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10 Unsolved Crimes That Were Caught On Video

by Robert Grimminck
fact checked by Jamie Frater

When a crime is committed, the best evidence aside from DNA is video evidence. A recording of the crime is much better than eyewitness accounts because memories aren’t very reliable. It can also be watched over and over again, so investigators can not only see the actual crime for themselves, but they can also scour the video for other clues. However, some crimes go unsolved despite being caught on video.

10 The Corona Discount Mall Kidnapping

Kidnapped Woman
On November 7, 2004, at about 6:00 PM, a surveillance camera captured a woman walking along the sidewalk of the Corona Discount Mall in Corona, California. When a newer-model black Toyota Solara pulled up beside her, the woman took off running. The car followed her for a short distance before two men got out and chased her across the parking lot. One of the men caught her, threw her over his shoulder, and carried her to the car, where they forced the woman into the trunk. With the woman locked in the trunk, the two men simply drove away.

While most of the kidnapping unfolded in front of one of the mall’s security cameras, the quality of the video is so poor that it is unclear if it was a genuine kidnapping or a hoax. Another odd aspect of the supposed kidnapping is that there were witnesses in the parking lot, but no one tried to stop the kidnapping or even called the police. Police believe that, if the kidnapping was real, the woman probably knew the kidnappers because she ran as soon as she saw the car.

9 The Murder Of Dujuan Walker

Matt Rodewald – “2013 Rockford Murder Caught on Camera Remains Unsolved”

Around 6:20 PM on October 21, 2013, 25-year-old Dujuan Walker walked out of a food mart in Rockford, Illinois. He was confronted by two men who had been dropped off in the parking lot by an unknown person driving a silver car shortly after Walker entered the store. When Walker went to get in the passenger seat of the car that his girlfriend was driving, one of the men pulled a gun and pointed it at Walker’s head. Walker attacked the men, and he and one of the men fell to the ground behind the car. The other man fired at least two shots at Walker, striking him twice. During the scuffle, Walker’s girlfriend backed the car up, and the gunman fired a shot into the car. Luckily, the bullet missed both the girlfriend and Walker’s young son in the backseat. After avoiding being shot, Walker’s girlfriend fled from the scene, hitting another car on her way out. Walker was taken to the hospital, but sadly, he died an hour later.

Police had surveillance of the shooting from a dry cleaner that was across the parking lot from the food mart, but they didn’t immediately release the video because they were worried it would tamper with the witness pool. The video was released by a local news station a year later. Police believe that it’s possible Walker was killed in a robbery gone wrong.

8 The Cowboy Bandit

Cowboy Hat Man
On September 19, 1987, a well-dressed man walked into a bank in Spokane, Washington, pulled out a gun, and told the teller that he was robbing the bank. He then pulled out a police scanner and told the bank employees that he would know if they called the police or set off an alarm. He rounded up the employees and brought them to the vault, where he proceeded to steal $100,000. That’s a gigantic score, but the man didn’t stop there. From that first robbery until June 1992, it is believed that the serial bank robber was responsible for 12 bank robberies—six in Spokane, another in Tacoma, and five in Tucson, Arizona. It is also believed that he robbed the same bank in Spokane twice.

Most of the time, the robber would avoid the banks’ cameras, but during one robbery in summer 1989, one of the employees turned on the alarms, which activated the bank’s cameras. The camera captured a clean-cut man, about 45–55 years old, wearing a cowboy hat. It turns out that this attire was part of his modus operandi. At some of his robberies, he wore cowboy boots and sometimes a cowboy hat. When Unsolved Mysteries profiled the crimes in 1990, they called him the “Cowboy Bandit.” So far, no arrests have been made, despite both the surveillance footage and the fact that he didn’t wear a mask.

