People sure do love a good bit of crime and mystery.
True crime shows are more popular than ever, and the revival of Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix, along with a bunch of open-ended podcasts, have grabbed the public’s attention and held on.
That said, sometimes it’s nice to know that the mystery has been solved and the person or people responsible have ended up in prison where they belong, right?
If that’s more your jam, here are 14 mysteries made all the better by the fact that we already know whodunnit.
1. I want to go!
Scientists spent 37 years trying to figure out where monarch butterflies go in the winter.
They spent a ton of time searching in Texas because that’s was the southernmost location of where tagged butterflies were found.
But the people in Mexico simply didn’t get the memo that anyone was looking.
Until an American tourist found a butterfly tagged in Canada hundreds of miles south of Texas in the mountains near Mexico City.
2. For my math nerds.
Not so much a mystery, but Fermat’s Last Theorem lacked general proof for several hundred years, until Andrew Wiles provided one in 1995.
The proof is long. Real long. At best (or worst hehe) undergrad proofs may be 5-6 pages long. Now I specialise in Applied Maths, so perhaps it’s double or triple that in postgrad Pure Maths.
Wiles’ proof is well over 100 pages long. It draws upon many many MANY areas of Pure Maths to the point where even actual Maths academics may not understand every topic involved in the proof.
Ah well, can’t be any worse than the proof being “left as an exercise to the reader”.
3. Misplaced, you say?
100 years ago, viking bones from one of the most important grave finds in Denmark disappeared from the museum of national history. They were found last week in a box, seemingly misplaced among elements from a different find.
4. I want it to be more than that.
Geedis and the Land of Ta. A few years ago (2017) comedian Nate Fernald posted a tweet of an enamel pin he had bought of a familiar looking friendly monster with the word Geedis written under it. He was unable to find any information on what Geedis is and the mystery took the internet by storm. The mystery kept growing as someone found a sticker of Geedis alongside other characters all listed as The Land of Ta. The sticker sheet was from a company called Dennison. There were no Google results at all for either Geedis or The Land of Ta. With multiple people researching that was where the mystery was left off and people kind of forgot about it.
But a couple years later it was solved. A podcast was made where they investigated the mystery, got a hold of the former art director of Dennison back in the 80s who referred them to a few potential artists and they found the daughter of one of the artists who had passed away and in her father’s stuff was the original pencil drawings of the creaturs of The Land of Ta. It was never anything but those stickers. This internet mystery still appeared on lists for awhile as unsolved.
The only mystery left is who made the enamel pins, which is still a mystery but not quite as big as “who is this character and this land that seems familiar but that there’s no record of?”
5. Sweet relief for her loved ones.
Sarah Yarborough was a teenager a few doors down who watched over us on several occasions when we were young kids. She was murdered and dumped in a bush at the high school like a piece of trash, and it was absolutely devastating. It wasn’t a small town, but when it happens to your neighbor, it is very much in your sphere of awareness
Everyone was scared. I remember the media circus at the home, the eventual tapering off of said circus, and the family moving away to get away from the undoubtedly bad memories and constant reminders their kid was murdered and the killer was still out there and on the loose.
It turned into a cold case.
Every now and then, I looked for news of an update even though I grew up and moved away. I did this for years, decades even, because it always bothered me as an early childhood memory. A couple years ago, I finally saw a local news report that DNA evidence and genealogy databases led to the arrest of the murderer. For me, that was an emotional moment of getting closure and I can’t imagine the magnitude of emotions and fresh wounds felt by the parents having learned that nearly 30 years later, the investigation on the cold case paid off.
I have one that most people seem to not know about. Grand Duchess Anastasia was in fact killed with the rest of her family in 1918. She never escaped and the several women throughout the 20th century claiming to be her lied.
The site of the execution of the Tsar and his family was completely untouched until 1991. Excavation found only 9 of the 11 expected remains. It wasn’t until 2007 that two further sets of remains were found a small distance away from the previous grave site. DNA testing found that one of the sets of remains belonged to Tsarevich Alexei and the other to one of his sisters. With this find, it proved conclusively that the entire Imperial family was in fact executed and buried in 1918.
