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