7 unsolved crimes that will stop you from sleeping at night

WARNING: If you scare easily or are prone to nightmares, don't read on!

There’s something about unsolved crimes that’s a little bit titillating; a little too enjoyable. You might be the most normal person in the world, with no particular interest in murder, or disembowelment, or serial killing as a hobby – but there’s something about crimes that not even the brightest minds have been able to solve that just draws you in. Just enough to make you grimace. To push you back, then, here are a few of the grisliest, weirdest, scariest unsolved crimes across the globe. And as you’re reading them, remember – the perpetrator may well still be on the loose. Outside your house... (probably not, but are you scared yet?).

1. The Atlas Vampire

Layout of flat and samples of evidence taken from the crime scene, on display at Stockholm's Police Museum. Copyright Holger.Ellgaard

In 1932, a woman living alone in Stockholm was found bludgeoned to death in her apartment. The discovery of a blood-covered gravy ladle led police to believe that they had found the murder weapon, but this was not the case. The murderer had used it to drink her blood, and had successfully drained the corpse of nearly all liquid before fleeing the scene.

2. The KFC Killer

Between the years of 1976 and 1977, four children disappeared from the Detroit area. The disappearances were linked by age and location, and presumed to be the work of a serial killer. The parents of one of the children appeared on television, pleading for the return of their child, and promising to feed him his favourite meal, KFC, when he returned. When his body was found, medical examination proved that the last thing he had eaten before his death was fried chicken.  

3. The Freeman/Bible Disappearance

Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible from Unsolved.com

At first glance, in this horrible world, there’s nothing particular disturbing about the disappearance of two girls at a sleepover - maybe they ran away? But factor this in: the day after Lauria and Ashley were reported missing, the home they disappeared from was burned to the ground, and both of Ashley’s parents’ bodies were recovered from the ashes of the building. They had both been shot through the head.

4. Dark Water

Canadian student Elisa Lam went missing while staying in an LA hotel. Security footage from the night she disappeared showed her running into an elevator, looking around her as if she thought she was being chased – though the same footage clearly shows that she was alone. She wasn’t found for several weeks – her body was only located in the hotel’s rooftop water tank when guests began to complain of their water running black. If this story sounds familiar, don’t be surprised - the story closely follows the plot of horror film Dark Water, which was made in 2005. But here’s the rub: Elisa was found in 2013. Copycat crime? Or something more sinister?  

5. The Tylenol Murders

In 1982, seven people living in the area surrounding Chicago died after taking painkillers – purchased from different stores - that were found to have been laced with cyanide. Tylenol pulled millions of dollars worth of product from stores, and tamper-proof seals became industry standard from then on – but whether the pills were poisoned in the factory, or thereafter, was never proven, and the perpetrator was never caught.    

6. The Girl Scout Prank

In Oklahoma, 1977, three girls disappeared from their tent during a Girl Scout trip. Some time previously, a note had been found in a nearby tent, occupied by a camp counsellor, stating that the children would be murdered. Whoever had left the note had also stolen a box of doughnuts. It was believed to be a prank until their bodies were found.  

7. The Beaumonts

Gerad Croiset (psychic)

On Jan. 26, 1966, 9-year-old Jane, 7-year-old Arnna, and 4-year-old Grant Beaumont took a five-minute bus ride from their home to Glenelg Beach in Adelaide, South Australia. They left the family home at 10am, and were expected home around 2pm, having taken a similar trip the day before. They never came home – however, witnesses reported having spotted the children in the company of a blonde man wearing blue swim shorts. The case has never been solved, and is often revisited by Australian media.

It is considered a landmark case, and marked a change in the way Australian families supervised their children thereafter. Shortly after the children disappeared, a psychic claimed to have located where the children’s remains had been buried – a new building, which had been a construction site at the time of their disappearance. The reluctant owners soon bowed to public pressure to demolish the building, but nothing was found.