10 Lesser-known Murder Mysteries That Remain Unsolved
Murder. The word alone is enough to send cold shivers down your spine. Just the thought that some people out there kill for pleasure could be enough to make you never want to step outside again. No one wants to fall victim to a psycho’s fantasies. No one wants to be shot, stabbed, strangled, poisoned or pushed off a bridge. Terrifyingly, however, people are killed like this around the world every single day. They are shot in a fit of rage, stabbed out of jealousy, strangled in a moment of insanity or pushed off a bridge when no one is looking. The aftermath of terrible incidents like this leaves family and friends devasted and harried detectives working around the clock to find the killer. Some murder cases are solved within days, some within decades.
Some are never solved.
10 Arthur “Buddy” Schumacher
Eight-year old Arthur Louis “Buddy” Schumacher was a lively, happy child. He attended Lincoln Elementary School in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin and had many friends. On 24 July 1925 he and some boys from his neighbourhood jumped on a freight train to hitch a ride to the local swimming hole. That was the last time Buddy was seen alive.
When he failed to return home later that day, he was reported missing by his family. Police, together with the community, searched the surrounding area non-stop for seven weeks. Then, a mere mile from his home, Buddy’s remains were found partially hidden underneath some bushes. His clothing had been torn and a handkerchief protruded from his throat. He had also been sexually assaulted and mutilated.
Police investigations eventually led to the arrest of a drifter in the Wauwatosa area, but when witnesses later retracted their statements, he was released. No one else was ever arrested in connected with the brutal murder. The mystery remains unsolved and the Schumachers are yet to get any closure regarding the loss of their only son.
9 Elaine Nix
Being a typical teenager in 1999, eighteen-year old Elaine Nix called her boyfriend Billy just about every day. Since she lived in Georgia and he in Cleveland, the phone charges quickly racked up to $75 in a single month. Soon Elaine’s mother blocked long-distance calls from their line and told her daughter she would have to make another plan to get in touch with Billy.
Unperturbed, Elaine started driving to Zack’s Food Rack to use their payphone which cost her only 35 cents for unlimited talk time. The couple got into a routine whereby Elaine would call around 11pm and they would talk for around an hour, after which she would drive back home. On 20 September 1999, Elaine and Billy spoke for an hour about an upcoming camping trip. When they hung up, Billy assumed Elaine would drive back home as per usual. Unfortunately, Elaine never made it home.
Her parents weren’t overly concerned at first, since Elaine frequently stayed over with friends and family instead of driving home. However, when their daughter didn’t show up for work the following day, they knew something was wrong. Driving past Zack’s Food Rack, they spied her car in the parking lot; key still in the ignition, driver’s window rolled down. On the passenger seat sat Elaine’s purse and a packet of cigarettes. Elaine’s mother drove the car home, unknowingly destroying potential evidence.
After the teenager was reported missing by her parents, roadblocks were set up while her family searched the area around the restaurant. Nine days after her disappearance, an unnamed person cutting the grass behind a park made a tragic discovery: Elaine’s body, naked and badly decomposed, lying just inside the tree line. She had been killed and dumped 17 miles from the payphone she frequented.
An official cause of death was never established due to the advanced decomposition of the remains, yet theories surfaced that Elaine Nix had been strangled or smothered. A murder investigation was opened, but a lack of leads and evidence led to the case running cold within a few years. To date no arrests have been made and Elaine’s killer may still be on the loose.
8 Jenny Low Chang
Nineteen-year old Jenny Low Chang was a student at San Francisco State University in 1977. She took her studies seriously and booked a study session in the library basement to which she headed at 6pm on 11 September 1977.
When her roommate awoke the following morning and saw that Jenny hadn’t returned to the dorm room and her bed had not been slept in, she reported her missing. Only three hours had passed when one of the professors at the university discovered Jenny’s naked body in the reading room on the fourth floor. Her head showed signs of a severe beating, she had multiple stab wounds and there was evidence of sexual assault. Several pieces of furniture in the room were broken, which pointed to a struggle, and her clothes and books were placed next to her body.
It was pointed out during investigations that someone would have had to open the door to the reading room for Jenny as it would have been locked at around 5pm on a Sunday. 200 school staff members and 1,200 faculty members possessed keys and coded cards that could unlock that particular door.
Despite the number of potential suspects, only two were ever questioned: a campus security guard and a faculty member. Some people were convinced the “Zodiac Killer” was the culprit. Nothing ever came of police investigations and over 40 years later, Jenny’s murder remains a mystery.
