Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler June 7, 2016

Canadian Mounties are said to always get their man. American police heroes also tend to prevail in movies and on TV. But the hard truth is that many crimes become unsolved cases, where decades pass without the perpetrators being identified or caught.

Top Unsolved Cases

What are some of the top unsolved cases? According to Time Magazine, the top 10 unsolved cases are the following:

Jack the Ripper: The notorious killings of five London prostitutes in a similar manner in 1888 involved taunting notes sent to the police signed by “Jack the Ripper.” Several persons were believed to be likely suspects, but the case never was solved.

The Zodiac killings: Another five victims — at least — fell in the San Francisco Bay Area from late 1968 through 1969. Again, letters were sent — this time to newspapers — by an alleged perpetrator, who taunted police and even provided evidence and clues. The killer never was caught, but became immortalized in a 2007 film.

The murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.: Shakur was shot five times and survived in 1994, blaming rival rappers such as Notorious B.I.G. In 1996, Shakur was shot again in Las Vegas and died from his injuries six days later. Several months later, Notorious B.I.G. was shot and killed in Los Angeles. Neither killing has been solved.

Tylenol poisonings: In Chicago in the fall of 1982, seven persons died after consuming Tylenol pills whose containers had been tampered with, so that the pills were laced with cyanide. Tylenol was pulled from store shelves while the community panicked. Eventually, tamper-proof pill containers became the industry norm, but the killer never was caught.

Edgar Allan Poe’s death: The troubled writer of moody horror short stories and poems was found in an incoherent state in Baltimore on Oct. 3, 1849. Three days later his death in a hospital was attributed to alcohol poisoning. But later it was learned Poe’s alleged alcohol abuse was exaggerated, and a death certificate never was located. Since Poe was found wearing clothes other than his own, and it was election day, some believe he was drugged and used by corrupt politicians to cast votes in various places. But his death remains a mystery.

The Nicole Brown/Ronald Goodman double murder: Though he was acquitted in a widely watched trial in 1995, many believe ex-football star and B-list actor O.J. Simpson stabbed to death his former wife and Goodman in 1994. In a related civil lawsuit, Simpson was found responsible for their deaths, but technically the criminal case never has been solved.

The case of the disembodied feet: From August 2007 onward, five severed feet washed ashore near Vancouver, British Columbia — one right, four left, and most still in sneakers. One victim was identified by DNA, but the others — and how all of the amputations occurred — have remained a mystery.

The death of JonBenet Ramsey: A 6-year-old beauty queen was found dead at her Colorado Springs, CO home on the day after Christmas, 1996, launching a furious investigation which still hasn’t yielded the killer. Her parents and her brother, then 9, all were considered suspects at one time, but DNA later pointed to someone else, and botched police procedures are said to have precluded closure on the case.

The Black Dahlia: Also immortalized on screen and in books, this horrifying Hollywood history involves starlet Elizabeth Short, whose body was found cut in half and drained of blood in 1947. Police worked with the press to deliver clues that could snag the culprit, but none was found.

The women of Ciudad Juarez: In recent years, hundreds and perhaps even thousands of women have been killed in the Mexican city of Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas. Mexican authorities blame wars between drug traffickers for the deaths, but so far no perpetrators have been found.

More Unsolved Cases

Still more unsolved cases include the following:

The disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa: Outspoken Teamsters labor leader Hoffa never has been found since his disappearance in 1975 at age 62. Last seen in Detroit, he was declared legally dead in 1982. No cause of death ever has been determined.

D.B. Cooper hijacking: A man using the alias “Dan Cooper” hijacked an airliner between Seattle and Portland in 1971, extorted a $200,000 ransom (collected during a landing, followed by another take-off) and parachuted away. Despite an immense FBI manhunt, he never was found, making this the only unsolved case of air piracy in U.S. history.

The Gardner Museum robbery: In 1990, two men disguised as police stole 13 works of art valued at $500 million from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA. Though several suspects were considered, no charges ever were filed in the unsolved case, which is believed to be the largest theft of private property in history.

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