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10 Inexplicable Crimes and Disappearances

by Will Carroll
fact checked by Alex Hanton

At various times, and from various parts of the world, there have been convincing reports of crimes and of assaults on people – and sometimes on animals – for which there is no generally acceptable solution. The cases described in the following list are in no particular order, as they are all just as intriguing and incredulous as each other. Many of these have no definable perpetrators, but these are all crimes that have been carried out in the most curious and perplexing of circumstances that truly defy all sense of logic and meaning.


Whiteface Texas Mutilation


At Whiteface, Texas, in an area where UFOs had been reported for weeks in early 1975, police found a mutilated young calf that rancher Darwood Marshall had found lying within a 30-feet circle of flattened crops on March 10th. The animal’s neck was grotesquely twisted so that it pointed toward the sky, its tongue had been violently removed and its sexual organs were missing as well.

A few days prior to this, Marshall had discovered a mutilated steer lying in a circle of scorched wheat. One Sheriff Richards tested the site for radiation, got a positive reading, and enlisted the help of experts at Reese Air Force Base. Their tests revealed that radiation at the site was one-half of 1 percent higher than normal, a difference that didn’t warrant a dramatic response. But why was there a difference at all, and just what had scorched that circle of wheat?


Menacing Helicopters in New Mexico

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On the night of April 8, 1979, two Apache tribal officers were on patrol duty not far from Dulce, New Mexico, when they saw a mysterious aircraft “hovering about 50 feet off the ground with a powerful spotlight aimed at a field.” A third police officer in the area believed it to be connected with recent livestock disappearances, as it was near some recently reported locations. The craft was never identified, but one person said he understood that the U.S military had developed a comparatively quiet jet-powered helicopter used in Vietnam, and believed it to be one of those.

Five years prior to this sighting, on July 5th, 1974, a white helicopter and a black twin-engine aircraft were seen by one Robert Smith, Jr. The helicopter allegedly opened fire on him whilst he was tending to a field in a tractor not far from the Nebraska border. Neither craft had a registration mark (required by law), and police were unable to trace them. The presence and aggressive behavior of unmarked helicopters near numerous sites of missing livestock and mutilations increased apprehension in ranch owners regarding cultists in the area.


Missing: Ireland’s Crown Jewels


One of the most daring thefts of the 20th century occurred in 1907 when Ireland’s crown jewels (valued at $250,000) were stolen from a safe kept in the strong room at Bedford Tower in Dublin Castle – under the eyes of four men who had been assigned to guard them. Sometime between June 28th and July 6th, the thief had first obtained keys to the tower’s main door and then to the strong room and finally to the safe, where he must have spent at least 10-15 minutes freeing the jewels form their cases. And yet no suspicion had been aroused. A long investigation by Scotland Yard came to naught. The whereabouts of the treasure and the identity of the thief are still unknown.


Matron Missing in Paris


A distraught young Englishwoman came to the British Embassy in Paris one day in May 1889. She and her mother, on their way home from India, had checked into a hotel not long before, as the mother had fallen ill. She told the embassy how the hotel doctor had examined her mother and sent the daughter out for medicine. When she returned, the hotel staff denied ever having seen her mother. Only the younger woman’s name was in the hotel register. When she insisted on seeing the room her mother had occupied, she found it was not the one she remembered and even the doctor denied ever having met her before.

Unable to make her story believed, the young woman ended up in an asylum in England. Some have speculated that the mother had contracted plague in the Far East and that the hotel had conspired to suppress the news – even going so far as to redecorate her mother’s hotel room and to dispose of the corpse – rather than lose business. But the only evidence to support the case of the vanished matron was the young woman’s own testimony: a sign of madness, possibly, but if true, surely enough to drive her mad regardless.


The Three Missing Keepers


As the supply ship ‘Heperus’ approached the island of Eilean Mor off Scotland’s West Coast, there was no sign of life ashore. One passenger, lighthouse keeper Joseph Moore from a nearby island, who was also relief lighthouse keeper on Eilean Mor, was especially concerned: the lighthouse had been dark for 11 days.

Moore and others searched the lighthouse, finding everything in order, although oilskin foul-weather gear belonging to two of the three keepers was missing. Storm damage to a jetty suggested the possibility that the three men had been swept away by a giant storm wave. But would they have been so incautious as to venture onto the jetty at the height of a storm? There were no answers, for none of the three were ever found.


