potential suspects of the tylenol murders

There’s something so fun about reading about unsolved crimes. Playing detective in your head (I can’t be the only one convinced I could have solved some of these), putting the clues together… it’s a great mystery. It’s why shows like Unsolved Mysteries ran for so long, and why we all love crime podcasts and detective TV shows.

These are the top 10 unsolved crimes we could compile. Some you might know, but unless you’re a serious crime aficionado, I’m thinking a few of these are going to be new to you. Read on, and see if you can solve the mystery that detectives before you couldn’t.

10. Art Theft at the Gardner Museum

The gardner museum gardens

Murder and mayhem aren’t the only crimes out there. In March of 1990, men who disguised themselves as policemen entered the Gardner Museum and tied up two night guards. They got away with 13 pieces of art in total, including works from Degas, Rembrandt, Édouard Manet and more.

It’s estimated that the thieves got away with approximately $500 million in art, making it one of the biggest thefts in history. At one point, the museum was offering $10 million to anyone who had information that could lead to the recovery of the paintings.

In 2015 the FBI claimed that two mobsters were responsible for the heist. The men died shortly after the robbery, however, and the paintings were never actually recovered… it’s suspicious at best. The Boston Globe reported that the art circled around mob families in Philadelphia, but you would think at some point, one of the 13 incredibly famous paintings would have shown up somewhere.

9. JonBenet Ramsey

JonBenet Ramsey's Grave

This is one of those cases where everyone has a different opinion on what happened. JonBenet Ramsey was a 6-year-old pageant girl from Colorado. The day after Christmas in 1996, she was found dead in her home. According to what they told police, the parents of JonBenet found her in the basement, strangled and beaten.

This story is wild when you really dig into it, which is why it’s so famous. Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet’s mother, reportedly found a ransom note that police believed was written by a woman – so all eyes turned on Patsy herself. John Ramsey, however, was the one who handled his daughter’s body, moving her into a different room and covering her. DNA cleared them both over ten years after JonBenet’s death.

So who else could it be?

The brother or the housekeeper? Or Santa himself…

The ransom note left for the Ramsey family

Burke Ramsey, JonBenet’s then-9-year-old brother, was also a suspect. Police thought perhaps the two were playing, and Burke threw a flashlight at his sister, causing a head injury. In order to help protect their only remaining child, the parents covered up Burke’s accident.

Other suspects included the housekeeper for the Ramsey family, who had full access to the house, and the man who portrayed Santa Claus at a holiday party JonBenet had recently attended.

However, none of these leads panned out, and the case remains unsolved. At this point, it appears there will never be any justice for young JonBenet.

8. The death of Amber Hagerman

a memorial for amber hagerman

In 1996 (yikes, same year as JonBenet) Amber Hagerman was kidnapped and ultimately killed after someone grabbed her from a parking lot in Arlington, Texas. A witness was able to give a description of the man who took Amber, but no arrests were ever made from that description – or the more than 7,000 tips that were called in to the police in the following weeks.

A mother completely unrelated to the case called into a radio station discussing the tragic passing of Amber, and suggested there be an alert to help others know when a child has been taken. As such, The Amber Alert was born.

Amber’s killer has never been caught.

7. Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.

a collection of tupac merchandise

Yes, seriously – because once you get into this case, it’s actually really fascinating, even if you don’t know anything about the rap beefs going on in the 90s.

Okay, so follow me. Tupac and Biggie represented two major players in the East Coast vs West Coast rappers rivalry going on at the time. Tupac had been shot once before the incident that took him, and he pointed the finger squarely at Biggie and Diddy (Sean Combs).

Then, in 1996, Tupac was on his way home from a Mike Tyson fight when an unknown assailant shot and killed him. Fans mourned, he was instantly immortalized… but there’s so much more to this story.

Because Biggie died six months later

A memorial to Biggie
WikiCommons via P. Lindgren

Six months after Tupac’s taken, Biggie gets murdered, too. And investigators are convinced that the two cases are connected in a big way. The 90s were a wild time, y’all.

The top “realistic” theory fans have is that Orlando Anderson is responsible. He was seen arguing with Tupac at the Tyson fight just hours before Tupac was killed. However, the longer time goes on, the more people believe it was really Suge Knight, CEO of Death Row Records, that ordered the deaths of both men.

Some think it was Diddy himself who called the order on Biggie’s death to promote Biggie’s upcoming album, Life after Death. That’s certainly not a marketing strategy that is often recommended.

The craziest theory is that the FBI and LAPD were involved in both men’s deaths in order to end the West Coast vs East Coast rivalry and put to rest “violent rap culture.” I don’t know if I believe that one, but it’s certainly a theory.

6. Who is the Zodiac Killer?

A drawing of what the zodiac killer might look like

In the San Francisco Bay area in the 1960s, fear gripped residents. Someone was killing people, and he wasn’t just hiding from police. He was taunting them.

In a series of letters written to the police department, he called himself The Zodiac Killer, and included puzzles and cryptic messages that to this day, no one can crack. The letters and attacks stopped in the mid-70s, and no one has ever been arrested for these crimes.

