CREEPIEST MURDER MYSTERIES/DISAPPEARANCES: PART 3

PART 1 // PART 2

4. Benjaman Kyle

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  • Born: ?
  • Disappeared: ?
  • Found: 31 August 2004 (age. approx 70)

At 5 am on August 31st, 2004, Benjaman Kyle was found laying naked and sunburned on the asphalt behind a Burger King dumpster in Richmond Hill, Georgia. The Burger King employee who came across Kyle called the police in a panic, stating that a beaten and unconscious man was laying on the grounds of her restaurant. She thought he was dead. Kyle was rushed to St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital in Savannah and, upon waking up, discovered that he had no memory of who he was. Without any form of identification, the hospital recorded this mysterious man as “Burger King Doe” in their files. “Burger King” eventually evolved into “Benjaman Kyle,” a name that served as his only form of identification.

Kyle’s case is a baffling one. Although Kyle’s whereabouts are known, he is still legally considered a missing American citizen. From the violent circumstances under which he was found, to his diagnosis of Retrograde Amnesia, (or “Hollywood” amnesia) which many people contest the mere existence of, nothing about Kyle’s case makes sense.

Kyle was found with three deep depressions in his skull to which many attribute his memory loss. And over a decade later, Kyle still has no idea who he was before 2004. He has no clue why he was found laying sunburned and naked behind a dumpster, or why he had severe cataracts in his eyes at the approximate age of 59. Even more disturbing, when Kyle’s cataracts were finally removed and he saw himself for the first time, Kyle was twenty years older then he thought he was.

From the Dr. Phil show to AMAs on Reddit, Kyle continues searching for answers to no avail. In over a decade, nobody has come forward to claim him as a friend, family member, or even a casual acquaintance. It’s as if the man now known as Benjaman Kyle didn’t exist before August 31st, 2004. Who is this he? What caused him to become displaced in the world? And finally, do you recognize him?

Other things of note:

Recently, a film student made this mini-documentary about Kyle, and because of the awareness it raised Kyle has now been issued a temporary Florida identification card, given a job, and moved into a small shack provided by a good samaritan. Before, without any form of ID, Kyle couldn’t even temporarily stay at a homeless shelter. However, despite the publicity, no one has yet to come forward to claim him.

 Personal Thoughts:

Because Retrograde Amnesia is such a clichéd disorder, I have come across my fair share of “he’s faking it” arguments while reading about Kyle’s case. I will only say that, after watching the mini-documentary and seeing Kyle’s sadness firsthand, I cannot believe that he’s putting on an act. Kyle gains literally nothing from pretending to not know who he is. Up until very recently, he was homeless, couldn’t get a job, and was completely alone. Even now Kyle says that there are days when he wishes he “never woke up” behind that dumpster in 2004. He seems extremely depressed that no one has come forward to say they know him. I cannot believe that a man would put himself through over a decade of pain for a little publicity. I can’t guess what caused Kyle’s bizarre circumstance, but my heart breaks for him.

What do you think?

3. Sharon Marshall/Michael Hughes

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Sharon:

  • Born: ?
  • Last seen: Killed in a hit and run accident in April, 1990

Michael:

  • Born: 1988
  • Disappeared: 12 September 1994 (age. 5)
  • Last seen: Kidnapped from Indian Meridian Elementary School

The case of Sharon Marshall, Michael Hughes, and Franklin Floyd is complicated and so sad.

Sharon Marshall was a beautiful young mother raising her son, Michael Hughes, with her husband, Franklin Floyd, when she was killed in a suspicious hit-and-run accident in April, 1990. Marshall worked as an exotic dancer at the time of her death. Her coworker, Cheryl Ann Commesso, also met a foul fate when she mysteriously vanished a year earlier. It didn’t take long for police to start investigating Franklin in regard to both the disappearance of Cheryl and the murder of his wife, Sharon.

Franklin had a history riddled with crime. He was first arrested at 17 for armed robbery resulting in a gun fight with police. Two years later, he abducted and raped a young girl. Knowing Franklin’s penchant for devious behavior, police decided to investigate Sharon’s “accidental” hit-and-run a bit further, but their research raised more questions than it answered. Police discovered that Sharon was not only Franklin’s wife, but also his step-daughter. Franklin had raised Sharon since she was a toddler and married her at 18. On top of that, all of Sharon’s identification was forged. The name “Sharon Marshall” was discovered to be a pseudonym along with many other names all used interchangeably on her documentation. Even stranger, DNA evidence tested the paternity of Sharon’s son Michael against Franklin and discovered that he was not the boy’s biological father.

While police searched for and pieced together a solid case against Franklin, more disaster struck. On September 12, 1994, 5 year old Michael was in the first grade at Indian Meridian Elementary School. He was living with a foster family after Sharon’s death and Franklin’s failed paternity test. Suddenly, Franklin showed up at the school and demanded to take Michael with him. When he wasn’t allowed to see the child, Franklin forced the principal at gun point to take him to Michael’s classroom. From there, Franklin kidnapped both Michael and the principal, taking them to a heavily wooded are where he abandoned the principal before speeding away with Michael in his car. Franklin and Michael disappeared for two months.

Then, in early 1995, a Kansas mechanic found an envelope stuffed under the front seat of a used truck he had recently purchased. The contents of the envelope shook him to the core. Inside were dozens of photos of Cheryl Ann Commesso being tortured alongside sexually explicit photos of Sharon as a little girl. The truck was traced back to Franklin Floyd.

Police eventually found Franklin in Louisville, Kentucky and apprehended him, but Michael was nowhere to be seen. Now, Franklin is imprisoned at Union Correctional Institution, Florida, awaiting the death penalty. He still has not disclosed what he did with Michael Hughes.

Other things of note:

This case is extremely interesting because a huge reveal in the true identity of Sharon Marshall was just discovered in October of 2014. It turns out that Sharon’s birth name was Suzanne Sevakis, she was born sometime in the late 1960s, and was kidnapped by Franklin, her step-father, in 1975. Franklin was married to Sharon’s mother and had been instructed to care for Sharon and her siblings while she was in jail for a minor crime- Franklin took the opportunity to kidnap all of her children. While most of Sharon’s siblings were eventually returned, Franklin kept Sharon for himself to sexually abuse and eventually marry.

*Here* is a haunting portrait of a young Franklin Floyd with little Sharon Marshall sitting on his lap. 

Personal thoughts:

It’s truly horrifying to me that a man could kidnap a little girl, raise her while sexually abusing her, kidnap another woman and rape her, commit a string of violent crimes, and still be left to walk around free. This is the situation that led to Michael Hughes being kidnapped some 20-odd years after his mother was, by the same man. It is so sad to me that Sharon never saw justice and neither did her son.

What do you think?

2. Jesslyn Rich

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  • Born: ?
  • Disappeared: 11 November 1984 (age. 35)
  • Last seen: A country-western bar in Chino, San Bernardino County, California.

