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10 Unsolved American Mysteries

by Estelle
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Have you ever experienced something you couldn’t explain? A strange presence you could feel but not prove. A sound that chilled you to the bone but that faded along with the morning mist. An unwavering certainty that something bad was going to happen that you could not explain. Most people brush these incidents off because they do not want to know what may have caused that electric charge in the air or that faint scream emanating from a deep, dark forest.

In 2024, we are all but desensitized to the creepy, the unknown, and the chilling. But for many, there are things they have pushed to the back of their minds—things they do not want to think or worry about. These include situations they may have narrowly avoided or escaped, but they replay repeatedly in their minds. And some do not escape these situations.

The mysteries you are about to read play into these things. Unexplained sounds in the dead of night, strange disappearances, unsolved murders, weird encounters, monstrous monsters; they are all here. And just like so many others, the people involved in these stories want to move on and not consider the frightening possibilities of what actually happened. Or, what could still happen.

Related: 10 Mysterious Disappearances in the Alaska Triangle

10 The Port Chatham Incidents

TRUE HORROR: The Abandonment of Portlock Alaska | What Was Happening In The Woods?

Port Chatham is a ghost town in Alaska on the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula. The peninsula is gorgeous, with mountain ranges extending to both sides, wildlife roaming about, and several excellent fishing spots. But as many people have realized, there is something extremely eerie about Port Chatham (Portlock) itself.

Port Chatham was first inhabited in 1787, and the town got its first post office in the 1920s. Around the same time the post office started operating, rumors began circulating that an evil creature was haunting a nearby mining camp. Those who witnessed the creature’s destruction believed it walked on two feet, so it couldn’t have been a bear or wolf. Some thought it was a bipedal creature like a Yeti or Sasquatch.

However, it wasn’t the uprooted trees with their roots sticking upward that made people leave Port Chatham. It was the various mutilated bodies that started turning up in lagoons, rivers, and along trails while WWII raged. As if that wasn’t creepy enough, people in Port Chatham began to go missing for no apparent reason.

Shortly after the end of the war, the locals had had enough. They fled in search of less spooky, monster-free, and dead body-free locations. Many years later, hunters returned to the area only to find 18-inch-long (46-cm) footprints resembling that of humans. However, the footprint patterns looked like those of a deer or a wolf. In 1973, three hunters reported being stalked by a creature walking on two feet while they sheltered from a storm.

In 1990, a paramedic from Anchorage attended to a 70-year-old prisoner who was native to the Port Chatham area. The paramedic made small talk while treating the prisoner and mentioned he had gone hunting in the Port Chatham area. Upon hearing this, the prisoner suddenly sat up straight and shouted, “Did you see it? Did it bother you?”

To this day, no one knows what the creature is that scared the daylights out of so many townspeople so many years ago. The mystery of the Port Chatham incidents continues.[1]

9 The Route 29 Stalker

Could the Route 29 Stalker and the Long Island Serial Killer be the SAME person?

By the mid-1990s, serial killers and stalkers in the U.S. were a common subject. Some people made sure they got home before dark, while others invested in additional security measures. Unfortunately, not everyone made it home safe, especially from 1996 onward.

In Virginia, things took a creepy turn between 2009 and 2014 with the disappearance of five young women along Route 29. Altogether, nine murders and disappearances happened along this route, with only three cases solved thus far. Morgan Dana Harrington, Alexis Murphy, and Hannah Graham’s murderers were convicted and sent to prison.

In 1996, Alicia Showalter Reynolds set off from Baltimore to visit her mother in Charlottesville. She was going to meet her mother at a Charlottesville mall at 10:30, and her mom became extremely worried when she didn’t show up. Around 6:00 that night, Alicia’s car was found along a highway near Culpepper with a paper napkin beneath the windshield wiper. But there was nothing wrong with the car.

While police were searching for Alicia, three people came forward to say they saw Alicia talking to a man in a pickup truck. Then, 20 women reported that they had been approached by a man in a pickup truck on the highway. The man would drive behind them, flashing his car’s lights and honking the horn to get them to pull over.

One woman became suspicious when the man said something was wrong with her car and offered her a ride home. Along the way, the man kept trying to pull off the road. She fought him, and he pushed her out of the car. The woman broke her ankle in the fall but escaped with her life. Alicia Reynolds did not. Her body was found 15 miles (24.1 kilometers) southeast of Culpepper two months after she disappeared.

