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25 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries

GBR: Sellafield Nuclear Plant In West Cumbria


From the earliest humans, life has been filled with unsolved mysteries. Even today with modern science at its cutting edge, mysteries continue not only to surround us but entice and confound us. Many become so obsessed that they devote entire careers to seeking the answers, usually without positive results. Unfortunately, there are some questions that no amount of research and investigating seem to be able to answer. From disappearances to murders, the sad reality is that we may never have some of the answers that we want. But while all mysteries leave more questions than answers, there are some that are more burning than others.

Keep reading to learn about the 25 greatest unsolved mysteries.

 (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

drawer full of knives



The Villisca Axe Murder Case

In the small town of Villisca, Iowa, back in 1912, eight people were found murdered in their house.

There was no sign of a break-in. Six of the murdered victim were children, but only four lived in the house. The other two were friends who were sleeping over. The most perplexing part of the case is that although all the children were sharing beds, no one woke up while the person lying next to them was being smashed in the face with an ax. Adding to the mystery was the fact that all the mirrors in the house had been covered by sheets.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

People rowing out on dark water


The Loch Ness Monster Case
This perennial mystery surrounds the frequent and enduring sightings of this sea “monster” swimming around Loch Ness in Scotland. Although other inland waters have reported their own monsters, the Loch Ness (or Nessie) monster is far and away the most famous and probably gets a lot more publicity and attention than he deserves.

While many claim to have seen Nessie, only a few have come forward with photos.A gynecologist named Robert Kenneth Wilson and a gentleman named Hugh Gray took a photo in 1934 showing the monster rising up out of the water. Refusing the publicity that might be incurred by publishing his name, the photo became known as the Surgeons Photograph which appeared in the Daily Mail but it was later proven to be a hoax.

To this day, despite people who have become obsessed with this monster and have devoted their lives to get to the truth, it still remains a complete mystery.

(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

'UFO' Buildings Show In Rizhao


The Flying Saucer Case
Although unidentified flying objects have been puzzling mankind for ages, long before we ourselves got our feet off the ground, the real frenzy began in 1947 after a gentleman named Kenneth Arnold reported that while flying his light aircraft, an object which he tried to describe with different descriptions. One of the words he used was “saucer” and the media loved it. Flying saucers were born and have remained a deep mystery to the world ever since.

Since 1947, people in every corner of the globe have reported seeing flying saucers. A good number have even claimed to have been abducted and examined by unlikely aliens before being dumped back on earth.

Scientists and untrained civilians have racked their brains in an attempt to understand and solve this mystery. Today, understanding so much more, as we do, about the vast expanse of our universe and our tiny spot here, believe that it’s naïve to believe that we alone, account for all intelligent life. It would make sense for aliens who do arrive, to approach in a most circumspect way. In real life, if a “little green man” stepped out and announced: “Greetings, Earthlings. We come in peace,” he would likely be shot dead within ten minutes.

(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

 Alexander Hamilton's family archive of letters and manuscripts at Sotheby's January 2017


The Voynich Manuscript Case
Closer to home, the Voynich Manuscript has continued to baffle and intrigue scholars throughout centuries. A beautifully handwritten document (as were most manuscripts before  Gutenberg came along).

Most early manuscripts, however, were composed either in Greek or Latin. Chinese, of course, came much earlier, but it took many years for isolationist China to open its doors and even then, learning the thousands of characters was not an undertaking many scholars were prepared to accept. Latin and Greek along with attempts to understand Egyptian were challenges enough for most.

The Voynich Manuscript, nearly 40,000 words long (the length of a short novel), on vellum, has also a number of color sketches of nymphs, stars, and plant life, etc.

Presently installed permanently at Yale University, the manuscript, which actually has no official name other than Voynich, is now called that after Wilfrid Michael Voynich, a Lithuanian book lover with one of the most extensive rare book collections in the world. However, the first reference to this document comes around 1600 and so far, being an unsolved puzzle to date, it remains a mystery. Copies to read are available on the Internet. If anyone manages to decipher this mysterious volume, it would make that person world-famous overnight.