Jesslyn Rich, a single mother of two, worked as a security guard at Frontera Prison, a maximum security women’s prison in Chino, California. Jesslyn was a straight-A criminology student by night and a rule-abiding security guard by day. One evening, while out at a bar with some friends, Jesslyn excused herself to use the bathroom and was never seen again. 

Jesslyn’s family was dumbfounded. It was completely unlike her to be gone for days at a time. Police investigators weren’t delving deep enough into her disappearance, believing that Jesslyn probably decided to leave on her own, so family and friends did some sleuthing. While searching his sister’s apartment, Gary Rich found a disturbing, torn up letter in the trash. The letter was written by Jesslyn to another Frontera security guard, detailing the illegal drug dealing that was going on in the prison between the inmates and the guards. The letter also mentioned that anyone working in the prison system who tried to stop the dealings would be “taken care of.” Unfortunately, that was the only bit of evidence found suggesting foul play, and Jesslyn’s case went cold.

3 years later, in 1987, a break in the case finally occurred. An inmate at Frontera Prison named Terry Lucas claimed she knew what happened to Jesslyn. Terry disclosed to Betty Thompson, a former co-worker of Jesslyn’s, that Jesslyn had been threatened by other security guards to keep quiet about the prison drug peddling. Terry and Betty decided to speak again a few days later, but when Betty went to Terry’s cell later that week, she found Terry dead on the floor. Terry’s body had been beaten horribly and left unattended in the cell for three days. There were blades of grass matted into Terry’s hair, but her death was ruled as diabetes-related. Even more disturbing, Betty claims that her superiors at the prison forced her to sign a fake police report stating that Terry had only been left dead on the floor for two hours. As the investigation into Jesslyn Rich’s disappearance continued, Betty began receiving threatening phone calls telling her not to talk about the drug trafficking. Eventually, Terry was nearly killed after being shot at from a moving car. The assassination attempt was followed by another terrifying phone call during which a man growled out, “next time we won’t miss.”

As time wore on, the prison drug dealing became public and turned into a scandal. Betty Thompson, along with five other guards, testified against Frontera Prison before the California State Senate. The Rich family still strongly believes that Jesslyn was abducted for what she knew. Over 30 years later, there has been no sign of Jesslyn Rich, living or dead.

Other things of note:

Friends of Jesslyn who were with her at the bar the night she disappeared say that they remember seeing a man approach Jesslyn as she was heading for the bathroom. They also have said that, in retrospect, Jesslyn seemed frightened before she walked away.

Personal thoughts:

I think it’s pretty clear that Jesslyn was abducted and murdered for what she knew about the drug network in Frontera. My question is, did she know the people who abducted her? Why would she excuse herself to the bathroom if she was so frightened? I also find it despicable how this case was able to be covered up for so long and how many innocent people were harmed. When the bad guys are in charge of the law, who can you trust?

What do you think?

1. Lisanne Froon & Kris Kremers

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  • Born: 1991 & 1992
  • Disappeared: 1 April 2o14 (age. 21 & 22)
  • Last seen: Hiking on the Pianista Trail, Panama

This case is particularly haunting for two reasons. One, the disappearance of Lisanne and Kris took place only eight months ago. Two, there is photographic evidence documenting much of the time leading up to and during their disappearance.

Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers were two Dutch girls who set off on a trip to Panama together and never returned. The girls, both in their early twenties, made the trip to Central America to study Spanish in early 2014. On April 1st of that same year, they decided to take a hike along the Pianista Trail in the Panama Jungle. Kris and Lisanne vanished that day. Nothing was discovered of them until some of their possessions, a shoe with a decomposing foot still inside, a piece of a pelvis, and a series of haunting photographs, turned up 10 weeks later.

Speculation is still high in this case because it is so recent and only so much information has been disclosed to the public. It’s a harrowing case- these girls were young and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding what exactly happened to them out in the wilderness. The only telling evidence released thus far are the cell phone records from each girl’s phone, and a series of photographs taken from one of the girl’s cameras. The camera itself surfaced 10 weeks after their initial disappearance in a soaking wet backpack some distance away from the hiking trail. The cell phone records (helpfully translated from Spanish to English *here*) show that both girls had attempted to call 911 and 112 (a European emergency number) starting on April 1st (the day they began their hike), until the 6th, then three full days of silence, until one girl’s cell phone was switched on and off on the morning of April 11th. Then nothing.

As for the photos taken from the camera, they can be seen in their entirety *here.* Be warned, some of them are VERY disturbing. The photos show Kris and Lisanne smiling and posing on their hike through the Pianista Trail, then suddenly, the photos are dark and depict rocks and a sticks. One is only a picture of Kris’ hair.

Enough bodily remains of the two young women have been found to deduce that they have died, but what exactly happened to them out in the Panama Jungle?

Other things of note:

The backpack that was found belonged to Kris and was still neatly packed when discovered. Both girl’s cell phones were found inside the bag along with two bras, a pair of sunglasses, the camera, and other miscellaneous objects. The backpack was first seen by a local near a river that most likely carried it away from the trail the girls had been following.

There were 133 sequential photos found on the camera in total. Seventy seven of those photos were completely black. The foot found still in its shoe was identified as belonging to Kris; the pelvic bone to Lisanne.

Please visit www.findlisannekris.com for more information about the girls. You can also donate to the girl’s families here if you wish.

Personal thoughts:

This incredibly sad mystery sounds to me like a case of two inexperienced hikers succumbing to the elements. I believe that the two girls decided to follow the Pianista Trail on their own, but were not prepared for the dangers of hiking unfamiliar terrain. The 911 calls started only a few hours into the girl’s expedition, leading me to believe that they got off the trail and quickly became lost. There is little to no cell service along the trail- it makes sense that by nightfall both girl’s phones would have been almost dead. Perhaps they kept turning them on during the following days to use as a light source- I don’t believe they would stay on long enough to make actual phone calls. That would explain the three days of cell phone activity without any actual calls being attempted. Finally, on the 11th day, I believe the dark/black photos found on the camera were taken by one of the girls trying to either use the flash to get the attention of potential rescuers, or to scare away an animal.  I am still unsure what that last picture of the stick with plastic tied to it is about (found at the bottom of this page *here*)…

What do you think?

PART 1 // PART 2

 

6 Horrifically Upsetting Cartoon Movies

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Who doesn’t love crying while watching a cartoon animal’s eyes pop out of its head? Nobody, that’s who! Lucky for you, I have complied my top 6 Horrifically Upsetting Cartoon Movies for you all to peruse until the nausea overtakes you. None of these films are intended for children, but I, like most emotionally traumatized people I know, suffered through them as a tyke. So, disgruntled babysitters of the world, take note! These films may look bright and whimsical, but they are not for the faint of heart.

Disclaimer: So many films can fit into this category! I just mentioned the flicks that I found personally disturbing and have seen in their entirety. Feel free to mention more in the comments below!

Honorable Mentions: Felidae // Little Nemo // Akira

6. Grave of the Fireflies // Isao Takahata & Studio Ghibli

Let’s start this list off right. Cataclysmic man-made disaster? Check. Sick, dying, and dead children? Check. Mutilated bodies? Check. What a laugh riot! Grave of the Fireflies may be a product of Studio Ghibli, but it has little in common with the likes of My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle. No, this harrowing tale follows young siblings Setsuko and Setia as they fight to survive the ending of World War 2 in Kobe, Japan. As you can imagine, their story is a grim one. 