The other victims believed to have fallen victim to the Route 29 stalker are Julianne Williams, Laura Winans, Anne Carolyn McDaniel, Samantha Clarke, and Sage Smith. These nine victims, including Morgan Harrington, Alexis Murphy, and Hannah Graham, form part of the Route 29 stalker mystery. Some police officers and investigators believe the stalker may have been serial killer Richard Marc Evonitz, who was active in the area around the same time the victims disappeared.

In 2023, Alicia Reynold’s family urged police to reexamine her case after they noted that a police sketch of the Route 29 stalker bore a startling resemblance to the Gilgo Beach murder suspect, Rex Heuermann. But as of 2024, there is simply not enough evidence to prove any of this, and the killer remains unidentified.[2]

8 The Ghost of Henry Wells

Alabama Ghost Story: The Face in the Window

Alabama is known for its terrifying ghost stories, but most people do not take them too seriously. After all, ghosts are just figments of the imagination or the product of too much alcohol, right? So, then, what about the face in the courthouse window?

The story starts like any other creepy urban legend. It is said that a man named Henry Wells burned the courthouse in Pickens County and was subsequently attacked by a lynch mob. Shortly after, he stood in the courthouse window, pleading not guilty. While looking at the crowd and pleading with them, lightning struck and seared his likeness into the window. It is said that Wells was killed by the mob shortly afterward, even though he shouted, “If you kill me, I am going to haunt you for the rest of your lives!”

The next day, a lynch mob member walked by the courthouse only to see Wells’s distorted face staring at him from the window. As word spread of the ghastly face in the window, more people passed by to see it for themselves. The image did not disappear after the window was scrubbed with soap or chemicals. And they could not see it at all from inside the window.

Now, when the weather turns stormy, people still see the face in the window and hear loud wails emanating from its mouth. Of course, this is the urban legend version, not the official version of events. But why did the face in the window appear even after the original pane was broken? Then again, another version of the story says that the pane with the Wells imprint is the only one in the courthouse that has never been destroyed. And the face is still there.

Is this Henry Wells’s actual likeness, or is there another, much more mundane explanation for this weird phenomenon?[3]

7 The Fate of Tom Kueter

Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack – Season 8, Episode 7 – Full Episode

In June 1994, forklift driver Tom Kueter was found dead by his co-workers. His head was underneath the wheels of his forklift, and his skull had been crushed. He was only 29 years old at the time of his death. The police quickly formulated a theory and concluded that Tom had killed himself by loading the forklift with a ton of lumber, setting it in motion, and then lying down in its path. They believed he did this because he had been involved in the disappearance of a co-worker four days earlier.

Tina Marcotte was driving home after working a late shift at Black Hills Molding in South Dakota when her tire blew out. She phoned her best friend, Vicky, hoping she could pick her up. But while on the phone, Tina told Vicky that Tom had offered her a ride, thanked her, and said good night. Vicky and Tina’s boyfriend Patrick never heard from her again.

Both Tom and Patrick showed up at Vicky’s house the next day. Vicky demanded to know what happened because Tom promised to take Tina home. Tom denied this, and eventually, Patrick asked him whether he and Tina were having an affair before she disappeared. Tom denied this, too.

Both men went to report Tina’s disappearance, only for the police to discover that the missing woman’s car tire had been slashed with a knife. Tom Keuter was grilled about whether he gave Tina a ride home, and he continued to deny that he had seen her. He told police his car had broken down, and he had spent up to four hours fixing it. What he didn’t tell the police was that he washed his clothes immediately when he arrived home at 3:30 in the morning.

The day before Tom was found dead, police informed him they found blood in his car, and they were testing it. The next morning, it did not matter anymore because Tom was dead, and the police were convinced he had murdered Tina before taking his own life. But Tom’s family believes someone murdered him too. His wife refused to believe he would leave her and their kids behind.

Tina Marcotte’s body was eventually found sixteen months after she disappeared, under a woodpile at the place where she and Tom worked. Did Tom commit suicide? Did Patrick or Vicky kill him? We’ll probably never know.[4]

6 The Lakes of the Clouds Hut

Mount Washington and Lakes of the Clouds Hut in the White Mountains of NH

Snaking through part of New Hampshire, the Lake of the Clouds Hut Trail takes hikers along the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. It is a challenging hike but ends with spectacular views. The Appalachian Mountain Club operates the hut, which hikers can stay in while exploring the area. But some of them may not want to.