The Prophet Hen of Leeds.
A hen was laying eggs with messages like “Christ is Coming” and people thought the world was ending.
Turned out the farmer was actually writing on the eggs herself, and then reinserted it back into the chicken.
8. What a monster.
The Golden State killer/ East area rapist – Joseph James DeAngelo
A former police officer (who was sacked for burglary) and mechanic. American serial rapist, murderer, burglar. Committed AT LEAST 13 murders, 50 rapes and over a 100 burglaries between 1973-1986
I was listening to the 6? Part podcast called case file and they hadn’t yet caught the suspect. But a year or so ago they finally got him after collecting DNA evidence when he put a tissue in the bin outside. It was a confirmed match.
**Edited to add as I just did a brief summery. Although it’s been covered in the comments by me and a few others I’ll add here for clarification.
He was caught a few days over 3 years ago. (Time flies)
He was only a cop for a short time before getting sacked, he was found shoplifting at store for supplies, like a hammer, dog repellent, at that time and not robbing a house.
He left semen as evidence. Because he wasn’t uploaded into the data base or caught before hand there was no DNA match in the system. The way they got onto him as a suspect BEFORE gathering hard evidence of the tissue, was a familiar match uploaded onto GENMATCH by what was a 3-4th cousin of his. The officers in charge of case then went through 1000 DNA profiles from his tree to finally narrow it down to him. They then swooped in to gather the tissue to get 100% clarity before the arrest. He was living with his daughter and 15 year old granddaughter at the time of his arrest and was acting perfectly healthy and very fit for his age. When presenting to court he was in a wheelchair and pretending to be senile. Such a act.
He is also described by all his victims as having a very small penis. Unusually small. At crime scenes he would pretend to talk to some one else. Go to the kitchen and make himself food or drink. Leave beer bottles at the site and go back to raping. He would break in and prepare the home before coming back a few days later to rape. By doing this he would leave little objects (like guns or rope cut at certain lengths) and steal items, by then he would know the layout of the house. He would shine a torch in people’s eyes to blind them. He’d often cry apologizing to his mummy or saying he wants his mummy. Other times he was cussing a woman named “Bonny”
Before breaking in and raping he would stalk and call the phone line several times. He would then call the victims after the rape and breathe heavily into the phone and or whisper. There is audio of one of these calls. It’s quite disturbing. He also went back to rape a victim.
If you haven’t already, listen to the podcast Case file True Crime, you can find this on Spotify.
I highly recommend it. The narrator is a Aussie who does and incredible job and his voice is lovely and very easy to listen to. He gets right into the story and doesn’t mess about.
Look for the episode number 53 it’s a 5 part case with a following 2 bonus interviews. And a update before case file episode 83.
It’s also been mentioned the HBO series “I’ll be gone in the dark” is a must watch and about Joseph.
And a book titled “I’ll be gone in the dark” by Michelle McNamara
9. A fun (if painful) story.
This is a personal family mystery that got solved a few years ago, so nothing exciting that would have gotten media attention, haha. But my maternal great-grandmother once ran away from home to the big city, and came back pregnant. She refused to disclose anything about the father. Either way, even down to my generation, we have had unusually shaped feet. Rather flat, with a strange angle, and it has made most regular shoes uncomfortable.
It’s not so bad for me, I take physically more after my paternal side of the family, but my brother and mother have it really bad. So does my cousin, who ended up seeking the help of a physical therapist. The therapist said that her feet are truly unusually shaped, and referred her to a specialist doctor who’s an expert on feet. (Apparently that’s a thing!) The doctor examined her feet and said that the only place in the world with distinct feet like that is a certain county in France, with winemakers who have been stomping on grapes for centuries.
He said that he is 99% certain that the feet come from there, that we must have close family lineage from there. My cousin told our family, and we were very confused. We most certainly don’t have French relatives!
Until we realized… GREAT-GRANDMA. The city she ran away to was known to house traveling craftsmen from all over the world. She must have hooked up with a French winemaker. We joked that now she rolled over in her grave, because this strange feet doctor discovered her secret!
