Whenever someone goes missing and their disappearance garners a lot of publicity, it’s inevitable that investigators will be flooded with tips from eyewitnesses claiming to have seen the victim. In most cases, these eyewitness sightings are never officially confirmed to be genuine, and it usually turns out that the witness saw someone else and mistook them for the missing person.
However, there are some cases in which eyewitnesses will provide specific details to make investigators believe that their sighting might be credible. While the following missing persons cases are still unsolved, they all contain some very unusual eyewitness sightings that caused everyone to look at the case in a very different light.
10 Joan Risch
In 1961, 31-year-old Joan Risch lived in Lincoln, Massachusetts, with her husband, four-year-old daughter, and two-year-old son. On October 24, Joan’s husband was out of town, and her daughter went to a neighbor’s house. When the girl returned home, Joan was gone, and her infant son was sleeping unattended. There was blood in the kitchen, and a trail of it ran outside to Joan’s car in the driveway. The phone was ripped out of the wall, and the phone book was open to the emergency numbers section. A bloody fingerprint was also found, which could not be matched to anyone. All signs pointed to an abduction, but some strange eyewitness sightings complicated this scenario.
That afternoon, a neighbor saw a dazed-looking Joan running outside her house but assumed that she was chasing one of her children. Later that day, motorists saw a woman resembling Joan walking along Route 128. Even though the woman appeared to be bloody and disoriented, no one assisted her, and she was never found. Since Route 128 was under construction at the time, there was some speculation that she fell into an excavation pit and was eventually buried under asphalt.
Things got even more complicated when investigators discovered that Joan had checked out over 25 library books about murders and disappearances throughout the summer. One of the books chronicled the story of a woman who disappeared and left blood smears behind. Since the Risch family had moved to Lincoln from New York City six months earlier, and Joan gave up a publishing career to raise her children, one theory was that she became unhappy with her domestic life and decided to stage her own disappearance. If that theory is true, Joan Risch has managed to stayed off the radar for decades.
9 A.J. Breaux
In 1991, 50-year-old Adam John “A.J.” Breaux was a well-liked citizen of Houma, Louisiana. He was a former alcoholic who had been sober for eight years and went out of his way to help others with the same problem. On the evening of August 28, A.J. left an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and stopped off at a convenience store to purchase some milk. After that, he vanished without explanation. Two days later, A.J.’s abandoned car was found in a park across the street from where his AA meetings were held. His wallet, checkbook, and a bag containing $165 in AA funds were inside. That very same day, there would be some unusual eyewitness sightings of the missing A.J.
One of A.J.’s friends claimed that he ran into him outside a convenience store. According to the witness, A.J. looked unkempt and was nervously talking on a pay phone. A red compact car containing three unidentified men was parked nearby. Shortly thereafter, another witness who personally knew A.J. saw the same car drive past his house with A.J. and the three men inside. Four weeks later, a woman from the town of Lockport reported that an intoxicated-looking man fitting A.J.’s description had pulled in front of her house in a van and tried to sell her some frozen fish. The police also received an anonymous, cryptic note claiming that A.J. had gotten drunk and shot himself in the stomach before his body ended up in the bayou.
While the note was dismissed as a prank, authorities did not dismiss the possibility that A.J. had a relapse and starting drinking again, causing him to suffer memory loss. However, the sightings of A.J. with the unidentified men have led his family to believe he was abducted and met with foul play.
8 Mistie Murray
On May 31, 1995, 16-year-old Mistie Murray told her parents that she was attending a band practice in her hometown of Goderich, Ontario, Canada. Mistie never returned home, and her friends said that there was no band practice that night. Mistie was adopted, but since she’d recently made contact with her biological mother, there was speculation that she might have run away. However, the investigation would eventually focus on Mistie’s adoptive father, Steven Murray. Since Steven had been seen boating on Lake Huron on the day of Mistie’s disappearance, authorities came to believe that Steven murdered her and dumped her body in the water. Even though Mistie’s body could not be found, Steven was charged with her murder.
