When a deceased victim is discovered in an unusual location, the solution to an unsolved mystery is more difficult to find. It can be challenging enough to figure out how the victim died or who might have been responsible for the death, but the mystery is all the more baffling when the victim had no logical reason to be at the location. In some cases, the victim willingly traveled to a place they had never visited before, but no one knows why. In other cases, the victim’s remains were discovered in a place that was incredibly difficult to reach.
10 The Skeleton In Ada Constance Kent’s Cottage
Ada Constance Kent was once a prominent English stage actress, but as she grew older, she chose to live as a reclusive spinster at her cottage in the village of Fingringhoe. In 1939, Kent mysteriously vanished and left behind her some strange clues. A supper tray was resting atop the dining table, and a copy of Romeo & Juliet was found open in her chair near the fireplace. Authorities thoroughly searched the cottage and the surrounding area numerous times but could find no trace of Kent. The case remained cold for a decade until police were contacted by a bank. Since Kent still had some money deposited in an account, the bank was inquiring about her whereabouts. The police decided to perform another search of Kent’s abandoned cottage. To their shock, a skeleton was found inside the bedroom.
After Kent’s disappearance, her bedroom had been searched on no less than three separate occasions, the last time in 1942, but there was no corpse. Since then, a bough from an overhanging tree had fallen through the cottage roof, creating a great deal of rubble. In fact, it took police two hours to clear through the rubble to open the bedroom door. Other than that, everything else at the cottage seemed exactly the same as the day Kent disappeared. The skeleton was well-dressed and an empty bottle with a poison label rested beside it. There were no signs of foul play and the victim was tentatively identified as Ada Constance Kent. However, after the remains were sent to Scotland Yard, a forensic investigation concluded that the victim was too large to be Kent. The fate of Ada Constance Kent and the identity of the skeleton found at her cottage remain baffling mysteries.
9 The Georgia-Pacific West Inc. John Doe
When the remains of unidentified men or women are discovered and their identity cannot be determined, they take the name John or Jane Doe. However, one of the most bizarre places an unidentified John Doe has ever been discovered was the Georgia-Pacific West Inc. paper mill in Bellingham County, Washington. On September 20, 1987, a worker noticed a temperature spike inside the chimney of one of the paper mill’s boilers. The worker went to check inside the chimney and was shocked to see skeletal remains lying on top of the pipes near the bottom. A forensic investigation determined that the victim may have been a Native American male between the ages of 20 and 40.
The chimney was rarely checked, so the remains could have been in there for several days. During that the time, the boiler was often running and temperatures ranged from 115 to 185 degrees Celsius (240 to 370 °F). Since the victim’s bones were broken, they either had fallen or were thrown down the chimney. What made the discovery unusual was that it seemed like an insanely difficult place to dispose of a dead body. In order to toss the remains into the chimney, a person would have to climb up several flights of stairs to the roof of the building. There was nothing to indicate the victim had been an employee at the paper mill since no one who worked there was reported missing during that time. The only clue to his identity was the burnt remnants of what appeared to be a baggage claim for Continental Airlines. Unfortunately, because of the extreme heat inside the chimney, all traces of DNA were destroyed, so this John Doe may never be identified.
8 Blair Adams’s Extended Vacation
On the morning of July 11, 1996, 32-year-old Blair Adams was found dead in a deserted parking lot in Knoxville, Tennessee. Adams had traveled over 3,000 kilometers (2,000 mi) from his hometown of Surrey, British Columbia, for unexplained reasons. Adams worked as a construction foreman, but in the weeks prior to his death, he had been displaying erratic and paranoid behavior and seemed certain that someone was trying to kill him. On July 5, Adams emptied his savings account and safe-deposit box before attempting to drive across the border. When Adams was refused entry into the United States, he returned home, quit his job, and bought a plane ticket to Frankfurt, Germany. Adams then made the inexplicable decision to turn in his ticket and rent a car. This time, he successfully crossed the border and drove to Seattle. From there, he flew to Washington, D.C. before renting another car to drive down to Knoxville.