In 1901, a different hut sat on the same spot that the AMC is on today. Like the AMC hut, that one was meant to provide shelter to hikers. It was built after two hikers died trying to reach the summit of Mount Washington. Anyone who has attempted the same will know Mount Washington has incredibly harsh weather, especially strong winds. These conditions are the main contributing factors to 150 hikers being killed on this mountain. And according to the reports of several frightened hikers, the souls of the 150 who died roam in the AMC hut to this day.

An AMC member tasked with opening the hut at the start of the hiking season failed to return. When a rescue party found him, he was huddling under a sink, scared out of his mind. He told the rescuers he saw faces floating before him and could not leave. There have even been reports of those who insult the deceased hikers, finding themselves pushed by unseen hands.

However, since there is no such thing as ghosts (right?), what did the AMC member see that frightened him so badly? Who or what is pushing hikers around on the trail? And who is stealing the hiker’s shoes to the point that they have nailed them to the wall when they stay in the hut?[5]

5 The Petrified Rock Curse

The Curse of Escalante Petrified Forest

There are thousands of famous landmarks worldwide. And people can’t seem to keep their hands off them, literally. Visitors to the Colosseum often steal pieces of stone, while tourists in Maui take lava rocks from national parks. In Utah, the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is filled with petrified rock and fallen petrified trees that are seemingly irresistible to locals and visitors.

Until the curse hits.

Most people who take pieces of petrified rock or wood in this state park could care less about the fact that it is illegal to do so. They return the rocks by mail because they believe the park’s legendary curse sent their lives into a downward spiral.

The park gets dozens of letters accompanying the returned pieces every year, describing car accidents, failed marriages, dread diseases, and death. These horrible incidents are all blamed on the curse. Furthermore, stories of bad luck surrounding the pieces of petrified stone and wood date back to the 1930s.

One man noted in his letter that he was highly skeptical of the curse and took some of the petrified wood. But then he had three accidents in a row, and his motor home caught fire. It is said that the curse that rests on the state park is an ancient one, and anyone who removes petrified stone or wood is cursed forever.

But no one knows who cast the so-called curse or why. And, if there is no curse, why do so many people (up to six every month) return the pieces they have taken?[6]

4 The Disappearance of Cindy Anderson

The Sudden Disappearance Of Cynthia Anderson

Twenty-year-old Cindy Anderson was having a tough time in 1980. She kept having violent nightmares and soon became scared that they may be premonitions of something terrible to come. One of her most vivid nightmares involved opening the door to a man she recognizes. The man starts chasing her, and she runs but does not escape.

Her fears came true in August 1981. Cindy worked as a secretary at a legal office in Toledo. Being extra careful, she always kept the door locked, especially when she worked alone. This was mainly because a written message appeared on the wall before her office window: I LOVE YOU CINDY BY GW. The writing was removed a few months later, but the message reappeared weeks later.

Even worse, someone began calling and harassing her at the office. Cindy’s employers installed a buzzer at her desk, which would alert a nearby business if she experienced an emergency. On August 3, Cindy assisted a client who wanted to pay an account. The client later recalled that Cindy received two phone calls and abruptly hung up both times. He also recalled that she looked terrified. The client was so disturbed by the incident that he called the police and asked them to check on Cindy.

The next day, Cindy worked alone in the office again. She was seen for the last time around 9:45 a.m. When her employers arrived at noon, she was gone. The two lawyers noted a strong smell of nail polish remover in the air. The book Cindy had been reading was left open at a scene where the protagonist was abducted at knifepoint. Cindy’s keys and purse were missing, but her car was still in the business parking lot. Her money was never withdrawn from her bank account, and her social security number was never used.

Shortly after Cindy’s disappearance, a woman called the local police station and told them Cindy was alive and being held in the basement of a white house. The woman refused to say where the house was, and the police could never find it. GW, who left the messages, came forward and told the police his love messages were meant for another Cynthia (this was Cindy’s real name). A handyman at the law firm where Cindy worked had the initials GW and access to the building at all times. He was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Forty-three years later, the police are no closer to solving the mystery. Who kept calling Cindy? Who took her? Is she still alive and being held somewhere? Did she disappear on her own?[7]

3 The Shaman’s Portal in Beaver Dunes Park

Strange Locations Series: Shaman’s Portal – Beaver Sand Dunes

The Sooner State’s Beaver Dunes Park is popular with tourists and locals for its 300 acres (121 hectares) of sand hills, campgrounds, hiking trails, and fishing spots. But some refuse to set foot here because they fear they may encounter some of the strange things that happen in the place known as Oklahoma’s Bermuda Triangle.

