10 Unsolved Mysteries You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
By Debra Kelly, Urban Ghosts Media, 3 August 2016.
By Debra Kelly, Urban Ghosts Media, 3 August 2016.
We all love a good mystery, and to date Urban Ghosts has covered a whole host of strange stories - see here. Many of us are familiar with the grim tales of unidentified serial murderers Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer, and strange phenomena like the Taos hum and accounts of extraterrestrial battles in the skies over Los Angeles can make for some intriguing reading. So we decided to dig a little deeper into the weird world we all share. Despite ever-advancing technology, unsolved mysteries remain surprising prevalent, and certainly are not confined to the distant past. This article delves into a series of strange and unexplained mysteries recorded throughout history.
1. Who is the Strange Girl in Siberia’s Old Photographs?
When employees at the Krasnoyarsk Regional Museum in Siberia set about the task of digitizing a series of photographs that dated back to the early 1900s, they realized the photos contained something startling. The same little girl was found in around 20 images and in four glass negatives, all of which had been taken some time between 1906 and 1908.
RT and The Siberian Times report that the little girl is always dressed in white. She stands in the same position with the same expression on her face, and always occupies a discreet position in the photographs. Her dress and boots change but her demeanor is always the same. What’s more, she is such a tiny figure in some of the photos that it was only with digitization that workers realized the little girl was even there. They suspect that she might have been related to the photographer, but no one has yet come forward to identify the mysterious young girl.
2. What Happened Inside the Chase Family Mausoleum?
According to the tale, Barbados landowner Colonel Thomas Chase committed suicide in 1812. But when the family vault was opened and the marble slab removed, workers found that the coffins of his two daughters had been moved. Some versions of the story say the burial vault was opened up to four times. And every time a new resident was interred there, workers would discover the existing coffins within to be in various states of disarray.
According to Skeptoid, the story seems to have emerged from nowhere. The deaths of the people reportedly buried in the vault - and subsequently disturbed - exist, but no one has been able to trace the legend of the moving coffins to anything aside from unsubstantiated tales. Supposedly, the original story came from the memoirs of the Barbados governor, but no one has been able to find them. This has led people to ask not only what happened to the coffins in the Chase vault, but whether or not the story even happened, marking it more tall tale than unsolved mystery.
3. What Made the Colossi of Memnon Sing?
Image: Antonio Beato; the Colossi of Memnon seen in the 19th century.
The Colossi of Memnon have stood on the west bank of the Nile River for around 3,400 years, and once guarded the memorial temple for Amenhotep III. There isn’t much left of the temple today, but the pair of seated figures - representing the pharaoh - still stand in silent watch.
According to Amusing Planet, the statues weren’t always silent. In 27 BC, an earthquake shook the area and cracked the northernmost statue. After the quake, the dawn hours were filled with the sound of singing. The phenomenon brought tourists from all over the ancient world, and even Roman emperors made the pilgrimage to hear the strange, singing statue. Its song was variously described as a whistling, the striking of brass, or as the breaking of a lyre string.
In 199 AD, Emperor Septimus Severus had the crack in the statue repaired, and the singing stopped. Exactly what caused the Colossi of Memnon’s sunrise song is unknown, although it has been suggested that evaporating moisture and rising temperatures may have been responsible.
4. What Was in Joanna Southcott’s Box?
Image: Wm. Sharp
Joanna Southcott was born in 1750 in a small village in Devon, England. By 1792, she was convinced that she had been gifted with supernatural powers. She began writing out her prophecies and declared herself as one of the Women of the Apocalypse from the book of Revelation. When she visited London, Southcott was selling “seals of the Lord” that would presumably allow 144,000 people entrance into eternal life.
Southcott died not long after she announced she was pregnant with the biblical Shiloh. Her followers refused to bury her body in the hopes that she would be raised. At the time of her death, Southcott had more than 100,000 adherents, and she left them with a sealed wooden box that supposedly contained a series of prophecies.
She left instructions that the mysterious box was to be opened during a time of national crisis, but the timeline of what happened to it is hazy. In 1927, a man named Harry Price claimed to have Southcott’s original box, in which he had found a few odd pieces of paper, a lottery ticket, and a pistol. Believers in Southcott and her prophecies believe the box in Price’s possession was a fake, and even though her declared Day of Judgment has come and gone (it was supposed to have happened in 2004), the Panacea Society of Bedford maintains that her wooden box holds unsolved mysteries.
5. Who Built the Temple at Baalbek, and Why?
Image: Ralph Ellis; unsolved mysteries surround Baalbek’s largest megaliths.
Local legend tells of how the ancient temple at Baalbek, in modern-day Lebanon, was built to hide Cain from the wrath of God, and that it became known as the Tower of Babel. Other stories claim that it was built by djinns, supernatural beings of Arabian and Islamic theology who abandoned some of the massive stone blocks at the site when they went on strike.
Legend, lore and religion aside, who really ordered the construction of the temple at Baalbek, why it was built and how some of its vast megaliths came to be abandoned, remain unsolved mysteries. We know that it was an absolutely epic undertaking, begun 2,000 years ago and requiring the movement of stone blocks 40 times larger than those used to build Stonehenge. One, reported by the New Yorker as the largest stone block from antiquity, weighs in at a staggering 1,650 tons. The megalith itself weighs around three million pounds.
Though some suggest it was cut by the Romans (who knew Baalbek by its Greek name, Heliopolis), the reason for its immense size - and why it was ultimately abandoned - remain unsolved mysteries. German researchers labelled Baakbek as “unnecessarily large,” and it was one of the most widely photographed places of the 19th century.