However, the case against Steven was complicated by 97 eyewitness sightings of Mistie, which took place after Steven was alleged to have killed her. In the weeks following Mistie’s disappearance, several teenagers who personally knew her claimed to have spoken with Mistie in Goderich and in the nearby town of Clinton. There would also be sightings of Mistie in Toronto and London, Ontario. According to witnesses in London, Mistie had become involved in drugs and prostitution and left town with her pimp once her disappearance started getting publicity.
In spite of these sightings, Steven Murray still went on trial for his adoptive daughter’s murder, but the case against him was so faulty that it only took 45 minutes for the jury to acquit him. The police faced heavy criticism for their investigation and were hit with a lawsuit from Mistie’s family, who claimed that they focused too much on Steven and failed to pursue any leads suggesting that Mistie was still alive. She remains a missing person over 20 years later.
7 Bridget Pendell-Williamson
After her aspirations of being a model fell through, Bridget Pendell-Williamson decided to become a registered nurse. She also got married and had a child, but Bridget’s life spiraled out of control after she became involved with the wrong crowd and started abusing drugs. She essentially became a drifter and spent much of her time following the Grateful Dead around the country. The last time Bridget made contact with her family was in 1996, after a failed attempt at drug rehab in New York. She traveled to San Francisco, and her last confirmed sighting occurred in April 1997, when 23-year-old Bridget was arrested for prostitution. She never showed up for her court date, and no one knows what actually happened to her.
Bridget’s case would be rejuvenated when The San Francisco Chronicle ran a series of articles about the city’s homeless population and made mention of a local young female drifter nicknamed “the Crier.” The Crier had tribal tattoos on her face and appeared to be a drug addict. She earned this nickname because she always seemed to be weeping every time she was seen wandering the streets. The Chronicle took a photograph of the Crier sleeping on a sidewalk outside Transbay Terminal.
When Bridget’s sister, Jacqueline Horne, saw the photo, she became convinced that the Crier might be Bridget. Jacqueline traveled to San Francisco in 2004 and circulated Bridget’s photograph among the homeless community, and many of them seemed to think that Bridget and the Crier were the same person. However, Jacqueline never actually tracked down the Crier or got a definitive answer about her identity. To this day, no one knows what became of the Crier or Bridget Pendell-Williamson.
6 Elizabeth Campbell
On the evening of April 25, 1988, 20-year-old college student Elizabeth Campbell was at her boyfriend’s residence in Killeen, Texas, when the couple got into an argument. When Elizabeth’s boyfriend refused her request to drive her home, she left on her own, even though she lived 50 kilometers (30 mi) away in Lampasas. At some point, Elizabeth ran into a fellow college student, who agreed to take her as far as Copperas Cove, where he dropped her off at a convenience store. Since Elizabeth was still a long way from home, she phoned her boyfriend to come pick her up, but he once again refused. Elizabeth’s time at the store would be the last confirmed sighting of her. She never returned home, and her family reported her missing.
Six days after Elizabeth’s disappearance, there were two separate alleged sightings of her at a convenience store 137 kilometers (85 mi) away. In both cases, she looked very nervous and was in the company of an unidentified man who wouldn’t let go of her arm. Two months later, there was another sighting of a nervous-looking woman resembling Elizabeth at a gas station 240 kilometers (150 mi) away. The similarity of all these sightings led to some speculation that Elizabeth was abducted and forced into prostitution.
In another bizarre turn of events, Elizabeth’s purse would be discovered in the possession of the Crockett County Sheriff’s Department in Ozona in 1992. It had apparently been found near an interstate approximately 290 kilometers (180 mi) from where Elizabeth disappeared, but the police did not have an exact record of when the purse was found or who turned it in. Unfortunately, in spite of all these leads, Elizabeth Campbell has never been found.
5 August Reiger
After graduating from his Oklahoma City high school and being named valedictorian, 18-year-old August Reiger was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Oklahoma in 2013. The Reiger family decided to celebrate by taking August on a trip to Ecuador. They stayed in the resort town of Banos. On June 16, the Reigers decided to go hiking on a scenic mountain trail. During the hike, August got ahead of his family and told them he would meet them at the summit at the end of the trail. August disappeared out of sight, but when his family reached the summit, he was nowhere to be found. He did not return to their hotel, and a search of the area turned up no trace of him. At the time, August was not carrying any money or his passport.
