Five of America’s Wildest and Most Notable Unsolved Murders


Alex Stone, Opinions Editor

Our society has been tainted by crime since before its creation. Most cases are successfully solved, their perpetrators brought to justice, but occasionally, the trail goes cold. Immense mystery surrounds these cases, but some more than others. These cases, some over 50 years old, have racked up endless amounts of theories and conspiracies.

The Zodiac Killer

One of the most infamous serial killers of all time, the Zodiac Killer is perhaps the most mysterious and elusive of killers America has ever faced. He operated through the late 1960’s through the 1970’s in Northern California. The most memorable aspect of this enigmatic killer’s cruelties are the taunting letters he sent to newspapers, containing multiple elaborate ciphers, which in the past 40+ years, only one has been solved.  Although only 5 deaths can be definitively connected to him, he claimed to have killed 37 people. Numerous suspects have been named, but the case remains open to this day.

In 2014, the internet accused John Green, author of hits The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns, of being the Zodiac Killer, due to his appearance being similar to the police sketch of the killer. Recently, Republican candidate Ted Cruz was accused of being the Zodiac Killer after he delivered a speech in 2013 titled “This Is The Zodiac Speaking.” The accusation is so widespread that a recent poll in Florida found that 38% of voters believe Ted Cruz could be the Zodiac Killer, and you can even purchase shirts declaring this accusation.

ted cruz

The Zodiac Killer inspired the films The Zodiac (2005), Zodiac (2007), and he was featured in an episode of American Horror Story: Hotel (2015).

The Black Dahlia

Elizabeth Short (July 29, 1924- January 15, 1947) was an aspiring actress in the golden age of Hollywood who only reached her desired fame after her violent death. Her body was discovered in L.A. by a mother and daughter on the morning of January 15th, 1947, heavily mutilated, drained of blood, cut in half, posed, and with a Chelsea smile. Due to the horrific nature of the crime, Short’s death was highly sensationalized by the media, some papers even printing blatant lies about Short and the circumstances of her death. An individual who called themselves ‘The Black Dahlia Avenger’ called The Los Angeles Enquirer and sent letters and personal items of Short’s when they felt that the media focus on the case had died down too much. Over 50 individuals confessed to or were accused of the murder, but the true killer has never been brought to justice.

The Black Dahlia, her nickname itself a play on the 1946 film The Blue Dahlia, inspired the films Black Dahlia (2006), The Black Dahlia (2006) and she was featured in American Horror Story: Murder House (2011).

JonBenét Ramsey

A beautiful pageant queen, JonBenét Ramsey (August 6, 1990- December 25, 1996) was reported missing on the morning of December 26th, only for her body to be discovered later that afternoon by her father. The cause of death was ruled strangulation and head trauma. A ransom note was found in the house later in the day demanding $118,000 for her safe return, but the senders never contacted the family again. Fingers immediately pointed towards Patsy and John Ramsey, JonBenét’s parents, but no concrete evidence was found. In 2003 a DNA profile of the killer was established, which was able to officially clear Patsy and John of suspicion. In 2006 John Karr, an elementary school teacher being held on child pornography charges, falsely confessed to the murder, but his DNA was not a match. The killer has still not been identified.

Earlier this year a conspiracy theory arose, claiming that pop singer Katy Perry is actually JonBenét, due to their vaugely similar appearances.


The Texarkana Moonlight Murders

Taking place between February 22, 1946, and May 3, 1946, The Texarkana Moonlight Murders, committed by a masked assailant nicknamed ‘The Phantom’, shook the quiet town of Texarkana to it’s core. The Phantom attacked young couples parked on isolated lover’s lanes, attacking 8 people overall, and killing 5. The murders caused a widespread panic amongst the town, causing gun stores to sell out, and by dusk every night, the town locked themselves up tight, making quaint Texarkana seem like a town for the ghosts. Due to the limited forensic techniques of the 40’s, the Phantom killer was able to walk away with the lives of 5 innocent individuals.

The Moonlight Murders inspired the films The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) (2014), a segment in Killer Legends (2014), and the white sack mask the killer wore inspired Jason Voorhees’ mask in Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981).

Andrew and Abby Borden

We all know the old rhyme ‘Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.’, but what really happened? On the morning of Thursday, August 4th, 1892, Abby and Andrew Borden were killed by 19 and 11 ax blows respectively. Andrew’s daughter Lizzie, who discovered the bodies, was immediately accused due to her contradicting answers to the polices questions, unemotional mannerisms, and the fact that she was caught burning a dress the next day. Lizzie was put on trial for the murders, but was acquitted due to lack of evidence.

The Borden’s inspired the Lifetime film Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (2014) and its continuation The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (2015) both lead by Christina Ricci.