Unsolved Cases That Still Leave Investigators Perplexed

Years have passed with no new leads leaving only more questions. Unsolved True Crime Cases that may never be solved even with today's ability with technolog

Jack the Ripper, the Princes in the Tower, Zodiac, all are iconic cases of history and true crime that have remained elusive to even the best sleuths. No matter the improvement of detective techniques, or technology there are still cases out there that still have no resolution. All being sort of head-scratchers in one way or another.

Below are some of the most bizarre, and confounding unsolved cases of all time. 

1. Judge Crater

Joseph Crater

While not used often anymore, when someone used the term 'pulling a Crater,' its meaning was in reference to a long since missing person. Judge Joseph Force Crater was a member of the New York State Supreme Court and he is mostly famous for disappearing in the summer of 1930. 

The forty-one-year-old Crater was last seen leaving a restaurant in Manhattan off of West 45th Street on August 6th, 1930. He was seen dining with two individuals; the first being a lawyer friend and his mistress. In the days prior to his disappearance Crater was in Maine with his wife, when he received a phone call. 

He told his wife that he needed to return to New York City to take care of some issues. He never elaborated further on what the nature of the phone call was about. His movements from this point show that rather than dealing with the business upon his return, he decided to go to Atlantic City with his mistress Sally Lou Ritzi. 

After his time with Ritzi, he returned to Maine to be with his wife. However, within two days he decides to return to New York. According to his wife, Crater had stated he would be returning to her in Maine by August 9th. We know now that this would never happen. 

By August 6th, Crater was seen in his chambers rummaging through the paperwork on his desk. He would end up destroying documents while there and then sent his clerk out to cash checks totaling just over $5000. From there, he took home two briefcases; both of which were locked.

That evening is when he is last spotted at dinner with his mistress and friend. In the hours before meeting with them Crater had stopped to purchase a ticket for the broadway show Dancing Partner. When questioned by authorities, his friend mentioned that there was no indication of any distress or worry when he saw Crater. 

Both his mistress and friend gave statements about Crater after dinner when they all parted ways. Their statements indicated that they had left the restaurant around 9:30 pm and that they watched Crater take a taxi. Later on, their statements would change; saying that it was they who took the taxi and Crater walked from the restaurant. 

After this, there is no other sighting of Crater nor is there any indication that anyone knew he was missing until he failed to return to Maine on August 9th. His wife called friends and other family but no one had heard from the judge. 

When he missed court on August 25th, then his disappearance made its way into the press. By the beginning of September, he was national news. Cops were able to gather that his safe deposit box had been emptied and those two briefcases he left his office with were now missing. 

The judge had more than one mistress, and whether by coincidence or on purpose, three of these mistresses all left town in or around the time of the disappearance. We know of Sally Lou Ritzi, who had already made a statement of seeing him last on August 6. She would leave the city for Youngstown, Ohio within 30 days of the disappearance. She later claimed that her father was ill and needed to leave the city quickly. 

Another mistress June Brice was actually seen speaking with Crater the day he disappeared. The theory put forward by the lawyer of Mrs. Crater was that Brice was involved in the blackmail of the judge and that an ex-boyfriend of hers had murdered Crater in the end. However the day she was set to testify Brice was nowhere to be seen and was discovered living in a mental hospital in 1948. 

Lastly, Vivian Gordon was a call girl who worked closely with New York madame Polly Adler. While linked to Crater, she was also linked to relationships with other illegal gangsters. One gangster, in particular, was an associate of murdered boss Arnold Rothstein. Vivian had recently been convicted of a crime that resulted in her losing custody of her child. She later agreed to speak with a commission on corruption but was found murdered days later. 

Crater's disappearance, Gordon's murder, and the subsequent suicide of her daughter all became too much for the political machine of Tammany Hall. The mayor of New York would later resign from his post because of the scandal. 

Mrs. Crater would later find documents and letters from her husband in 1931, but no other items were found. He would never be seen again after August 6th, 1930, and she would have him pronounced dead in 1939. She would remarry another two times before dying in 1969 at aged 70. She always maintained that her husband had met with foul play. 