While it was initially suspected that August had gotten lost, an eyewitness sighting would open up the disturbing possibility that he was kidnapped. Several days after August’s disappearance, it was announced that he had been spotted inside a pickup truck heading toward the Amazon region. Throughout the next year, there would be more reported sightings of a young man resembling August in Ecuador.
The incident wound up making national news. President Barack Obama made a statement about August’s disappearance and referred to him as “a missing patriot.” Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa also pledged his support to the Reiger family and told them that he would make it his mission to find August. Despite all the publicity this case has received, the ultimate fate of August Reiger is still unknown.
4 Rachel Pratt
On the evening of January 16, 1995, 15-year-old Rachel Pratt was watching a movie with her brother at their family’s residence in Garden City, Kansas. When Rachel’s mother returned home at approximately 2:00 AM, Rachel’s brother had fallen asleep, but Rachel herself was gone. Other than her jacket, she left behind all her personal belongings. At the time, Rachel was going through a difficult situation. After she’d been caught shoplifting a home pregnancy test, Rachel’s family learned that she was pregnant. The father of Rachel’s child was her boyfriend, an 18-year-old high school senior. This case would further be complicated by an odd sighting of Rachel shortly thereafter.
Five days after she disappeared, a group of girls claimed to have seen Rachel talking on a pay phone outside of a local grocery store. Rachel’s boyfriend was with her, and after she handed the phone to him, she went over to the girls and asked them for a ride. When they turned her down, Rachel walked into the store, and that’s the last time she was seen.
Since Rachel was underage and her boyfriend was legally an adult, he was charged with aggravated indecent liberties with a child shortly before her disappearance. Rachel was set to testify as a witness against her boyfriend, but after she went missing, the charges against him were dropped. Naturally, this caused authorities to zero in on the boyfriend as a suspect, but he has always maintained his innocence and denied being with Rachel during the alleged sighting at the grocery store. There is no evidence that Rachel ever gave birth to her unborn child, and the circumstances behind her disappearance are still unknown.
3 Gordon Collins
In 1991, 34-year-old Gordon Collins left his hometown of Palm Springs, California, for a vacation in Baja California Sur with his girlfriend, Anastasia Seals, and another couple, Wayne Shwartz and Arlean Burlington. On April 23, they left the port of Punta Chivato for a fishing trip on the Sea of Cortez. Later that day, a huge storm hit the area, and the boat never returned. A few days later, the capsized vessel was found, and the bodies of Wayne Shwartz and Anastasia Seals were discovered floating about 1.6 kilometers (1 mi) away. In spite of an extensive search, the bodies of Gordon Collins and Arlean Burlington were never found. While it seemed likely that they drowned, there would soon be unexpected sightings of a man resembling Gordon in Mexico.
Months after the boating accident, residents of the Mexican village of Colonia Vincente Guerrero took note of a disoriented-looking American man who frequently wandered through the village and lived off handouts. When word reached the Collins family, they came to believe that this transient might be Gordon and that he was suffering from amnesia. This theory started picking up credibility when Gordon’s family heard various eyewitness accounts of an American man wandering out of the ocean onto a beach in close proximity to where his capsized boat was found.
As the months went on, there would be at least 50 sightings of this mysterious man in the area. At one point, he was arrested in a Mexican village for stealing food, and the sheriff brought in a local American citizen to translate. The American claimed that the man bore a striking resemblance to Gordon Collins and that he even introduced himself as “Gordy.” However, in spite of an extensive search, Gordon’s parents never located this transient or their son.
2 Shonda Stansbury
On December 8, 2006, 24-year-old Shonda Stansbury phoned her stepmother and claimed that the father of her four children had left them alone and that she was planning to go get them. Early the next morning, Shonda showed up at the Waffle House where her sister worked in Weldon, North Carolina. Shonda appeared to be in rough shape, with several bruises on her face and legs and a bump on her temple, but she didn’t tell anyone what happened. One of the customers offered to give Shonda a ride. After she was dropped off at a trailer court, Shonda went missing without explanation. Since Shonda was to known to have problems with drugs and alcohol, authorities initially suspected that she disappeared on her own, but a disturbing eyewitness sighting changed their perspective.
