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The boy in the box

The boy in the box
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In February 1957, the body of a little boy, somewhere between four and six years old, was discovered in a vacant lot in Philadelphia, USA, naked and stuffed in a bassinet box. The cause of death was multiple blows to the head, and it appeared the boy had been given a fresh haircut either immediately before or after his death. Although authorities estimated the body might have been in the box for as long as three weeks, they were able to piece together a drawing of what the boy probably looked like while alive. Still, the drawing didn’t match the description of any missing child, and no one came forward to identify him. Despite DNA testing, the boy was never identified. Fifty-three years later, his case remains unsolved.

The Walker family

The Walker family
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On December 19, 1959, the four members of the Walker family were brutally murdered in their Florida, USA, home. Their bodies were discovered the next day. The crime scene revealed few clues beyond a bloody boot, a partial fingerprint on a bath sink, and a cigarette wrapper. However, police managed to cull 587 witnesses and/or suspects, but none panned out – not even Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. The two men were apprehended in Las Vegas a week later on suspicion of murdering another family under strikingly similar circumstances – the Clutter family of Kansas, whose massacre became the subject of Truman Capote’s true crime classic, In Cold Blood. While Smith and Hickock were eventually convicted of the Clutter family killings, authorities were unable to piece together a case against them with regard to the Walker case, which remains unsolved. If Smith and Hickock were involved, they have both since taken that secret with them to the grave.

Here are 15 presidential mysteries that have never been solved.

The hijacking of Northwest Flight 305 to Seattle

The hijacking of Northwest Flight 305 to Seattle
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On November 24, 1971, as Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 took off from Portland, Oregon, its passengers had no idea the middle-aged man in a dark suit who sat near the rear of the plane – smoking a cigarette and speaking quietly to the young stewardess taking his drink order – wasn’t just ordering a bourbon and soda. He was also advising the stewardess he had a bomb that he fully intended to use if his “demands” weren’t met. Those demands included $200,000 in cash, which would be $1 million today, four parachutes, a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the plane on arrival, and a second leg trip to Mexico. After the demands of the man, who was travelling under the alias “Dan Cooper,” and has been known ever since as “D.B. Cooper,” demands were met, Cooper disappeared from the plane while en route to Mexico. Presumably he left via parachute, although no one can say since the flight crew had left Cooper alone in the rear of the plane. In any event, his parachute was never found, and the ransom money, in marked bills, was never used. Although some of that money turned up in 1980 along the banks of the Oregon branch of the Columbia River. The FBI worked the case for 45 years, but the man known as D.B. Cooper has never been identified. Despite that the FBI surmises Cooper likely didn’t survive the parachute jump and that all the “favourite” suspects (including Richard Floyd McCoy and Robert Rackstraw) are now dead, amateur sleuths continue to probe.

The "Zodiac Killer"

The "Zodiac Killer"
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The man who called himself “Zodiac” apparently enjoyed taunting San Francisco area police as much as he enjoyed killing, which he apparently enjoyed very much. The first time Zodiac struck on December 20, 1968 (shooting and killing two teens parked on a “lover’s lane”), police approached the investigation as a standard homicide case – populating their suspect list with people whom the victims knew and working the “if teens are involved, then drugs must be involved” angle. The next time Zodiac shot at a couple in a car, he called the police himself, just in case they weren’t sharp enough to figure out these two crimes were the work of the same man – a man intent on controlling the narrative. This was also when Zodiac began contacting newspapers, offering titillating details only the actual killer would have known and threatening to up his level of violence if his letters weren’t printed. Over the next two years, Zodiac claimed responsibility for 37 lives, although law enforcement was only aware of five, and none after 1969. That being said, it was in November 1969 that Zodiac wrote a letter to the press proclaiming, “I shall no longer announce to anyone when I commit my murders. They shall look like routine robberies, killings of anger, and a few fake accidents, etc.” So perhaps Zodiac did continue killing, albeit with a revised modus operandi. In any case, the trail went cold, and although roughly 2,500 suspects were interviewed and a prime suspect identified (Arthur Leigh Allen), Zodiac’s identity remains an unsolved mystery.

Here are 19 of the strangest unsolved mysteries of all time. 

