Fall is approaching, and you know what that means: Lattes of the you-know-what variety, crunchy leaves, and reading material designed to scare your fuzzy socks off. But instead of reading the same spooky novel for the fourth time, why not use mysterious deaths from history to get that shiver down your spine?
Everyone knows about stories like Amelia Earhart and Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia, but there's no shortage of bizarre deaths out there in the history books. In fact, some people who were totally unknown in life become famous for the circumstances of their death; there's even an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to chronicling the unusual ways people have passed on. (My personal favorite is the 19th century lawyer Clement Vallandingham, who shot himself while demonstrating how an alleged murder victim might have shot himself.) But while some deaths are remarkable for sheer oddness, others are far more sinister — shocking murders, mysterious disappearances, and crimes connected to conspiracies.
Unfortunately, the longer these mysterious go unsolved, the less likely anyone will ever know the truth, although that certainly hasn't stopped people from coming up with their own theories. Let's look at six mysterious deaths from history below.
1. George Mallory & Andrew Irvine
It's not exactly surprising that British mountaineers George Mallory and Andrew "Sandy" Irvine died while attempting to climb Mount Everest in 1924. The mystery comes from how they died. The climbing partners were last seen just a few hundred yards from the summit of the mountain on June 9, after which they disappeared entirely. It wasn't until 1999 that Mallory's body was officially found, and without a camera or witnesses, there's no way to tell whether the pair reached the summit before their deaths. Irvine's body has never been recovered.
2. Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet
You might know the Galapagos Islands for their connection to Charles Darwin, but they were also home to a tale of eccentricity and alleged murder in 1934. Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet, an Austrian woman who called herself "The Baroness," arrived at Floreana Island with three men (two lovers and a servant) to build a luxury resort — a plan which didn't go over well with the proto-hippie ex-patriots already living there. After several months of rising tensions, Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet vanished, along with one of her lovers. Their bodies were never found. You can read more about the bizarre circumstances leading up to their deaths here.
3. Laetitia Nourrissat Toureaux
In 1937, Laetitia Nourrissat Toureaux, a young Italian woman, boarded a first-class carriage destined for Paris. When the train left the station, she was sitting alone. When it arrived at the next station approximately a minute later, six passengers entered the carriage to find Toureaux slumped forward with a dagger buried in her neck. She died before reaching the hospital, and police were never able to find a witness to the crime. During the investigation, it came out that Toureaux was an informant with a private detective agency; it's believed that her work infiltrating right-wing extremist groups may have led to her death.
4. The Atlas Vampire
In one of the strangest murders in Swedish history, Lilly Lindström, a 32-year-old sex worker, was found dead in her apartment in Atlas, a Stockholm neighborhood in 1932. The last person to see her alive was her friend and neighbor Minnie Jansson, who called the police to check on Lindström after a few days without contact. She had been bludgeoned to death, but police also found that her body had been drained of blood. After finding blood on a ladle and an abundance of saliva at the scene, police contemplated the possibility that the killer had drunk her blood (hence the nickname "Atlas Vampire"). The murderer was never found.
5. Cangrande della Scala
Cangrande della Scala, a popular Italian nobleman, became the ruler of Verona during the Renaissance. Unfortunately, his rule didn't last long. In 1329, just after arriving in a city he had recently conquered, the warlord suddenly took ill and died, supposedly from drinking polluted water. Many assumed he had been murdered, but it wasn't until 2014 that researchers performed an autopsy supporting the rumors. According to their results, enough foxglove was present in the nobleman's body to suggest deliberate poisoning — and it only took 700 years to solve the mystery!
Images: Wikimedia Commons (5)