Back in the early 2000s, I was one of the inevitable millions who stumbled across this film as a niave, anime-loving tween and was promptly destroyed forever by it. However, I’ve never truly regretted seeing it at such a young age, as Grave of the Fireflies is a beautiful film. Do yourself a favor and check it out, if you think you can stomach it.

5.  Watership Down // Richard Adams & Martin Rosen

I’m going to assume most people reading this list are familiar with Watership Down, as I find that its reputation often precedes it. For those of you not in-the-know, Watership Down is a delightful animated film starring a band of fuzzy woodland creatures who embark on a perilous journey to escape the the world’s most dangerous predator…MAN. Oh, and this happens:

watership-down1 howhorrifying

It’s fun for the whole family! It’s also a classic that you should absolutely watch, if you don’t mind bloody rabbit stuff. Watership Down is the frontrunner on this list for films that myself and many people I knew were accidentally shown as children. Oopsie! Oh well, I’m sure the film taught us all valuable lessons about tolerance, utopia vs. dystopia, and the corruption of man- lessons we all promptly repressed upon the film’s completion. I mean, look at that rabbit’s face.

4. The Little Match Girl // Disney & Pixar

If I had some kind of pull within Disney and Pixar studios, I would just retitle this short film, “NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPENOPENOPE” because The Little Match Girl destroys me every damn time I see it. This incarnation of the classic Hans Christian Andersen story is a dialogue-less animated mini-movie that retells the super fun and not-at-all cripplingly depressing story of a homeless girl who freezes to death in the snow because nobody will BUY A DAMN MATCH FROM HER JESUS CHRIST

I digress. As always, Disney’s animation is on point and this film is a powerful piece. Give it a watch and prepare to feel like hell.

3. Hadashi No Gen // Keiji Nakazawa

For a long time I misidentified Hadashi No Gen‘s depiction of the nuclear bomb “Little Boy” dropping on Hiroshima (above) as a scene from Grave of the Fireflies. How excited I was to learn that there exists not one, but two Japanese animated films depicting the carnage of warfare in horrific detail! (and I’m sure there are more. Mention them in the comments if you know of any!)  

Hadashi No Gen mixes adorable animation with some of the most grotesque depictions of chemical death ever drawn. I have only seen this film once when I was much younger, and am in no rush to watch it again. Some of the scenes depicted still bother me- but, as with everything on this list, I truly recommend checking it out! It’s extremely difficult to watch, but great, and even educational in the most horrible way possible.

2. When the Wind Blows // Raymond Briggs

when the wind blows from mary drome on Vimeo.

I decided to settle in and watch this seemingly harmless cartoon about a cute, elderly couple living through the Cold War after finding out that David Bowie performed its title track. I began regretting my decision around the five minute mark when threats of a nuclear attack began dictating the plot-line, and again at the fifteen minute mark when a nuclear bomb obliterates the old couple’s home and they begin to die from radiation poisoning. Yeah, it’s a pretty cheery film! The couple, James and Hilda, are just so damn sweet and to watch them slowly waste away while earnestly believing they might be saved is absolutely horrible.

The entire film is available to watch for free on Vimeo (above), so give that a watch if you want to feel depressed for the rest of your life.

1. The Plague Dogs // Richard Adams & Martin Rosen

Have you ever meditated on a disturbing memory? Returning to it periodically for years, unable to recognize whether its a vivid dream or something repressed and real? Well, that was my experience with The Plague Dogs throughout my childhood. Fun stuff. Written by the same author as Watership Down and drawn by the same animator, The Plague Dogs blows every other film on this list out of the water as the most messed up animated feature I have ever endured. It’s entire 103 minute run is like one long nightmare and, spoiler alert, the ending ain’t no cake walk neither.

The plot tells the story of Rowf and Snitter, two dogs who live in and eventually escape from an animal testing facility wherein they are tortured GRAPHICALLY. After they escape, the dogs must endure the cruelty of a world that believes they have the bubonic plague and wants them dead at all costs. Both dogs are horribly traumatized from being medically experimented on and often hallucinate terrible things, reliving their trauma over and over as they run for their lives.

Yeah. It’s unbearably sad. But it’s also superb in many ways, as is its source material. I encourage anyone who’s interested to give this flick a chance, but know that it might take a few attempts to get through it all the way.

Oh, and this happens:

Shotgun to the Face

Happy watching!

Top 6 Most Shocking Documentaries

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Honorable Mentions: The Cove / Child of Rage / High on Crack Street

6. The Imposter (2012)

Listen to me carefully: the less you know about this documentary, the better. I went into it knowing the full story, and although it was fantastic, it was akin to watching Fight Club after having the ending spoiled. I would even go so far as to say that you should skip the trailer and watch The Imposter completely blind. Take my word for it, this is a fascinating and chilling documentary about a missing child with more twists and turns then you could ever expect. If multifaceted mysteries pique your interest, this is a must watch.

How to watch: Youtube / Netflix

Here is the film’s official synopsis for people who want to know a little bit more:

The twisting, turning tale begins with an unsettling disappearance – that of Nicholas Barclay, a 13 year-old Texas boy who vanishes without a trace. Three and a half years later, staggering news arrives: the boy has been found, thousands of miles from home in Spain, saying he survived a mind-boggling ordeal of kidnap and torture by shadowy captors. His family is ecstatic to have him back no matter how strange the circumstances – but things become far stranger once he returns to Texas.

Though the family accepts him, suspicion surrounds the person who claims to be Nicholas. How could the Barclay’s blonde, blue-eyed son have returned with darker skin and eyes? How could his personality and even accent have changed so profoundly? Why does the family not seem to notice the glaring differences? And if this person who has arrived in Texas isn’t the Barclay’s missing child . . . who on earth is he? And what really happened to Nicholas?

5. The Woman Who Wasn’t There (2012)

This is another documentary that I wish I had gone into blind, although knowing the basic plot didn’t make the story any less powerful. The Woman Who Wasn’t There focuses on the 9/11 Survivors Network and how one survivor in particular wasn’t all that she seemed. The documentary serves as an interesting look into the human desire to belong and be accepted, and how one lie can spiderweb out of control. From a mystery standpoint and a sociological standpoint, The Woman Who Wasn’t There is overwhelmingly interesting. I couldn’t unglue my eyes from the screen while watching, and I definitely recommend it if you like unsettling, people-centric mysteries.

How to watch: Netflix

Here is the Netflix synopsis:

Filmmaker Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr. discusses the truth about 9/11 “survivor” Tania Head, sharing exclusive footage from interviews shot with Head before her story crumbled to reveal a stunning circle of deception.

