Since Netflix’s premiere of Stranger Things, fans have been hooked on this 80’s inspired supernatural series. From the Demagorgon to human experimentation, this TV series pulls you into a world full of eerie science fiction. The suspense laced into every episode leaves us on our toes and craving more, especially in season one’s final episode. Unfortunately, we do have some wait time before season two comes out, so it looks like we have to get our mystery fix somewhere else. In the meantime, why not look at the stranger things of our reality; unsolved murder mysteries. These are the non-fiction horrific tales that create hysteria from creaks in the floorboards, raw fear of walking down the street alone, and keep our eyes pried open after the sun sets. Similar to Stranger Things, these 8 disturbing unsolved murder mysteries have no definitive ending.
1. “Mommy is in the trees.”
Four bodies in Mineral, Washington with a gruesome crime scene we wish only happened in movies. The first two victims, Steven Harkins and Ruth Cooper, were on a camping trip that turned bloody. Harkins was found dead in his sleeping bag with a fatal gunshot wound to the head, the pet dog was found shot close to the crime scene, and Cooper’s remains suggested she had been shot in the stomach. Cooper also had a tube sock tied around her neck, which embellished the serial killer’s trademark. The next homicide was in even rarer form. Mike Riemer and Diana Robertson went missing after a trip to Kmart with their two-year-old daughter. To make the situation even creepier, all the daughter could tell officials was, “Mommy is in the trees”. With that lead, in the Pierce County forests, search teams found Riemer’s pickup along Robertson’s body stabbed seventeen times with, yet again, a tube sock fastened around her neck. Inside the pickup, a manila envelope read “I love you Diana”. In 1985, with Riemer nowhere to be found, his history of domestic abuse, and the assumption that he was a prime suspect on the run, Mike Reimer was deemed to be the culprit. Recently, the 1985 case has gone cold. In 2011, Riemer’s skull was found close to the site of Robertson’s body suggesting he, too, could have been a homicide victim.
2. Cults, drug trafficking, and witchcraft, oh my!
This bizarre family disappearance leaves anyone with chills down their spine. In 2009, the Jamison family of three abandoned their pickup leaving their dog trapped inside, $32,000 in cash, IDS, wallets, and all cell phones. Their concrete motives to go into the wilderness that day are still completely unknown. Four years later, the bodies of Bobby, Sherilynn, and, their daughter, Madyson Jamison were identified three miles away from the discovery of their pickup; their cause of death undetermined. Conspiracy theories paint a picture that, perhaps, it was a crystal meth drug deal gone wrong. The area they ventured into was a wasteland of hidden meth labs. On the other hand, there is a plethora of alternative theories due to a protective order against Bobby’s hostile father, the family’s strange paranoid behaviors, suspected ties with the mafia, clues that point to group suicide, witchcraft/Satanic allegations, visits from their pastor to wage spiritual warcraft, death threats from a cult, the list goes on. The strangest part to this unsolved murder mystery is the last photo of Madyson taken a day before their disappearance. Friends and family have described her expressed mood in the picture to be oddly anxious.
3. How’d she get in the tank?
Elisa Lam’s story sounds like something out of an episode of The Twilight Zone. After numerous complaints from hotel guests about abnormal water quality, Elisa Lam, a Canadian student was discovered dead in a 4 by 8 foot water tank ontop of Cecil Hotel’s roof. Cecil Hotel is known for housing many guests associated with notorious slayings; Elizabeth Short, The Night Stalker, Jack Unterweger, and more. Suffering from depression and a bipolar disorder, Lam’s odd behavior might have been a side effect from her four heavy prescriptions. At the same time, how could she get past all the passcode checkpoints ridden with alarms and locked doors? How could she climb into the tank without any ladder? How is her death still undetermined? If that wasn’t messy enough, the uneasy elevator tape caught before her death leaves many unanswered questions never to be resolved.
4. “The Lost Colony”
During the 17th century, John White led 115 colonists eager to settle in Chesapeake Bay. Expected to find other settlers there waiting, White and the others were shocked to find no one. After complications with local tribes, White ventured back to England to beg for aid. Three years later, John White had finally returned to Roanoke. Everything had vanished; livestock, shelter, and not one of the 115 colonists could be found. It was almost as if the area was untouched. All that was left was the phrase “CROATOAN” sliced into a fence and the letters “CRO” carved into a tree. If they were ever to be in distress, they were ordered to leave a cross carved on a tree. Evidently, no cross was found. Speculations of cannibalism, mass genocide, and assimilation serve their own versions of what happened during the time White was gone. Even in the 21st century, the world will never know what happened to the 115 Roanoke colonists.