75 years later in 2005 new information came to light about the disappearance. The 91-year-old widow of an NYPD cop revealed that her husband found out another officer murdered Crater on orders from the Murder Inc gang. The information claimed that he had been buried where the New York Aquarium is currently standing today. However, over the years no evidence of any human remains has been discovered. It is unlikely he will ever be found. 

2. Hinterkaifeck Murders

Hinterkaifeck Farm

We move to one of the most famous unsolved murder cases in the world. On March 31, 1922, an entire family was murdered on a farm outside of Munich, Germany. The 6 victims; Andreas Gruber, his wife Cazilla Gruber, their daughter Viktoria Gabriel, her two small children Cazilla and Josef, and their maid Maria Baumgartner were all killed one by one.

With the exception of the youngest child Josef and the maid Maria, the other victims were all lured to the barn and murdered there. The murderer then moved into the home where they killed Maria in her room and Josef still sleep in his crib. 

The family went undiscovered for roughly 4 days before anyone thought to look into the barn and found the bodies. As investigators began their initial look into the murders, there were many things that struck them as odd. 

Firstly, all the animals of the farm were well fed and kept in the days between the murders and the discovery of the bodies. Authorities found that not only had they been fed, but someone had stayed in the home after the murders and used the stove as well as food from the pantry. 

Whoever the killer or killers were, they were comfortable enough to not immediately flee the farm after the murders. Witnesses stated that in the weeks/months leading up to their deaths, Andreas complained of noises in the barn but chose not to take any help from his neighbors. 

The maid was a new hire to the farm who was hired only just recently. The previous maid had quit over the very same noises in the barn. She felt the barn was haunted and decided to quit. The day of the murders happened to be Maria's first night with the family. Her sister had escorted her to the farm. It is now believed that her sister was most likely the last one to see any of them alive.          

The murder weapon was determined to be a mattock; which was not found with the bodies, but found after the farm was demolished one year after the murders.

The Murder Weapon Mattock

Three days before the bodies were discovered, two coffee sellers came to the farm looking to place orders with Gruber. Both men later said they saw nothing out of the ordinary. They walked through the farm and left after no one came to the door. 

Neighbors began to become suspicious after the family failed to show for Sunday services and Viktoria's little girl was marked absent from school for several days in a row. 

On the morning of April 4th, a repairman stops at the farm to fix a food chopper for the family. He later states that no one came to the door, but he opted to stay and repair the chopper. He would be on the farm repairing it for several hours. All the while, he never looks in the barn or enters the home. 

Later that day Lorenz Schlittenbauer sent two of his sons to the farm to see if they could make contact. Both boys return saying that no one answered the door. Lorenz then came to the farm himself along with two other men and they find the bodies in the barn. 

Lorenz then entered the home alone where the bodies of little Josef and the maid were discovered. Detectives from Munich arrive and immediately notice that the bodies had been moved. 

The investigators had an uphill battle in the amount of contamination of the crime scenes. In addition to the bodies being moved, it was discovered that people were in and out of the house, fixing and eating meals. Even the autopsies were completed in the barn. 

After determining that each was lured into the barn one by one, the medical examiner determined that Viktoria's daughter Cazilla had lived several hours after she had been attacked before succumbing to her injuries. 

The initial theory was that this was a robbery. However, as the detectives began to search the home, plenty of money and valuables were found. It became very clear, that whatever the motive, the killers' main goal was not to steal from the family. Robbery became the only motive ever discussed among investigators. No other motive was determined. 

Munich authorities kept the case open and active through 1955 but never arrested anyone for the crimes. The last set of interviews conducted in regards to the events were in 1986; but again, no other new information was discovered. 

Despite the lack of evidence, and motive, there was a list of suspects that detectives did have that were looked into. Firstly was Viktoria's husband Karl Gabriel. He was supposedly killed in 1914 during the First World War, but his body was never recovered.