Miami – Scarsdale Disappearance

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The long drive between Miami, Florida to Scarsdale, New York, was routine for Charles R. Romer and his wife, Catherine. The retired couple, both in their seventies, had spent the winter of 1980 in their Florida apartment, and on April 8 they started home. That afternoon they checked into a motel in Brunswick City, Georgia. A little later a highway patrolman saw their black Lincoln Continental on the road. Perhaps they were going to a restaurant for dinner.

If so, they never arrived. They – along with their car – disappeared. Three days later, finding the room had not been slept in, the motel management notified authorities. Baffled police could only guess that the Romers had gone off the road into a swamp or that they had been robbed and/or killed. Other than the luggage in the motel room, and a fleeting glimpse of their car, there were no clues. Their son stated “It’s incredible that two people can totally disappear.” Incredible – but true.


Mystery of The Locked Room


Isidore Fink was shot dead at 10:30 p.m. on March 9, 1929, in the back room of the Fifth Avenue Laundry (which he owned) at 4 East 132nd Street in New York City. The police were alerted by a neighbor, Mrs. Locklan Smith, who had heard screaming and the sounds of a struggle. When the officers arrived, they found that the doors to room in which Fink lay were locked and so they gained entry by lifting a small boy into the room through a transom window.

Fink had been shot twice in the chest and once through the left hand, which showed signs of powder burns. No gun was found in the room. There was money in Fink’s pocket and in the cash register. At first police theorized that whoever shot Fink, who bolted the laundry doors when he worked at night, had climbed through the transom window. But the window was small, as was the boy who was hoisted through it, and the question of why an escaping murderer should climb through a small window instead of leaving by the door seemed unanswerable. A second theory was that Fink had been shot from the hallway through the transom , but the powder burns on Fink’s body showed that he had been shot from close range. More than two years after the crime, New York Police Commissioner Edward P. Mulrooney called the murder an “insoluble mystery.”


A Preference For Ears


Something had been eating the ears off living hogs, reported The Jasper County News in Mississippi, in January 1977. One victim, belonging to Joseph Dickinson, of the Nazarene Community, had had its ears sheared off so cleanly that the job might have been done with scissors. The next night another hog was attacked in a pen, and a third hog the following night. On the third night, Dickson saw an animal in the pen during the attacks, and he said it was bigger than the biggest German Shepherd, and could jump farther than any dog in the world. A week later Calvin Martin, a neighbor, found that the ears of one of his sows had been pulled out by the roots.


The Cave Children


Two children appeared from a cave near Banjos, Spain, in August 1887. Their skin was green and their clothes were of an unfamiliar material. They could not speak Spanish, and their eyes appeared Oriental. At first they would not eat, and because of this the boy didn’t survive, but the girl survived long enough to explain that she had come from a ‘sunless land’ and that one day a whirlwind had swept her and her companion up and deposited them into the cave. Understandably, this did little to dispel the wonder surrounding her. She died in 1892, her origins still unknown.


The Everest Disappearance


George Leigh-Mallory (pictured: second left, back row) and Andrew C. Irvine were less than a thousand feet below the peak of Everest on June 8, 1924. Then swirling, wind-driven snow and mist hid them from the telescope in the base camp below – and they were never seen again. Everest was conquered “for the record” in 1953, but the tantalizing possibility remains that two men had reached its summit almost 30 years before.

Leigh-Mallory, 36, had participated in two earlier attempts on Everest. The leader of this third expedition described him as the “living soul of the offensive; the thing had become a personal matter with him.” Irvine, 22, had little mountaineering experience but was skilled with the bulky, cumbersome oxygen gear. They had made camp the night before at 26,800 feet, sending their Sherpa bearers down to tell the others that they hoped to reach the peak early the next morning. For some reason they got a late start or were held up in the early part of the climb, for it was 12:50 p.m. on the eighth when they were observed at 28,227 feet. Then the clouds closed in – and the only evidence ever found of them was Leigh-Mallory’s or Irvine’s ice axe, discovered along their route in 1933. Perhaps they fell into an icy crevasse or were swept away by an avalanche that entombed them far below the challenging peak of Everest. The answer, like the climbers themselves, was lost in clouds at the top of the world.

fact checked by Alex Hanton