7 The Murder Of Emmett Velten

Blood on the Carpet
On April 24, 2011, 69-year-old psychologist Emmett Velten was caught on video arriving at his apartment building in Phoenix, Arizona. Velten and an unidentified man wearing a bright green hat got out of the car and walked into the building, where they were seen again on a different camera. They got onto the elevator, where they are captured on a third camera. Two hours later, the unidentified man left the apartment, used the stairs, and in a relaxed manner, stole Velten’s car in view of the camera. Meanwhile, Velten, who was badly beaten and had suffered a head wound, made it into the hallway, where he got a neighbor to call 911.

When the police arrived, Velten was still conscious, and he told them that he had picked the man up at a homeless shelter, possibly for reasons of prostitution. He later died from his injuries. The murderer was on-camera for 45 seconds from three different angles, and the police got a full bloody footprint of the killer from the scene, but the man has never been identified. It is believed that he was about 20–25 years old, 175 centimeters (5’9″) tall, 65 kilograms (145 lb), and possibly a transient.

6 The Murder Of K.C. Haggard

KC Haggard Vigil

Kenton Craig “K.C.” Haggard was a transgender woman walking around Fresno, California, during the early morning hours of July 23, 2015. Karen Adell Scot, founder of TransCare, which helps people who are transitioning in the Fresno area, said that Haggard was newly transitioned, and she went out late at night to “test drive” her female clothes so she could get used to it without many people around.

As Haggard walked, a tan SUV pulled up behind her and beckoned her over to the car. She leaned over the passenger side window and spoke with the unknown individuals in the car for a few minutes. Then, out of nowhere, the person in the passenger seat suddenly stabbed Haggard in the neck. The SUV took off, and Haggard staggered on the street before collapsing. She later died in the hospital, and the police do not have any suspects.

5 The Murder Of Trevonne Winn

Killer Caught On Camera | New York Post

In April 2011, 24-year-old Trevonne Winn, who lived in Red Hill, South Carolina, was visiting family in Brooklyn. Around 7:45 PM on April 23, 2011, Winn was talking on his cell phone while he waited outside his cousin’s restaurant for a ride. While Winn was on the phone, a man walked past him into the restaurant and walked back out to the street moments later. Then, the man approached Winn, pulled a gun, and fired two shots from point-blank range. Witnesses called 911, and Winn, who was a father of one and was expecting another child in a month, was taken to the hospital. Tragically, he succumbed to his injuries.

It is believed that Winn was killed over a case of mistaken identity. His family said that he didn’t really have any friends in Brooklyn, let alone any enemies. The random nature of the execution has made it an incredibly difficult crime to solve, and no one has ever been arrested for the murder.

4 The Felton Kidnapping

Kidnapping caught on camera

Around 4:30 AM on June 13, 2012, a nine-year-old girl in Feltonville, which is a suburb of Philadelphia, awoke to a naked man wearing a green mask touching her leg. The man grabbed the girl, and she screamed. Her father heard the scream but assumed that the girl, or one of her siblings who she shared the room with, was just having a nightmare. By the time he got up to investigate, he heard the front door close and discovered that the girl was gone. He called the police, and by 6:30 AM, the police and even the local media were at the girl’s house.

Miraculously, that is when the girl came running down the street screaming, “Daddy,” and she was reunited with her family on the front porch of her house. She was taken to the hospital, where she told them that she had been sexually assaulted in an alley near her house and then taken to a playground, where the man threatened to kill her whole family if she told anyone about the assault. He then let her go, and she found her way home.

The police only have two clues for the atrocious crime against the unidentified girl. The first is surveillance footage from a pizza place at the end of the girl’s road. Unfortunately, the camera was too far away to show specific details about the kidnapper, but it did provide a few clues. The man entered the house through an unlocked front door at 3:50 AM. He stayed in the house for the next 40 minutes. At some point, he entered the room that the girl shared with her sister and stepsister. The man only fled with the girl after she screamed.