Detectives determined that the youngest child Josef could not have been Karl's child since he was born roughly two years before the murders. Rumors surrounding the paternity of Josef have been discussed for years. 

The second suspect was also the same person who discovered the bodies. Lorenz Schlittenbauer was immediately seen as a suspect because he entered the home alone after it was determined that the home was locked from the inside. How could he enter a locked home with no key? Gruber had mentioned in the days prior to the murders that they were missing a key to the home. Could Lorenz have taken the key without Gruber's knowledge?

He was also known to have a relationship with Viktoria, and when asked why he entered the home alone the day the bodies were discovered he said he did so out of concern for his son. So it is possible that Lorenz was in fact the biological father of Josef. 

In the barn, Lorenz was seen moving the bodies after their discovery. He would be linked to the murders by rumor and innuendo for years afterward. He would live until 1941; all the while denying any involvement in the murders. No arrests were ever made for the murders and today remains unsolved. The farm is no longer there, and in its place today is a small memorial. 

3. Jean Spangler

Jean Spangler

The story of Jean Spangler starts out like any other Hollywood story; a struggling actress with a few roles to her credit on her way to becoming an actress. Only for Jean her name would become known by many just not in the way anyone expected. 

Jean was in the middle of a nasty custody battle with her ex-husband a year before she disappeared. She would be awarded custody of their daughter in 1948. On the evening of October 7th, 1949, Jean left her daughter and her sister-in-law to meet with her ex-husband about child support. She said that she would be going to shoot a film later that evening. 

After a couple of hours, she called home and told her sister-in-law that she would be out the remainder of the evening. It would be the last time she was heard from that evening. By the morning, when she didn't return she was reported missing. 

The police then went to check into the movements Jean said she had to do after meeting with her ex-husband. They found that there was no night filming scheduled. They also checked with the Screen Actors Guild who confirmed that there was no scheduled filming in the area. 

Jean was last seen near a grocery store not far from her home. Witnesses said that it seemed she was waiting for someone. Police then tracked down her ex-husband who indicated that he had not seen Jean for several weeks. He had just recently been remarried, and his new wife matched his story. 

Two days after she was last seen, Jean's purse was found near Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Inside a note was found; addressed to someone named "Kirk."

"Kirk: Can't wait any longer, Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way wile mother is away,"

An interesting fact, Jean was recently in a film with Kirk Douglas called "Young Man with a Horn." Upon hearing about the note, Douglas reached out to authorities with information saying he was not in town when Spangler disappeared. His information was taken by detectives, and no further action was taken.

A Robbery had been ruled out when it was discovered her purse was empty and her family confirmed she left that night with no cash on her. Other theories involved information gathered from friends that she was several months pregnant and that the "Dr. Scott" was in regards to an abortion doctor. However, the doctor was never located.

Another theory involved organized crime due to Jean's rumored connections to mobster Mickey Cohen through her time as a dancer in one of their mob-controlled nightclubs. After some investigating, detectives were unable to link her disappearance to anyone with mob ties. 

Jean was never seen or heard from again. There would be some unconfirmed sightings within a year of her going missing, but no other updates came. The case is still considered open with the LAPD. 

4. Gloria Ramirez

Gloria Ramirez

The first three stories all involve people who have disappeared or been murdered by unknown assailants or undetermined demises. In the case of Gloria Ramirez, the unsolved portion of her story surrounds the immediate moments before her death. 

Gloria was diagnosed with cervical cancer and was in its late stages when she came to the emergency room on February 19th, 1994 at Riverside General Hospital. She had been rushed in due to cardiac palpitations. 

Immediately the staff began to treat her with a multitude of medications including diazepam, and lorazepam; all in an attempt to sedate her. But nothing worked, and she began to crash. The staff then went to shock her heart, when someone noticed an odd sheen across her chest. Another smelled an odd odor coming from her mouth. Reports say it was a fruity yet garlicky smell. 