5. One-Way Death Trip
In the early 70’s, hitchhiking was seen as a common way to get around. C’mon we know now from horror classics, such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hitcher, and Hills Have Eyes, that this is a one-way trip to a tortuous death. No one could ever predict the hitchhiking horror that took place in the North Bay area of California. Seven teenage girls were found separately dumped on the side of the road or in embankments; all were nude and missing one earring. *Shudders* Some were victims of sexual assault and some had undetermined causes of death. The method of murder was diversified; poisoning, strangulation, dislocation of the neck and spine. Suspects included infamous names including The Zodiac Killer, Ted Bundy, etc. Also, an eighth victim, Lisa Smith, remains missing to this day.
6. “Dear Editor, this is the Zodiac speaking”
One the most infamous serial killers of all time; the Zodiac Killer. Allegedly responsible for 37 murders, according to his own reckoning, the Zodiac Killer operated in southern California from the late ‘60s to the early ‘70s. While he claims his death toll was 37, only seven cases have been directly, irrefutably linked to him. Of those seven, perhaps the most astonishing fact is that two survived. One victim survived being shot, while the other survived 8 stab wounds in their back. The gruesome, merciless ways in which the Zodiac Killer dispatched his victims is not the creepiest part of this true murder mystery. No, the creepiest part is most certainly the mockingly teasing letters he sent to the Bay Area press. Over several years, the Zodiac Killer corresponded with the press, making demands, complaining about things that upset him, and most disconcertingly, leaving clues to help the officers solve the case. In some of his letters he would include cryptograms (of which only one has been definitively solved) and maps, with hints on where his next attack would take place, or where he may have hidden a bomb. The letters would tauntingly explain the ways in which he would murder children, or blow up a police station. And yet, despite all this contact, the police never solved this case. It was closed in 2004, but has since been reopened. Is the Zodiac Killer still out there, biding his time? We may never know.
7. Let’s recite the alphabet.
One of the most disturbing unsolved murder mysteries is the case of the alphabet murders. Near Rochester, NY, during the 1970s, three young girls were abducted, raped, and murdered by strangulation. The case derived its name from one peculiarity that all three victims shared. They all had first and last names starting with the same letter, and their bodies were all found in towns starting with the same letter as well. Carmen Colon, found in Churchville. Michelle Maenza, found in Macedon. Wanda Walkowicz, found in Webster. Hundreds of people were brought in for questioning and interrogation, but the killer was never caught, despite the police force’s best efforts. Kenneth Bianchi, a serial killer, kidnapper, and rapist who is currently serving a life sentence in jail, is considered a primary suspect for the alphabet murders. He was convicted for the murder of 12 women. Just like the alphabet murders, these women had been brutally raped and strangled. While Bianchi has not been convicted of the alphabet murders, the evidence suggests he may be responsible. He once lived in Rochester, selling ice cream from a van which was reportedly at the locations where two of the three victims were last seen. Regardless if he did it or not, we’re glad to know he’ll be behind bars for the rest of his life.
8. Need some Tylenol?
In 1982, a strange set of murders took place. Seven people, including women and children, died at the hands of Tylenol laced with potassium cyanide. It’s believed that the culprit most likely purchased the Tylenol over the course of several weeks, inserted the cyanide into the capsules, and then returned the tampered-with products to the store. Perhaps the most horrifying part of this incident is that, to this day, no suspect has ever been charged or convicted of the poisoning. A man by the name of James William Lewis, however, was convicted after he attempted to extort the pharmaceutical company, Johnson & Johnson. He demanded $1 million in order for the Tylenol murders to stop, before being arrested shortly thereafter. Upon his release in 1995, Lewis returned to his normal life. In 2008, when Lewis’ court documents were released, a disconcerting revelation was made. The Department of Justice investigators did not have enough evidence to put him behind bars for the murders, but they firmly believed Lewis was responsible for the Chicago Tylenol murders. Could the 1982 murderer still be out there, waiting on his next chance to strike?
One of these 8 disturbing unsolved murder mysteries was bound to give you the creeps, and we’re sure these real life horrors can spark our suspense for the mystery behind the upcoming season of Stranger Things. Until then, we’ll just have to wait with our blankets safely wrapped over our heads.
*Featured image courtesy of pilumdefence.com