It has been a little while since we have last visited the domain of the macabre here at the List Universe. So I thought I would step up to the plate and compile another list dedicated to the dark half of human nature — Man’s inhumanity to Man. And women. Although trials were conducted in some of the following cases, ultimately they remain unsolved. This list is presented in no particular order, with the exception of item #1.
The Seewen murders took place during Pentecost weekend in 1976 and remains one of Switzerland’s biggest unsolved murder cases. Five members of the Siegrist family ranging in ages from 45 to 80 years old were found dead in a weekend home in the protected forest of Seewen. Police suspect that only two of the family members were the targeted victims, while the other three just had the unfortunate luck to be in the home as well. The cause of death was obvious, 13 rounds from a Winchester type shotgun. What was a little more surprising was the accuracy of the rounds fired. 11 shots to the head, 2 shots to the upper chest.
To this day the majority of the Swiss public believes the likely murderer to be Carl Doser (pictured above), In 1996, an Italian made Winchester shotgun was found hidden in the walls of the Doser home. Forensic testing determined that this was indeed the murder weapon, but no motive, nor documentation of any meetings between Doser and the victims has ever been verified and he remains only a suspect.
A second theory revolves around Johnny Siegrist, a family member to the victims, who may have been assisted by Doser. Johnny was the likely purchaser of ammunition at Basler Steinenvorstadt, and the clerk recalls being asked if the Kal. 38 Spez ammunition would fit an “Italian made Winchester”. Upon searching Johnny’s residence, stryrofoam heads that had been shot through were discovered. Possible motive…Being belittled by the family. Johnny Siegrist was temporarily jailed, but his death in the early 80′s has left no one to be held accountable for the murders.
Robert “Bob” Crane was an American TV actor best known for his portrayal of Col. Hogan from the comedy series “Hogan’s Heroes”. The series ran for 6 years (1965-1971) and Crane became beloved for his manly good looks and engagingly roguish demeanor in his attempts to sabotage the Nazi war effort from the confines of a POW camp. What the public didn’t know about Crane was his private battle with sex addiction, which destroyed two marriages. This addiction not only involved innumerable sexual encounters with young women, and heavy activity in the underground sex scene, but developed into an obsession with cameras, sex films and the newly developed world of video.
On June 29, 1978 Crane was discovered bludgeoned to death in his Scottsdale, Arizona apartment. Primary suspect–John Carpenter. No, NOT the famous director, this Carpenter was a fellow sex addict who introduced Crane to the use of video in their sexual activities. Carpenter admits that he was with Crane his last night alive, but denies that he was the one who killed Crane with multiples blows to the head with a video tripod, even though brain matter was found in the rental car that Carpenter was driving. Unfortunately the case was handled poorly from the beginning by the Scottsdale and Phoenix police departments, and because of botched forensics as well as political maneuverings within the district attorney’s office that had little to do with the case itself, Carpenter remains free today.
Dian Fossey came to the world’s attention for her pioneering studies with gorillas in Africa, and her subsequent efforts to stop the poaching of the creatures she came to love. In 1967 Fossey founded the Karisoke Research Center, the base of operations for her studies, located deep within the Virunga Mountains, Rwanda. Her photograph was featured on the cover of National Geographic Magazine in January 1970, and photographs showing the gorilla “Peanuts” touching Fossey’s hand depicted the first recorded peaceful contact between a human being and a wild gorilla. Her book, Gorillas in the Mist, remains the best-selling book about gorillas of all time, and she sold the rights to Universal Studios for one million dollars so she could continue to fund her research and conservation efforts.
In 1985 Fossey was found dead in her bed at the Karisoke site. She was found with the machete she had confiscated from poachers and hung upon her wall, buried in her skull. Evidence found at the scene incriminated employees of the research center and the entire staff was arrested. They were subsequently released. No one has ever been prosecuted for her murder, though many theories abound, concentrating upon the illicit black market and the poaching of gorillas and other protected wildlife. Chances are no one will ever be prosecuted.
Fossey is buried next to her cherished gorilla friend Digit, at the Karisoke Research Center, in the special graveyard she constructed for the gorillas that she spent the better part of her life studying.
Julie Ward, a 28 year old wildlife photographer from Ipswich was visiting in Kenya, and was found dead in the Masai Mara Game Reserve in 1988, after her friends reported that she hadn’t attended a farewell dinner the night before they were to depart Africa. Her dismembered and burned body was found deep within the reserve’s boundaries a week after she was reported missing. The original theory put forth by the Kenyan officials was that she had been eaten by lions and struck by lightning, but they later accepted that she was murdered after her father’s efforts uncovered further evidence. It was discovered that coroner’s reports had been altered to mask evidence of human participation in Julie’s murder.