A nurse pulling her blood noticed odd-looking particles in the vial of blood and showed it to another. Soon she faints in the room. She is quickly taken out of the room. The second nurse still looking at the blood also begins to feel ill and leaves the room. She is able to make it to a nurse's station before she too faints. 

Finally a third person, a respiratory therapist also faints in the room prompting the hospital to announce the evacuation of the hospital. Before long everyone is moved to the hospital parking lot, leaving only a small staff in the building to work on Gloria. They continue to work on her until she is pronounced dead just before 9 pm. In all, a total of 23 people became ill, with 5 being hospitalized. 

In the days after her death, the state of California sent two doctors from their Health and Human Services to investigate what happened that night in the emergency room. They began with the interviews of people who were near or in the room that night. 

They found that most of the affected were more women than men, they were within a couple of feet of Gloria, and had dealt with her blood or intravenous lines directly. When these women had their blood tested, all came back as normal. The two doctors came to the conclusion that the situation was a result of mass hysteria. 

One of the nurses disagreed with the findings saying that if it were mass hysteria then her ordeal in the weeks afterward would prove otherwise. She would later testify that she had spent a couple of weeks in intensive care, developed hepatitis and necrosis of her knees. If she had suffered all this, mass hysteria just didn't fit what she went through. 

Another investigation started by the county coroner had a 3rd party look into the accounts of the sheen noted on Gloria's chest the night she died. They found that she had been using Dimethyl Sulfoxide, generally used as a home pain remedy. Called for short DMSO, it's known as a degreaser and sold in most hardware stores. 

A theory was developed that the DMSO possibly had created a blockage that led to kidney failure. (Her death was listed as kidney failure from cancer complications) When the paramedics gave Gloria oxygen, mixed with the DMSO on her chest creating another more potent form of DMSO; which would have explained why the nurses had seen particles in the blood. 

Once they began to shock her, they believe that the more potent DMSO created an even more dangerous form of it; which by this point became toxic to those around her. When reviewing some of the symptoms that were observed in the emergency room, this could be the most likely reason some of the staff were affected. 

While the coroner was satisfied with the investigations, Gloria's family was not. Her body was not released for two months, and another autopsy was completed before burial. Unfortunately, the cause of death was undetermined with the independent autopsy because the body had too badly decomposed. 

So what actually happened that February night? Was it something as simple as mass hysteria? Could it have been the DMSO on her chest and an unlikely chain of chemistry events? No one is sure, all that can be said is that her case is still studied today in basic sciences. 

5. Lead Masks of Brazil

Miguel Jose Viana and Manoel Pereira da Cruz

We end with the most perplexing case probably of all time. The case of the lead masks. Two men, both electricians Miquel Jose Viana and Manoel Pereira da Cruz were found dead on a hill in Rio de Janeiro, Brazill on August 20th, 1966

The men were found by a little boy who then went to the authorities to report the discovery. Because of where they were located on the hill, reaching the bodies would take a full day. Upon looking at the bodies, there were no signs of foul play, no trauma, or struggle of any kind. 

Aside from the obvious lead masks on both men; they were dressed in suits, with waterproof coats. Two wet towels and an empty water bottle were also found near the bodies. A small notebook was found in one of their pockets. It read: "16:30 be at the specified location. 18:30 ingest capsules after the effect protects metals await signal masks."

In the days following the discovery, autopsies were completed on both bodies, with no cause of death being determined. Detectives were able to gather that the two men were last seen on August 17th, 1966 when they were spotted purchasing the coats at one location; and the water at a local bar. The waitress that saw the two mentioned that Miguel seemed extremely nervous and mindful of the time. 

No one saw either man after they left the bar. So what could have happened to these two men? Theories surrounding the story have been by the dozens. Some believe they were victims of some cult suicide pact. Other theories include UFOs and illicit drugs. One thing is for sure, authorities never did get any real concrete evidence on where or even how to investigate the deaths. Today the true story behind these men is just as elusive as it was in 1966.

Denise is a writer who uses history to explain current events. While the subject or event may change; she makes history relevant for all

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