There is no denying the discovery of a corpse is a creepy experience. (From true crime documentaries we have learned it’s never a mannequin!) But what happens when a cadaver brings more questions than answers? These following grim discoveries will leave people scratching their heads as we enter down a mysterious rabbit hole.
10. Why Was Joyce Carol Vincent Left Sitting Dead For 3 Years?
On January 25th, 2006, council officials in North London entered the bedsit of 38-year-old Joyce Carol Vincent to collect missed rent payments. Once inside, they discovered the skeleton of Joyce sitting on the living room sofa.
Due to the advanced decomposition, coroners identified the body by matching dental records to a picture of Joyce. They were unable to determine a cause of death but it was determined she died from either an asthma attack or complications from a recent peptic ulcer. Police officers found the television was still switched on and that she was in the middle of wrapping Christmas presents.
It seemed near impossible nobody cared she was not seen or heard from in more than 3 years. Joyce was from a large family who said she had not been in touch since 2002. They assumed she was “off somewhere having a better life than we were”. Not even her neighbors noticed a thing, assuming the smell of her decomposing body was coming from the garbage. At the time of her death, she had a boyfriend but the police were unable to locate him.
This tragic discovery shows how easy it is for someone to fade into obscurity in a buzzing metropolis like London. Also a reminder to check up on old friends every once in a while.
9. Who Put The MI6 Spy In The Bag?
On August 23rd, 2010, the body of 32-year-old MI6 employee Gareth Williams was discovered in a padlocked sports bag. The bag had then been placed in the bathtub at a Security Service safe house flat in Pimlico, London. There were no signs of forced entry into the apartment but the heating was left on high causing Williams’ body to decay faster.
Williams’ iPhone was reset to factory settings the day before he died, perhaps to hide phone records and other data; and there were no fingerprints around the bathtub, not even belonging to Williams himself, all suggesting there was a cover-up. Key evidence was lost as Williams’ body had been decomposing for around 10 days by the time it was found, meaning postmortem examinations could not determine whether he had been drugged or poisoned before his death.
Experts tried more than 300 times to successfully lock themselves inside a similar bag. They concluded Williams was placed inside the bag by another party, where he would have quickly suffocated.
Information was leaked to the media which showed that Williams owned thousands of pounds worth of women’s clothing and had visited bondage websites. The coroner in charge of the case condemned these leaks as media manipulation, attempts to convince the public that Williams had locked himself inside the bag for a sexual thrill and had not been killed by his employers, the secret services.
Another police source claimed Williams had been helping the NSA trace international money-laundering routes that are used by organized crime groups including Moscow-based mafia cells. his death is still unsolved to this day.
8. Will The Case of The Somerton Man Ever Be Solved?
On December 1st, 1948, the unidentified dead body of a man found on the Somerton Park beach, just south of Adelaide, South Australia, still puzzles cold case sleuths to this day. The case today is well-known as either The Tamám Shud Case or The Case of The Somerton Man.
A suitcase belonging to The Somerton Man was later discovered at Adelaide Railway Station, full of clothes with the labels removed, and odd implements such as a screwdriver and a table knife cut down to a short, sharp weapon. There was no obvious cause of death or signs of foul play. His dental records did not match those of any known missing person, and it was impossible to tell what nationality he was. Over 200 people came forward with suggestions as to the identity of the man but none of them proved correct.
Adding to this mystery, they found in the man’s trousers a scrap piece of paper with the printed words ‘TAMAN SHUD’. Following an appeal, an Adelaide man later came forward with the exact edition of the poem from which the words had been torn that he had found in the back seat of his unlocked car the day before the dead body was discovered. These were the last words of a collection of Persian poems known as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
The book also had several lines of unsolved code as well as the phone number of an Australian woman who had served as a nurse during World War II. When investigators were eventually able to track her down, she denied having ever met The Somerton Man. The case remains one of the most perplexing Australian mysteries.