Five days after Shonda’s disappearance, a woman called 911, claiming that she had seen a nude woman running behind a grocery store in Halifax County. According to the caller, the woman was bleeding from the nose and screaming for help. The witness initially opened her passenger door to assist the woman but became fearful when she saw two black men chasing her into the woods. Since the witness had no access to a phone at that time, it would be 12 minutes before she could report the incident to the police. The caller was convinced that the woman she saw was Shonda Stansbury. However, a search of the area turned up no trace of Shonda, and no evidence has ever been found to corroborate the caller’s story. Shonda Stansbury remains missing.
1 Renee LaManna
On January 8, 1994, 35-year-old Renee LaManna was found wandering the streets of New York City. She was barefoot and appeared to be disoriented. Renee had recently broken up with her boyfriend of 10 years, which may have caused to her to suffer a mental breakdown. After she was treated in a psychiatric emergency room, arrangements were made to take Renee to her sister’s home in Ocean City, New Jersey. That evening, Renee ran out of the house while dressed in a bathrobe. Approximately two hours later, she was seen at a bar in nearby Somers Point. After leaving the bar, Renee vanished, but her bathrobe was discovered two blocks away. It was theorized that Renee was suffering from dissociative fugue disorder, causing her to forget who she was.
There were numerous unconfirmed sightings of Renee over the next two decades, but major developments didn’t occur until 2014. In October, a Good Samaritan named Ruth Collins befriended a homeless woman in Gretna, Virginia, and spent the next few days helping her out. The woman apparently said that her name was “Renee Leman” and claimed that she was looking for her family. Months later, Collins discovered Renee LaManna’s profile in a missing persons database and was struck by the resemblance. Collins had taken several photos of the woman and when Renee’s family saw them, they became convinced that it was her.
When this story made the news in February 2015, police received several tips from witnesses who claimed to have encountered this woman in Virginia and North Carolina. The investigation also uncovered a recent mug shot of the woman, who had been picked up by police in October 2014 and gave her name as “Josephine Pagano.” The search to locate Renee LaManna continues on, but she hasn’t been found.
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Some of California’s unsolved mysteries, like those involving the Black Dahlia and the Zodiac Killer, are known across the country. But plenty of California mysteries—equally bizarre and horrific—have slipped past the rest of the US over the years.
10 The Murder Of James Gilmore Jr.
James Gilmore Jr., nicknamed “Jimmy,” was a tough, 14-year-old boy from Baldwin Park who bullied other children and ran around with a teenage motorcycle gang. His parents were separated, and the family was well-known by the local police. The neighbors considered Jimmy a nuisance, and even his own mother and siblings didn’t particularly like him.
While home alone on the night of January 7, 1962, Jimmy and his younger brother, Wayne, heard a knock on the back door while they were watching TV. Jimmy told Wayne that he was going outside and would be back in a little while.
When Jimmy hadn’t returned after three days, his mother reported him missing to the police. She told them that her son was “vicious” and had probably run off with some friends. Although Jimmy’s father expressed skepticism about the story, suggesting that his son might not have left the house, authorities never considered the family to be involved in Jimmy’s disappearance.
In March 1985, more than a decade after the Gilmores moved out of the house where Jimmy had lived, a worker helping to renovate the home found Jimmy’s skeleton buried beneath the building in a shallow grave. Even though Jimmy’s remains had been lying under the house for more than two decades, neither the Gilmores nor the man who lived in the house after them had ever reported smelling anything.
The police gave lie detector tests to Jimmy’s brother and parents, but all three family members passed. As of late 2015, no one has been arrested for Jimmy’s murder, and most of the people connected to the case are no longer alive.
9 The Death Of Michelle Von Emster
On April 15, 1994, the lifeless body of a nude woman was found floating in the water off a beach at San Diego’s Point Loma community. The woman was horrifically mutilated. Her right leg had been torn off, and other pieces of flesh were either missing or covered in bite marks and bruises. Although nobody could locate her clothes or ID, a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder eventually led authorities to identify the Jane Doe as Michelle Von Emster, a 25-year-old drifter who lived in the area.
According to Brian Blackbourne, the San Diego medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, Emster was alive when she was savagely attacked. Her neck had been broken, and some of her ribs were cracked, too.
