1. Jack the Ripper
In 1886 a killer roamed around Whitechapel in the East End of London slaughtering prostitutes and mutilating their bodies. The killer risked being caught each time he killed as he did so in the open streets of Whitechapel. All except his last accepted victim, Mary Kelly, who he killed in her apartment, leading to speculation that she was more than just a random victim. The five victims were butchered in such a way that there has been speculation that the killer was a surgeon or a veterinarian. There have been many other theories – that he was an American quack doctor, that he was Queen Victoria’s son, or that he was a Jewish bootmaker. Despite 130 years of investigation, the identity of the most famous serial killer remains unknown.
2. Lord Lucan
On the evening of 7 November 1974, Sandra Rivett, nanny to the children of Lord Lucan and his wife Veronica Duncan was beaten to death in the basement of the Lucan’s London home. Lady Lucan was also attacked and she later identified her husband as the attacker. Lord Lucan had been estranged from his wife, and they were in the middle of a custody battle for their two children. Lucan also had mounting gambling debts. Motive enough for trying to off his wife, and mistakenly killing the nanny instead? Maybe, but Lucan disappeared that night and has never been seen since. The crime is officially unsolved, even if everyone knows who did it.
3. The Black Dahlia
The archetypal Hollywood murder, this famous case dates from 1947. In January of that yearElizabeth Short a 22-year-old starlet was found dead in Leimart Park, Los Angeles a week after she went missing. She had been killed, and cut completely in half. Her mouth had been slit from each corner, and her breasts had been mutilated. There was little blood where she was found, but there was a sack of blood nearby. The case became known as Black Dahlia due to Short’s black hair and clothes. Despite 60 people confessing to the killing over the years, it remains LA’s oldest unsolved murder.
4. Gardner Museum Heist
In March 1990, two men posing as police officers blagged their way into the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The pretext was a false report of a disturbance. Once inside, they attacked and restrained the guards and stole 13 works of art, valued at $500 million. Included in the stole works was an incredibly rare Vermeer called The Concert. It remains the largest theft of private property in history, and 27 years later it is no closer to being solved. The paintings may even have been destroyed as they are too hot. The FBI, in an attempt to find any sort of lead, have raised the current reward for information leading to the recovery of the art to $10 million, so keep your eyes peel.
5. The Zodiac Killer
San Francisco in the late 1960s and early 1970s was terrorised by a serial killer who became known as the Zodiac Killer. The murderer named himself in a series of letters to the local press. The Zodiac Killer struck in Benicia, Vallejo, Lake Berryessa, and San Francisco between December 1968 and October 1969. The victims were of both sexes and aged under 30 and were all either shot or stabbed. There were also several other homicides in which the Zodiac Killer is suspected. Despite a number of suspects being named, no persuasive evidence connecting any of them to the crimes has been discovered. The case remains open in several cities, but the killer’s identity is as unknown as ever.
6. DB Cooper
A case of eternal fascination, the hijacking of a Boeing 727 in November 1971, and the escape of the perpetrator with the ransom of $200,000 is famously unsolved. The facts are simple. A passenger registered as ‘Dan Cooper’ took over the plane en route from Portland Oregon to Seattle, Washington. He passed a note to a stewardess which claimed that he had a bomb. After verifying that he did, indeed appear to have a bomb, the pilot acceded to Cooper’s order to land at Seattle. As instructed, authorities had the ransom and a parachute waiting for the plane. Cooper allowed the other passengers to be released and the plane then took off heading southwest. Twenty minutes later, Cooper put on the parachute, took the money and jumped out the back of the plane. He has never been found. In 1980 some of the money was found half-buried near the Colombia river near Vancouver. But that is the only trace that D B Cooper ever existed.
7. JonBenet Ramsey
JonBenet Ramsey was killed at her home in Colorado on Christmas 1996. She was 6 years old. JonBenet was known as a beauty pageant winner. Her father was a successful local businessman, and her mother was a former beauty queen. JonBenet was killed while her family was asleep in the house, and her body was found by her father the next day. Suspicion immediately centered on the parents, but despite intensive interrogation, they were never charged. Suspicion has also focussed on JonBenet’s elder brother, but again there is little or no evidence. The mystery comes from the fact that there was no conclusive evidence that the house had been broken into, but a handwritten ransom note was found by Mrs Ramsey. There are suggestions that this note was in Mrs Ramsey’s writing. Again, nothing was proved. No one was charged, and the murder remains unsolved.