4. Jesus Camp (2006)

I was shown Jesus Camp in one of my LGBTQ college courses and will never forget the deafening silence that filled the room after the credits rolled. No one could believe what they had seen. Jesus Camp provides an incredibly disturbing look into the Kids On Fire School of Ministry, an Evangelical summer camp with some intense and highly controversial prosthelytizing methods. The infamous anti-Harry Potter speech comes from this film, and watching children as young as 3 thrash around and scream in gibberish, believing that they are being “touched by God,” only gets more and more disturbing as the film goes on. This documentary is heartbreaking. The children are given creationist “science” textbooks to learn from and are taught to pray for George W. Bush and his Christian efforts. The “preaching” done in Jesus Camp is as close a thing to brainwashing as I’ve ever seen, and it’s both upsetting and fascinating to watch.

How to watch: Youtube for $3. I had a hard time finding this documentary free-streaming, but it’s worth the price.

Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes.

The youngest foot soldiers for the Lord are shown in their native environment in this documentary. Becky Fischer is a children’s pastor who runs “Kids on Fire,” a summer camp for evangelical Christian children in North Dakota. Fischer believes in the political and moral importance of a Christian presence in America, and uses her camp to reinforce the religious training most of her charges are already receiving at home (the majority of the campers are home-schooled by their parents). Using videogames, animated videos, and group activities to help put her message across, Fischer encourages the kids to pray for George W. Bush and his Supreme Court appointees while urging them to help “take back America for Christ.”

3. The Bridge (2006)

For one year, director Eric Steel and a team of filmmakers camped out every morning and filmed the Golden Gate Bridge. During those 365 days, they recorded 24 people jumping to their deaths. The Bridge hones in on the families of four of the deceased, and the only known jumping survivor. Footage of the 24 suicides are interspersed throughout the interviews and, needless to say, it is incredibly strange watching people die so casually. The documentary is unreal and eyeopening. It forces you to meditate on life, death, fear, courage, and how the human psyche processes these things. I felt very disturbed after watching The Bridge, but I highly recommend it.

How to watch: Youtube (Warning: the quality is low and there are subtitles. This is the best streaming version I’ve found, however)

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic structure. An engineering masterpiece. A triumph of human ingenuity and muscle over the elements. A symbol of San Francisco, the West, freedom – and something more, something almost spiritual but impossible to describe.
More people choose to end their lives at the Golden Gate Bridge than anywhere else in the world. The sheer number of deaths there is shocking but perhaps not altogether surprising. If one wants to commit suicide, that is, there is an eerie logic in selecting a means that is almost always fatal and a place that is magically, mysteriously beautiful.

2. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

Dear Zachary is an absolutely devastating documentary about the court system’s failure to protect the innocent and how the determined efforts of a few good people can make all the difference. This is another documentary that I highly recommend watching blind. The trailer will give you a good idea of what the story’s about, but I wouldn’t recommend doing any more research prior to watching it. Just know that you will cry, you will be enraged, and you will never be able to forget the Bagby’s story.

How to watch: Youtube / Netflix

Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes:

Shortly after his best friend, Dr. Andrew Bagby, was slain by jealous ex-girlfriend Dr. Shirley Turner, filmmaker Kurt Kuenne was shocked to learn that Turner was pregnant with Bagby’s unborn child. Hoping to create a film that would serve as both a memorial to Bagby and an introduction to the father the boy would never know, Kuenne quickly began production on a film celebrating the life of his late friend. Traveling across the entire continental United States, Kuenne made it his personal mission to interview everyone who had ever known his best friend so their memories would be captured on camera before they faded. Meanwhile, upon learning that Turner had fled to Newfoundland, Bagby’s devastated parents uprooted their entire lives and relocated to the easternmost providence of Canada in order to fight for the future of their newborn grandson, Zachary.

1. Earthlings (2005)

Known as “The Vegan Maker” in some circles, this harrowing documentary chronicles the five ways humankind exploits animals: food, fashion, pets, entertainment, and medical research. I have only been able to sit through the entirety of this documentary once and, although I highly recommend it, don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch it again. This documentary takes an absolutely unflinching look at all types of animal cruelty. You will see animals getting their fur ripped off while they’re still alive and screaming. You will see rooms full of dogs gassed to death, lab monkeys being electrocuted for medical research, circus elephants stabbed and burned, and much, much more. Earthlings shows you everything, and though it’s incredibly difficult to watch, I can’t stress enough how important seeing it is. Earthlings is not hyperbole, it’s actual footage of how we treat animals behind closed doors, and it deserves to be acknowledged. This documentary has stood the test of time for me and remained the most shocking film I have ever watched. Definitely check it out, but be prepared to be sickened, infuriated, and wiser by the time the credits roll.

How to watch: Youtube

Here’s the film’s official synopsis:

EARTHLINGS is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made, EARTHLINGS is nicknamed “the Vegan maker” for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research labs.

What are some documentaries you can’t stop thinking about?

Top 5 Creepiest Murder Mysteries/Disappearances: Part 2!

PART 1 // PART 3

5. Tara Calico 

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  • Born: 28 February 1969
  • Disappeared: 20 September 1988 (age. 19)
  • Last seen: Riding her bike near her home in Belen, New Mexico

On September 20, 1988, nineteen year old Tara Calico went out for a bike ride at 9:30 am and was never seen or heard from again. Tara’s mother, Patty, went searching for her daughter when she didn’t returned by noon. When she could not locate Tara, Patty notified the police, who soon joined the frightened mother in examining Tara’s usual bike route. Along the way, police discovered broken pieces of Tara’s Sony walkman and cassette tapes. Patty believes that Tara may have broken these items in an attempt to leave a trail to her whereabouts. Multiple witnesses claim to have seen a 1953 or 1954 Ford pickup following Tara that morning, though no one saw an abduction occur and the Ford pickup has never been located.

In June of 1989, a polaroid photo of a young girl and boy bound and gagged on a bed was discovered in the parking lot of a convenience store in Port St. Joe, Florida. Patty believes that the young girl in the polaroid is Tara. Click here to view the polaroid for yourself, but BE WARNED, it is disturbing. Here is a side by side facial comparison of Tara to the girl in the polaroid.  A paperback copy of VC Andrews’ My Sweet Audrina, reportedly one of Tara’s favorite books, can be seen laying next to the bound and gagged girl on bed. Additionally, Patty claims that a scar on the leg of the girl in the polaroid matches one that Tara had. The Metropolitan Police Service Scotland Yard identified the girl in the polaroid as Tara, but an FBI analysis of the photo was inconclusive. To this day, no one knows what became of Tara Calico. She, nor her bike, were ever discovered.

Other things of note:

In 2009, a Valencia County sheriff named Rene Rivera claimed that he knew what happened to Tara. According to Rivera, she was involved in an accident involving some boys from her school and their truck. It is suggested that he believes the boys may have struck Tara with their vehicle. That is all the information Rivera has released and claims that, without a body, he will not disclose the names of anyone involved or release the evidence that brought him to his conclusion. No arrests have been made.