Given the severity of her injuries, Blackbourne concluded that Emster was attacked by a great white shark and then died from massive blood loss and drowning. The bite marks on her body, which were too small to have been caused by a great white, probably came from blue sharks after she died. Blackbourne ruled that Emster’s death was nothing more than a tragic accident.
Many shark experts, however, dismissed Blackbourne’s conclusion. Contrary to what we see in Jaws, shark attacks are rare, especially in the waters where Emster’s body was found. Blackbourne confessed that he knew nothing about sharks. He consulted a marine biologist, who later acknowledged that there was no direct evidence of a great white being involved.
Even if Emster had been attacked by a great white, skeptics point out that it could have occurred after her death. After all, a number of strange details about the case are still unanswered. Why, for example, have her clothes never been found? Her roommate, who had dropped her off at the beach the night before her body was discovered, said that Emster was wearing a green trench coat.
The temperature that night was only 15 degrees Celsius (60 °F), so why would she have been swimming naked anyway? And how did she get sand in her lungs? Over the years, a number of theories have been advanced—from suicide to murder—yet Emster’s death still remains a hotly debated mystery.
8 The Disappearance Of Anna Waters
On January 16, 1973, Michaele Benedict was chatting inside with some friends while her four-year-old daughter, Anna Waters, was playing in the backyard of their home in San Mateo County. At about 2:20 PM, after not hearing Anna for quite some time, Michaele realized that her little girl wasn’t in the backyard anymore. After searching her property for about 30 minutes, Michaele called the police. Initially, investigators feared that Anna had fallen into a nearby creek and drowned, but no trace of her was found in or near the water.
Although the accusation has never been proven, some investigators and family members believe that Anna’s biological father, George Henry Waters, may have abducted her. Waters was a prestigious doctor who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. His friendship with a shady psychic named George Brody destroyed his marriage with Anna’s mother. He went off to live with Brody in San Francisco after their divorce.
Brody, a mysterious and manipulative con man, insisted that Anna was the reincarnation of a woman he had once known. Strangely, Waters never showed any concern over Brody’s obsession with his daughter. When Brody died in 1981, Waters committed suicide two weeks later.
Years after Anna went missing, her half brother, Nonda, remembered an incident that he and Anna had never told their parents about. A month before her disappearance, Anna and Nonda had been playing in front of their home when an unfamiliar man and woman pulled up to them in a Chevrolet Impala. The couple tried persuading Anna to get into their car but left after she refused. Whether this couple had anything to do with Anna’s later disappearance was never established.
7 The Murder Of Georgette Bauerdorf
Shortly before noon on October 12, 1944, 20-year-old Georgette Bauerdorf was found dead in her apartment in West Hollywood. Bauerdorf, an aspiring actress and the daughter of a wealthy oil tycoon, was discovered facedown in the bathtub with a washcloth stuffed into her mouth. At first, police thought that Bauerdorf might have drowned after slipping and becoming unconscious, but the autopsy concluded that she had been beaten, raped, and suffocated.
Although all of her valuable jewelry had been left untouched, the killer did steal $100 and a car from Bauerdorf. The car was found 20 kilometers (12 mi) away from her apartment the next day. Police also discovered that a light outside her apartment had been unscrewed and turned off. Her front door was unlocked, which suggested that the killer either had a key or forced his way in after luring Bauerdorf to open the door.
Bauerdorf was a hostess at a Hollywood club that entertained servicemen, so police speculated that the killer might have been somebody she knew there. A coworker told them that Bauerdorf had a strange ex-boyfriend whom she had gone out with the previous month. The man was a serviceman who dearly loved Bauerdorf, but she didn’t have the same feelings and broke up with him. The authorities tried in vain to find the man, but he was never located.
A year after Bauerdorf’s death, the Los Angeles police received a bizarre note claiming that her killer was a soldier who served in Okinawa. “The murderxx (sic) of Georgette Bauerdorf was Divine Retribution,” it said. “Let the Los Angeles police arrest the murderer if they can.”
6 The Disappearance Of Bryce Laspisa
In the early hours of August 30, 2013, 19-year-old college student Bryce Laspisa was driving home from northern California when he called his parents and told them that he was going to pull over and sleep. Bryce, who had been visiting his girlfriend, never returned home that morning. Around 8:00 AM, an officer from the California Highway Patrol showed up at the Laspisas’ home in Laguna Niguel to tell them that Bryce’s crashed car had been found near Castaic Lake.
