10 Unsolved Cases Involving Murdered Couples
On December 20, 1968, one of the most infamous serial killers of all time took his first known victims after a teenage couple, David Arthur Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen, were shot and killed in Benicia, California. Over the next several months, the assailant became known as the “Zodiac Killer” and would attack two more young couples. In both cases, the female victim was killed while the male was seriously wounded before ultimately surviving. Since the Zodiac’s identity is still a complete mystery, all of these murders remain officially unsolved. Unfortunately, there are a lot more stories just like this.
Here are 10 unsolved cases where a couple was brutally murdered and the killer was never brought to justice. In some of these stories, an innocent person was wrongfully convicted while the real killer went unpunished. And there’s also the possibility that some of these couples might be unconfirmed victims of the Zodiac Killer . . .
10 Robert Domingos & Linda Edwards
In 1963, 18-year-old Robert Domingos was the star football player at Lompoc High School. He was engaged to his 17-year-old fiancée, Linda Edwards, and the couple was set to graduate. In the beginning of June, Robert and Linda went to a remote beach in Santa Barbara County to sunbathe. After they failed to return home, their parents filed a missing persons report and their bodies were found the next day. Robert had been shot 11 times and Linda nine times.
It was assumed that the killer approached the couple on the beach and forced Linda to bind Robert’s hands behind his back. They both tried to run before the assailant shot them. After Linda was dead, the killer used a knife to cut down the front of her swimsuit before tearing it off. He then dragged their bodies into a nearby shack and attempted to burn it down. The crime scene would bear a striking resemblance to the Zodiac Killer’s attack on Bryan Calvin Hartnell and Cecelia Ann Shepard at Lake Berryessa in 1969. Because of this, it’s always been theorized that Robert and Linda could have been the Zodiac’s first victims.
9 John Franklin Hood & Sandra Garcia
On the evening of February 21, 1970, 20-year-old Sandra Garcia left her home with her fiancée, John Franklin Hood. The couple was carrying a blanket and some food as they headed toward East Beach near Santa Barbara. The couple never returned home, and their bodies were found atop their blanket on the beach the next morning. They were beaten and stabbed to death; John was stabbed 11 times, and Sandra was so badly mutilated that she was almost unrecognizable.
The murder weapon turned out to be a bone-headed fish knife, which was buried in the sand beneath their bodies. Nothing was stolen, and Sandra was not sexually assaulted, so there seemed to be no motive for the crime. Months later, there was another pair of unsolved murders on a different Santa Barbara beach. Two young men, Thomas Dolan and Homer Shadwick, were hacked to death by an unidentified assailant. A third man, Thomas Hayes, survived the attack. It’s unknown if the two crimes are connected, but neither were solved. However, given the similarities to the 1969 attack at Lake Berryessa, it’s been speculated that the murders of John Franklin Hood and Sandra Garcia might also have been committed by the Zodiac Killer.
8 Jason Allen & Lindsay Cutshall
Thirty-five years after the Zodiac Killer claimed his first known victims, California was shaken by a brutal double murder which brought back memories of his crimes. On August 14, 2004, Jason Allen and his fiancée Lindsay Cutshall were visiting the coastal town of Jenner, California. After finding no rooms at the local motel, the couple decided to spend the night camping on Fish Head Beach. Four days later, their bodies were discovered on the beach in their sleeping bags. They were both shot in the head by a .45-caliber rifle while they slept, and there were no signs of any struggle.
The crime seemed completely motiveless—none of the couple’s belongings were taken and there was no sexual assault. A drifter named Joseph Henry Burgess was a potential suspect after he was killed in a shootout with police in 2009, but DNA testing failed to match him to evidence found at the crime scene. Numerous theories have been presented about who committed the murders and some have gone so far to speculate that the Zodiac Killer himself was responsible. Nine years later, the killer has yet to be found.