 (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Students Practice Art Of Writing A Torah


The Rongorongo Case
The Easter Islands, famous for the gigantic heads that stand guard, were evidently built to ward off unwelcome visitors in the past. They have a mystery much greater than that to consider, a mystery that today continues to keep scholars scratching their heads in their futile attempts to decipher these glyphs (in this case, characters inscribed on blocks of decaying wood). As with most ancient writings, these are believed to be some sort of sacred, religious connotation, but to date, no one has been able to decipher them and they remain one of the world’s great mysteries.

(Photo by MarioTama/Getty Images)

Local Economy Flourishes Through Fishing Industry


The Brink’s-Mat Robbery Case
In 1983, robbers pulled off one of the world’s biggest bank heists.

Six men managed to get into the Brink’s-MAT warehouse at Heathrow Airport. Aided by a dirty security guard. Evidently, their original plan was much more modest, but when they discovered three tons of gold bullion along with diamonds, the elated robbers made off with approximately $43 million (Nearly $106 million in today’s currency)

(Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

2012 Sydney Royal Easter Show


The Lizzie Borden Case
This mysterious case has haunted investigators since 1892 when Lizzie’s father, Andrew, and her stepmother, Abby, were found axed to death in their home.

Suspicion immediately fell upon Lizzie who was the only other occupant of the house, her sister being out-of-town at the time.

Following the murders, Lizzie burned a dress, claiming it had been stained with paint. Prosecutors later claimed she burned the dress because the “paint” was actually blood.

Although Lizzie was tried and eventually acquitted, no one knows for certain, to this day, exactly what happened that day in the Borden household. Opinions continue to differ, but of course, this will always remain one of life’s enduring mysteries.

Aerial view of home in New Mexico


The Los Lunas Decalogue Case
This one is a real mystery. This lump of stone, commonly named for its place of discovery, Los Lunas, New Mexico, appears to be about 2,000 years of age. What really shocked those who examined it was the fact that it had the Ten Commandments inscribed on it, and so far, all evidence indicates this arrive in North America long before Columbus dropped anchor in the Americas.

While many archaeologists believe this may be a hoax, no one can adequately explain what a Jewish relic such as this was doing in North America some 2,000 years ago.

(Picture by Mel Bouzad/Getty Images)

63rd Venice Film Festival : Opening Ceremony and 'The Black Dahlia' Premiere


The Black Dahlia Case
Elizabeth Short, a twenty-two-year-old woman, attractive and doing her best to bet into films in the Hollywood of the 40s. Evidently, as with so many Hollywood hopefuls, Ms. Short was pretty much willing to do what she had to do in the hope of advancing her career.

Unfortunately, Ms Short was found murdered in 1947, her body mutilated and cut in half as well. Speculation ran rampant but no proof could be levied against anyone. Confessions abounded, as they often do in highly publicized cases, but law enforcement remained in the dark.

In more recent years, author James Ellroy’s noir novel based on this murder is considered a classic.

(Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images)

airplane flying through the sky


The D.B. Cooper Case

The wave of publicity and public interest that surrounded this mystery was probably unwarranted. However, The D. B. Cooper case not only outshone everything else the media of 1971 but continues to fascinate some even today.

A man named Dan Cooper, arrived with his ticket in hand and boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 305 in Portland, Oregon, bound for Seattle, Washington. For some reason, the media picked up on the name Dan Cooper and changed it to D. B. Cooper. It stuck and even today, no one would recognize Dan Cooper as being the same person. At the time he commandeered the aircraft, demanding $200,000 (considerably more value that it would have today, and parachutes).

Unworthy of attention or not, Mr. Cooper did an extremely bold, if foolish and dangerous thing, when he lowered the rear stairs about 45 minutes after takeoff and dropped from sight in the middle of the night.Over the years speculation has surrounded Mr. Cooper’s fate. Did he die in the leap into the night? Did he make his getaway? Did he have an accomplice waiting in the area? No one knows and possible no one ever will know.

