When a murder is committed, law enforcement does its best to nab the killer. Sometimes, however, the perpetrator is one step ahead, stumping authorities at every turn. Here are 32 stories of people who got away with murder.
Unsolved Murders Facts
32. Jack The Ripper
Some of the most infamous unsolved murders are those of Jack the Ripper, who went on a killing spree in 1888, murdering and mutilating young female prostitutes in the Whitechapel district of London, England. The unknown murderer took the name "Jack the Ripper" in his letters to the police. He sent George Lusk, the president of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, a box that contained a letter headed "From Hell" and half of a human kidney, preserved in wine. The ripper's identity remains a mystery to this day.
31. The Freeway Phantom
During the 1970s, multiple African American girls aged 10 to 18 were killed in the DC area, all by strangulation. One of the victims, Brenda Woodward, was forced to dictate a message from the killer where he called himself "The Freeway Phantom."
30. Gary Grant Jr.
It was a teacher's-in-service day in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1984. Seven year old Gary Grant Jr. had the day off of school, and told his mother of a secret appointment he had at 2:30. He went outside to play in the afternoon and never came back; his body was later found in an abandoned warehouse. The case still has a $15,000 reward for solving the murder. Many suspects surfaced throughout the years, but no charge has stuck, despite a 911 call in 1986 from a man claiming he was the killer. In the call, the unknown caller asked if he could collect reward money on himself and boasted "You’re never going to catch me."
29. Tracey Ann Patient
In 1975, Tracey Ann Patient was just 13 years old and living in Auckland, New Zealand. After spending time at a friend's Patient was due back home at 9:30 pm—but never arrived. Her body was found the next day; she had been strangled with her own pantyhose. In 1977, after sketching a missing signet ring Patient had on before her death, police received an anonymous call saying that the ring could be found in a dumpster outside of a drug store. Eerily, it was. The caller also said the the number 126040 was important to the Patient case and promised to call back later. They never did, police have never figured out the meaning of the numbers, and Paitent's case is still cold.
28. Blair Adams
In 1996, Blair Adams, a 31 year old construction worker, withdrew his life savings of $6,000 and crossed the border from British Columbia into the US. He had told a friend that someone was trying to kill him, and his mother noticed Adams had been disturbed for the last couple of weeks. After heading south to rent a hotel and never using the room, Adams' body was found in Knoxville in a parking lot near his accommodation. His shirt was ripped, his pants were removed, and his socks were inside out on his feet. No security cameras caught the footage, and no known connection of Adams lived in Knoxville.
27. Mary Ann Holmes
On July 10, 1995, a four year old girl ran into her neighbour's house. She was naked and bound, and screamed that her mother and been murdered. Mary Ann Holmes, the girl's mother, was found handcuffed and slain in her bedroom. The killer had made Holmes's daughters watch, but afterwards the girls only described the unknown attacker as "a lion."
26. Sam Lottery
Eighteen-year-old Sam Lottery was living in London, Ontario in 1997, when he suddenly went missing. His family went to Church that Sunday, and there was an envelope left on the pew where they usually sat each week. The envelope contained a photograph that Lottery kept in his wallet, and a letter telling them that his body had been dumped in the Thames River. Police searched multiple times, but did not find him. Six months later, a local man was walking his dog when his the pooch picked up a human arm bone. It belonged to Lottery, and his killer has never been found.
25. Gregory Villemin
For years, the Villemin family of Lepanges-sur-Vologne, France, was harassed by someone calling themselves Le Corbeau, or "The Crow." The Crow would make threatening phone calls, write letters, and even went so far as to pay for advertisements on TV, vowing revenge on Jean-Marie Villemin. One day in 1984, Jean-Marie received a phone call from The Crow informing him that his son, Gregory, was dead. Police found the four-year-old's body tied up and tossed in a nearby river. Later, Jean-Marie got a letter saying, "I hope you die of grief, boss. Your money can’t give you back your son. Here is my revenge, you stupid bastard." The Crow's true identity has never been discovered.
24. Kelly Cook
In 1981, a 15 year old girl named Kelly Cook from Standard, a small town in Alberta, Canada worked part-time as a babysitter. A man who called himself “Bill Christianson” called, asked if Cook was available to babysit for him, and offered to pick her up. The man pulled into the Cook family's driveway but didn’t go to the door. Kelly’s mother didn’t walk out to see what he looked like, and all she could see was a man wearing sunglasses through the window. Her daughter left the house and was never seen alive again. Two months later, Cook's body was found in an irrigation canal.
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23. The Setagaya Murders
Mikio and Yasuko Miyazawa lived in the Setagaya Ward of Tokyo. On New Year's Eve, 2000, their bodies and the bodies of their children Niina and Rei were found in their home. Rei had been strangled, while the rest of the family was stabbed to death. Forensic evidence shows that the unknown killer murdered the family on December 30th before staying the night, using the family computer, and eating ice cream.