7. Is The Curse of Otzi The Iceman Real?
In 1991, a group of hikers walking over the Otztal Alps on the Austrian-Italian border discovered a corpse they believed was another mountaineer. The body was preserved in ice, yet once this was thawed, it became clear it was much older than they originally thought. After extensive testing it is now believed Otzi the Iceman lived around 3,300 BCE.
Some have called the discovery of 5,500-year-old Otzi one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. The natural mummy was found with several tools, including arrows and a knife. Scientists were even able to identify his last meal was ibex meat and wheat grains which were preserved in his digestive tract.
There was also an arrowhead lodged in his shoulder but his cause of death remains disputed. A recent theory suggested that Otzi had died in a battle with several others; the blood of two other individuals was found on his clothing. Another team of researchers suggested he was killed as part of a ritual sacrifice; his sophisticated weaponry indicates he was a man of high status, who were often sacrificed to appease the gods.
Mysteriously, a significant amount of the original team who found and first examined the body have died in violent accidents, many of them in the mountains themselves, leading to speculation about a curse quite like that which befell the team who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb.
6. Who Killed Septic Tank Sam?
Septic Tank Sam was the name given by investigators to an unidentified man found in a septic tank at an abandoned farmhouse outside of Tofield, Alberta, Canada in 1977. The owners of the property searched the 1.8-meter deep septic tank for a pump and uncovered the decomposed body of a male approx. 35-years-old.
The details of Septic Tank Sam’s torture before his death were brutal. The man had been tied up and beaten while his body was burned with a small butane blowtorch and cigarettes. He had also been sexually mutilated before he was finally shot in the head and chest. Then the killer (or killers) used quicklime in the tank to disolve the body. However, quicklime when mixed with water will dry out the body and will result in a well-preserved corpse.
There is no evidence to suggest he was murdered at the farmhouse but it is suspected the killer(s) knew the local area enough to assume the abandoned farmhouse would not be checked for quite some time.
Facial reconstructions of Septic Tank Sam were made public but still his identity remains unknown to this day.
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5. Who Was The Boy In The Box?
In 1957, The Boy In The Box was discovered near a park just north of Philadelphia. As a young muskrat hunter moved around the bushes in the park, he found the boy, wrapped in a plaid blanket, in a small cardboard box. The hunter feared his traps would be confiscated so he did not report the discovery. Then, a few days later, a young student came across the boy and he finally alerted the police.
As the boy was so young (they believe aged between three and seven years old) the police thought the case would be solved almost immediately. Sadly, nobody came forward to claim the boy. They also discovered he was severely malnourished and covered with surgical scars, most notably on his ankle, groin, and chin.
More than 60 years have passed and despite many theories about the identity of The Boy In The Box, nobody still knows who he was. His headstone at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Cedarbrook, Philadelphia, reads: “America’s Unknown Child.”
4. Elisa Lam: Murder, Suicide or Accidental Death?
On February 1st, 2013, CCTV footage captured the last sighting of 21-year-old Candian student Elisa Lam alive. Her body was discovered 18 days later in the water tank on the roof of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, California after hotel guests complained of foul-smelling water.
Although the immediate circumstances of her discovery were strange enough – the rooftop of the hotel was normally kept locked, and it is unclear how she got up there; the entrance to the tank was so small that firefighters had to cut the sides open to get to the body. Also, her phone was not found with the body nor among her belongings in the hotel and has never been located.
The disturbing CCTV footage shows Lam inside the hotel elevator, pressing several buttons at once, hiding in the corner, peering out into the corridor, moving in and out of the lift, and waving her arms in strange ways.
Theories about this footage include demonic possession, Lam being under the influence of drugs, and even her suffering from a psychotic episode caused by her bipolar disorder. Some even suggest that in the elevator Lam was trying to escape from an unseen attacker, who eventually caused her death.
As if that wasn’t creepy enough, the Cecil Hotel has been the site of numerous strange deaths and events throughout the years; previous guests include serial killers Richard Ramirez and Johann Unterweger; and several suicides have taken place there, including one woman in 1962 who jumped out of the window of her room and killed a man walking past on the pavement below.