Some of the marked bills have been found, however, but nothing like $200,000 so speculation runs toward some of the money falling out of the bag, money that Mr. Cooper didn’t know fell out, or if he did, it was too dark to go looking for scattered bills in the night.

D.B. Cooper & Don Draper

The D.B. Cooper case was recently brought back into the spotlight with the TV series “Mad Men” coming to it’s conclusion. There were many theories being discussed about Don Draper’s eventual fate and background being revealed in the series finale. One such theory was that Don Draper was based on D.B Cooper, which proved to be incorrect.

 (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

desert view


The Peruvian Nazca Lines Case
These lines extending up to 1,200 feet in the Nazca Desert in southern Perú lie on a high plateau some 400 miles south of the capital, Lima.

Some of these depict monkeys as well as other animals and even human figures. They are shallow lines made by removing the natural reddish pebbles to reveal a whitish soil beneath. Scholars cannot agree as to exactly what these all mean, but most archeologists know that such early productions are usually related to religious beliefs.

Luckily for modern man, the isolation, and dry stable climate have preserved these lines in good condition for the most part.

The real puzzle here is that the pictographs are only visible as a whole from the sky. They were done at a time when measuring instruments would have been quite primitive and since they were never able to see the finished pictures, it’s one of our great unsolved mysteries that these, from the air, are very stylized and accurate picture that, at the time, perhaps would have been only visible to the gods…or, as some believe, to alien visitors.

 (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

judge gavel in court room


The Hae Min Lee Murder Case
When the body of high school senior, Hae Min Lee, was found strangled in a local park back in 1999, her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, came under immediate suspicion. He was later tried, convicted and give a sentence of life plus thirty years.

Since murders occur on a daily basis, this case fell quietly into the background until a podcast in 2014 brought national attention back onto the case and Syed’s trial. The Innocence Project has ordered DNA testing which indicated that a number of other possible

The Innocence Project has ordered DNA testing which indicated that a number of other possible suspects might be responsible for similar crimes, so at this time, the case continues to remain one of our great unsolved mysteries.

 (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Controversy Surrounds Stonehenge Tunnel Plans


The Stonehenge Case
We all know that the construction of Stonehenge alone is a mystery. The five-thousand-year-old structure is mystery enough, considering the problem of transporting so many unbelievably heavy slabs of granite and setting them up in a particular fashion.

Aside from the initial mystery of Stonehenge, scientists using today’s advanced technology have revealed that Stonehenge was previously more complicated than the Stonehenge we know today.

Lying beneath this massive five-thousand-year-old monument Archeologists have discovered thousands of monuments. They have uncovered shrines, deep pits, and burial mounds.

Previously thought to be a stand-alone monument, this intriguing as yet unsolved mystery has really got the scientific world scratching its head.

(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Pope Francis Attends His Weekly Audience In St Peter's Square


The Knights Templar Case
This religious fighting order took form in the early twelfth century only a short time after the First Crusade.

At the time, much as militant Muslims today want to kill all those who refuse to accept Christianity, during the Middle Ages, several large militant groups traveled to the Holy Land either to convert the Muslims or to kill them.

Shortly after the First Crusade, a French aristocrat named Hugues de Payens started the Order and with the vow to protect Christian pilgrims, and with eight adherents to his cause, he was permitted by King Baldwin II of Jerusalem to install a headquarters on Temple Mount.

This is where the mystery really begins. Donations to the Templar Knights began pouring in, not to mention the loot often acquired as they protected Christianity. Before long they were not only rich beyond anyone’s wildest beliefs but their power, as well as their fame, had increased to the point where Pope Innocent II issued a document allowing the knights to pass freely from country to country and to pay no taxes. Further, they were subject to no authority save that of the Pope at the Vatican.

Eventually, banks being iffy, more and more pilgrims entrusted their fortunes to the Knights Templar who acted as bankers, growing even more powerful.