The car had been discovered lying on its side with its back windshield cracked open. There was no sign of Bryce, although his wallet, phone, and laptop had been left behind. While he might have been able to get out of his car, authorities speculated that he could have suffered a head injury in the crash. Despite numerous searches of the area, both by air and foot, Bryce Laspisa has never been found.
Rather than being the unfortunate victim of foul play, Bryce’s parents believe that their son is still alive. A few days before his disappearance, Bryce hadn’t been acting like himself. He had broken up with his girlfriend on August 28, and his parents reported him missing the next day after he failed to give them a promised phone call. After police found Bryce unharmed at a rest stop, he called his family and said that he was fine.
As for the crash near Castaic Lake, some people have theorized that Bryce ran away from home. Several unconfirmed sightings have placed him in Washington, Nevada, and Oregon.
5 The Disappearance Of Christine Walters
On November 12, 2008, a couple near the northern California city of Eureka found 23-year-old Christine Walters naked and bleeding on their doorstep. They took the incomprehensible young woman to a hospital, where she refused to explain what had happened to her. After she was discharged, Walters told her mother in Wisconsin that she had been chased by demons through a forest after she participated in a shamanic ritual. Her mother offered to fly to California to get her, but Walters insisted that she would fly back to Wisconsin by herself.
According to her mother, Walters acted paranoid on the phone over the next few days. She believed that the forest demons were trying to hunt her down. She couldn’t say why she was bleeding and naked that day because the demons would hear her. On November 14, Walters left her ID and backpack at a coffee shop and walked out. She was never seen again.
Walters had been staying on the West Coast for the four months preceding her disappearance. She had fallen in love with northern California’s natural beauty and alternative lifestyle scene. According to friends and family back home, she had met a group of like-minded spiritualists. Walters was a trusting person, and it’s possible that she might have become involved with a dangerous crowd among the alternative community.
4 The Murder Of Stephanie Crowe
On the morning of January 21, 1998, 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe was discovered dead in her bedroom by her grandmother in Escondido. She was found lying in her doorway but had been stabbed in her bed nine times. Police were unable to find fingerprints or DNA at the scene of the murder. They never found the murder weapon, either. Amazingly, none of Stephanie’s family members claimed to have heard or seen anything suspicious during the night. Nothing in her bedroom was in disarray, and her door showed no signs of forced entry.
A schizophrenic drifter named Richard Tuite had been seen in the Crowes’ neighborhood the previous night, banging on doors and shouting for a girl he called “Tracy.” However, the authorities let him go due to a lack of evidence. Their investigation then turned to Stephanie’s older brother, Michael. He said that he had walked past Stephanie’s bedroom in the early morning yet hadn’t seen her body in the doorway.
Police accused Michael of being jealous of Stephanie, and he eventually confessed to his sister’s murder after a series of brutal and manipulative interrogations. His friends Josh Treadway and Aaron Hauser were also implicated and questioned. Although Josh admitted his role in the murder, Aaron denied having anything to do with it. He offered a detailed hypothesis about how the murder might have been carried out, yet he never gave a confession.
The three teenagers were initially charged with murder but never prosecuted because their confessions were forced. Suspicions turned again to Richard Tuite, whose shirt was found to have traces of Stephanie’s blood. Tuite’s lawyer argued that her client’s shirt, which had been taken by the police when they arrested him, had been contaminated due to sloppy handling of crime scene evidence. Although Tuite was convicted for Stephanie’s murder in 2005, he was acquitted after a retrial in 2013 due to lack of evidence.
3 The Keddie Murders
Keddie, a quiet and peaceful resort town of log cabins, was the site of a horrific quadruple homicide in 1981. On the night of April 11, 14-year-old Sheila Sharpe had gone to a neighbor’s house to spend the night. When she came home in the morning, she found that her mother, Sue, her brother Johnny and his friend Dana had all been tied up and stabbed to death. Her younger sister, Tina, was missing, yet her younger brothers, Ricky and Greg, and their friend Justin were unharmed in the brothers’ bedroom.
