Some crimes are so shocking and heinous they capture the minds of the general public and won’t let go until the killer is brought to justice. What happens when the perpetrator of such a crime is never brought to justice and the case remains open for decades? The public never really gets that closure they’re looking for. We don’t get that feeling that justice has been served. The killings on this list are all examples of stories that continue to capture our attention. The victims never saw the justice they deserved and their cases remain open to this day.
10: Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman
How did one of the most famous unsolved murders in history come in at number 20 on this list? Simple. We all know who did it. OJ Simpson was acquitted, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t do it. He got away with a heinous double murder because he hired the best attorneys money could buy and because the LAPD screwed up the case in such an astounding way, the prosecutors had little chance of successfully putting Simpson away. All of the evidence was there technically but it had been improperly handled to an extent that the men and women of the jury had no choice but do view it with reasonable doubt. The American justice system promises every citizen accused of a crime a fair trial. OJ Simpson got one. Ron and Nicole did not. Had the evidence been handled properly from the start, there is no way Simpson would’ve walked out of that courtroom a free man.
It’s worth mentioning, of course, that a documentary released in 2012 seems to cast doubt on whether or not OJ was actually the killer after all. The documentary claims that serial killer Glen Rogers, already on death row for several murders, was responsible for taking Ron and Nicole’s lives. He was working construction in the area at the time and bragged to his family that he was spending time with Nicole. He told his family she was rich and said he planned to ‘take her out’. Even if true, The Juice doesn’t escape at least partial responsibility. According to Rogers, who has confessed to the crime, OJ actually hired him to break into Nicole’s home and steal a pair of earrings OJ had given her. OJ then told Rogers to ‘kill the b****’ if necessary. Is it true? Hard to say. Glen Rogers has often boasted of his killings and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think he would lie about killing Ron and Nicole to make himself a little more infamous. Of course, he offered details to investigators only the killer could have know. Perhaps this one isn’t as open and shut as we’ve long believed.
09: Andrew and Abbey Borden
I was on the “Lizzie was innocent!” side of this debate for a very long time, but then I did something silly – I read more about the case. The evidence is all circumstantial, sure, but there’s a whole lot of it and most of it points to Lizzie Borden. Now, maybe she didn’t kill her father, Andrew, and her stepmother, Abbey, but I’m convinced she knew who did and decided to keep that information from the authorities. Lizzie was put on trial for the murders but was acquitted. That didn’t mean the veil of suspicious was lifted though. She was ostracized by her neighbors and lived that way until 1927 when she passed away, many still believing she was guilty … which she probably was.
08: The Tamam Shud Case
This one is probably the most fascinating murder case on this list for me. It has all the makings of a hit suspense novel or movie but this is no work of fiction. It all began on December 1, 1948 in Adelaide, Australia when the lifeless body of a man, believed to be in his 40s, was found on Somerton Beach. In the beginning, it was believed the man, who had no ID, died of natural causes but further investigation showed the cause of death to be poisoning. The type of poison? Unknown. The man’s identity? Unknown. The only clue authorities had to go on was a slip of paper found in a hidden pocket in the man’s pants. The words “Tamam Shud” were written on the paper, which looked like it had been ripped or cut from a book. The book turned out to be a book of poems titled The Rubaiyat written by Omar Khayyam. The book the paper had been written from was found in a car close to the location where the body was found. The car’s owner evidently had no connection to the deceased or the crime and was not even aware the book was in his car. The theory is that the killer tossed the book into the car as he fled the scene or that possibly the victim himself had discarded the book. More clues were found inside the book including a series of letters that may have been a code as well as a phone number. Authorities called the number but the woman who answered claimed to have no knowledge of the man. For whatever reason, the phone number and the woman were excluded from the investigation, leaving authorities with little to nothing to go on. To this day, no one knows who the man was, who poisoned him or whether or not the strange letters found inside the book was actually a code. If it is, that code has never been cracked but one has to assume if it were, it would at least offer police a new direction to go in.