The Isdal woman

The Isdal woman
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On November 29, 1970, the badly burned body of a woman was discovered in Norway’s Isdalen Valley. Her burns rendered her unrecognisable, she bore no identification, and the labels in her clothing had been cut out. With 50 sleeping pills found in her stomach, the woman appeared to have died by suicide, but the plot grew thicker when her possessions were discovered at a nearby railway station, revealing eight fake passports, a wad of Deutschmarks, and an unsolvable, cryptic note. No one ever claimed the body, which was never connected with any missing person case. Accordingly, the case went cold. However, a podcast on the topic, Death in Ice Valley, has inspired some listeners to do some of their own sleuthing, so stay tuned because this cold case may be heating up.

Jimmy Hoffa

Jimmy Hoffa
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On July 30, 1975, former Teamsters Union president, Jimmy Hoffa, was looking to make a comeback from his career-derailing conviction for fraud, jury-tampering and bribery, for which he’d received a pardon in 1971 from President Richard M. Nixon. To that end, Hoffa, who was known to associate with members of the Mafia and may have been involved in the disappearance of millions of dollars from a Teamsters’ pension fund, had arranged a meeting with Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano and Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone at a restaurant not far from Hoffa’s home in Michigan. At around 2:15pm, he called his wife to say he’d been stood up, and therefore, she should expect him home for dinner. But Hoffa never returned home, and, the next day, his car was still in the restaurant parking lot. A missing person investigation ensued but, not surprisingly, given the cast of characters, turned up nothing. The case went cold, and Hoffa was declared dead in 1982. The whereabouts of his body remain unknown.

These mysteries were actually solved by psychics. 

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Tylenol Murders

Tylenol Murders
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On September 29, 1982, seven people around the Chicago area died after taking Extra Strength Tylenol capsules tainted with cyanide. It quickly became apparent it wasn’t that all Tylenol was tainted, but rather these particular bottles, which appeared to have been placed randomly in drugstores. Law enforcement helped avert further poisonings by driving around, confiscating pills and bottles, and shouting into bullhorns, “Don’t take Tylenol.” (This was the pre-Internet days, after all). At great cost, Tylenol’s manufacturer recalled all 31 million bottles throughout the nation, replaced capsules with caplets, and introduced tamper-free pill-bottle caps. Despite a nationwide dragnet, several smaller-scale copycat crimes in other states, and the arrest of a man who tried to use the tragedy to extort money from Tylenol, the perpetrator was never identified.

Amber Hagerman

Amber Hagerman
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On the afternoon of January 13, 1996, nine-year-old Amber Hagerman and her five-year-old brother Ricky were playing, as they often did, in an abandoned grocery store parking lot in Arlington, Texas. When Ricky went home, Amber stayed to play some more. But she never returned home. Despite that a man, James Kevil, now in his late 70s, witnessed Amber’s abduction from his own backyard and immediately called the police, offering a description of Amber’s kidnapper (“a white or Hispanic male aged 25 to 40, under 6 feet tall, [with a] medium build”), the trail quickly went cold. Four days later, Amber’s body was discovered in a creek behind an apartment complex near the parking lot where she was last seen. Amber’s autopsy revealed she’d been kept alive for two days after her abduction. Unfortunately, it revealed little else, and the case went cold. The one bright light in this case is that it led to the establishment of the Amber Alert system, which alerts the public when a child has been kidnapped – in the hope they can be tracked down before they meet the same fate as Amber Hagerman.

Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls

Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls
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In September 1996, West Coast-based hip-hop star Tupac Shakur, 25, was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Two years earlier, Tupac had survived a similar attempt on his life and made it publicly known he believed his friend-turned-rival, Biggie Smalls had hired the gang, the Crips, to murder him. Six months after Tupac’s eventual murder, Biggie, 24, was also gunned down in Los Angeles. Some believe Tupac’s record-label paid to have Biggie killed.

JonBenet Ramsey

JonBenet Ramsey
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The day after Christmas in 1996, Patsy Ramsey awoke to find her six-year-old daughter, JonBenet, missing from her bed, along with a ransom note demanding $118,000. Later that day, JonBenet’s father, John, discovered JonBenet’s body in their basement. She’d been strangled and beaten to death. Investigators immediately suspected John, Patsy, and/or JonBenet’s half-brother, Burke. The public piled on as well, especially with regard to Patsy, who was reviled for her ruthless “pageant mum” behaviour during the child beauty pageants in which she had entered JonBenet. Ultimately, more than 1,600 people were named as persons of interest. The crime remains unsolved, however, in part because of procedural errors, including loss and contamination of evidence, the sharing of evidence with the Ramsey family, and a delay in formally interviewing John and Patsy.

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