22. Glacia Ramsey And Peaches Christburg
In 2013, Iona Davis was babysitting her two nieces: 7 year old Glacia Ramsey, and 2 year old Peaches Christburg in Cleveland, Ohio. Around 10PM, a man in a hoodie broke into the apartment and locked Davis in a closet. Davis began to smell smoke, and managed to escape to the neighbour's and call 911. Police arrived on scene to find the apartment on fire, and firefighters were dispatched, who found the children unresponsive in a back room. The children were rushed to the hospital they were later pronounced dead.
21. The Saxtown Murders
In 1874, Saxtown, Illinois, was a small American village made up of mostly German immigrants. One evening, Fritz Stelzriede heard a knock on his front door. When he went to answer it, he was greeted with an ax to the face. His assailant then killed the remaining family members. Investigators theorized that the killer may have heard rumours that Stelzriede hid gold in his house, but no killer was ever found.
20. JonBenét Ramsey
JonBenét Ramsey was just 6 years old, but she was already an accomplished beauty pageant princess in Boulder, Colorado. Her parents were John, a wealthy businessman, and Patricia, a housewife and socialite. From the outside, their family life seemed perfect. The Ramseys even filmed a locally-aired commercial for their public open house, "Christmas Tours," to show off their home decor. 1,500 to 2,000 people toured their home during the holiday season of 1996.
The day after Christmas of that same year, JonBenét Ramsey was murdered. The family claims that there was a note left by kidnappers, demanding ransom. Yet JonBenét wasn’t kidnapped: her body was found raped, strangled, and beaten in the basement of the perfect home. Two police officers “searched” the Ramsey home after the note was discovered, but they somehow never found the body in the basement. It was actually John Ramsey and his friend, Fleet White, who discovered JonBenét's body.
The young girl's murder remains unsolved. Although for years people believed that a member of the Ramsey family did it, new evidence from JonBenét's fingernails suggests she may actually have been murdered by an unidentified and unrelated male.
The Ramseys’ neighborhood was home to 38 registered sex offenders, yet police were so focused on the Ramsey family that they didn't fully explore the possibility that someone unknown to the family could have been the murderer.
19. Shannan Gilbert
In May 2010, Shannon Gilbert, an escort, ran screaming from a house in Long Island, New York, claiming that her driver and client had attempted to murder her. No one listened, and Gilbert went missing. Later, after an attempt to locate Gilbert, police found the bodies of 10 victims; Gilbert's body was found soon after. Police continue to work on the case, and the killer has been dubbed "The Long Island Serial Killer."
18. The Atlanta Ripper
In 1911 in Atlanta, Georgia, an unknown killer murdered at least 15 young African American women, slashing their throats. In 1914, notes from the killer were posted around town that threatened to slit the throats of all of the black women in Atlanta. This serial killer was never caught.
17. The Be-Lo Murders
Windsor, North Carolina, is a small, sleepy town with less than 4,000 people. That made it all the more shocking when, in 1993, a man entered a Be-Lo supermarket at closing and held the employees at gunpoint. He told the 6 employees to go to the back to the meat cutting room. The attacker bound their hands with duct tape, and instructed them to stack their bodies in a pile. He shot at the pile of bodies until he ran out of bullets, then stabbed at them until his knife broke. After the killer fled the scene, a victim managed to call the police. Three employees died, two were injured, and one, miraculously, escaped unharmed. There is a $30,000 reward for any information on the killer.
16. The Family Murders
In Adelaide, Australia during the early 1980s, 5 young men were murdered. Each of the men were drugged, sexually assaulted, and received similar injuries. The spate of killings became known as "The Family Murders" because the police believed that these murders were orchestrated by a group of men who trusted each other like family.
15. Amber Hagerman
In 1996, 9 year old Amber Hagerman went missing. Five days later, her body was found floating in a creek, with her throat slit. The killer has never been apprehended. Her disappearance is the reason why the United States started issuing "Amber Alerts," which is a message that goes out to the public every time a child goes missing. Over the past 20 years, nearly 900 children’s lives have been saved because of the Amber Alert system, and her family hopes that she did not die in vain.
14. Yleen and Lillie Kennedy
Sisters Yleen and Lillie Kennedy were murdered in 1984. Lillie was shot in the head, while Yleen was beaten, raped, and then stabbed to death. A neighbour saw a man carrying a duffle bag walking very quickly out of the house, but his identity was never discovered.
13. The Bible John Murders
In the 1960s in Glasgow, Scotland, a serial killer who has been nicknamed “Bible John” murdered three young women: Patricia Docker, Jemima McDonald, and Helen Puttock. All three of the women went dancing at The Barrowland Ballroom on Thursday nights.
Witnesses could only describe the man these three women left with as "a slim young man with red hair." One witness claims to have spoken to the murderer at the bar: he quoted the Bible and angrily talked about how sinful The Barrowland Ballroom was. All the murder victims were menstruating during the time that they were raped and murdered, which also suggests that the murderer’s motive could have been from the Bible verses in Leviticus 15:19-33, which says that women on their period are "unclean." While the Glasgow police department has a suspect, the identity of Bible John remains an unsolved mystery.