In the end, the fate of the Knights Templar began to wane and the order was officially dismantled, but to this day, much of the astounding treasure in their custody, has never been found. Some feel that the knights attempted to move the treasure by ship, a ship that may have foundered in the choppy waters of the Atlantic.

In addition to all that, many charges were eventually brought against the Knights Templar, charges of blasphemy, heresy, and charges for example that today would seem ridiculous, such as spitting on the cross along with other petty and obviously fraudulent charges that nevertheless caused their doom.

The vast fortune held in trust by the Knights Templar (if it actually still exists), has never to this day been found.

(Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Authorities Search For Clues In South Florida Charter Boat Mystery


The Open Water Case

In this sad case, a married couple, Tom and Eileen Lonergan, decided to go scuba diving in the Coral Sea in 1998. Evidently, while they were in a dive, the charter boat, assuming for some reason that everyone was back aboard sipping a cold beer, headed back to port.

About two days later, someone realized the couple was not among those who came back on the charter craft. Heading back out, searchers spent three days looking for any trace of the missing couple, but found nothing. No one knows to this day whether the couple simply drowned or was eaten by sharks or what.

Later, a fisherman did find a diver’s slate that stated they had been abandoned, and begged for rescue before they died. It ended with the one word: Help!!. This was later made into a movie called “Open Water” but most of it was, as is Hollywood custom, fictitious and we have here another sad, but true unsolved mystery.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Trauma Center at Public Chicago Hospital Treats Severely Injured


The Toxic Lady Case
In 1994 a woman named Gloria Ramirez arrived at the emergency room of a hospital. It turned out that she was in the late stages of cervical cancer. She was also extremely dazed. No medication helped and when Ms Ramirez’s heart failed, they tried to restart it with a defibrillation machine. At that time nurses noted that she body was covered by an oily substance. Others noted a strong odor so spoiled fruit or garlic coming from the patient’s mouth.

When a nurse drew blood from the patient’s arm she noted a strong ammonia-like odor coming from the tube the contained the blood. When she handed this to a resident, she fainted and had to be removed from the room. A few moments later, the resident too exhibited nausea and light-headedness. She fainted too. Then another person fainted. The room was evacuated including all the other emergency room patients. A skeleton crew remained to work on Ramirez but was unable to revive her and finally she was pronounced dead of kidney failure.

One theory was that Ramirez had used dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as a home remedy, but that was only guesswork which others dispute and the mystery of Gloria Ramirez’s strange odor and death remains a — well, a mystery.

 (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Preparation For Michael Jackson Trial


The Judge Crater Case
Judge Crater, a New York State Supreme Court Justice, simply vanished back in 1930. The last report of his having been seen was at the moment when the judge was leaving a restaurant in Manhattan.

As the media picked up on this, so followed the public throughout not only New York City, but the entire nation. At the time of the judge’s disappearance, New York was being rocked by political scandal. It became public just before his disappearance that shortly prior to his appointment to the seat on the state supreme court, Judge Crater withdrew $20,000.00 from his bank. This was an enormous amount of money at the time, and many became suspicious, believing the judge had paid off some politicians to secure his place on the bench.

At this time, acting as a receiver in bankruptcy, he sold a property for a small fraction of its $3 million dollar value which the city paid to get the property back, thus putting a good deal of money into the pockets of some politicians as well as Judge Crater.

Following his disappearance, people all over the nation often referred to anyone who disappeared as having done a Judge Crater.

(Photo by Spencer Weiner-Pool/Getty Images)

Gardener And TV Presenter Rachel de Thame Visits The Butterflies In The Glasshouse At RHS Garden Wisley


The Mishra Reincarnation Case

The jury may be forever out when it comes to reincarnation, but in India where there is more belief in it than in the West perhaps, more cases apparently come to light. This outstanding and impressive case revolves around a little girl named Swarnlata Mishra. Born in 1948, by the time she was only three years old, travelling with her father past a town over a hundred miles from her home, she asked her father to turn into another street, insisting they could get a better cup of tea at “her House” than they could at any local restaurant. As time went on, she began to recall and tell more details of her life in this other town. Her father put these into writing so they couldn’t forget.