07: Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace
A lot of people have a lot of theories about this one but on the record, the murders of 2Pac and Biggie Smalls remain unsolved. When Tupac Shakur was shot on September 7, 1996 after leaving the MGM Grand with Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight. For a few days, news of Shakur’s condition was mixed but he succumbed to his injuries on September 13, 1996. Six months later, almost to the day, Christopher Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls or the Notorious B.I.G, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting. Suspicious that the two murderers were related was hard to avoid considering the well known battle between East Coast rappers and West Coast rappers with many seeing 2Pac and Biggie as the dominant figures in each side of the war. The idea that Biggie was murdered in retaliation for 2Pac’s murder was not uncommon but all these years later, the answer is still not clear. Who killed these two talented rap artists? Theories abound but no one has been charged and both cases remain open.
06: JonBenet Ramsey
When JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered in her family’s Boulder, Colorado home on December 25, 1996, shock and disbelief spread throughout the United States and much of the rest of the world. Who would want to harm this beautiful little girl? The death of the six-year-old beauty contestant had everything the press needed for a sensational story and that’s exactly what the world got. There were no footprints in the snow outside the family’s home. There were no signs of forced entry. A ransom note inside the home was oddly worded and written on stationary from inside the family’s home. More than that, why ask for ransom when the little girl was already dead, her body still inside the family’s home. The veil of suspicion immediately fell over JonBenet’s family. Some have accused Boulder police of deciding the family was guilty and therefore not collecting evidence properly that may have implicated other people. In the years since her death, many new ‘breaks’ have come in the JonBenet Ramsey case but none have led to an arrest. In 2009, JonBenet’s family was officially taken off the suspect list but with more than 100 break-ins around the neighborhood around the same time, 38 registered sex offenders living within a 2 mile radius of the Ramsey home and numerous other suspects investigated and cleared, the case remains open and it seems we are no closer to finding out who was responsible and bringing the person responsible for JonBenet’s death to justice.
05: The Zodiac Killer
The Zodiac Killer is one of those killers that can’t seem to help gloating about his sick accomplishments. In various communications, he’s claimed responsibility for 37 murders although investigators can only conclusively tie seven attacks to the killer, two of whom survived Zodiac’s attack. There have been many books written about the Zodiac Killer and many movies made about the story but despite lots of theories floating around about who could have been responsible for these terrible crimes, no one has ever been arrested and convicted. The Zodiac Killer sent several cryptograms to police officers, investigators and media outlets but only one of the four cryptograms have been solved for certain. Who is the Zodiac Killer? We may never know.
04: The Tylenol Murders
The Tylenol Murders claimed seven lives in September and October of 1982 and the perpetrator of the crimes has never been caught. There have been several suspects and several theories about who committed the crime and how but nothing concrete was ever brought forward, nothing solid enough to get a conviction, at least. James William Lewis was long considered a prime suspect, but there were flaws with the theory. The victims of the poisoned Extra Strength Tylenol Capsules took place in Chicago but Lewis and his wife lived in New York when the crimes were committed. Sabotage at the factory was ruled out as all of the poisoned pills were produced in different factories. How were the pills poisoned, then? It is believed the killer purchased bottled of Tylenol from different drug stores around Chicago, took the pills home, poisoned them and then returned them to store shelves. It’s a terrifying though, especially for anyone that has pain relievers close at hand at all times. The murders led to reforms in the way pain relievers are packaged but the changes came too late for the victims of this cold blooded killer. In 2011, new theories came forward that put a new spin on the entire investigation though, including the theory that ‘Unabomber’, Ted Kaczynski may have been involved or that the tampering had not taken place after pills made their ways to store shelves. This theory focuses on distributing centers, the step between the factory and the store shelves. It’s and especially explosive theory considering Scott Bartz, the man behind the theory, believes Johnson & Johnson knew about the tampering but covered it up. Is there any truth to that rumor? No one knows but this far after the fact, it would be hard, if not impossible, to prove.