The police were at a loss to uncover a killer or a motive. The murder victims had been relentlessly tortured. Sue and Johnny had been struck with a hammer, and Dana had been strangled. The stabbing had been so violent that the blade of the murder weapon, a steak knife, was bent backward.
Incredibly, Ricky and Greg said that they had slept through the attack. But Justin changed his story several times. In one of his accounts, he said that he witnessed the murders and Tina being taken. In other statements, he claimed to have dreamed the incidents he described.
In 1984, Tina’s skull was found 50 kilometers (30 mi) away from Keddie. Her cause of death could not be determined, but it seemed that she had died the night of the attack. Meanwhile, the search for the murderer was at a standstill. There were still no suspects, although Justin’s father, Martin Smartt, and his friend Bo Boubede acted strangely when they were interviewed by police.
Smartt even described how the murders might have been carried out yet was never pressed further. Years after the murders, his therapist claimed that Smartt once said that he had killed Sue because she encouraged his wife to divorce him. He supposedly killed Tina, too, but denied killing Johnny and Dana. Both Smartt and Boubede are long dead, however, and the case remains officially unsolved.
2 The Unsolved San Diego Murders Of 1931–1934
Between 1931–34, a series of brutal, unsolved murders were committed in San Diego. While the murders were never clearly linked together, police believed there was a connection because all five victims were young females. The first victim, Virginia Brooks, disappeared on her way to school in February 1931. Her body was found in a burlap sack a month later, “virtually hacked to pieces” as one contemporary newspaper reported.
The second victim, a 20-year-old woman named Louise Teuber, was found hanging nude from a tree on April 19, 1931. Her coat, dress, and underwear were discovered near her body along with a package that held her bra. At first, police thought that it might have been a suicide, but her left hip, neck, and shoulders also showed bruises. The autopsy later concluded that she had been strangled by the rope and then suspended from it. Less than a week after Teuber’s murder, a woman named Dolly Bibbens was found dead in her apartment. She had also been strangled to death.
On May 4, 1931, 27-year-old Hazel Bradshaw was found stabbed to death in Balboa Park. An old sweetheart, Moss Garrison, was charged with her murder, but he was acquitted. For the next three years, the murderer is believed to have been quiet until he struck again on August 17, 1934. His fifth and final victim, 16-year-old Celia Cota, had left her house around 8:00 PM to go for a walk. Her parents reported her missing around midnight, and her body was found by police in the family’s backyard in the morning. Granted, Cota might not have been the San Diego killer’s last victim, but there’s also the possibility that the murders were never connected.
1 The Death Of Gary DeVore
Gary DeVore, the screenwriter behind the Hollywood movies Raw Deal and Time Cop, was working on a remake of the 1949 movie The Big Steal before he disappeared on June 28, 1997. After visiting a friend in New Mexico for a week, DeVore left to go home to Santa Barbara, California, on June 27.
Around 12:38 AM, DeVore called his wife, Wendy, on his cell phone, but she said she’d call back after a TV show she was watching ended at 1:00 AM. When the show was over, Wendy called her husband three times, yet he didn’t pick up. At 1:15 AM, DeVore called her back, saying he would be home in the next couple of hours. That was the last time anybody ever heard from him.
A year after DeVore’s disappearance, a lawyer and armchair detective named Douglas Crawford read about the case in a newspaper and suddenly remembered a story about a woman who had driven into the California Aqueduct. Crawford suspected that the same thing might have happened to DeVore. In early July, Crawford retraced DeVore’s route and found car debris on the aqueduct’s embankment. He contacted the police, and a search of the water uncovered DeVore’s car, where his body was found in the front seat.
A number of different theories have been proposed for how DeVore ended up in the aqueduct. Some suggested that he committed suicide, while others thought he had driven into it accidentally. His wife believes that he was abducted and murdered. During his last phone call to her, DeVore had not acted like his usual self. Wendy suspects that somebody was with him.
A conspiracy theory, which was the subject of the 2014 documentary The Writer with No Hands, claims that he was murdered by the CIA. According to this theory, DeVore had been involved with the CIA and was assassinated after he planned to incorporate some dark secrets about the 1989 US invasion of Panama into his new script.