The girl remembered her name and insisted she had two sons. She was able to give correct details about the house and later, her father took her back and the pointed out the house. She informed her father that the family had a motor car (extremely rare in the time frame she mentioned), and she told how she had died from a pain in her throat. She went on to mention a great many details, some fairly important, others seemingly insignificant, such as helping a friend locate the latrine during her wedding reception.

The list of correct memories and instances of recognition goes on and on — an attempt to fool Swarnlata failed as well. Even the local dialect was different and she understood it easily. Although as we mentioned, many don’t believe in reincarnation, this is just one of the cogent stories that may always remain a mystery. All over the world, including the Western world, many have experienced what we call déjà-vu, and we have to ask ourselves if this isn’t just a glimpse into our own reincarnation or what?

 (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Royal banquet table setting


The Mayerling Case
In this intriguing mystery, so much so in fact, that it has inspired not only books but movies as well. Perhaps the best, and best remembered was “Mayerling” (1936) starring Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux (both top box office stars in France at the time.)

The unsolved mystery is that Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria was having an affair with the lovely Baroness Mary. After a dinner with his parents, Rudolf excused himself and headed out to a hunting lodge named Mayerling for a pre-arranged tryst with Mary.

The following day, when staff knocked on the door in vain, they finally broke in to find both Prince Rudolf and Baroness Mary dead. Although many theories came forward, none of them really held up. The affair was an open secret in the royal family. Even Prince Rudolf’s wife knew about it. In those days, with the imperial courts bursting with people night and day, a secret was almost impossible to keep.

At the time, the official report determined that only one shot had been fired from the only gun in the lodge, but other evidence showed plainly that six shots had been fired. No one, however, can explain where the other five shots went.

Some claimed the Prince shot his mistress as well as himself, but at the funeral, his hands had been shielded in gloves because those in authority felt his mother would only be more upset after seeing the defensive wounds on her son’s hands.

An even more ominous ramification to this bizarre case is that because of Prince Rudolf’s untimely death, the royal succession had changed and would eventually lead to the opening shot of World War One.

Many feel that an assassin assaulted the couple and murdered them while others are sure the couple’s romance had turned sour and a fight at Mayerling turned deadly.

 (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

vampire mugs


The George And Mary Brown Case
Back in 1883, the Brown family came down with tuberculosis (at the time called consumption). This was one of the timeframe’s most deadly diseases, and it spread quickly from one member of the family to another.

In the Brown home, the mother, Mary went first. Her daughter, also Mary, only 20, died six months later.

For the time being, the wave appeared to have passed over the rest of the family, but then 24-year-old Edwin, the Browns’ son, contracted the illness.

His father George Brown nearly lost his mind from grief. The doctor prescribed a warm dry climate such as Colorado or Arizona.

George took Edwin to Colorado Springs for treatment and there, Edwin appeared to improve but tragedy was to strike again. The Browns’ other daughter, nineteen-year old Mercy contracted an even more devastating form of the disease. Called galloping tuberculosis. Her death was swift, but it being an extremely cold winter, the ground was too frozen to dig. Mercy’s body was placed in and above-ground crypt while the family waited for the spring thaw.

Upon returning home, Edwin took a turn for the worse and he died as well. As he lay dying, Edwin apparently began having hallucinations, one of which was seeing his dead sister sitting on his chest attempting to suck his remaining life out of him. He thought she was a vampire!

New England in the 1800s had a pretty unsophisticated population that believed in an amazing number of superstitions, one of which was that vampires were real and it didn’t take long for the townspeople to start talking. Dead Mercy Brown was out of the graveyard and walking at midnight. Ask the rumors escalated the town came to the conclusion that Mercy was a vampire all right and had caused Edwin’s illness.

