suicide was changed to undetermined in 2017 after a court challenge by the couple's sons, motivated by complaints of mishandled evidence and some evidence suggesting the couple had been attacked by an intruder. The sons are currently calling for the investigation to be reopened.[287]
  • The Unnao dead bodies row are the discovery on 14 January 2015 of over one hundred dead bodies who were found floating in the River Ganges in Unnao district located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh who are unidentified.[288] The cause behind their deaths are unknown.
  • Alberto Nisman (51), an Argentine federal prosecutor, was found dead in his apartment of a single gunshot wound to the head on 18 January 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.[289]
  • Kayla Mueller (26), an American human rights activist and humanitarian aid worker who had been taken captive by the Islamic State in August 2013 in Aleppo, Syria, where she was helping Doctors Without Borders, was reported to have died in a Jordanian air strike during the Syrian Civil War in Raqqa on 6 February 2015. Her death was confirmed by the Pentagon, but the circumstances could not be established by the US. The Pentagon agreed the building she supposedly died in according to ISIS was hit in the bombings, but disputed that Mueller or any other civilian had been inside at the time. The site had been bombed by the coalition twice before, and was targeted again because ISIS soldiers sometimes return to bombed sites, thinking the coalition would not bomb those sites again, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.[290] After Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's death in October 2019, new speculations arose that Al-Baghdadi may have had her executed.[291]
  • On 22 April 2015, the body of Ambrose Ball (30), of London, was recovered from the River Lea in Tottenham.[292] He had last been seen leaving his vehicle following a single-car accident early on the morning of 24 January after visiting a local pub with friends. The body was too decomposed to determine a cause of death; police requested an adjournment of the inquest in order to further investigate, implying a murder charge was in the works. No charges were ever filed, and threats were later made against Ball's friends and family after they set up a Facebook page appealing for help from the public and questioning the conduct of the investigation.
  • On 10 December 2016, human remains were discovered in Charlestown, Rhode Island[293] that were thought to be those of mobster Danny Walsh (43). The remains were found where he once had lived. This was later proved false,[294] and the person to whom they belonged to and identity and death cause are unknown.
  • Vladimir Cvijan, Serbian lawyer and politician, former MP (2012–2014) and legal advisor and General Secretary of President of Serbia (2004–2010). High-ranked member of ruling SNS of Aleksandar Vučić, from 2010 to 2014, and later dissident. He disappeared in 2017, allegedly fleeing to the United States, however, in March 2021 Serbian media published a document in which the Public Prosecutor of the Higher Public Prosecutors Office in Belgrade states that the Prosecutor's Office issued an order ordering the payment of costs to the Institute for Forensic Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade for the autopsy of Vladimir Cvijan's body on 20 November 2018 in Belgrade, Serbia. The cause, circumstances and exact date of his death are still unknown.[295][296]
Valery Bolotov. Leader of the Luhansk People's Republic. His body was discovered on 27 January 2017
  • Valery Bolotov (46), was a Ukrainian militant leader known for his involvement in the Donbass War in eastern Ukraine, and as the leader of the unrecognized Luhansk People's Republic. Bolotov was found dead on 27 January 2017 in his own home in Moscow, Russia. The preliminary results of clinical tests showed an acute heart failure as reason of death.[297][298] Poisoning later was suspected.[299] The causes of his death are currently being investigated and are not currently known.[300]
  • Otto Warmbier (22), was an American college student who was arrested and detained in North Korea since January 2016, on charges that he had attempted to steal a propaganda poster. During his imprisonment, he suffered an unspecified injury which caused him to go into a coma, from which he died on 19 June 2017.[301]
  • Sherin Mathews (3), was an Indian American toddler from Richardson, Texas.[302] who disappeared on 7 October 2017. Her body was found on 22 October 2017 in a culvert under a road near her home.[303] Her cause of death is not yet known.
  • Rogelio Martinez (36), an agent of the United States Border Patrol died on 19 November 2017 in Culberson County, Texas[304] while he was doing his job. His cause of death is thought to be a murder, but this remains uncertain due to a lack of evidence, and a four-month investigation was conducted by the FBI into his death cause, but the results were inconclusive.
  • Toronto pharmaceutical billionaire Barry Sherman and his philanthropist wife were found dead in their Toronto home on December 15, 2017, by a real estate agent showing the house. No suspects or persons of interest have as yet been publicly identified.
  • Computer hacker Adrian Lamo (37), was found dead 14 March 2018 on a pile of sheets in the guest bedroom of the Wichita, Kansas, home of a couple he had been living with. After three months of investigating, the county coroner was unable to identify a cause of death. While there are some alternative theories suggesting his death had something to do with his controversial involvement in the criminal cases against Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, the most likely theory is the possible adverse interactions of some of the medicines found near him with Kratom, which he often used.[305]
  • Hong Kong teenager Chan Yin-lam, who participated in the 2019 Hong Kong protests, was found dead and naked in the harbour off Tseung Kwan O on 22 September 2019. This sparked conspiracy theories in pro-protest circles, notably the online platform LIHKG that Chan had been killed by the police.[306][307][308] On 11 September 2020, a coroner's inquest jury ruled that the cause of death could not be determined.[309]

2020s[edit]

  • Ana Lucrecia Taglioretti (24), was a blind female Paraguayan actress and prodigy who had performed at events for charitable causes. She was found dead on 9 January 2020 in her apartment in Asunción, Paraguay, by her mother during a welfare check. Her cause of death is unknown.[310]
  • Facundo Astudillo Castro (22–23), was an Argentine man who disappeared on 30 April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic after he was stopped by the police[311][312] in Mayor Buratovich, Buenos Aires. Castro was found dead on 15 August 2020.[313] Though Castro's death was revealed to be caused by drowning, it could not be determined if it was a result of homicide, suicide, or an accident.[314][315]
  • Esther Dingley (37) was an English hiker and blogger while going on a solo trip through the Pyrenees. Partial remains were found in July 2021, and later confirmed to be Dingley's following a DNA examination. Her cause of death is currently unknown.[316]
  • James Dean (35), English footballer and champion kickboxer who disappeared in the area of Oswaldtwistle on 5 May 2021. His body was found four days later. While authorities have said that the case is not treated as a homicide, no cause of death has been determined.[317] The police announced his death was not being treated as suspicious.[318]

Date of death disputed[edit]

  • Raoul Wallenberg (34), a Swedish humanitarian who worked in Budapest, Hungary, was most likely executed in the Soviet Union in or around 1947 after being captured by the Red Army in 1945. His death is dated by Soviet authorities as 16 July 1947,[319] but this is disputed, and the case remains unsolved.
  • In 1948, a German court ruled that Hans Kammler (43), an engineer and SS commander who oversaw many Nazi construction projects including concentration camps and, later, the V-2 missile program, died on 9 May 1945 of what was later claimed to be suicide by cyanide poisoning.[320] Some other accounts, however, have him being killed by his own side to prevent his capture during an attack by Czech resistance fighters; others suggest those accounts of his death were put out to cover his surrender to the U.S. Army, in whose custody he supposedly hanged himself two years later.

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]

Media related to Unsolved deaths at Wikimedia Commons