3 Unsolvable Real-Life Murders

If you’re like me, many nights have been well spent pouring over the pages of mysteries. Sometimes I’m convinced that Nancy Drew is a fool, and that I could easily have solved the mystery first. Other times I spend hours browsing the web, seeking an answer to that latest whodunit post, hoping that the author might have hidden the murderer’s name on another webpage. But while the life of Sherlock sounds like fun, actual murders are quite another story. Do you think you would have solved the following real-life mysteries? They remain cold cases to today.

1.Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders

If your parents were anything like mine, coming across a hitchhiker on our road trips would be promptly followed by head-shaking, judgemental eyes, and a warning to us kids to never even think about hitchhiking. Throughout my teenage years, I longed for the freedom of the road, and any rumors of murdered hitchhikers were treated with scorn and disbelief. Sometimes, though, it pays to listen to the stories, especially when real history is involved.

Between the years of 1972 and 1974, some psychotic stalker roamed Sonoma County along Interstate 101, and the results were the corpses of seven girls. Both the ages and causes of death had quite the variety, but the police were convinced that the deaths were linked to the same murderer. The youngest girls were a pair of friends who were barely 12 years old; they vanished after visiting an Ice Arena, and when their bodies were recovered, ten months after their disappearance, the cause of death could not be determined. The oldest victim was still only 23 years old, and her body was discovered a few days after Christmas of 1973 when she’d been trying to hitchhike home to her family for the holidays.

The common themes to the murders, besides the apparent double x chromosomes and hitchhiking hobby, were that every girl was found completely nude and that the scenery around them was relatively undisturbed (you know, except for the corpses). The actual murders and crimes seemed to have been committed at a different location, and the ravines and ditches where the bodies were found merely seemed to be nearby drop-offs. The lack of evidence at the corpse discovery site and the lack of clothing left very little information about the murderer, which alludes to reason that they walked free.
Common theories center around commonly known serial killers such as Ted Bundy, David Carpenter, and even the Zodiac Killer, but all investigations just ended up spinning the cops wheels without results.

2. The Murder of Joseph Browne Elwell

J.B. Elwell was an American dream, dirt-to-gold-dust, gentleman who made his living through gambling, tutoring, and writing during the 1900’s – 1910’s. Although he was undoubtedly courteous and cordial upon the first impression, it was not a little-known fact that he was widely despised. Not only did he have all the people he’d won money from keeping evil eyes on him, but the fellow had a pet notebook that he held dear to his heart. Within that journal was a list of names – women’s’ names – and they were the names and numbers of the upper-class ladies, both married and single. As there were roughly 50 names in total, it left room for a mob of upset women and furious men who loved these girls. It’s not sure if his womanizing habits or his lucky hand had drawn the final straw that led to the event that occurred on June 11, 1920.

In the early morning, Mr. Elwell’s housekeeper walked into the living room to find a very cold, and a dead Joseph Browne. If the hole in his head from the gunshot wound wasn’t disturbing enough for this poor woman, the bullet itself had been placed on a nearby table. Elwell had been shot from an angle that suggested the murder had been sitting in the chair across from him and considering that there was no struggle, it’s clear that he was unsuspecting.

But it gets weirder. The schedules of the mailman and the housekeeper were well established. The mailman would deliver the post around 7:00 AM and the housekeeper would arrive at 8:00 AM; the rest of the day would have staff swarming Elwell’s mansion. The killer had not only been close enough with Elwell to have been allowed into his house and engaged in discussion with him but had also known the schedules of the staff, and that Joseph Browne would be completely alone during that time of the murder.

Despite the voluptuous list of suspects, the murder of Joseph Browne Elwell remained unsolved. Popular theories range from bankers that Elwell had a dispute with, to any of the angry husbands of the elite, to even the maid herself, but none of the speculations hold any water.

3. Miss Mary Rogers, the Cigar Girl

They say that everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame. For young Mary Rogers, the local tobacco store employee, she got a little more than a 15-minute share for the price of her death in 1841. While she worked at the tobacco shop, she was insanely popular. The store was a favored spot for distinguished men and famous writers, and Mary’s beautiful face and clever personality drew them in like flies to honey. In fact, she was even a favored topic for the local New York newspapers.
In fact, in 1838, Mary’s presence was missing from the store for just a few days, and the press went wild. The New York Sun eagerly printed an article claiming her suicide, and they even included a sketchy suicide note. Almost immediately, Times and Commercial Intelligence shot down the disappearance and claimed that it was only a hoax. When Mary returned to work after her quick vacation, she just commented that she’d gone to visit a friend in Brooklyn. Rumors murmured throughout the newspapers that perhaps her temporary absence had been a publicity stunt that the manager of the store had pulled. Entirely the successful marketing, as I’m sure it drew back in the gentlemen who certainly favored Mary.

A few years later, Mary informed her fiance that she was visiting her aunt and would be under the radar for a minute. Three days later, on July 28, 1841, Mary Roger’s corpse was found floating in the Hudson River in New Jersey. If her brief vacation has caused a buzz, one can only imagine what her murder did to the news outlets.The nation quite exploded with talk, and her name was heard in every household of America. There was no question that it was a murder, and theories ran wild.

The most popular of the theories was that she had been the victim of gang violence, or that her death was a failed abortion, and when Mary’s fiance later committed suicide, he was placed high on the list of suspects. Of the theories and notes written on her murder, the most famous piece written about her ended up being Edgar Allen Poe’s story, The Mystery of Marie Roget. In his story, Mr. Poe writes from the perspective of a detective tasked with uncovering the mystery of the murder. Much like the real event, the murderer is never named in the story, although the fictitious detective did happily solve the whodunnit.

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January 18th, 2018|Blog Posts|0 Comments

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