Personal thoughts:

Between the polaroid and Rene Rivera’s claims, this case is very bizarre. I definitely believe that Tara met with foul play, but to what degree I cannot say. I, like Tara’s family, am disturbed by Rivera’s sudden disclosure and refusal to back up his claim with evidence. I also am of the opinion that the girl in the polaroid looks a lot like Tara, but I suppose we will never know. Such a sad and strange case.

What do you think?

4.  Madeleine McCann

Madeleine McCann

  • Born: 12 May 2003
  • Disappeared: 3 May 2007 (age. 4)
  • Last seen: Sleeping in bed at a Portugal vacation resort

Madeleine McCann was only 4 years old when she disappeared from her bedroom in Portugal’s Praia da Luz resort. Madeleine and her two infant siblings were asleep on the ground floor of a resort apartment at 8pm, while her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, ate dinner with nine friends at the resort’s tapas restaurant. The restaurant was located 130 feet away from where the children slept, and the McCann’s took turns checking on Madeleine and the twins throughout the night. At approximately 10pm, Kate McCann left the restaurant to check on the children and discovered that the door to their bedroom was wide open. When she moved to close it, the door slammed shut as if a gust of wind had pushed it, and, upon investigating, discovered that the window in the room was open. After finding Madeleine’s bed empty and quickly checking around the apartment, Kate ran back towards the restaurant screaming that her daughter was missing.

Police were dispatched to the scene by 11pm and they, along with dozens of volunteer citizens, searched the area in the hopes that Madeleine had simply woken up and wandered off. However, even after a widespread hunt and the use of search-and-rescue dogs, Madeleine was never found.

Now, here’s where things get complicated…

There are MANY theories floating around concerning what happened to little Madeleine.  For years, it was highly suspected that a white, dark-haired man of southern European or Mediterranean appearance, wearing beige trousers and a dark jacket, had kidnapped Madeleine through her bedroom window. According to Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCanns who has been dining with them that night, a man matching this description walked by her carrying a child in his arms- a child wearing pajamas identical to Madeleine’s. Jane claims she saw the man while she was walking toward the resort apartments to check on her own daughter, who was asleep in the same block as Madeleine and her siblings. A police sketch of the supposed kidnapper can be seen here. However, there are holes in Jane’s story. For one, Gerry McCann was on his way back to the restaurant at the time Jane claims to have seen Madeleine’s kidnapper, and doesn’t remember seeing Jane at all in the narrow alleyway between the restaurant and apartments. It is unlikely he could have missed her if she had actually been there, which puts her whole “sighting” into question.

Confusing the investigation further, the crime scene was not immediately closed off by police after Madeleine’s disappearance, rendering much potential evidence unusable. Crowds of curious people walked on and touched the mysteriously open window and the ground outside of it during the night of the disappearance, destroying any fingerprints or tracks that could have been lifted. Additionally, the apartment itself was not secured on the night of the disappearance, with as many as 20 people walking through Madeleine’s bedroom before it was closed off. Even more baffling, the apartment owners rented out her bedroom to tourists for two months after Madeleine’s disappearance before forensic testing ordered it closed.

For many years, the McCann’s themselves were prime suspects, and many believed they played a major role in Madeleine’s disappearance. Although Madeleine’s body was never found, cadaver dogs that patrolled the apartment allegedly “went crazy” around a couch in the living room of the apartment where the McCanns had been staying, as well as near the trunk of the McCann’s car. The Portuguese press began spreading the rumor that the McCanns, who both work in the medical field, may have given their children sleep-aids and, in a drug induced haze, Madeleine stumbled out of bed and fell off the living-room couch, accidentally killing herself. They suggested that Kate, upon discovering Madeleine’s body and not knowing what to do in a foreign country, hid and eventually buried the evidence of young Madeleine’s demise.

The theory of the McCann’s being somehow involved was not helped by the fact that Kate McCann went jogging the morning after Madeleine’s disappearance – a seemingly “normal” activity that the public scrutinized as something a grieving mother would not do- or by the fact that the family washed Madeleine’s stuffed animal that had been with her in bed the night she disappeared before forensics could examine it.

Whatever the case may be, Madeleine has now been missing for seven years and the case remains cold.

Other things of note:

This case is EXTREMELY complicated with many interesting leads and disturbing evidence and theories. The website mccannfiles.com has dozens of pages full of information about this case. Also, the wikipedia page for this case is a great source for information.

Personal Thoughts:

I honestly don’t know what to think about this case. Something in my gut tells me Kate and Gerry McCann know more then they’re telling, but I wonder if that’s because the Portuguese police so heavily implied their guilt in the press. Whatever the case, Kate washing Madeleine’s doll before it could be examined doesn’t sit right with me, but we may never know what truly happened. This case is still relatively new, so I will keep looking for answers.

What do you think?

3. Diane Augat

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  • Born: 21st February 1958
  • Disappeared: 10 April 1998 (age. 40)
  • Last seen: Taking a walk on New York ave. in Hudson, Florida

Not much is known about the disappearance of forty year old Diane Augat. She is the only woman on this list without a Wikipedia page, and there are very few pictures of her available- her case is an odd one indeed.

Diane was last seen walking away from her residence in Hudson, Florida at 11am on April 10th, 1998. Diane suffered from bipolar disorder and did not have her medication with her when she disappeared.  3 days after her disappearance, Diane called her mother’s house phone and left a panicked voicemail on her answering machine. In the voicemail, the sound of a struggle can be heard in the background and Diane can be heard yelling, “help, help, let me out!” The following noises are consistent with the sound of someone trying to force the phone away from her. Diane can be heard saying, “Hey, gimme that!” before the call is dropped. When Diane’s mother heard the voicemail, she called the number back but nobody picked up. The number was eventually traced to a a business in the Odessa area called the Starlight.

Two days later, on April 15th, the severed fingertip of Diane’s right middle finger was uncovered near the place of her disappearance. Two weeks after her disappearance, a bag of Diane’s neatly folded clothes was found inside a convenience store’s outdoor freezer in Odessa.

Finally, in 2000, Diane’s sister in law found a plastic bag labeled “Diane” in the parking lot of a Circle K convenience store. The bag contained makeup and toothpaste similar to the kinds Diane had owned. Diane’s mother claimed that the toothpaste in particular strongly resembled a tube of toothpaste Diane had been given after leaving a recent mental hospital stay. Despite all of the disturbing evidence, no arrests have been made and Diane hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Other things of note:

Diane struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction in addition to bipolar disorder, and only occasionally took her medication for the latter. Her behavior was often erratic, and she had lost custody over both of her children. In the weeks leading up to her disappearance, she had been released from a mental hospital stay too early, in her mother’s opinion, as she believed Diane was still very much in need of treatment.

Diane’s severed fingertip had red nail polish on it, but she had been wearing coral green nail polish at the time of her disappearance. Who repainted her nails?

Personal thoughts: 

The only in depth information I could find about Diane’s case was on her Charley Project page. Judging from the information there, it seems to me that Diane was mixed up in more trouble then people knew. I am fairly sure she was kidnapped, but it also sounds like she may have been involved in some shady business herself. The leaving of the fingertip feels like some kind of warning to me, but of what? I can’t shake the feeling that a lot of information is missing. It also bothers me that, upon hearing the disturbing voicemail from Diane, all Diane’s mother did was call the number back and then give up when there was no answer. Why didn’t she get in her car and drive to the location once the caller ID confirmed the address? Why didn’t the police? There just don’t seem to be any clear answers.