7 Seymour & Arlene Tankleff
On September 7, 1988, a wealthy couple was brutally attacked inside their Long Island home. Their 17-year-old son awoke that morning to discover his mother—bludgeoned and throat cut—murdered in her bed. His father, Seymour, had also been bludgeoned and was lying unconscious in his study with his throat slit. After Marty called 911, his father was taken to the hospital and remained in a coma for 29 days before passing away. Police considered Marty a likely suspect, and after an intense interrogation, Marty confessed to the murders. They sentenced him to 50 years.
However, Marty maintained that he was coerced into confessing because the detective falsely claimed that Seymour had come out of his coma and implicated Marty in the murders. Marty always insisted the most likely suspect was Jerry Steuerman, his father’s partner in a chain of bagel stores. Steuerman was in the midst of a dispute with Seymour and owed him $500,000. One week after the murders, he made the bizarre decision to move to California, where he started living under a new identity. After numerous appeals, Marty was released from prison and had his conviction vacated in 2008. However, police have never attempted to pursue Jerry Steuerman as a suspect, so the murders of the Tankleffs remain unsolved.
6 Jay Cook & Tanya Van Cuylenborg
Twenty-year-old Jay Cook and his girlfriend Tanya Van Cuylenborg were residents of British Columbia who decided to cross the border into Washington State to go camping in November of 1987. It’s believed that the couple might have encountered their killer on a ferry to Seattle that night. After they didn’t return home, Tanya’s body was discovered on a rural road in Skagit County. She was bound with plastic wire ties before being raped and shot to death.
The van was found 150 kilometers (90 miles) away in downtown Bellingham. Authorities found the van’s keys, Tanya’s driver’s license, and a pair of surgical gloves two blocks away. Jay’s body was discovered under a bridge near Monroe. He was beaten and strangled to death. In the following months, the victim’s families received dozens of anonymous greeting cards from someone claiming to be the killer, who taunted them with descriptions of the murders. However, DNA on the cards did not match DNA found at any of the crime scenes. Many years later, it was discovered that they had been written by an elderly, mentally ill transient who had nothing to do with the crimes. After more than 25 years, the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg are still unsolved.
5 Harry & Megan Tooze
On July 26, 1993, 64-year-old Harry Tooze and his wife Megan were murdered at their farm in Llanharry, South Wales. The killer shot Harry in the back of the head at close range with a shotgun. When Megan attempted to flee, she was murdered in the exact same fashion. Their bodies were wrapped in a carpet and placed inside the cowshed. Jonathan Jones—the fiancee of the Toozes’ daughter, Cheryl—was the prime suspect. Authorities believed that Jonathan committed the murders in order to collect a £150,000 inheritance, and his thumbprint was found on a saucer inside the Tooze home.
Jonathan was charged with the murders and sentenced to life in prison in 1995. However, Cheryl Tooze never believed that he was guilty and campaigned for his release. Since Jonathan frequented the Tooze home on numerous occasions, it wasn’t that unusual for his thumbprint to be on the saucer, and there was no other evidence tying him to the crime at all. In 1996, the courts overturned his conviction and released him. The real killer of Harry and Megan Tooze has yet to be brought to justice.
4 Stanley Skridla & Mary Jane Reed
In Oregon, Illinois on the evening of June 25, 1948, 17-year-old Mary Jane Reed was on a date with 28-year-old Stanley Skridla. The couple went to a few nightspots and was last seen driving toward County Farm Road, the local lovers’ lane on the outskirts of town. The next morning, Stanley’s body was found at the side of the road. He was shot several times and his vehicle was half a mile away. He still had his wallet, ruling out robbery.
Four days later, Mary Jane’s body was found in a ditch three kilometers (two miles) north of Stanley. She was shot once in the head, and there didn’t seem to be any sign of sexual assault. One possible suspect was a married Oregon police officer who had allegedly been conducting an affair with Mary Jane. She reportedly broke off the affair a few days before her date with Stanley, and eyewitnesses claimed they saw this officer tailing them on the night of the murders. However, there was no evidence to tie him to the crime and the case went cold for several decades. In 2005, the case was reopened and Mary Jane’s body was exhumed. To everyone’s shock, the skull in Mary Jane’s casket wasn’t actually hers! To date, her actual skull has never been found, adding another bizarre element to this unsolved mystery.
