If you're anything like me, you probably spend most of your time with headphones in your ears, listening to an unsolved mystery podcast that's waaaay too gruesome for casual listening while, like, cleaning your room.
Whether it's historical mystery, a disappearance, or some bizarre scientific discovery I will poorly explain to my friends later, I can't get enough of unsolved mysteries. Luckily, redditor u/PitifulWay6371 asked, "What is the strangest unsolved mystery?" Here are 17 yet-to-be-solved cases people cannot stop thinking about:
Warning: This post mentions heavy topics like murder, rape, kidnapping, and suicide.
1. The disappearance of Brandon Swanson. On May 14, 2008, Brandon was driving home from a party and drove into a ditch. He called his parents asking for help, and they set out in their pickup truck to find him. According to Brandon's dad, Brandon was sure he knew where he was. When they got there, he was nowhere to be seen. Eventually, they all got frustrated, and Brandon decided to walk back to his friend's place. Brian dropped his wife off at home and went back out to look for his son. He stayed on the phone with Brandon, who was trying to direct his father to where he was walking. Eventually, he told Brian to meet him at a nightclub parking lot. Suddenly, Brandon yelled, "Oh shit!" and the line went dead. They never heard from him again.
2. On December 5, 1872, a ship called the Mary Celeste was found empty and drifting in the Atlantic. It had set sail from New York City eight days prior and was headed to Genoa, Italy, but was found 400 miles east of the Azores. The ship's cargo was still intact, the crew's belongings were still in their rooms, and six months of food still on board, according to Smithsonian Mag. While there was three and a half feet of water in the ship's bottom, it was still seaworthy. The only thing missing was a lifeboat, which it appeared had been boarded in an orderly fashion. No one knows what happened to the crew or why they left the ship.
3. The disappearance of Asha Degree. On Valentine's day in 2000, she walked out of her home in the middle of the night. She was only 9 years old. According to the FBI, there were no signs of forced entry or indications of where she went. Asha was sighted multiple times walking down an extremely rural and desolate highway by herself — including by one truck driver at 4 a.m. — in the middle of a storm. She ran into the woods after being spotted and was never seen again.
Candy wrappers and a hair bow in a nearby shed hinted that she'd perhaps taken shelter there. 18 months later, Asha's book bag was discovered 26 miles away, wrapped in a trash bags.
Suggested by: u/ncsu2020
You can read more about Asha's case here.
4. The 169th victim of the Oklahoma City bombing. In the late 1990s, they found an additional leg in the rubble. DNA tests showed it belonged to another victim who had already been buried, but seemingly with the wrong left leg. Testimony reports from the trials claim that it wasn't possible to obtain DNA from the leg at the time according to Fox 25, but it turns out that the state did have a DNA profile of it after all. The sample was compared to that of 10 known victims, but didn't match any of them. So, who did this leg belong to? All other legs had been accounted for in other victims.
They found no other body parts, and nobody else had been reported missing. In 2015, they were finally able to get DNA from the leg, but who it belongs to is still unknown to us. A few conspiracy theories have popped up, like maybe it was a second bomber that got caught in the blast, but it's still unknown.
Suggested by: u/draiman
You can read more about the 169th victim here.
5. I always thought the mysterious green children from Woolpit were interesting. The legend is that two children with green skin reportedly appeared in the village of Woolpit in Suffolk, England around 1150. The brother and sister duo spoke in an unknown language and refused to eat anything but raw fava beans. They were taken to the home of a man named Richard de Calne, who, over time, slowly got them to consume other foods and learn to speak English. Eventually, their skin lost its green color. When asked where they came from, they claimed to be from "the land of St. Martin," where the sun doesn't rise.
They didn't know how they got to Woolpit, but recalled that "on a certain day, when we were feeding our father’s flocks in the fields, we heard a great sound, such as we are now accustomed to hear at St. Edmund’s, when the bells are chiming; and whilst listening to the sound in admiration, we became on a sudden, as it were, entranced, and found ourselves among you in the fields where you were reaping." The children were then baptized, and the boy died shortly after due to unknown illness. The girl stayed with Richard.
Suggested by: u/Fickle_Particular_83
You can learn more about them here:
6. "The Money Pit" on Oak Island in Nova Scotia is a pretty big mystery. In 1795, Daniel McGinnis saw lights coming from the uninhabited Oak Island (named that because, well, it's full of oak trees). He and some friends went to the island and found a large circular depression in the ground. So, they started digging and discovered layers of logs between the dirt at 10-feet intervals. Eventually, they realized they'd need to finance this excavation, so the Onslow company picked up where McGinnis and his friends left off. They reached a depth of 90 feet, finding layers of logs every 10 feet and layers of charcoal, putty, and coconut fibre at 40, 50, and 60 feet. It should be noted that coconuts — and thus their fibers — aren't native to anywhere near Nova Scotia.