What do you think?

2. Dorothy Forstein

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  • Born: ?
  • Disappeared: 18 October 1949
  • Last seen: Being carried out of her house by an unidentified man

This story is quite old, but still very unnerving.

Dorothy Forstein was an upbeat, well-liked housewife living with her City Councilman husband, Jules, and their three children in Philadelphia. On January 25, 1945, Dorothy’s happy life was destroyed when she was savagely beaten in front of her apartment by an unidentified man. Neighbors claim to have seen a man trailing Dorothy as she returned from grocery shopping that night, but by the time police arrived at the scene the man was gone and no one could identify him. Dorothy suffered a concussion, a broken jaw, a shattered nose, and a fractured shoulder. Jules Forstein was investigated, but he had an air tight alibi for the night in question. After the attack, Dorothy’s entire demeanor changed. The once outgoing woman now stayed restricted to the house, where she lived a meek and frightened life, always waiting for her attacker to reappear. On the night of October 18, 1949, her nightmare came true.

Jules Forstein returned home at 11pm from a political banquet to find his and Dorothy’s two youngest children sobbing hysterically. Upon further investigation, he discovered that Dorothy was nowhere to be found. Nothing seemed to make sense, no neighbors had seen Dorothy leave the house, there was no sign of a struggle and the front door had been locked when Jules returned home. It wasn’t until his second youngest child, nine year old Marcy, said something seemingly crazy that any theory could be constructed at all.

According to Marcy, a sound had awoken her in the middle of night and, upon peaking into the hallway from her bedroom door, she saw a large man walking up the stairs. She then claimed she peered into her parent’s room and through its opened door could see Dorothy laying facedown on the rug. “She looked sick,” Marcy said. She then claimed the man walked over to her mother’s body, picked her up and hoisted her over his shoulder. At this point Marcy entered the hallway and asked the man what he was doing. He allegedly patted the young girl on the head and said, “Go back to sleep, little one, your mommy has been sick, but she will be all right now.” The man then carried Dorothy down the stairs, locked the front door behind him, and vanished. Marcy claimed she had never seen the man before in her life. To this day, Marcy’s story is the only clue to Dorothy Forstein’s disappearance.

Other things to note:

According to THIS amazing retelling of the story, Dorothy Forstein’s disappearance mysteriously stopped being printed in newspapers only a week after she went missing. On top of that, it seems that someone, to this day, is contacting any website that publishes stories about Dorothy and asks for them to be removed. Very strange.

Personal thoughts:

I believe that Dorothy met with foul play, and I have a feeling that her politically involved husband had something to do with it. It seems suspicious to me that Jules just happened to have things to do on both nights Dorothy was attacked, especially considering that after her first attack she rarely wanted to be alone so he was almost always with her at night. I have no idea what his motives would be, but perhaps he hired someone to attack Dorothy and when the first attempt on her life failed he had her drugged and kidnapped. That would explain how the kidnapper had access to a key to their residence and why he would treat the children nicely and leave them alone. It would also explain why Marcy saw her mother unconscious on the floor. Also, if Jules had political clout, it could explain why the newspapers of the day all but erased Dorothy’s disappearance from the public consciousness.

What do you think?

1. Amy Lynn Bradley

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  • Born: 12 May 1974
  • Disappeared: 24 March 1998 (age. 23)
  • Last seen: Vacationing aboard the cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas

Amy Lynn Bradley, like Rebecca Coriam from my last top 5 list, disappeared while aboard a cruise ship. Unlike Rebecca Coriam, there has been chilling evidence released that Amy may still be alive.

Amy was last seen by her brother on the balcony of their room aboard the cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas at 5:30am on the morning of March 24th, 1998. A short time later, cruise ship passengers claim they saw Amy riding the ship’s elevator with a man named “Yellow,” a member of the ship’s band. Between this sighting and the cruise ship docking in Curaçao, Antilles around 6am, Amy had gone missing. At first, it was thought that Amy had fallen overboard, but family and friends argued that there’s no way Amy could have drowned so close to land, especially considering that she was a trained lifeguard and superb swimmer. It is also unlikely that Amy committed suicide- she was due to begin an exciting new job upon her return to Virginia and was in good spirits while on vacation. To this day, no arrests have been made and Amy hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

What sets this case apart from the rest are the disturbing accounts of Amy still being alive after her disappearance. In 1998, two Canadian tourists reported seeing a woman resembling Amy on a beach in Curaçao. The woman in question sported a Tasmanian Devil tattoo on her right shoulder, a sun on her lower back, a gecko lizard on her navel, and a Chinese symbol on her right ankle; tattoos that were identical to Amy’s. The Canadian pair also claimed the woman they saw had a naval ring, a piercing Amy also had.

More upsetting, a year later an American sailor visited a brothel in Curaçao and claims to have been approached by a woman matching Amy’s description. According to the sailor, the woman seemed frightened and told him her name was Amy Bradley and asked for help. Two men then approached her and forcibly escorted her up a flight of stairs. For reasons unknown, the sailor did not report this sighting until months later, by which time the brothel had burned down, taking any evidence with it.

In 2005, seven years after Amy’s disappearance, a man emailed Amy’s parent’s a picture of a woman bearing a striking resemblance to Amy that he had found on a website for escorts. The picture features a strung-out looking woman laying back on a bed with panties and a tank top on. This picture can be viewed here (WARNING: NSFW and disturbing). After receiving this picture, combined with the sailor’s sighting of Amy in the brothel, Amy’s family now believes she was sold into sexual slavery.

Other things of note:

THIS website contains the above picture and another more sexually explicit picture of the woman resembling Amy. There is also a copy of the email containing the pictures that was sent to her parents and a side-by-side comparison of Amy’s features to the woman in the pictures. Very interesting.

amybradley.net is a very thorough website concerning the Amy Lynn Bradley disappearance. If you’d like to learn more about her case, I’d suggest starting there. The homepage also links to the very interesting Vanished episode about her case.

Personal Thoughts:

I find the pictures that Amy’s parents were emailed very convincing and believe Amy was sold into sexual slavery. This entire case is so sad, and it’s disturbing to think that Amy most likely risked everything to tell that sailor who she was and ask for help, and he failed to report it until it was too late. This case and that picture of the woman on the bed always stick with me.

What do you think?

PART 1 // PART 3

Top 5 Creepiest Murder Mysteries/Disappearances: Part 1

PART 2 // PART 3

5.  Rebecca Coriam

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  • Born: 11 March 1987
  • Disappeared: March 22 2011
  • Last seen: Aboard the cruise ship Disney Wonder off the pacific coast of Mexico

Rebecca Coriam went missing on the morning of March 22, 2011 while serving as a youth worker aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship. Security camera footage timestamped at 5:45 a.m shows her talking to someone on one of the cruises’ internal phones– she appears upset. A woman approaches her and Rebecca can be clearly seen saying, “I’m fine” on the tape. She then hangs up the phone and walks away. This is the last known sighting of her.