7 Don Henry and Kevin Ives
On 23 August 1987, a cargo train was travelling through Alexander, Arkansas when the driver saw something on the tracks ahead. As the train closed in on the object, he could see it was a body. He then realized that there were in fact two bodies lying across the tracks, in the way of his oncoming train. Attempting desperately to stop and blowing the horn incessantly, the driver almost succeeded in avoiding hitting the bodies, but unfortunately the train’s momentum caused it to roll over them.
An investigation revealed that the bodies were those of 16-year old Don Henry and 17-year old Kevin Ives. Initially it was suspected that the boys had fallen asleep on the tracks due to heavy use of marijuana. However, both sets of parents insisted that a second autopsy be conducted. Eventually a pathologist realized that the marks on Don Henry’s shirt were consistent with a stabbing injury, and that Kevin Ives’ skull had been crushed possibly by the rifle he used to hunt with.
Some witnesses claimed to have seen a man dressed in military attire a week before the train incident as well as the same day the train hit the boys. One theory had it that the boys may have stumbled across a drug dealing operation and had been murdered for it.
Police investigated all possible leads but they all led to a dead-end. To date, the boys’ killer remains unknown.
6 Zigmund Adamski
56-year old Zigmund Adamski left his home in Tingley, near Wakefield in June 1980 and set off on a walk to the local store to do some shopping. He never returned.
A search effort ensued and Zigmund’s body was located 5 days later at a coal yard in Todmorden. Lying on top of a heap of coal, the body was dressed in a suit but no shirt. His wallet and watch were also missing. The coroner inspected several burns on the back of Zigmund’s head, neck and shoulders but could not determine the cause thereof. The coroner was also puzzled by the fact that Zigmund barely had a five-o-clock shadow even though he had been missing for five days. Furthermore, forensic experts determined that a type of ointment had been rubbed onto the burn wounds but could not establish the exact kind.
In a very strange turn of events, a well-known UFOlogist in the area claimed that Zigmund had been abducted by aliens. This speculation was fuelled by the policeman who found Zigmund’s body, Alan Godfrey. Godfrey claimed to have personally encountered a UFO. Shortly after this revelation, he quit his job and started a new career as a ‘motivational’ speaker.
Godfrey also claimed that Zigmund died of a heart attack, but this did not explain how he got on top of a coal pile nor why he was lying face down, as his positioning meant he would have had to have been deposited from above. Despite a thorough police investigation, Zigmund’s killer was never found and what exactly happened to him remains a mystery.
5 Frauke Liebs
Excitement hung in the air in the city of Paderborn, Germany in June 2006 as the FIFA World Cup tournament was in full swing. 21-year old Frauke Liebs joined a friend at a local pub to watch a match between England and Sweden. At some point during the night, she borrowed another friend’s cellphone battery as hers was just about flat. Before she left at 11pm she put her own battery back in her phone and set off on a walk to her house, 1.5 kilometers away.
At just before 1 am, Frauke still hadn’t arrived home. Her roommate received a text from her, saying she would be back later that morning. However, Frauke never returned home and didn’t arrive at work either. Her mother reported her missing the same day.
In the days that followed, Frauke called her roommate five times from five different locations within Paderborn. She didn’t answer the multiple questions her roommate had and would only repeat that she would be home soon. During the last phone call, Frauke’s sister spoke to her and later told police that Frauke had answered ‘yes’ when asked whether she was being held captive. The phone calls then abruptly stopped.
Frauke’s remains were found near Lichtenau almost four months later. Her bag and possessions were missing. Her body was severely decomposed, and a cause of death could not be established. Police later concluded that Frauke had been held captive for a while in Nieheim before being killed and her body dumped. There were five initial suspects, but all were released without being charged due to a lack of conclusive evidence.
Frauke Liebs’ murder remains unsolved.
4 Diao Aiqing
On 19 January 1996, a street cleaner in Nanjing thought she had received a belated Christmas gift when she found a bag of meat sitting in a clump of snow next to the road. She took it home but was horrified when she started cleaning the meat and discovered three human fingers inside the bag.
The woman notified the police, where-after officers found more human remains in two other areas. The body parts totalled over 2000 pieces and a boiled head and limbs were also found. It was eventually established that the remains were those of 19-year old university student, Diao Aiqing. Diao went missing on 10 January 1996 after getting into a fight with other students at the university over the use of electrical appliances. She was never seen again.
