When it's so hot outside that the air feels syrupy and you're reduced to flopping around on the floor in search of a cool spot, there comes a point when you have to turn to alternative means to induce a chill. I'm talking about creeping yourself out, and today, that means reading up on the weirdest unsolved crimes in history — the ones we know about, at least. If you start planning your Halloween costume in April and stockpile low-budget horror films for late-night viewing throughout the year, you'll want to check out an AskReddit thread posted earlier today. In the original post, the appropriately-named user DarknessHasFallen asked their fellow users to describe the "weirdest unsolved crime" they've heard of, and trust me, some of them get really weird.
Stories of the paranormal can certainly keep you awake till 4:00 a.m., but unsolved crimes tend to stick with you for days or even years afterward — not just because the criminals could still be out there, but because the families and friends of the victims are still waiting for closure. It's one thing to understand that horrifying things can happen, but it's usually accompanied by an understanding that justice will be served in the end. Unfortunately, the current homicide clearance rate is 64 percent, meaning that nearly a third of homicide cases remain open. Although it's certainly possible to close a case months or years after the fact, some crimes may not be solved in our lifetimes, if the perpetrators are caught at all.
Are you creeped out yet? Read on for seven of the scariest unsolved mysteries from the Reddit thread.
1. Tara Calico
In the fall of 1988, 19-year-old Tara Calico was last seen riding her bike in Albuquerque, NM; after she disappeared, she was thought to have been kidnapped. The case took a disturbing turn in 1989, when a Polaroid photo of an unidentified young woman and boy, both bound with duct tape, was found in a convenience store parking lot. Although Calico's mother thought the woman was her daughter, the FBI couldn't confirm the identity of the subjects. The case was reopened in 2013, but it remains unsolved today.
2. Elisa Lam
You've probably heard of Elisa Lam before, but her death is one of the most well-known unsolved mysteries of the decade for a reason. During her stay at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, she began acting erratically enough for her roommate to complain. On the day she was supposed to leave town, she disappeared. After a few weeks of searching, police released the last known footage of Lam, taken from an elevator camera in the hotel, the contents of which are unsettling at best. Finally, her body was found inside the water tank on top of the hotel — an area only hotel employees could access. Lam's cause of death remains unsolved today.
3. D. B. Cooper
If you're looking for a mystery without any murder, the "D.B. Cooper" case is a great place to start. Everything about the case is mysterious; in fact, D.B. Cooper wasn't even his real name. (The moniker came about because of reporting error.) On November 24, 1971, an unknown man in a suit hijacked a Northwest Airlines flight using the threat of a bomb hidden in his briefcase. After demanding four parachutes and $200,000, he leapt off the plane somewhere between Seattle, Washington, and Reno, Nevada. Many claim that he must have died in the jump, but his body was never found.
4. The Golden State Killer
Also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker, the Golden State Killer sexually assaulted at least 45 people and murdered 12 between 1976 and 1986. Federal authorities still have little information about the criminal; they know he was a man, around six feet tall, and preferred to collect trinkets from his victims. Last month, 40 years after his last known murder, the FBI renewed its search for the man, offering a reward for tips leading to his arrest.
5. The Disappearance Of The Sodder Children
On Christmas Eve in 1945, George and Jennie Sodder's house in Fayetteville, WV, caught fire around 1:00 a.m. While waiting for the fire truck, which didn't arrive until seven hours later, the parents and four of their 10 children escaped the blaze, but five seemingly remained trapped inside. (One of their sons was off in the military at the time.) Here's where it gets weird: When firefighters searched the ashes for the skeletons of the children, few traces of human beings remained. The coroner attributed the children's deaths to fire or suffocation, but over the next few years, George Sodder became convinced that his children were still alive somewhere. Furthermore, strange details about the case began turning up — ones that were odd enough to convince some that the case wasn't closed yet. You can read more about it here.
6. The Max Headroom Pirating Incident
One night in 1987, two local Chicago TV channels were broadcasting as normal when their signals were hacked by an unknown person, two hours apart. The second broadcast lasted around a minute and a half and featured a static-y, barely coherent figure in a rubbery Max Headroom mask. The FBI was called in to investigate, but the culprit was never found. You can watch the (super creepy) video here.
7. The Missing Frying Pan
Let's end on a less serious note: The time when a Reddit user drunkenly broke into someone's apartment, made breakfast, and stole their kitchen utensils. It's a mystery for the ages.