6. What Was the Real Identity of Connecticut’s Leatherman?
Image: James F. Rodgers; Leatherman’s identity remains an unsolved mystery.
The first newspaper story about the so-called Leatherman (named for the ragged clothes he wore) emerged in 1852. The man roamed through Connecticut and into New York, Vermont and up into Canada, tracing his way long a route so well-traveled that as he went, he would stay in a series of caves he had left stocked with firewood and other basic supplies.
Those in the towns along the route knew him, and he befriended some along the way. He would stop at the Buell family farm in Clinton, Connecticut whenever he was passing though. He also liked to drop by Harding’s Grocery Store, in Branford, for lunch. Every 34 days he would complete the 366-mile circuit, until his death in 1889. But there are tantalizingly few clues as to Leatherman’s true identity.
He was literate and spoke both English and French Canadian. But it’s considered unlikely that the name on his gravestone - Jules Bourglay - was anything but part of his lore. He was ultimately buried in a pauper’s grave in Ossining, New York, and when the site attracted more curious visitors than expected, he was given a headstone by the Ossining Historical Society. Eventually, the grave’s proximity to Highway 9 necessitated Leatherman’s exhumation and reburial. But when archaeologists dug up the grave, there was nothing there save a few rusty coffin nails.
7. Who was the Atlas Vampire?
In 1932, the body of a 32-year-old prostitute named Lilly Lindstrom was found in her Stockholm apartment. She had been bludgeoned to death, her blood drained. Alongside her body was a blood-stained gravy ladle. Stockholm police suggested that the ladle had been used by the killer to drink her blood. As a result, the unknown killer was christened the “Atlas Vampire,” after the area of the city she lived in.
By the time Lilly was found, she had already been dead for several days. Almost all of her blood was gone and, according to Gizmodo, crime scene photos and other evidence are still on display at Stockholm’s Police Museum. Police interviewed a number of known associates and clients of the murdered woman, but no one was ever charged, making her murder a bizarre and chilling unsolved mystery.
8. What Do Ricky McCormick’s Coded Messages Mean, and Who Killed Him?
Images: FBI; unsolved mysteries surrounding Ricky McCormick’s death and coded messages.
41-year-old Ricky McCormick disappeared in June of 1999, and by the time his body was discovered in a field in Missouri, decomposition had already set in. While it seemed clear that he had been murdered - partly due to the location of his body and McCormick’s criminal past - any evidence to suggest the precise method by which he was killed was lacking. Stranger still, police had recovered several pieces of paper from his pockets.
They were covered in what seemed to be a coded message of some sort. But it was a code that has stumped even the Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU) of the FBI. Years after his body was found, police released the notes and handed them over to the crowd-sourced problem-solving capabilities of the internet. But to this day, McCormick’s strange codes remain uncracked, and this macabre unsolved mystery endures.
9. Who Were the Green Children of Woolpit?
Image: Rod Bacon
Two men - Ralph of Coggeshall and William of Newburgh - recorded the strange appearance of two orphaned children in 12th century Suffolk, England. The children, a boy and a girl, appeared in the village of Woolpit. They are claimed to have spoken a strange language, would only eat raw beans, wore strange clothes, and had green skin. The so-called Green Children were taken in by Sir Richard de Caine, and gradually they lost their green complexions and learned to speak English. The boy died from an unspecified illness, but the girl was later able to tell her new family that they were from an underground realm called St. Martin’s Land. It was always twilight there. She claimed that they had been herding their family’s cattle when they heard bells and became disoriented. The children later awoke in Woolpit.
According to Mental Floss, the writings of Ralph and William are the main sources of the story, who claim to have heard the tale from Sir Richard himself. According to their account, the girl went on to marry a man at King’s Lynn, and was - perhaps - known as Agnes Barre. The story’s reliability is uncertain, and it remains an unsolved mystery. Various theories have been put forward, however, to explain their “strange language” and complexion. One posits that the Green children were the offspring of persecuted Flemish immigrants killed at Fornham in 1173. Orphaned, the were led to Woolpit by the often-loud church bells of nearby Fornham St Martin. As they wandered, malnutrition may have led to an iron-deficiency known as chlorosis, which can present as a greenish complexion.
10. What Was the Secret of Angelo Faticoni?
Angelo Faticoni was born in 1859. As a child, he discovered he had a strange gift: he couldn’t sink in water. Later, Faticoni became a freak-show performer who showed off his bizarre abilities in extreme situations, and no one has yet been able to figure out how he was able to float.
Researchers from Harvard University even tested Faticoni’s claims, placing him in a pool of water and tying a 20-pound lead weight to him. He happily bobbed away for 15 hours. He performed countless similar stunts in public, being sewn into a sack weighted with cannonballs and even floating across the Hudson River while sitting in a chair also weighted down with lead.
Faticoni became known as the Human Cork, and was well known for his ability to fall asleep floating in water. He died in 1931, and nobody ever figured out quite what gave him his unique ability. Contemporary spiritualists believed that non-human forces were at work, while Harvard scientists suggested that he must have had abnormal internal organs. Ultimately, Faticoni’s secret remained an unsolved mystery, one that he took with him to his grave.
Top image: The strange girl in Siberia’s old photographs. Credit: Krasnoyarsk Regional Museum via The Siberian Times.
[Source: Urban Ghosts Media. Edited. Some links added.]