Several people have gone missing here over the years, starting in the 1500s when men traveling with Francisco Coronado disappeared from the dunes. It is said that at the time of their disappearance, green lightning flashes were visible over the dunes. It is also said that Native Americans, who refused to go anywhere near the dunes, tried to warn Coronado that the place was dangerous. Coronado didn’t heed the warnings but recorded the incident in his journals, noting that the men vanished before his eyes.

These disappearances and the consequent ones led to a general belief that a shaman’s portal exists in the dunes. A pioneer woman disappeared here in 1897, and a tourist from Colorado in 1987. Some believe that the dunes were once the site of a UFO crash and that the sand hides the wreckage of the spacecraft. There are even reports of men dressed in military gear digging in the sand in the middle of the night.

So, what happened to Coronado’s fellow travelers all those years ago? And the other two people who disappeared in the park? Did a portal really suck them in? Did it have something to do with the green lightning flashes? What about Dr. Mark Thatcher’s claims that his research in the area was shut down in the ’90s by men who fit the description of the “Men in Black”?

The mystery remains.[8]

2 The Mystery of the White Bird Biplane

​​In search of ​Nungesser and ​Coli: From 1993, a ​documentary on an aviation mystery

In 1927, Charles Nungesser and Francoise Coli attempted to win the Orteig Prize, which totaled $25,000, by being the first aviators to fly a plane nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. They aimed to cross between Europe and North America and set off in their biplane called White Bird or L’Oiseau Blanc from an airport just outside of Paris.

The plan was to land in New York Harbor near the Statue of Liberty on May 9. Sadly, the plan went awry somewhere over the ocean (presumably), and Nungesser and Coli never arrived at their destination. Many theories about the aviators’ disappearance have been formulated, including that of the late Arthur Dolan of Princeton in Washington County. He was convinced the pilots crashed when they attempted an emergency landing on Meddybemps Lake.

Dolan and a friend went deer hunting in 1958 in Downeast, Maine. When they entered the woods, Dolan spotted the debris of a crashed plane. There was nothing left but the beams once connected to the framing. The wings, fuselage, cockpit, and wheels were gone. Neither man had heard about the White Bird’s disappearance at the time.

When Dolan moved to Princeton in 1988, he finally read about the missing plane and immediately thought of what he and his friend had seen 30 years earlier. He and his friend, Al Stevens, went in search of the debris. They could not find it even though they followed the same path into the woods. Before he died in 2017, Dolan tried to convince experts to search the site using the latest technology, but to no avail.

In addition to Dolan’s claimed discovery, Harold Vining, a blueberry farmer in Maine, heard a plane rumble overhead on May 9, 1927, but could not see it through the fog. Miles away, a couple also heard the plane and listened as it passed. A hermit named Anson Berry heard a sputtering engine and a crash in the hills next to the lake he was fishing on.

So, did Dolan find the debris of the White Bird in 1958? If so, what happened to it? If not, where is the plane, and did it actually crash? Considering how many witnesses heard a plane that day, it likely did. But will anyone ever find it and discover what led to the crash?[9]

1 The Second Life of James Kellow

Can Children Remember Their Past Lives? | Real Stories Full-Length Documentary

Four-year-old Charlie took the wind out of his mother’s sails one ordinary day. Mary was walking back to her car with her children after attending a cliff diving performance when Charlie suddenly said, “I died once.” Mary chuckled and corrected her son, “You mean dived once?” Charlie looked at her and said, “No, I died once, and it hurts!”

Flabbergasted, Mary asked her son to explain what he meant. The boy told her that his leg was badly hurt, one of many conversations that eventually led to an explosive conclusion. And these conversations tied in with one James Kellow from San Francisco.

Kellow served on a warship as a naval officer and died after dragging a surviving crew member onto a nearby beach when the ship was bombed. Mary learned this from her son, who believed he was Kellow in his previous life. After researching several warships, Mary finally found the USS Arizona roster and the name James Kellow. Kellow’s death aligned with what Charlie told her. His body was recovered after the Arizona was struck and exploded in Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack.

If Charlie’s story is true, it means reincarnation is real. If not, how did Charlie know about James Kellow at all? How did a random four-year-old know about a naval officer who died in 1941? And if, like some believe, Mary was lying, what about all the other stories of reincarnation, some also involving the Pearl Harbor attack?

Medical and academic professionals continue to study reincarnation and have done so for decades. While they struggle to find scientific answers, more and more people remember a life that their family and friends do not.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Estelle is a regular writer for Listverse.