Many crew members are convinced that Rebecca climbed to the top of the high wall surrounding a secluded crew member pool near the front of the ship (CLICK HERE to see the wall/pool in question) and fell overboard as the ship was docking that morning. Others argue that there is no way Coriam would have drowned if she had fallen that close to land, seeing as she was a highly trained swimmer and very athletic. Still, others believe that Rebecca didn’t go overboard at all, but that she was kidnapped or disappeared willfully. Disney’s suspicious handling of the situation didn’t help matters– Mike and Annmaria Coriam, Rebecca’s parents, claim that Disney kept them in a car with blacked-out windows as they drove to where the ship was stationed and brought them on board via a little-used side entrance. Additionally, Disney would only allow Mr. and Mrs. Coriam on board after all the passengers had disembarked. In the end, many Wonder crew members believe that Disney knows exactly what happened to Rebecca Coriam, but is too afraid of bad PR to come clean.

Other things of note:

– According to Coriam’s wikipedia article, in May of 2011, Coriam’s mother received an email from Rebecca’s bank reporting that there had been activity on one of her accounts in the weeks since the disappearance. They deduced that either her credit card was stolen or that Rebecca was still alive.

– In September of 2011, Rebecca’s uncle stated that he received a notification that someone had attempted to change Rebecca’s facebook password. Could this be a sign that she’s still out there?

Personal Thoughts:

I am of the impression that, despite my love of mysteries, this is more than likely a case of Rebecca falling overboard. Other Wonder crew members attest to the fact that Rebecca often climbed atop the wall surrounding the crew pool when she wanted to be alone, and if she had just experienced an upsetting phone call, the morning of March 22nd might have been one of those times. Both her facebook password being tampered with and the activity on her credit card read to me as people trying to access information about her/steal money from her. Disappearances are an interesting thing, and it’s not too much of a stretch for me to believe that one of her friends may have tried to log into her facebook to get answers, or that someone (a crew member perhaps) stole her credit card before she went overboard or from her belongings afterwards.

What do you think?

4. Kendrick Johnson

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  • Born: 1997
  • Died: January 11 2013
  • Cause of Death: Blunt force trauma to the head

This story is unique in that it just happened this past year, and is particularly gruesome. Kendrick Johnson was found dead inside a rolled up, upright gym mat, with his head facing the floor. Beneath his head laid a blood soaked sneaker.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s initial autopsy ruled Kendrick’s death accidental, sighting positional asphyxia from hanging upside down for hours as the cause. It was hypothesized that Kendrick had climbed headfirst into the opening at the top of the rolled up gym mat in order to retrieve his sneaker, gotten stuck, and eventually died without being discovered. However, Kendrick’s family was unsatisfied with this answer and hired a private pathologist to reinvestigate. What he uncovered was incredibly disturbing.

The private pathologist came to the conclusion that blunt force trauma to the head, not positional asphyxia, was the cause of Kendrick’s death. Additionally, a second, independent autopsy conducted after Kendrick’s funeral revealed that all of Kendrick’s organs had been removed and replaced with newspaper. The funeral home responsible for Kendrick’s body stated that they had never received the young man’s organs after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation performed their autopsy. When the Bureau was questioned as to the location of Kendrick’s organs, they claimed they had simply been “discarded.” Needless to say, the Johnsons were horrified and suspicious of a cover-up by the police.

Other things of note:

– CLICK HERE to view a thorough slideshow of the crime scene, including pictures of the gym mats standing upright in a “smokestack” position, as well as the body of Kendrick Johnson still inside. Definitely NSFW- there is blood, though not much of the corpse is shown (only the feet).

– Take a look at the slideshow and judge for yourself, but there is much speculation that Kendrick had to have been rolled up into the gym mat prior to it being stood on it’s side, considering that the hole made in the center of the rolled-up mat is smaller than the width of his shoulders.

– Rumor has it that, in addition to Kendrick’s internal organs, his fingernails (and any evidence they might have had beneath them) have also been “discarded” by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

– Footage from the gym’s cameras, which are motion-activated, were confiscated by Kendrick’s high school prior to being shown to his family, and were found to have footage of Kendrick mysteriously missing when they were released to the public.

– There is a really informative Reddit thread concerning theories on Kendrick’s death HERE. If you’d like to find out more about this case, I suggest you check it out.

Personal thoughts:

There is no doubt in my mind that Kendrick’s death involved foul play. From the “discarded” organs, to the position of his body, to the mysterious, missing camera footage, nothing adds up. I don’t blame the Johnson’s one bit for digging further into their son’s death, and I hope they find answers soon.

What do you think?

3. Maura Murray

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  • Born: May 4 1982
  • Disappeared: February 9th 2004
  • Last seen: At the scene of her car crash, along Route 112 in northern New Hampshire

Out of all the missing persons cases on this list, Maura’s is one I keep coming back to. The whole story is just bizarre.

Maura Murray crashed her car on February 9th, 2004 along Route 112 in New Hamphire. A bus driver who stopped at the scene says to have spoken with a girl (assumed to be Maura), offering to call the police for her. The girl informed him that she had already called AAA and was waiting on them to arrive. By the time police showed up ten minutes later, the car was abandoned. AAA had no record of any call being made, and Maura Murray was never seen again.

Maura had been acting strangely days before her disappearance. On February 6th, 2004 Maura received a phone call while at work at 1am that caused her to become upset. She had to be escorted back to her dorm at the University of Massachusetts by a supervisor. The next day, Maura borrowed her father’s car and drove it to a party. She left the party at 2:30am and drove the car into a guardrail on Route 9 in Hadley, New Hampshire, causing $8,000 in damages. She spoke with her father and apologized, promising to share paperwork pertaining to the accident from the Registry of Motor Vehicles with him over the phone that night.

Two days later, February 9th, Maura emailed her boyfriend saying that she didn’t feel like talking, but would call him later that day. A few hours later, she made several calls– one sought information on how to rent a condominium in Bartlett, New Hampshire, another provided pre-recorded information about Stowe, Vermont, which she listened to for approximately five minutes. She then called her boyfriend and spoke to him for one minute, while simultaneously MapQuesting directions to Burlington, Vermont. Then, around 4pm, Maura wrote an email to her friends and professors stating that she would be out of down for several days due to a death in her family. In reality, there had been no death. She then packed up her dorm room, boxing up her belongings and taking the pictures off her walls. A fellow UMass student reported seeing Maura leave the campus around 4:30, after-which Maura emptied her bank account at an ATM, bought $40 worth of liquor with the money, then got in her car and drove out of Amherst.

The next thing that happened was the fateful crash on Route 112 and her subsequent disappearance. While searching Maura’s abandoned car, police found driving directions to both Burlington and Stowe, Vermont, a damaged box of wine on the passenger seat, her favorite childhood stuffed animal, and a book on mountain climbing in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. No one has seen Maura Murray since, and neither her credit cards nor cell phone have been found or used.