These actions have led the police to speculate that the man knew the family because he seemed comfortable enough to spend that much time in the house, and he knew to target it. Also, police think that he was wearing a mask to hide his identity, which means that the girl or her family might have been able to recognize him had they seen his face. Police were also able to get DNA evidence, and they tested it against men that the family knew, but no match for the DNA has ever been found.

3 The Murder Of Tahir Elci

Diyarbakır Bar Association Head Tahir Elçi, policeman killed by PKK attack in southeast Turkey

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was established in Turkey in 1970, and in 1984, they began an armed struggle against the Turkish government with the goal of establishing an independent Kurdish state within Turkey. The ensuing struggle left 40,000 people dead until a cease-fire was called in March 2013. In July 2015, the Turkish government fired rockets at PKK camps, essentially ending the cease-fire.

On November 28, 2015, Pro–Kurdish human rights lawyer Tahir Elci was giving a press statement near the Four-Legged Minaret Mosque. The 1,500-year-old mosque had been damaged during fighting between Turkey’s security forces and members of the PKK. In his statement, Elci called for peace and a stop to the fighting, but as he spoke, a gunfight erupted between members of the police and PKK. Elci was seen alive on video when two unknown assailants ran by him as he stood with the cameraperson and some journalists behind police officers, who were shooting at the two men. After they ran by, the camera panned to the right, and on the ground was the dead body of Elci. Besides Elci, two other police officers were killed, and another one was wounded.

The Turkish government said that the PKK was responsible for the shooting. However, many Kurdish people, including Elci’s brother, believe that the police and the Turkish government are responsible for his death and that it was part of a planned assassination. After all, it would benefit the government if Elci had been killed by the PKK. Elci wanted the government to stop designating the PKK as a terrorist group, and he had been arrested by the government for pro-Kurdish comments in the past. He was also the lead lawyer in a class action suit against the government over a 2011 air strike against Kurds in Uludere.

With such political turmoil in Turkey, it’s unlikely that Elci’s murder will be conclusively solved.

2 The Murder Of Daniel Vella

Sydney tattooist Daniel Vella shot dead in his shop at point blank range

On the night of March 26, 2011, 40-year-old tattoo artist Daniel Vella was working at the Pretty In Ink tattoo parlor in West Ryde, Australia. At about 9:45 PM, two men in hooded sweatshirts calmly walked in the back door of the shop. One of the men, who was wearing a white G-Star Raw hoodie and pink dishwashing gloves, walked up to Vella, pulled a gun, and shot Vella point-blank in the shoulder without saying a word. The man fired four more shots into the walls and the ceiling and then calmly walked out. Vella wrapped a T-shirt around his arm and ran out to the street, where the ambulance found him, but he died while en route to the hospital.

The police believe that Vella was probably not the intended target of the gunmen. They believe that the men were involved with bikie gangs, which are Australian outlaw motorcycle clubs, and the murder was an attempt at intimidation. Despite the video and an inquest into the murder, nothing concrete has been found, and the killer remains at large.

1 The Murder Of Leah Rowlands

Armed Robbery
At about 10:30 AM on March 10, 1997, a red Pontiac Grand Am with California license plates pulled up to the pumps at the gas station in Cozad, Nebraska, where 41-year-old Leah Rowlands worked. The man driving had dark hair, and very strangely, he wasn’t wearing anything on his feet. His sweatpants were hiked up to his knees. After filling his car, the man walked into the store, pulled a gun, and demanded that Rowlands hand over the money. She did as ordered, offering no resistance. He then told her to lie on the ground, and she again followed his command. Once she was on the floor, the man leaned over the counter and shot her three times, killing her instantly. The man then got in his car and drove away. He stole some soda, a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, $150, and a tank of gas.

The robbery and murder were committed in full view of the store’s security cameras, and the footage includes clear shots of the killer’s face. Yet, despite this footage and the fact that the video was aired twice on America’s Most Wanted, the crime remains unsolved.

Robert Grimminck is a Canadian freelance writer. You can friend him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or Pinterest, or visit his website.

fact checked by Jamie Frater