Therefore the conclusion at the time was that Mercy the vampire was the cause of all the bad luck the Brown family had. Due to the cold weather, Mercy had not decomposed in the way one might expect a normal person to decompose, the townspeople used that as proof that she was indeed a vampire. Just to make sure she stayed in her grave, they removed her organs some of which they burned.

The unsolved mystery here lies in the fact that complete ignorance combined with the uncanny belief in supernatural activities caused the townspeople to fall into a terrified panic when of course, there was little to fear except the scourge of tuberculosis.

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

International Space Station Flies Above The Full Moon


The Steppe Geoglyphs Case
Somewhat similar to the mystery of the Peruvian Nazca Lines, Kazakhstan can boast its own mysterious set of some three hundred, some at least 8,000 years old. Until 2007, no one living today was even aware of their existence, since they’re only really visible and form a picture from the sky. In flight, Dmitriy Dey noticed them while looking for pyramids.

These geoglyphs, scattered throughout various parts of Kazakhstan, are intricate earthworks forming different shapes, ranging from giant rings to swastikas. Theories range from Nazis (who came along much later and remained too long) to ancient aliens, (always popular among a certain segment of the population), but no one really knows why or how they were constructed.

These relics create such a mystery that NASA is trying to use all its modern technology to find some answers.

 (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

old man drinking tea


The Immortal Count Case
Some claim it’s all pure fiction, while others insist this mystery revolves around a living “immortal” man. He’s an aristocrat too, being a Count. Stories abound telling he consorted with many famous historic figures such as Casanova, Voltaire, King Lois XV of France and our first president, George Washington.

Legend has it that he was born in the early eighteenth century, setting up his own private alchemy laboratory wherever he sojourned. He reportedly speaks twelve languages, plays the violin well, paints never dines in public, and although he supposedly earns his living selling products to dye hair or remove wrinkles, he is purported to have enormous wealth. And as the once-popular song suggests, the beat goes on. There are those who insist that the count is still alive today and is seen primarily in societies such as the Illuminati and Masons.

Can he actually have discovered the key to immortality? Do we all really want immortality?

(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

large saucer disc in the ground


The Phaistos Disc Case

In 1908, archaeologists discovered a fired clay disc near the ancient Minoan Palace of Phaistos.

Scholars believe the disc was created around 2,000 BC, and feel they’ve come close at times to deciphering the imprinted symbols and hieroglyphics, yet in the end, the meanings remain a fascinating mystery.

 (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Annual Moth Night Count


The Mothman Case

Many claim to have seen the Mothman in West Virginia. Witnesses describe the Mothman as a sort of man-sized bird-creature with something like the form of a man with wings that flies silently and close to the ground. Its outstanding feature would be its “glowing red eyes”.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Wild Place Project Welcomes A Pack Of Wolves


The Beast Of Gevaudan Case
The location was France in 1764. A young woman tending cattle looked up and saw this frightful beast coming at her. Fortunately, the bulls in the herd managed to keep the beast at bay. But only a short time later, the first victim of the beast was recorded when a young girl was killed.

The attacks continued, some believing that the beast was the hybrid offspring of a wolf and a dog, while others came up with many different theories. One of the more likely theories may be that sailors returning from a voyage to Australia, had brought along a young Tasmanian tiger, and later released it into the forest. The Tasmanian tiger, today supposedly extinct, although some claim they continue to exist), most closely resembles the reports, as well as illustrations and the now-famous statue.

The public was so upset by these events that King Louis XV sent his best huntsmen to track down the beast. Eventually, they did shoot a huge wolf-like creature that was placed on display for some time at Louis XV’s court. There are many theories including tales of some of the local men who attacked and raped women along with a myriad of other strange ideas, but today the real identity of the Beast of Gévaudan remains an unsolved mystery.

Of course, thousands of unsolved mysteries abound as time passes and more arise every day. These have been only a handful of mysteries that will probably never be solved.

 (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Written by Camille Moore

Camille has a master's degree from Saint Joseph University's Writing Studies program. Her writing has been published on several websites, and she enjoys writing articles and short stories in her spare time. You can follow Camille on Twitter @CamealAshley.