At 90 feet, they found a greenish gray slab with strange markings amongst the oak logs. They appeared to be hieroglyphics, perhaps that of an ancient language. When they pulled the slab up, though, it triggered some kind of booby trap, which flooded the shaft with ocean water and made it impossible to dig further down. Many, many people and companies have tried to reach the bottom, but with no success.
Suggested by: u/Late-Impression1372
You can read more about it here.
7. The disappearance of Brian Shaffer, a medical student who vanished from a bar without a trace. On April 1, 2006, Brian was having drinks with friends at a bar near Ohio State University. He was last seen at 1:55 a.m. There is absolutely no footage of him leaving the bar on the cameras, and he has never been heard from since.
8. The Phoenix Lights. On March 13, 1997, thousands of people — including the Governor of Arizona at the time — saw "a v-shaped light formation." The governor was a pilot, and when the government came out with their report claiming they were flairs, the Governor — once out of office, of course — called bullshit. According to NBC News, he said, "I know just about every machine that flies. ... It was bigger than anything that I've ever seen. It remains a great mystery."
You can learn more about them here:
9. The disappearance of an extra from Scarface. There's a scene in the movie where Tony and others are upstairs in an apartment while Manny is supposed to keep watch from his car. Manny gets distracted by a blonde girl in a bikini and starts hitting on her. It's a disturbing scene, but there's also an even more disturbing backstory behind something seemingly innocuous: the blonde girl, who was Tami Lynn Leppert.
Tami was a Florida beauty queen and model who, near the time of shooting the movie, went to a party and didn't come back the same person. It's like she changed over night. She became paranoid, began isolating herself, and was convinced someone was trying to kill her.
On the fourth day of filming, a character in the movie was shot, and she saw the blood packet get activated. She had a breakdown on set and began to hysterically cry. Tami eventually quit the film, and went back home. According to Unsolved Mysteries, her mother claimed there were good and bad days with Tami, but eventually, she snapped and began smashing the windows in their home and attacking family members, fearing they were trying to poison her.
Tami went in for a psych eval and showed no signs of drug or alcohol use. The following day, she and her friend went for a drive to the beach, and Tami never came home. The friend told the police they'd gotten into an argument, and Tami wanted to get out of the car, and he let her. She was left near Cocoa Beach, five miles from her home, with no shoes and her purse. She was never seen again.
Suggested by: u/wheres_jaykwellin_at
You can learn more about her case here:
10. The 'Dog Suicide' bridge, also known as Overtoun Bridge in Scotland. According to VICE, approximately 50 dogs have died by leaping to their death off the 50-foot bridge since the 1950s, and 600 have jumped but survived. Some dogs are even reported to have survived the jump, returned to the bridge, and attempted to jump again.
There are tons of theories as to what lures dogs to do this, from the scientific to the paranormal. Some believe the bridge is haunted due to a man throwing his baby off the bridge, believing he was the antichrist. Others think a specific scent is drawing dogs over the edge, such as the smell of mink or squirrels who live under the bridge.
Suggested by: u/Caybayyy8675309
You can learn more about the bridge here:
11. "A feral child was found in 1828 in Nuremberg, wearing unusual clothes and speaking in a way no one could understand. He came with a letter requesting that he either be taken in or hanged. He struggled to walk, didn't quite know how to use his hands, and only ate bread and water. According to Atlas Obscura, the bottoms of his feet were soft, as though they'd never been walked on. He was brought to a police station, where he was only able to write his name: Kaspar Hauser. They found a second letter on him — which was reportedly from his mother — claiming that the boy's father was dead, and she couldn't afford to care for him on her own. After some time, he learned to write and speak, which allowed him to explain his story.
Kaspar claimed he was kept in a cage in a basement for his entire life with no human contact. All he had was a wooden horse. Unfortunately, only five years after being discovered, Kaspar was found stabbed to death in Castle Gardens. Tons of controversy and conspiracy surround his life and death — nobody knows quite where he came from, and nobody knows how exactly he died.
Suggested by: u/TrabantDeLuxe
You can read more about him here.
12. The lost nuclear bomb off the coast of Tybee Island, Georgia. In 1958, a fighter jet and a B-47 bomber had a mid-air collision during a training exercise, resulting in the pilot dropping the bomb into the water to prevent it from going off if the plane crash landed. The bomb wasn't found during their search, but the government claimed it "didn't pose a threat unless it was disturbed." However, in 1994, a declassified document suggested otherwise.