03: The Black Dahlia
The body of 22 year old Elizabeth Short was found horribly mutilated and partially naked on January 15, 1947 in Leimert Part, Los Angeles. This story has been written about in books, adapted for films and portrayed on various television shows.More than 60 people have come forward to confess to the crime although no confession has led to an arrest. As it stands, the murder of Elizabeth Short remains one of the oldest unsolved murders in United States history. Perhaps one of the biggest problems with this case is the lack of credible information being passed around in regards to Elizabeth and the circumstances surrounding her murder. First, there is no evidence Elizabeth ever worked as a call girl, a popular rumor likely started be ‘journalists’ looking to make the story even more sensational. Second, Elizabeth did not go by the nickname The Black Dahlia. When this murder took place, the media liked to give sensational murders nicknames to make them easier for the public to remember. It was easier to sell stories about a mysterious murder victim named The Black Dahlia than it was to sell stories about a 22 year old girl named Elizabeth. Did all the sensationalism draw more attention to the story? Yes. Could that attention help solve the crime? In theory. In practice though, it did not. Despite a lengthy list of suspects and a whole lot of rumors, no one has ever been charged with Elizabeth Short’s murder.
02: The Boy in the Box
This is truly one of the saddest stories on this list for two reasons, First, the killer of this little boy, believed to be between 4 and 6 years of age at the time of his death, has never been found. Second, the identity of this little boy is still unknown. The naked body of the boy was found tucked inside a cardboard box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 25, 1957. The box he was found inside once held a baby’s bassinet commonly sold at J.C. Penny making it difficult to even track down the owner of the bassinet that had been inside the box. The boy was wrapped in a plaid blanket and he had been badly beaten. His hair had been cropped close to his head in a hurried way, suggesting the killer may have cut the hair to destroy evidence. This factor contributes to one of the most credible theories behind the Boy in the Box mystery.
In 2002, a woman came forward claiming her mother had purchased a young boy from a couple in 1954. He was either named Michael prior to arriving at his new home or named Michael by his new mother, an abusive woman who subjected the poor boy to physical and sexual abuse for two years before flying into a fit of rage after the boy threw up in the bathtub, an incident that culminated in the beating death of little Michael. The woman then claimed she’d helped her mother dispose of Michael’s body inside a cardboard box where the unidentified child had been found. According to the woman, a passing motorized had stopped to offer the woman and her young daughter assistance with the box but had driven off when they insisted they didn’t need help. This matched up with evidence given by a witness at the time of the body’s discovery but questions still remained. The woman who came forward had a long history of mental illness, which could certainly be caused by an abusive mother but that would also cause investigators to doubt her story, especially after so much time had passed. Neighbors of the woman and her young daughter also called the claims she made ridiculous and indicated no young boy had ever lived with the family. Is it possible the young mother had kept Michael hidden from neighbors? It would make sense and it would also explain why no one had noticed the boy missing but with little actual evidence to prove the troubled woman’s story was true, the case remained open.
A second theory has also gotten much attention in this case, one involving a foster home, a psychic and a medical examiner’s office employee that refused to let go of the case. Remington Bristow was troubled by the story of the Boy in the Box since the boy’s body had been discovered and launched an investigation to find the people responsible. He continued his investigation until the day he died in 1993. Bristow believed the young boy lived at a foster home a mere 1.5 miles from where the unidentified boy had been discovered. He spoke with a psychic who led him straight to the foster home which seemed to confirm Bristow’s suspicion, but could hardly count as evidence enough to charge the family. More curiously though, a search of an estate sale at the home turned up a bassinet similar to the one that came in the box the boy was found in. On the clothes line? A blanket similar to the one the boy was wrapped in. None of this was enough to pursue charges against the family, however. Investigators later cleared the family of suspicion and the investigation into the tragic case continued.
01: Jack the Ripper
When it comes to unsolved murders, nothing can top Jack the Ripper. The story of Jack the Ripper has been told and retold so many times and so many theories have been floated around it’s almost impossible to tell fact from folklore at this point. Were the police in on it? Was there a Royal connection? Were there multiple killers? The questions are endless and, at this point, almost completely unanswerable. The truth at the heart of the story that people often forget though is that Jack the Ripper’s victims were brutally killed, horribly mutilated and no one has ever been punished for the crime. That’s truly frightening.
I would have included Jimmy Hoffa.