10. To what end, I wonder?
In the 1970s, a number of Japanese citizens disappeared from coastal areas in Japan. After many years it was found out that North Korea had abducted them.
Most of the missing were in their 20s; the youngest, Megumi Yokota, was 13 when she disappeared in November 1977, from the Japanese west coast city of Niigata.
11. It all counts in space.
The Pioneer gravity anomaly.
Space probe wasn’t accelerating away from Earth the way we’d predicted, but it didn’t get noticed until the probe got way the fuck out there.
Next space probe gets launched, gets way out there, same thing happens. WTF? How does acceleration not work right? Does gravity just change really far away?
Turns out the heat from the radioactive death generator was all coming off the same side of the space probe, and the extra particle radiation gave a “thermal recoil force” resulting in an extra acceleration of — no kidding — about 0.000000000874 m/s2.
Over enough distance, it all counts.
12. Thirty years later…
Memories of Murder, a movie based on true story about South Korea’s first serial murderer.
A confession was made in 2019 after more than 30 years, he was already in jail for raping and killing his sister in law.
Go check the movie, its a masterpiece!
13. A deep rabbit hole.
The Siberian craters. As the permafrost melts, the methane gas gets released and it sometimes ignites.
Just went down the rabbit hole and it looks like there are different types of Siberian craters. Batagaika is just a slumping hillside after permafrost melted. Patomskie seems to be gas related but without an explosion. But many others as you mention from gas explosions.
Interestingly these are huge. I expected a car size explosion, but they are hundreds of feet deep.
One think I cant find is the ignition source. What lights the gas?
14. He sounds pleasant.
In January of 1993, a 14 year old girl I went to high school with was abducted on her way to school, murdered, and left nude in a ravine. Her murder went unsolved until 2004, when advances in DNA technology linked her case to a man who was already in prison for killing another woman.
Turns out he was a serial killer who had killed 4 women, some of whom had been raped.
15. Still yucky, though.
For many years, human feet kept washing up on the shores near Seattle and Vancouver. A total of 21 were found.
Naturally people thought there was a murderer afoot (sorry), and their modus operandi was to cut their victims feet off before disposing of the body in the ocean.
Turns out many of the remains were deemed as suicides.
Turns our when you jump off one of the many bridges Seattle and Vancouver has to offer, your body decomposes, and your limbs detach. The foam and floaty material in the victims shoes ensured their feet would FLOAT and get caught in tidal currants, this dispersing the detached feet nicely.
16. Not exactly a surprise.
The disappearance of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, who was also a French reconnaissance pilot during World War II.
In 1944, he took off on a reconnaissance mission from Corsica and never made it back, and there was never any evidence of what might have happened to him and his plane.
Finally, in 1998, a French fisherman pulled up his net and found wrapped in it a silver bracelet engraved with Saint-Exupery’s name, and in 2004, a diver searched in the area and found the remains of his plane, which had apparently been shot down by a German fighter after all.
17. They still haven’t said what’s in it?
Forest Fenn’s hidden treasure chest that he buried years ago and left clues to where to find its location. It was found within the last two years I think
18. *writes it down*
Adventures with purpose
A great YouTube channel where a group of divers find missing people underwater after years when the local authorities don’t care any more or just don’t have the resources
19. I had no idea.
The Case of Adrienne Shelly – screenwriter for Waitress. Husband came home to find her hanging in the shower – ruled suicide.
He insists she was happy and would never kill herself promoting another view of crime scene where they found a shoe print that matched a construction worker in the building.
Sure enough the construction worker went to rob her and thought he killed her so staged a suicide when the hanging ended up being the actual thing that killed her.
20. He ruined a perfectly good urban legend.
There once was an urban legend/conspiracy theory about a video game called “Polybius”. The story goes as such: a mysterious arcade cabinet appeared in Portland Oregon in 1981 with never-before-seen gameplay. It was captivating to the point of addicting, but that’s not all. Many who played the game fell sick or went mad. Some versions of the myth detail that it caused hallucinations and nightmares or drove players to suicide. Every version of the urban legend mentioned mysterious “men in black” who would check on the game every now and then, leading some to believe this was some kind of government psyop to make people go insane.