There have been two trials regarding this case, one in 1992 and one in 1998, but all three suspects were acquitted. The case has reached international attention due to the efforts of Julie’s father, John Ward. He has traveled to Africa over 100 times and invested over 1 million pounds in his attempts to bring the killer(s) to justice, but since the involvement of high power officials like former President Daniel Moi and concerns for the safety of the Kenyan tourism industry there have been no killers convicted to this day.
Unsolved murders are disturbing enough, but the thought that there is a child killer still roaming free has to be one of the worst realities that can be thrust upon the members of a community. Amber Hagerman was a beautiful little 10 year old girl from Arlington, Texas. On January 13,1996 a young playmate was able to provide to police a description of the man who quickly and forcibly pushed Amber into his black van and sped away. A search for the van was immediately organized, but it was four days before her little body was found. A man walking his dog found Amber’s body in a creek bed. Her throat was cut, but not until two days after her abduction.
In 2007 Terapon Adhahn, of Tacoma, Washington was arrested in connection to a series of child abduction rapes in the Washington state area, and he is the only suspect to date for the murder of Amber, although no charges for her murder have been able to be served. There is still a $75,000 reward offered for information that might lead to her killer.
Amber leaves behind a legacy. The Amber Alert is a public notification system adopted in the U.S. as a quick response effort to help expedite the safety and return of missing or kidnapped children. In April 2003, President George W. Bush signed the AMBER Alert legislation, making it a national program. Other legislation generated by Amber’s murder has since resulted in a national sex offender registry, and both of Amber’s parents were present when Bill Clinton signed the bill into law.
Born Tupac Amuru Shakur, he was also known as 2Pac and sometimes, Makaveli. American born rapper and actor, Tupac has been featured in quite a few lists here at ListVerse, and now one more. The night that Tupac was fatally shot is quite well documented. He was never alone, being in the company of Marion “Suge” Knight, the CEO of Death Row Records the whole evening. On September 6, 1996 Tupac started his evening ringside at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada with such company as Louis Gossett Jr., Charlie Sheen and baseball great Reggie Jackson to watch Mike Tyson demolish Bruce Seldon in two minutes flat. After a brief scuffle with Orlando Anderson in the lobby of the MGM, Tupac then accompanied Suge to his home in a suburb of Las Vegas. About 10 PM the pair and their entourage left Suge’s home to go Club 662, where Tupac was scheduled to perform with the rap band Run DMC. They never arrived. Stopped at a red light, their car was boxed in on three sides by other vehicles and a fourth car rolled up on the left and started shooting. Out of the 13 bullets shot into Suge’s BMW, Tupac took three, one to his chest, one to his hip and one in the hand.
Two tires had been flattened in the shooting and on the way to the hospital a third tire blew out, and help had to be called. Paramedics were able to get Tupac to University Medical Center, where emergency surgery was performed. But to no avail, after three surgeries and the removal of one of his lungs Tupac succumbed to his injuries six days later.
Some say Tupac was killed due to his ties with gangs, others say he was killed because his mother was once a Black Panther. Maybe it was because of the feud between Death Row Records and New York based Bad Boy Records, run by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. There was also another ongoing rivalry with Christopher Wallace, AKA the Notorious B.I.G. Regardless, the only witness who agreed to testify in the event of an arrest, Yafeu Fala, was killed two months later in New Jersey, leaving no other witnesses able to help with the case.
Prostitution is hardly a safe way to earn a living and it proved deadly to Catrine da Costa in the spring of 1984. Working just north of Stockholm, Sweden, her dismembered body was found in two different sites in the city of Solna. Reported missing on June 10th, the first bag of body parts wasn’t discovered until July 18th. A second bag was discovered at Karlbergs beach in Solna on August the 7th, though her head, internal organs, one breast and genitalia have never been found. It’s the lack of these particular body parts that is the primary reason that no one has been brought to justice for the crime.
Two doctors, a pathologist who worked in between the two dump sites, and a general practitioner, whose very young daughter recalled memories of her father committing the crime were both arrested and sent to trial. But since there was no evidence of the method of murder, due to the missing body parts, there was no way to determine if the victim had “died of natural circumstances” and the Swedish legal system was forced to acquit the two men. Not to worry, the two doctors had their medical licenses rescinded and are no longer able to pursue a career in their trained fields. That hasn’t stopped them from suing for wrongful loss of income, and after almost a decade of legal maneuvering their suit has been denied as of February, 2010.
A New England socialite that was raised in full stereotypical fashion, Mary Pinchot Meyer is another one of the many women who has died because of an association to the Kennedys. A graduate of Brearly School and Vassar College, Mary took an early interest in communism and was a member of the American Labor Party. Working as a journalist for Mademoiselle magazine kept Mary in the finest of company among the political comers and the ingenues that they spent their time with. Nobody was surprised when she married Cord Meyer, a U.S. Marine lieutenant who was on his way up the ladder, in 1945. By 1947 she was happy to leave her job as editor of Atlantic Monthly, to become a stay at home mother to her three children. Meanwhile, Cord Meyer was able to secure a position with the CIA, and the fact that he was a member of the communist party was not an issue. In the early 50′s Cord Meyer became one of the primary operatives in “Operation Mockingbird”, a covert mission to sway public opinion, using mass media. Mary’s communist leanings may also have been useful to the CIA, but they deemed her many love affairs left her too “unreliable”.
