Since the baffling disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 last year, people across the world have been scratching their heads and waiting anxiously to find out what happened to the plane and its unlucky occupants. Well, thanks to a piece of wreckage found on a beach at Reunion Island – a French-owned area off the coast of the Indian Ocean – on Wednesday, we may finally have hope that this puzzle could be resolved.
However, there are still tonnes of strange occurrences, both old and recent, that are yet to be answered. In order of creep factor – from least eerie to bloody terrifying – here are eight unsolved mysteries that will keep you up at night!
On November 24th 1971, going by the name Dan Cooper boarded the Northwest Airlines Flight 305 from Portland, USA. Estimated to be in his 40s, he was wearing a wearing a dark suit, white shirt, black tie, raincoat and sunglasses. He was also carrying a brief case, one that he would later claim to young stewardess Florence Schaffner contained a bomb, which he would set off if he wasn’t paid a ransom of $200,000.
Florence relayed this message to the pilot, who landed the plane in Seattle where Cooper’s demands were met. He then allowed the other 36 passengers off the plane, but made the crew stay on board and fly towards their original destination of Portland. According to the crew, Cooper was very polite and in what appears to be a show of good will, he gave the remaining staff $2000 dollars each before jumping out of the plane into a heavy rainstorm, with the remainder of the cash strapped to his back. He was never seen again.
As with most unsolved mysteries, many theories have been put forward to suggest what happened to him. It has been concluded that it was highly unlikely for a man to survive a risky 10,000 feet jump into dangerous weather wearing only a business suit. The F.B.I even suggested it was unlikely he’d even managed to open his parachute. Some of the money eventually surfaced in 1980, leading authorities to believe his body could be located somewhere along the Columbian River.
The “Umbrella Murder”
In his native country of Bulgaria Georgi Markov was a controversial yet successful novelist and playwright. After much of his work was censored by the Communist Government he defected to the UK, even becoming a broadcaster for the BBC World Service.
From 1975- 1978 he openly criticised the Communist regime Eastern Europe and party leader Todor Zhivkov, further heightening his status as enemy of the state. Then, in 1978 he mysteriously died in hospital from poisoning. Four days earlier he had been shot in the leg while waiting for his bus to work. The tiny pellet was full of ricin, of which only a few grains are needed to kill an adult human. The weapon was believed to be a high-tech umbrella gun, as at the time of entry Markov glimpsed a man behind him pick an umbrella off the ground before jumping into a taxi and driving away. The case has never been solved, but many believe due to the sophistication of the weaponry and assignation attempts on similar figures, the Bulgarian Secret Service are to blame.
The Taos Hum
Taos – a small town in New Mexico, USA – is best known for its “hum”, a persistent and invasive low humming sound that perpetually disturbs some residents, but others can’t hear it at all. The Mysterious sound, which is often compared to the sound of a distant diesel engine, also can’t be picked up by audio devices. This phenomenon has occurred in other places around the world, but no one has yet to come up with a decent explanation.
The Wow! Signal
For many who believe that life exists elsewhere in the universe, the Wow! signal is thought to be the first intentional message sent by aliens. In 1977, a volunteer for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) named Jerry Ehman was working at the now obsolete Big Ear radio telescope of The Ohio State University. While scanning radio waves from deep space, his readings suddenly spiked. For 72 seconds – the longest period of time that could be measured with the device he was using – a signal was transmitted from 120 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. Attempts to find the signal again since have failed, leaving its origin a mystery.
The Phoenix Lights
More potentially alien-caused confusion! The Phoenix Lights were a widely sighted series of unidentified flying objects observed in the sky over Arizona, USA, and the surrounding areas on March 13th 1997. Although mainly witnessed in Arizona, sightings were also reported in Nevada and Mexico. The lights were described as a triangular formation or a v-shaped object that emitted no sound and blocked out the stars as it passed by.
It sounds silly, but what gives this mystery credence is the fact that these lights were witnessed by thousands of people in multiple locations, as well as video footage and photography leftover from the incident. A similar occurrence took place in 2006, prompting residents to believe the lights had returned, but it was only a test by the U.S Air Force. However, the reason for the first lights has still yet to be uncovered.
The Highway of Tears
Highway 16 in British Columbia, Canada, is well deserving of its nickname the “Highway of Tears” due to the ridiculously high number of deaths and disappearances to have occurred there. Between 1969 and 2011, 18 women between the ages of 12 and 33 were either found dead or never seen again, although some believe the list to be longer. Only three of the cases have ever been solved, and there is now an ominous warning sign along the road asking girls not to hitch hike.
Woman In The Witch Elm
On April 18th 1943, four boys looking for birds nests in Hagley Woods in Worcestershire, England, found what appeared to be a human skull hidden in an elm tree. As they were trespassing on the land they put the skull back, afraid of repercussions. But eventually, one of the boys cracked and told his parents what he’d seen and they informed the police.
When the police took a look they not only found the skull but also a skeleton, a wedding ring, a shoe, articles of clothing and a severed hand nearby. After a detailed examination by Professor James Webster at the Birmingham University forensics lab, it was determined that the woman was roughly 35 years old, five foot tall, possessed mousy brown hair and had irregular teeth in her lower jaw. He also discovered she had at least one child and had been dead for over 18 months when she was found, meaning she had passed away in 1941.
Although their were no signs of physical violence or obvious disease, her mouth was stuffed with taffeta. Her death was ruled murder by asphyxiation, and that her body must have been hidden while still warm as it wouldn’t have fit into the empty trunk after the process of rigour mortis had begun. Creepier still, around Christmas that year graffiti started to appear in the local area with statements such as “Who put Luebella down the wych-elm?”, “Hagley Wood Bella” and “Who put Bella in the wych-elm?”. They appeared to be all in the same handwriting.
One theory asserts that Bella was a German spy, who had been giving away secret information about munitions factories to the enemy. A prominent London Academic suggested a black magic ritual was the reason for her death, while a Radio 4 programme in 2014 said two likely candidates were a Birmingham sex worker and a missing Dutch woman. The true reason for her death has never been found, but 50 years later in 1991 the graffiti briefly began appearing once again.
The Sodder Family Disappearances
Finally, we’ll finish on the truly eerie tale of the Sodder family.
On Christmas Eve 1945 in Fayetteville, West Virginia, the home of George and Jennie Sodder burned down while the family were asleep, trapping five of their nine children upstairs. Maurice (14), Martha Lee (12), Louis (10), Jennie (8) and Betty (5) were thought to have died in the blaze, which authorities believed to have been caused by faulty Christmas lights.
However, their remains were never found, which led grief-stricken George and Jennie to hope that their lost children could still be alive. Eye-witness accounts backed up a potential kidnapping theory, but local law enforcement did not investigate the case and the coroner declared them legally dead. Believing that the fire was a cover-up for someone taking their children, over the coming years they would spend a fortune on private investigators in an attempt to find them.
Thirty years later, a billboard featuring pictures of the five children and details of their mysterious disappearance was erected on the side of the family home. George died in 1969 and Jennie in 1988, and the billboard has since been removed.
There are no known suspects, although theories range from George angering the local mob to the Sodder’s killing their children themselves. But in 1968, 20 years after the fire, a photograph was mailed to the remaining family members with the bizarre message: “Louis Sodder, I love brother, Frankie. Ilil boys A90132 (or 90135)” on the back. A detective called C.C. Tinsley was hired to investigate the origin of the picture, but he also disappeared and was never found.
Which unsolved mystery is going to give you nightmares?