12. Nicole Lee Hattamer
On December 26th, 1989, Ten-month old baby Nicole Lee Hattamer had just celebrated her first Christmas in the tiny town of Holcombe, Wisconsin with her teenage mother. That evening, Hattamer disappeared from her bed: the family found the baby the next morning, face down in the grass and frozen to death. The autopsy concluded that someone had dropped her on the ground, which injured her chest and made it difficult to breathe. The case is still unsolved.
11. Georgia Jane Crews
Twelve year old Georgia Jane Crews walked outside of her parent’s house to play one April day in 1980 and never came back. Her parents put out a search, and Crews’s image was plastered all over the small town. Crews's body was eventually found in the back of a K-Mart. Crews had been stabbed in the back and left to die, although she had not been sexually assaulted, and all her clothing was still on. With very little evidence to go on, the police have never found the killer.
10. The Grande Prairie Killings
In 1918, Grande Prairie in Alberta, Canada was a very small fur trapping town populated by less than 1,000 people. After putting out a fire at the Snyder residence, firefighters discovered the bodies of Joseph Snyder and his son Stanley, both shot; the fire was clearly meant to cover up the evidence. More bodies, killed by the same gun, were found in town. Every single shot fatally found its target in one hit. Although Snyder's neighbour was charged, he was soon acquitted; no one knows who the killer was.
9. John Hill
In 1976 in Ottumwa, Iowa, John Hill was shot at a laundromat, and hundreds of dollars were stolen out of his pocket. His killer wrote the words "BLACK"and "OLDER" with John’s blood. The police could never figure who the killer was, or what the message actually meant.
8. Jaime Santos
In 1991, Jaime Santos was 27 years old, and working as an exotic dancer in Wheeling, Illinois. She called into work to say that she did not feel well. The next day, an anonymous tip came in to 911 saying that Santos was having trouble breathing. When medics arrived on the scene they found Santos' lifeless body: someone has suffocated her with a pillow. The killer didn't leave behind any evidence, and there did not seem to be a motive behind her killing. It is likely that the killer was the one who called from a pay phone.
7. Maoma Ridings
Moama Ridings was a member of the Women’s Army Corp, and worked as President Roosevelt’s personal physical trainer. In 1943, she was at a hotel in Indiana when the housekeeper entered the room and had the shock of her life: Ridings' body was laying half-naked on the bed, and she had been beaten to death with a whiskey bottle. Creepiest of all, a bellboy reported going to Riding's room earlier in the evening and seeing a woman, dressed all in black, sitting on the edge of the bed. The woman has never been found; neither has the killer.
6. The Grimes Sisters
Patricia and Barbara Grimes were teenage sisters and die-hard Elvis fans. They begged their mother to let them go alone on the bus to see Elvis’ new movie, Love Me Tender, premiere in theaters in 1956. Sadly, they never made it home from the movies: Their bodies were found in a ditch, and the case remains cold to this day.
5. The Wax Head Woman
The police department of North Yorkshire, England, received an anonymous phone call in 1981 tipping that the body of a dead woman was in the woods. The caller told police exactly how to find the body and then hung up. Sure enough, the body of a woman who had been decaying for more than a year was found. The police had enough of her body left to reconstruct a wax head of what she would have looked like. To this day, no one knows who the "Wax Head Woman" actually is, how she died, or who killed her.
4. The Gatton Murders
In 1898 in Queensland, Australia, a 29 year old Michael Murphy and his two sisters, 19 year old Theresa "Ellen", and 27 year old Norah, were found dead. The family had been traveling home from a dance hall in Gatton. At some point during their travels, they had been tied up, robbed, and murdered.
3. The Original Night Stalker
An unidentified man only known as "The Original Night Stalker" is responsible for a string of 120 burglaries, 45 rapes, and 12 deaths in Sacramento and Orange County, California. He ravaged the state from 1976 to 1986. Despite the fact that this happened so many years ago, the case is still ongoing, and there are dozens of theories out there about who the killer actually is. The Sacramento police department has his DNA on file, but no one with a match was ever arrested.
2. Eugene Izzi
In 1996, A writer named Eugene Izzi’s body was found hanged and swaying 14 floors up a building in Chicago. At the time of his death, Izzi was wearing a bulletproof vest and had pepper spray on his person, suggesting that he was prepared for someone to attack him. The Chicago Police Department deemed it a suicide, but web sleuths believe that something else may have been going on.
1. Danielle LaRue
On New Year's Eve in 2002, the Vancouver police department received a letter: It was from the professed murderer of a 24-year old woman named Danielle LaRue. The letter admitted to killing LaRue (although the writer did not remember the girl's name), and asked the police why her disappearance never showed up in the news. The writer wanted to express remorse to LaRue's family, and admitted to bringing flowers to her grave. The site of that grave, however, is unknown to police, as is LaRue's anguished killer.