3. Was The Lead Masks Case Linked To UFO Activity?
The Lead Masks case refers to the bodies of two men discovered by a boy flying a kite on a hillside in Brazil, 1966. The two men – both electronics repairmen – were found wearing formal suits, raincoats, and crude, hand-made masks, cut from thin sheets of lead in the shape of sunglasses which covered only the eyes, unlike any protective mask in common use.
They were also found with a page of cryptic notes, reading – in Portuguese – “4:30 PM be at the determined place. 6:30 PM swallow capsules after effect protect metals wait for mask signal”. Strangely, no toxicology tests were ever carried out on the bodies, because the coroner was ‘too busy’, so a cause of death was never determined.
Local newspapers also reported UFO sightings taking place above the hill on the night the men died. A man named Charles Bowen, writing in the Flying Saucer Review a year after the deaths, reported that four years previously, another electrician had been found dead on top of a nearby hill, also wearing a lead eyemask. It was found that the two men had previously built some kind of device in a friend’s garden, which later exploded.
When questioned by the police, the friend claimed that the two electricians were interested in contacting Mars, a goal which the device had been intended to accomplish. With the bodies long-buried and the case still unsolved, it is impossible to know what tablets the men took that night, how exactly they died or what they thought they were protecting their eyes from with the lead masks.
2. Who Was The Isdal Woman?
In November 1970, a professor and his two daughters were hiking in the Isdalen Valley in Bergen, Norway, when they came across the badly burnt remains of a female corpse. Now known as The Isdal Woman, this remains one of Norway’s greatest mysteries.
The body of The Isdal Woman was surrounded by an empty bottle of sleeping pills, two plastic bottles which had contained petrol, a packed lunch and an empty liquor bottle. She had taken around 50 sleeping pills, but had also suffered blunt trauma to the neck; she likely died from a combination of burns and carbon monoxide poisoning. Her fingerprints had also been sanded away.
Detectives found that the woman had several reservations at different hotels in Bergen; checking in and then immediately leaving for another. They also discovered that she had travelled around Europe under at least nine different pseudonyms whilst wearing wigs, with witnesses identifying her from composite sketches as speaking English, French, German and Dutch with a nondescript accent.
The police were able to connect the woman to two suitcases discovered in the train station in Bergen, which contained clothing with all of the labels cut out, cryptic diary entries and a prescription with the doctor’s name and date removed.
Sketches were circulated throughout the country but no-one came forward to identify her. With no further leads, detectives eventually ruled her death a suicide, a controversial decision given the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death: why were her fingerprints removed? Was she hiding from someone under her various identities? The mystery continues.
1. Will The YOGTZE Case Ever Be Solved?
The YOGTZE case comprises the mysterious circumstances which led up to the death of a German food technician named Gunther Stroll in 1984. He had been suffering from paranoia for some time, repeatedly talking to his wife about “Them” who were coming to kill him.
Then on October 25th, 1984, he suddenly cried out “I’ve got it!”, and quickly wrote down the code YOGTZE on a piece of paper (it is still uncertain whether the third letter was meant to be a G or a 6).
Stroll left his house went to his favourite pub and ordered a beer, before falling down and hitting his face; other people in the pub commented that he wasn’t drunk but seemed distressed. He left the pub and visited the house of an old woman he had known since childhood, telling her: “Something’s going to happen tonight, something pretty terrifying.”
Two hours later, his car was discovered crashed into a tree by the side of the motorway; witnesses reported a man in a white jacket near the car, who quickly ran away. Stroll was inside the car, still alive but naked and babbling about four men who had beaten him up; he died shortly thereafter. Police found that he had not been injured in the car crash, nor from being beaten, but had been run over by a different vehicle, before being placed in the passenger seat of his own car, which was then crashed into the tree.
The identities of “Them” – the people who were supposedly coming to kill him and, apparently, succeeded – and the meaning of the code he scribbled down were never discovered.