Several times over the years, it was proven to have not existed, usually by pointing to lack of contemporary media coverage and/or an FOIA request that found no records of such a video game, but this left people unsatisfied. If it truly WERE a psyop, of course these channels would come up blank. It wasn’t until a retro gaming youtuber and journalist called AHOY (who is a god-tier youtuber btw) made a video detailing his investigations. He not only proved it to be false, he found the exact person, place, time, and purpose for which the rumor was created.
21. I want to know what happened.
The Erebus and the Terror were found a few years ago. The two ships were part of an arctic expedition and disappeared 150 years ago.
They had a whole section of the Museum of History in Ottawa for it a few years ago, with some of the remnants of the ship. It was very interesting.
One thing that struck me was for years, the local indigenous population talked about those crazy white guys trying (and failing) to sail through the northwest passage, and ended up resorting to cannibalism in an attempt to survive.
Their stories were ignored for decades, but what do you know, the oral histories ended up being an important part of finding the wreckage, and they found cut marks and evidence of cannibalism on some of the bodies found on King William Island.
22. Not so mysterious after all.
Residents of Windsor (Canada) have been saying they could hear a hum coming from across the river in Detroit for the better part of a few decades.
Well turns out that when a steel producer turned their furnaces off recently (when they were closing up shop) the Hum stopped. People had no idea what the noise could be until the factory closed.
23. Magic rocks.
The Sailing Stones of Death Valley.
TL;DR: Rocks would magically move up to 1,500 feet in the desert. Turns out it gets cold & freezes the ground overnight & the rocks would get pushed by the ice sheets that melted under the wind.
24. Not a happy ending.
In February of 2010, the McStay’s, a family of 4 (Mom Summer, Dad Joseph, and sons Gianni and Joseph Jr) seemingly vanished from their home abruptly.
A carton of eggs was left open on the counter and the family dogs were still outside in the backyard. The scene was eerie, and complicated because the home the McStays lived in was in the process of being renovated- so a “neat and orderly” home wasn’t the norm at this stage.
It appeared there was missing furniture and the usual mess that comes with construction (some freshly painted or redone surfaces mixed with older versions). From the outside- it appeared the family just took off. Neighbor had surveillance that captured what appeared to be the bottom of the family SUV leaving the driveway.
Since they were living in California, the boarder to Mexico wasn’t far and authorities found footage of what appeared to be the McStay’s walking into Mexico with their two little boys in tow. The family SUV was found abandoned in a mall parking lot near the Mexico boarder.
3 years passed before the bodies of the McStay’s were found buried in shallow graves in the California desert. The bodies appeared to be in advanced decomposition and there were signs of blunt force trauma. A sledgehammer was also found buried with one of the bodies. Chase Merritt, a business partner to Joseph McStay, was arrested and charged with their murders on 11/5/2014. His trial was delayed for years until 2019.
He was sentenced to death. Motive- Chase had a gambling addiction and had been and continued embezzling money from the business. His DNA was found in the McStay’s abandoned vehicle. He bludgeoned this beautiful family to death for money.
25. I hope she’s happy.
Late to the party. Q Lazzarus, who recorded the haunting “Goodbye Horses” that was later included in the soundtrack for Silence of the Lambs, was a mystery for many years. It turns out that she recorded exactly two singles, retired from music, and is now a bus driver.
26. A little ingenuity.
Devil’s Kettle Falls: A stream separates into two sections, one continues normally the other spirals deep into a hole. All sorts of things were thrown down the hole in an effort to discover where the water went. Ping pong balls, various dyes, it was even rumored that someone stuck an old car down there.
Eventually someone came up with a clever idea, they measured the total water flow above and below the falls and discovered they were similar enough to deduce the two streams join back up relatively quickly.
I have room in my life for all mysteries, but there’s definitely more satisfaction in knowing the conclusion!
What’s a mystery you’re glad has been solved? If it’s not on this list we’re all ears in the comments!