This wasn’t the first time a serial killer had taunted police (Jack the Ripper, anyone?), but it did bring terror to a community. Police had suspects, of course…

So, seriously, who was it?

zodiac killer cryptic notes

Dennis Kaufman came forward absolutely convinced that the Zodiac Killer was his stepfather, Jack Tarrance. But Gary Stewart swears it was his biological father, Earl Van Best. None of these men have ever been arrested for the crimes.

Police believe there were two main suspects in the case – Ross Sullivan and Lawrence Kane. One was a Navy veteran and another was a librarian. Both had some red flags in their background and activities that made them suspicious… but nothing ever really panned out.

This may be one of those great mysteries we’ll never get an answer for.

5. The Black Dahlia murder

a photograph of elizabeth short before her death

Ah, the famous murder that spurred music, movies, and books about: The Black Dahlia. Elizabeth Short was an aspiring actress who had the nickname The Black Dahlia. She was found dead in LA with her body drained of blood and cuts down the sides of her mouth in 1947. The media went wild, and she was instantly famous.

Dozens of confessions were given for the murder, but none actually stuck. The case is still open today, though police don’t believe they will ever be able to give Short justice.

The best guess for this murder is that Short’s ex-boyfriend, Leslie Dillion, was her killer. He was a mortician (hello, the drained blood?!) and aspiring writer. However, a retired police detective came forward and said he believed his own father was the killer based on things he heard growing up.

4. Jack the Ripper who?

Jack the ripper depiction

Over 125 years ago, London was gripped by terror. A mad man was running around butchering working women (sex workers, folks), leaving them bloody, completely mutilated, and sometimes missing important pieces of themselves.

Letters came into the police from Jack the Ripper, a man who claimed to be the murderer. He taunted police, claiming they would never catch him and that he would continue to terrorize London.

The case was officially closed in 1892, but no one was arrested. Who could it have been?

Lots of theories… nothing conclusive

a man standing in an alley

Over the years, dozens of people have come out as potential suspects – the leading one being Lizzie Williams. Lizzie was the wife of Queen Victoria’s royal surgeon, Sir John Williams, who was also under suspicion of being Jack the Ripper.

Lizzie was infertile, and she was a suspect because many of the women’s organs were taken after the attack. Was she trying to replace what she did not have?

Other suspects included Lord Randolph Churchill, and the famous author Lewis Carroll. Best known for his work on Alice in Wonderland, many think Carroll had “a few screws loose.” But nothing conclusive was ever found, and the killer has certainly passed by now.

3. The case of the… feet? Seriously?

empty shoes

This is a strange one, folks, so buckle up. Since August of 2007, a total of five (yes, five – we’re aware it’s not an even number) human feet have washed ashore near Vancouver, BC. Four left feet and one right foot (meaning at least four victims) have been found, most of them with shoes still on their feet.

Only one DNA match had been found. One of the feet belonged to a missing man, though they never recovered any other parts of him. Theories include the feet belonged to victims of a plane crash, but that seems unlikely, as what are the odds only the feet have turned up?

Police have almost nothing to go on, and they don’t expect this to be solved anytime soon, honestly. Without more than just a foot in a shoe, there’s no way to find the rest of the body – or who put it there.

2. D.B. Cooper

a comparison of rackstraw and cooper

This one you could spend days researching, and still come to the conclusion that we might never know what happened. The day before Thanksgiving in 1971, D.B. Cooper was sitting in seat 18E on Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 from Portland to Seattle. He then calmly told a flight attendant that he would blow up the plane unless he received $200,000.

Authorities gave into Cooper’s demands, and he got the money at the Seattle airport. He then demanded the pilot fly back to Portland in the same plane. While in the air, Cooper strapped the $200k to his chest, and then he jumped out of the rear door.

So what happened to Cooper and the money?

Only $5k was found

remains of the money stolen by cooper

$5,880 was discovered nearly destroyed along the Columbia river years later, and serial numbers matched the cash that Cooper had been given. This is literally the only evidence ever found of Cooper’s existence after he jumped.

Years later, this is still the only unsolved airplane hijacking in FBI history, which is pretty impressive when you think about it. Authorities don’t know who he was, what he actually wanted (was it just about the money?), or where he ended up afterwards. They suspect the man might have been Robert Rasckstraw… but honestly, at this point, who knows?

He and his money vanished as mysteriously as they came.

1. The Tylenol killer

an open extra strength tylenol

Oh, boy, this story is a big one. In late 1982, seven people in the Chicago area were killed after taking an over-the-counter medicine: Tylenol, which you probably have in your medicine cabinet right now. Deaths were random, not targeted, and police eventually came to believe that someone was opening bottles of Tylenol and replacing the pills with cyanide.

Adam Janus was one of the victims. He was experiencing chest pain, so he opened a new bottle of Tylenol and took two. He collapsed and died. His sister-in-law and his brother who were at the house were very upset. They too took the Tylenol in his medicine cabinet.

And they died.

But who laced the pills? And how?

Still a mystery

potential suspects of the tylenol murders

To this day, we don’t know who caused the great Tylenol panic of the 80s. It was so bad, and police were so shaken up, they drove around in cop cars announcing to neighborhoods to throw away the Tylenol they had – get rid of it all.

The suspect list includes a man who was arrested for trying to extort money from the parent company, Johnson & Johnson, as well as a disgruntled ex-employee. But no one was arrested. The only good side to this tragedy?

This is the reason we have tamper-proof seals on all consumables.