Police launched a massive investigation but to date, Diao’s killer is still unknown and the motive for her gruesome murder remains elusive.
3 Terry Sutter
Terry Sutter was looking forward to spending some time with his friends at the movies and the local bowling alley on 1 September 1973. But before he could do that, he had to finish his chores for the day, which included mowing someone’s lawn. When he was done, he waited in vain for his mother to pick him up and eventually walked home. That evening he joined his friends in Frankfort, Michigan with strict instructions from his parents to be at his grandmother’s house no later than 11 pm. The next day Terry’s grandmother informed them that the 15-year old teenager never arrived at her house and she still hadn’t heard anything from him.
Terry’s parents immediately informed the police that he was missing, but officers weren’t especially worried and voiced their opinion that he was probably just hiding somewhere to avoid having to go to school. However, they soon regretted thinking this. That afternoon a tourist stumbled upon Terry’s body on a beach in Michigan. It soon became apparent that someone had held him down in the sand until he suffocated; his lungs and eyes were filled with sand. He also had multiple bruises on his head and neck.
The teenager’s parents were devastated but requested minimal media coverage of the murder. They had their son buried in the Lake Township cemetery, but their trauma was far from over. For some reason, Terry’s grave kept being vandalized. Flowerpots would be broken and plants ripped out. Things got so bad that Terry’s parents eventually had his remains moved to an unmarked grave.
It remains unknown who was responsible for Terry Sutter’s death and whether his killer and the person who vandalized his grave were one and the same.
2 Ida Lowry
Edwin Smith was tired and grateful to be heading home at just after midnight on April 23, 1960. As he passed between Clybourn and St. Paul avenues, he thought he heard someone screaming. He stopped his car and listened. Sure enough, he heard cries for help coming from an alleyway. Running to it, he couldn’t believe what he saw. An elderly woman, later identified as 76-year old Ida Lowry, was lying in the alley covered in blood and bruises. When he tried to help her up, she screamed in pain, so he left to call the police instead. Unfortunately, an hour after police arrived and transported Ida to a hospital, she died.
Before she drew her last breath however, Ida was able to tell officers that a big white man who ‘worked at the bridge’ grabbed her and hit her with a heavy object. He then raped her. When he was done, he simply left her to die in the alley.
An investigation into Ida’s life revealed that she was somewhat of an eccentric loner who loved rifling through garbage cans. She had two sisters, both of whom hadn’t seen her in a while. Police ramped up their search for suspects and identified six men of interest within just a few days. None of them were ever charged. A 24-year old man falsely confessed to the murder and over the next few weeks many others were questioned. However, Ida Lowry’s murderer is yet to be found.
1 Tristan Brübach
Tristan Brübach was an only child to his parents. The family lived in Frankfurt, Austria and Tristan attended Walter Kolk Primary school up until the 5th grade after which he moved to a school in Sindlingen. Tragically Tristan’s mother, who was a drug addict, committed suicide when her son was only ten years old.
Tristan’s grandmother soon moved in with him and his father to help look after the young boy. Tristan, being bored with his grandmother’s company, took to hanging around outside and walking around the neighbourhood until late in the evening. When he wasn’t outside, he was playing video games and tending to his pet rabbit. Soon however, Tristan started to rebel because he wanted to fit in with older kids. He started smoking in a bid to appear ‘cool’, but this didn’t prevent other children from bullying him.
On 26 March 1998, Tristan didn’t want to go to school. He asked his father if he could go to the doctor instead, claiming that his back was sore. His father didn’t fall for this story and told his son to go to school. Tristan eventually pitched up at school at 9 am after hanging out with a friend outside the school premises. Later in the day he asked the teacher if he could leave early to go to the doctor and was granted permission. He was last seen alive at a park in front of the Frankfurt-Höchst railway station.
Some of his fellow school mates found Tristan’s lifeless body on their way home from school. They ran back to the school building to alert the teachers and the police arrived at the scene just after five in the afternoon. Tristan’s body was lying in a pedestrian tunnel. He had been severely beaten, strangled and his neck had a deep cut. Upon further inspection, police found that the young boy’s testicles had been removed and that flesh from his thighs and buttocks had been cut out. The murder weapon was found close to the scene.
Three teenagers claimed to have seen the murder take place from a distance and gave police a description of the killer. However, after a large-scale fingerprint operation, the identification of several persons of interest and the offering of a monetary reward for information, the case remains unsolved.