After he accidentally locked himself out of his vehicle, Adams checked into a motel, but he did not go into his room and was found dead the following morning. All signs pointed to Adams suffering some sort of mental breakdown, but the bizarre nature of his death raises questions about whether his paranoia was legitimate. When Adams’s body was discovered, he was nude from the waist down. There was no sign of sexual assault, but he had numerous cuts and abrasions and had been killed when a violent blow ruptured his stomach. He had $2,000 worth of valuables on him and over $4,000 in different currency was scattered around his body. To this day, investigators are still unsure about Blair Adams’s reasons for traveling to Knoxville and the circumstances behind his death.
7 The Flight Of Jonathan Luna
In 2003, 38-year-old Jonathan Luna worked as an attorney in Baltimore. Shortly before midnight on December 3, Luna left his office at the city’s federal courthouse, forgetting his cell phone and glasses, which he needed for driving. Around 5:30 AM the next morning, his car was discovered over 130 kilometers (80 mi) away in a creek in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Luna’s body was found in the water beneath the vehicle. He had been stabbed 36 times with his own penknife and blood was all over the inside of Luna’s car. Surprisingly, FBI investigators leaned toward the conclusion that Luna’s death was a suicide or a faked kidnapping gone wrong. At the time, Luna had $25,000 in credit card debt and was due for questioning about the disappearance of $36,000 in a bank robbery case he worked on. However, the Lancaster County coroner’s office had no doubt Luna’s death was murder.
There has never been any explanation for why Luna traveled from Baltimore to Lancaster County and his movements do not make much sense. The trip can be made in two hours, but Luna took a winding route which also took him through Delaware and New Jersey. After leaving Baltimore, Luna used his EZPass at three toll interchanges before he started purchasing toll tickets instead. During the night, $200 was withdrawn from Luna’s account at an ATM and his debit card was used to purchase gas. At 4:04 AM, Luna handed in a toll ticket with a spot of blood on it. Given the large quantity of blood in the backseat, it seemed likely that Luna spent part of his journey there while someone else was driving. However, there are still no answers about who might have murdered Jonathan Luna or why he wound up in Pennsylvania.
6 The Sycamore Jane Doe
On August 14, 1995, a hiker climbed to the top of a high ridge in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness area in Arizona. He looked down to see a set of skeletal remains on a knife-edged ridge above the canyon floor. The victim had no identification, but it was eventually determined that she was a white female between the ages of 25 and 40. She had been deceased for between six months and a year, but her cause of death was unknown. A one-piece Catalina-brand swimsuit was found hanging from a nearby tree. Skeletal remains of an infant were found with the victim. This meant that Jane Doe had made it to full-term pregnancy before she died, so the big question was: How could a nine-month-pregnant woman make it to such a rugged area in the first place?
The trail leading into Sycamore Canyon is 16 kilometers (10 mi) away from the town of Clarkdale. Jane Doe was discovered 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) from the beginning of the trail, and no abandoned vehicles were found in the area. While it wouldn’t have been impossible for a pregnant woman to hike the trail, it seemed very unlikely that she could have handled climbing to the top of the remote ridge where she was found. On the other hand, it would have been equally difficult for someone to move the body of a pregnant woman to that location. One possible theory is that she was accompanied to that location by someone else who subsequently abandoned her. Even after many pleas to the public for information, the Sycamore Jane Doe has never been identified.
5 Debbie Wolfe In A Barrel
On December 26, 1985, 28-year-old nurse Debbie Wolfe finished her shift at a Fayetteville, North Carolina hospital and headed home to her rural cabin in the woods. This was the last time she was seen alive. When Wolfe did not show up for work the following day and could not be reached, her mother visited her cabin. Wolfe was nowhere to be found and reported missing. On New Year’s Day, two of Wolfe’s friends decided to search a pond near her cabin. They would find Wolfe’s body inside a barrel at the bottom. After Wolfe’s body was recovered by police, her death was ruled an accidental drowning. They believed she likely fell into the water and drowned while playing with her dogs. Needless to say, since Wolfe’s friends had found her body inside a barrel, they disputed this ruling.