It revealed that the bomb did contain a nuclear capsule and, according to Savannah Morning News, "the resulting explosion would include a fireball with a radius of over a mile and thermal radiation for up to 10 times that distance." The bomb still hasn't been located to this day.
Suggested by: u/FoxSafe4
You can read more about it here.
13. The case of the Somerton Man. He was found dead on an Australian beach in 1948, and to this day, no one knows who he was or how he died. They were unable to determine his cause of death from an autopsy, though detectives thought he might've consumed a rare poison that left no trace. According to CNN, "There were no signs of violence, almost all the labels on his clothes had been cut off, and he wasn’t carrying any ID." A hidden pocket in his clothes had a piece of paper stuck in it, which read "Tamam Shud," which means "the end" in Persian and is the ending of a poem called “The Rubaiyat."
A man had found a book — with the page containing that part of the poem torn out — in his car the day before the Somerton Man's disappearance. This book contained a phone number and a code written on it, which investigators struggled to crack. This case has baffled investigators for over 70 years, and it remains one of the world's most mysterious unsolved cases.
Suggested by: u/Longjumping_Toe3929
14. Ireland’s most beloved, Derby-winning racehorse, Shergar. Shergar was kidnapped by a gang on February 8, 1983. It's widely believed the IRA (Provisional Irish Republican Army) was behind it. They were believed to be seeking ransom money — Shergar was valued at £10 million — and allegedly ended up shooting him to death as he got too much to deal with. According to the BBC, though, little actual evidence was found at the scene, the gang never contacted them for ransom, and no one has ever officially admitted responsibility of the crime.
15. Tim Molnar’s disappearance and death. One day in 1984, he left home to go to class. He was never seen by his family again. According to an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, the night after he vanished, the family received a silent phone call. They believed Tim may have run away to start a new life and wanted to call them, but he got nervous and hung up. Two weeks later, the family's credit card was used at a gas station in Lake City, Florida, and witnesses claimed Tim was traveling alone. Months later, his car was found in a parking lot in Atlanta, Georgia, where it'd been abandoned. The lot was near a Greyhound bus station, and the car had reportedly been left there six days after he left. He'd nearly drained his bank account, took the valuable items out of his car, and left behind his wallet, license, and credit cards.
Here's a plot twist: In early 1996, a Wisconsin man was watching Tim's episode of Unsolved Mysteries on TV. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, he'd found a body in a secluded wood lot, frozen in a block of ice with a ring of keys. Tim drove a 1969 Dodge Dart, and Dodge car keys had been found with the body. Helen — Tim's mom — still had the same locks on the doors of her home, so she mailed the man a copy of her house key to match it with the one found with the body. It was a match. DNA tests confirmed it was Tim.
Suggested by: u/mamamaia_
You can watch Tim's episode of Unsolved Mysteries here:
16. The murders of billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman. On December 15, 2017, their realtor found them dead in the basement pool of their mansion in Toronto with belts around their necks that were connected to the railings. There was no sign of a break-in. They were known philanthropists — Barry founded Apotex Inc. (a generic drugmaker), and they donated millions annually to multiple charities. According to Fox 10 Phoenix, "unidentified" police initially claimed their deaths were believed to be a murder-suicide, so the couple's children hired their own private investigators.
They found that the evidence didn't support that theory and thus suggested police incompetence. As the public became more interested, it was discovered there was a whole family dispute over inherited shares of the Apotex company. The Shermans' orphaned nieces and nephews had launched a lawsuit over their right to inherit shares, which they lost.
A suspicious video was also uncovered in which an unknown man left the property around the time of the murders. Who he is and what he was doing there is still unknown. The case is fascinating and is the subject of multiple podcasts, a book, and movie.
Suggested by: u/Kickkit
You can read more about the case here.
You can learn more about the case here:
17. The "coincidental" murders of Mary Ashford and Barbara Forrest. Both women were 20 years old, were killed on the same day — May 27 — and were found in Pype Hayes Park in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Both of their bodies were found in ditches and showed signs of rape. Mary and Barbara both had gone out dancing the night they were murdered, and the main suspects of both their cases had the last name "Thornton." They both went to trial and were found not guilty due to lack of evidence. Both women even expressed having senses of dread leading up to their deaths, confiding in friends and explaining they felt something bad was going to happen. The only difference, though, was that their murders occurred 157 years apart. Mary's death was in 1817, and Barbara's was in 1974. Their cases are eerily similar.
Now it's your turn! Is there an unsolved mystery — be it a murder, disappearance, or scientific anomaly — that you can't stop thinking about? If so, tell us about it in the comments below or via this anonymous form.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length, clarity, and to include the most up to date information on each case.