In 1956, the death of Mary’s middle son paved the way for a divorce, and opened the door for a more adventurous love life, and Mary had no problem turning a long time friendship with John F. Kennedy into something more illicit. Now comes the weird part. It seems that at this point in time there was an underground plot among a small circle of upper socialite women to influence the decision making processes of high political figures (men) by using sex and LSD. Mary was one of this little group, and her target was JFK himself. Considering their affair occurred during the Bay of Pigs fiasco, it is quite possible she DID have some influence on his policies.
Mary Pinchot Meyer was killed on 12 October, 1964, eleven months after John F. Kennedy’s assassination and two weeks after the Warren Commission report was made public. Mary’s body had two bullet wounds, one at the back of the head and another in her heart. FBI forensics stated that the wounds were made at close range, possibly point blank range. Upon her death those closest to her frantically searched for Mary’s diary and it was eventually found and burned. The burning was witnessed by two family members, who say that the affair with JFK was documented, but there was no further information that would shed light upon his assassination.
In 2001 Cord Meyer was asked if he knew who had killed Mary. He responded “The same sons of bitches that killed John F. Kennedy.”
Lake Bodom is a freshwater lake near the city of Helsinki in Finland. It is also the site of a grisly mass murder that happened on June 6, 1960. Early in the morning a group of four teenagers, 2 18 year old young men and 2 15 year old girls were savagely attacked by knife and bludgeon, while sleeping in a tent at the lake. The attack left three dead at the scene and a sole survivor, Nils Gustafsson, who was severely injured with a concussion and a broken jaw. He recovered from his injuries and went on to live a healthy life. Despite the fact that there was a survivor, there were no leads that could provide an arrest for the deadly attack.
Twelve years later, to the day, a man left a suicide note confessing to the murders. He said he was a lemonade vendor at the lake and later that night killed the young teens. But police investigation into this written confession proved that the man had not committed the crime, as he was asleep with his wife at the time of the murders. Another lead came in 2003, when Professor Jorma Palo published his account of a man he had treated in his hospital on the night of the murders. The man’s name was Hans Assmaann, and he was treated for “suspicious injuries”. Palo alleges that the man was the murderer but the crime was covered up because of Assmaan’s ties to the KGB.
The most confusing twist to the story is the arrest of Nils Gustafsson, the survivor of the attack, in 2004. It was 44 years after the crime and Gustafsson was now 62 years old. According to the official statement, “Gustafsson erupted in jealous anger over his feelings for his new girlfriend. She was stabbed multiple times after the fatal blow, while the two other teenagers were killed less savagely”. Despite having come to trial, blood evidence could not be linked to Gustafsson, and he was acquitted in 2005. In the name of fairness, Finland awarded Gustafsson a large monetary settlement “for mental suffering caused by the long remand time.”
Since the first “Unsolved Murders” list ended with a vicious serial killer lets keep that format. Mollie Smith is presumed to be the first victim of the “Servant Girl Annihilator”, a serial killer who was active in the Austin, Texas area in 1884 to 1885. Pre-dating Jack the Ripper’s killing spree by almost 4 years, the viciousness of his attacks left the public hysterical, and some even tried to tie the two series of murders together as the work of one killer. At least 7 young women’s deaths are attributed to the Annihilator, who not only raped his victims, but bludgeoned or slashed them to death. Sometimes the murder weapon was an axe, and several victims were stabbed by some sort of spike in the ears or the face. The killers habit was to drag his victim from her bed while she slept, and because of this method on at least two occasions the victim’s male bed mate was attacked as well, resulting in the bludgeoning death of Orange Washington. Numerous arrests were made up to this point, but lack of evidence or airtight alibis lead to the release of all suspects.
By September of 1885 The Servant Girl Annihilator had attacked 8 people, leaving 5 dead. Things were quiet for a few short months, then a change of M.O. On Christmas Eve, 1885, not 1 but 2 well to do white women were dragged from their respective beds, raped and axed to death. The husbands of each of these women were arrested and placed on trial. Through the infantile beginnings of forensic science, each man was proven innocent of the crimes and acquitted. The murders stopped and no one was ever convicted for them.
Back to the Ripper murders, which took place in Whitechapel, London, England in 1888. One suspect, who rarely gets mentioned by Ripperologists, was a Malay cook calling himself Maurice, a man who had threatened to kill Whitechapel prostitutes but who had then disappeared. In 1885 he had been employed at the Pearl House, a small hotel, in Austin, Texas. The information was confirmed, and it was ascertained that the cook had left the premises in January 1886. The Servant Girl murders had ended just weeks earlier and most of the victims resided not far from the Pearl House.