Famous Unsolved Crimes of America

Unsolved by By by Hilary Guo, Youth are Awsome

Unsolved by By by Hilary Guo, Youth are Awesome

While there are obviously far too many unsolved crimes in America to mention here, some have become famous for the length of their cold case files, the individual who was involved, mysteries that surround the crimes, the sheer fear that they cause in their localities, and sometimes, their strange peculiarities. In many of these cases, the perpetrator continued his/her crimes but was never found, leaving us to wonder about the criminal that continues to live on in society. Sometimes, serial crimes just stopped. As time goes on, these cases get colder and colder, and the shroud of mystery thicker.

Unsolved Crimes:

The Axeman of New Orleans

The Axeman of New Orleans

The Axeman of New Orleans – A serial killer who killed at least 11 people in New Orleans, Louisiana, and surrounding communities in 1918-1919, he was never caught.

Babysitter Killer of Detroit, Michigan (Between 1976 and 1977) – This killer abducted and killed four children between 1976 and 1977. In some cases, the victims were sexually assaulted. The killer would then clean the kids’ clothes and arrange their bodies in a display in downtown Detroit, Michigan, for investigators to find. This killer was never found.

The Black Dahlia Murder (1947) – The gruesome discovery of the body of a young woman sliced in half at the waist became a national obsession, as both the Los Angeles, California police and the FBI interviewed dozens of suspects across the country to find the killer or killers of Elizabeth Short. Nicknamed the Black Dahlia by the Los Angeles press, Short was a 22-year-old aspiring actress when she was brutally slain. Her murder remains unsolved.

Lizzie Borden – Killer of Fall River, Massachusetts? – Lizzie Borden, the only suspect in the ax murders of Andrew and Abby Borden in 1892, was arrested, tried, and acquitted in Fall River, Massachusetts. No one else was ever investigated for the crime, and the case remains “officially” unsolved.

D.B. Cooper Sketch

D.B. Cooper Sketch

D.B. Cooper –  This unidentified man hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, on November 24, 1971, extorted $200,000 in ransom, and parachuted to an uncertain fate. Despite an extensive manhunt and protracted FBI investigation, the perpetrator has never been located or identified.

The Daring Escape From Alcatraz – Known as the most inescapable penitentiary in the U.S., that reputation was ruined when John William Anglin, Alfred Clarence Anglin, and Frank Lee Morris successfully escaped in 1962. They dug their way to freedom with spoons and sailed away in a raft made out of raincoats, never to be seen again.

The Golden State Killer – Also called the Original Night Stalker and the East Area Rapist, this monster is believed to have committed 12 homicides, 45 rapes, and more than 120 residential burglaries between 1976 and 1986 across multiple California counties.

Gypsy Hill Killings – A group of five unsolved homicides of young women and girls in San Mateo County, California, during early 1976. The killer became known in the media as “the San Mateo slasher.”

Jennings Eight of Louisiana (Between 2005 and 2009) – These were eight women whose bodies were found in swamps and canals around Jennings, Louisiana, between 2005 and 2009. The victims all knew each other through the crack trade and prostitution. Loss of evidence, mishandling, and lack of progress in the case led some to suspect that the police were involved in the deaths or in covering them up. The killer was never found.

Mad Gasser of Mattoon, Illinois newspaper article

Mad Gasser of Mattoon, Illinois newspaper article

Mad Gassers of Virginia and Illinois – In the 1930s and 1940s, there were two accounts of a “Mad Gasser” operating in two locations. The first occurred in Botetourt County, Virginia, in 1933-1934. The second was in Mattoon, Illinois, in 1944. Also known as the “Anesthetic Prowler” and the “Phantom Anesthetist,” these names were given to the person or people believed to be responsible for a series of gas attacks that were perpetrated against area residents.

Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run, Ohio (Between 1935 and 1938) – Also called the Cleveland Torso Murderer, this madman was one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. Between 1935 and 1938, 12 headless and limbless bodies were found in a creek bed in Cleveland, Ohio, known as Kingsbury Run. The victims included seven men and five women. Only two were identified, and the killer was never caught.

Servant Girl Annihilator – In 1884 and 1885, an unknown serial killer preyed upon the city of Austin, Texas. The murderer killed seven women and one man and seriously injured six more women and two men, attacking them in their beds at night. He was never caught.

Texas Killing Fields – Described as a perfect place for killing somebody and getting away with it, the Texas Killing Fields is an area bordering the Calder Oil Field, a 25-acre patch of land situated a mile from the stretch of Interstate 45 in southeast Texas.

Tylenol Murders in Chicago – In 1982, six adults and one child died in Chicago, Illinois, after taking Tylenol laced with potassium cyanide. Police were baffled as the pills came from different factories and were purchased in different drug stores in the city. No motive was ever determined, and the person responsible has never been found.

West Mesa Murders of New Mexico (Between 2001 and 2005) – In 2009, the bodies of 11 women and a fetus were found in the desert in the West Mesa of AlbuquerqueNew Mexico. Buried between 2001 and 2005, it took a year to identify all of the remains, and it was found that all of the women had connections to drugs and prostitution. The serial killer was never found.

Zodiac Killer Letter

Zodiac Killer Letter

The Zodiac Killer – One of the great unsolved serial killer mysteries of all time, taking only second place to Jack the Ripper. Even though police investigated over 2,500 potential suspects, the case was never officially solved.

© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated October 2023.

Also See:

American Mysteries

Disappearances & Mysterious Deaths

Legends, Ghosts, Myths & Mysteries

Mysterious People & Events