3 Bernd Goericke & Andrea Scherpf
Bernd Goericke and his fiancée Andrea Scherpf decided to take a vacation to Canada in 1983. On October 6, their bodies were discovered on an isolated road 32 kilometers south of Chetwynd, British Columbia. They were both shot to death. The couple was seen hitchhiking in the area while carrying camping and hiking gear, but these possessions were never recovered. The only piece of evidence at the crime scene was a pair of bloody jeans.
The case remained cold for six years until police received a tip from a woman who claimed that her former boyfriend, Andy Rose—a Newfoundland man working in Chetwynd at the time of the murders—had shown up at her trailer covered in blood, claiming he shot the German couple. On the basis of her testimony, Rose was convicted in 1991. After winning an appeal for a retrial three years later, he was convicted again. Rose was finally exonerated and released from prison in 2001 when DNA found on the bloody jeans didn’t match him. Nearly 30 years later, the real killer of Bernd Goericke and Andrea Scherpf has never been found.
2 Mike Riemer & Diana Robertson
On December 12, 1985, Mike Riemer, his girlfriend Diana Robertson, and their two-year-old daughter left their home in Tacoma, Washington to find a Christmas tree. Hours later, Crystal was found wandering alone at a department store and could only explain her parents’ absence by saying: “Mommy is in the trees.” Two months later, the couple’s truck was found in a remote forest over 38 kilometers (30 miles) from the department store. Diana was stabbed 17 times and a tube sock was tied around her neck. Mike Riemer was nowhere to be found.
The crime scene resembled the unsolved murder of another couple, Steven Harkins and Ruth Cooper, in the same area four months earlier, right down to the sock. Since Mike was known to be abusive toward Diana, authorities speculated that he might have been responsible for both the death of his girlfriend and the couple. Did he decide to drive his daughter to a safe place before disappearing? Or were Mike and Diana the victims of another killer who did not want to harm a child? Mike Riemer was considered a wanted fugitive until 2011 when a fragment of his skull was found in the woods a kilometer from the murder scene. However, the question of who actually committed this crime still remains unanswered.
1 Edward Wheeler Hall & Eleanor Reinhardt Mills
One of the most sensational murder cases of all time was launched in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1922. For the past four years, a married Episcopal priest named Edward Wheeler Hall had been conducting an affair with Eleanor Reinhardt Mills, who happened to be the wife of the acting sexton at Edward’s church.
On September 16, the couple’s bodies were discovered in a rural area. They were both shot in the head and Eleanor’s throat was cut. Torn love letters were lying on the ground between them. Because the bodies were found near a border between two neighboring counties, there was confusion over jurisdictional issues, so onlookers wound up trampling the crime scene and destroying potential evidence.
The prime suspects were Edward’s wife, Frances Noel Stevens Hall, and her two brothers, Henry and Willie. It was believed they committed the murders as revenge for her husband’s infidelity and were brought to trial in 1926. A witness from the area testified that she saw the murders take place from a distance and claimed to have heard a female voice refer to one of the assailants as “Henry.” However, the witness changed her story so much that her testimony was unreliable, and three other witnesses claimed that Henry Stevens was fishing on the night of the murders. Ultimately, there wasn’t enough evidence to convict the defendants, so they were acquitted. Officially, the murders of Edward Wheeler Hall and Eleanor Reinhardt Mills are still unsolved.
About: Robin Warder is a budding Canadian screenwriter who has used his encyclopedic movie knowledge to publish numerous articles at Cracked.com. He is also the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row and recently worked on a sci-fi short film called “Jet Ranger of Another Tomorrow“. Feel free to reach him here .