Other things of note:

– Although this case is now a decade old, it makes this list because new and strange information is continuing to surface. Most recently, a youtube user by the name of “Mr112dirtbag” began posting videos in mid-2012 pertaining to Maura’s disappearance. The man appears to be mentally disturbed, and it is thought that he might know information about Maura’s whereabouts. On the 8th anniversary of Maura’s disappearance, the man posted a youtube video of him laughing with the words, “Happy Anniversary” flashing at the end. You can watch this video and more HERE— Be warned! They are disturbing! Although these videos have been re-uploaded by James Renner, an investigator still on the hunt for Maura, Mr112dirtbag’s channel is active, and more videos of him can be found there.

– James Renner himself has a very interesting website detailing his hunt for Maura (http://mauramurray.blogspot.com/). He updates it almost daily, and it’s an excellent place to find up-to-date info on Maura’s case.

– There is yet another very thorough and fascinating Reddit thread on Maura’s disappearance HERE. Definitely check it out if this case intrigues you.

Personal thoughts: 

I am of the opinion that Maura wanted to run away, and disappeared willfully. She seemed to be emotionally distraught during the days leading up to her disappearance, and everything, from lying to the bus driver about calling AAA, to packing up all her belongings and emptying her bank account, seem like the actions of someone wanting to disappear. The driving directions found in her car and research into new locations and apartments do nothing to dispel that theory. Additionally, on the day of her disappearance, a witness reported seeing a young girl matching Maura’s description moving quickly on foot eastbound on Route 112. When the girl saw the witness watching her, she allegedly ran down a side dirt road. If this eye witness account is true, then it is my theory that Maura was planning on disappearing and, while driving toward a possible new life, accidentally crashed her car. In a panic (possibly fueled by the fact that this was the second car she had crashed in four days), she took off on foot, desperate to get away any way she could. As for where she is now, I can only hope that she successfully changed her identity and is alive somewhere.

What do you think?

2. Elisa Lam

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  • Born: 1992
  • Died: February 2013
  • Cause of Death: Drowning

The Elisa Lam story reached the peak of its popularity mid 2013, when elevator surveillance footage of Elisa in her last moments went viral. This case is also noteworthy because it’s the only one on this list with a supposed supernatural element. Supernatural or not, this case is downright eerie.

In February of 2013, Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old student from Vancouver, Canada, was found dead inside the Cecil Hotel’s rooftop water tank in Los Angeles. She had accidentally drowned, and she was naked. Investigators didn’t know what to make of the case, and even now there isn’t much information on her or her death. The below video is the last known footage of Elisa, recorded by a surveillance camera in one of the Cecil Hotel elevators. The video shows Elisa acting very strangely, making what some would describe as “inhuman” hand gestures and contorting her body. It also appears as if she is hiding from someone, as she peeks in and out of the elevator multiple times and crouches down while inside the elevator. Interestingly, it should be noted that for the entire duration of the 4:00 minute video, the elevator doors never close. Some sight this occurrence as a sign of Elisa’s apparent demonic possession. The video ends after Elisa steps out of the elevator and seemingly follows someone away down the hall. The video is below for your consideration. Nothing graphic happens, but it is definitely a creepy watch:

Hours after this footage was recorded, Elisa was found dead in one of the hotel’s rooftop water tanks. Sometime in between the footage and her death, she stripped (or had been stripped of) her clothes, as she was found naked. The L.A. County Department of Coroner ruled that no drugs or alcohol were found in her system. It is still a mystery as to how Elisa not only accessed the roof of the Cecil Hotel, but managed to become trapped inside one of the hotel’s sealed water tanks.

Other things to note:

– Elisa’s family claims to not know why she had traveled from Vancouver to Los Angeles. In fact, no one seems to know why. Elisa traveled alone, and didn’t tell anyone where she was going. She had never been to Los Angeles before, and didn’t know anyone there, as far as friends and family knew.

– The Cecil Hotel has a terrible track record and a scary past. It is located near Skid Row, and was a haunt of known serial killers Richard Ramirez, the infamous “Nightstalker,” and Jack Unterweger. It is peculiar that Elisa would pick this particular hotel to stay in, and friends and family have no guess as to what her reasoning might have been.

THIS ARTICLE is a great read on the Elisa Lam case and provides a lot of information, theories, and news footage.

Personal thoughts:

Despite my love of the supernatural, I don’t think Elisa was possessed in the elevator footage. I have no idea why she behaved or died the way she did, but it’s a curious and creepy mystery, and I’ll keep looking for an explanation.

What do you think?

1. Lori Erica Kennedy

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  • Born: ?
  • Died: December 24 2010
  • Cause of death: Gun shot wound to the head 

On Christmas Eve, 2010, Lori Erica Kennedy drove her car to her ex-husband’s parent’s house, idled the car in their driveway, and shot herself in the head. After discovering her body, Blake Ruff, Lori’s ex-husband, and his family decided to examine their old martial home, where Lori had been staying since her separation from Blake. Inside, the house was filled with squaller and decay, but the Ruff family knew where to look for clues. Blake directed his parents and brother to one of the many “hiding places” Lori had kept in their house where he knew he wasn’t allowed to go. It was in one of these places, the back of Lori’s closet, where Blake found the strongbox that would open a million questions. Inside the box they found a birth certificate and death certificate of a girl named Becky Sue Turner, a drivers license with a picture of Lori alongside the name “Becky Sue Turner,” an application for a social security number, an application for a legal name change from “Becky Sue Turner” to “Lori Erica Kennedy,” incoherent scribbles on pages containing phone numbers, incomprehensible messages, and other seemingly insane rantings, a forged letter of reference for Lori written by a man who doesn’t exist, and the list goes on.

In short, the woman who Blake Ruff had fallen in love with, married, and had a daughter with never existed. There was no “Lori Erica Kennedy.” She had stolen the identity of a dead, two-year-old girl named Becky Sue Turner sometime during her teens, and nobody knew who she really was.

Other things of note:

– There is an amazing article entitled, She stole another’s identity, and took her secret to the grave. Who was she? written by Maureen O’Hagan for The Seattle Times that covers this complicated case beautifully. You can read it HERE

– If you’d like to explore the contents of Lori’s strongbox, that same article links to an interactive page where you can examine everything from Becky Sue Turner’s death certificate to Lori’s forged letter of recommendation HERE

Personal Thoughts:

– This case is incredibly complicated and interesting. There seems to be no evidence as to who this woman was, and it fascinates me that a person would be able to completely reinvent themselves. As I read more and more about this case, many people I encounter seem to think that Lori was perhaps a foreign spy or in the witness protection program, but I have the gut feeling that she ran away from something terrible all on her own as a child. It is obvious to me from the Seattle Times article that Lori was mentally ill, an affliction that only got worse after giving birth to her daughter. I believe that possible postpartum depression, mental illness, and carrying the weight of her stolen identity contributed to her suicide. I hope that some answers come to light soon, because too little is known about this case and it’s fascinating. 

What do you think?

PART 2 // PART 3