However, the police then made the controversial statement that Wolfe was actually not found in a barrel at all and that the divers were mistaken. Of course, this did not ring true since a burn barrel from Wolfe’s property had mysteriously gone missing at the time of her death. As if things weren’t strange enough, Wolfe was also found wearing clothes which did not belong to her and were a couple sizes too big. Her family theorized that she might have been murdered by a male volunteer from her hospital who had developed a romantic interest in her. The day of Wolfe’s disappearance, her mother found a strange message on Wolfe’s answering machine from this man, who expressed concern about Wolfe having missed many days of work even though she had only been missing a few hours at that point. In spite of these suspicious circumstances, Debbie Wolfe’s strange death remains unsolved.
4 Doctor Gilbert Bogle And Margaret Chandler
In 1963, Dr. Gilbert Bogle was considered one of the top scientists in Australia and lived in Sydney with his wife and four children. He was also having an affair with Margaret Chandler, the wife of one of his co-workers. On New Year’s Eve, both Bogle and Chandler attended a party in Chatswood. Bogle attended alone, but Chandler was accompanied by her husband. When Chandler’s husband slipped away to another party, Bogle agreed to drive her home. The couple left at approximately 4:15 AM. A few hours later, a group of kids discovered Bogle’s body underneath Fullers Bridge near Lane Cove River. Chandler’s body was found nearby.
Bogle was only wearing a shirt, but his body was covered by the rest of his clothing and a piece of carpet from his car. Chandler was also in a state of undress, but her body was covered by some beer cartons. Since this area was known for being a “lovers’ lane,” it seemed likely that Bogle and Chandler died in the grips of passion, but no one could determine their cause of death. Vomit and feces were found at the scene, giving credence to the idea that they were poisoned, but no poison was found in their systems.
Over the years, there were numerous theories about how the couple died: LSD overdose, murder by Chandler’s husband, and even conspiracy theories about Bogle’s top-secret research on lasers. One of the more plausible theories is that decades of industrial waste-dumping caused a bubbling of hydrogen sulfide gas to rise from the polluted river and poison the couple. It’s also possible that the couple’s unclothed bodies were discovered by a local resident who decided to cover them up for the sake of modesty. Whatever the truth, their deaths remain shrouded in mystery.
3 Bella Baldwin’s Trip To Maine
Nineteen-year-old Bella Baldwin was known as a reclusive, introverted girl with a penchant for writing poetry. In September 1972, she mysteriously disappeared from her home in Reisterstown, Maryland. Her parents had no idea what happened to her until they received some surprising news one month later: Bella was buried at a cemetery in the island town of Vinalhaven, Maine. On September 17, two women had found a young girl lying dead on a beach on Lane’s Island. This girl had no identification on her, so she was buried with a grave marker which read “Unknown—1972.” After a check was made into reports about missing girls in the area, she was identified as Bella Baldwin. However, no one could figure out what Bella was doing in Vinalhaven in the first place.
Bella had taken a bus trip from Reisterstown to the town of Rockland and checked into a local motel under a false name. After taking the ferry to Vinalhaven, Bella wrote a letter describing her experience to a friend. At some point, she returned to Vinalhaven and wound up dead. Her cause of death was determined to be drowning, but no one could figure out if it was homicide, suicide, or accidental. Bella’s body had signs of bruising and a cracked rib, but it’s possible she could have fallen off some rocks and drowned before the tide washed her body ashore. Scraps of paper were found in Bella’s motel room featuring poetry she had written, but no other personal possessions were found, including her identification and red purse. There has never been any explanation for Bella Baldwin’s journey to Vinalhaven or her bizarre death.
2 The Disappearance of Tim Molnar
On January 24, 1984, 19-year-old Tim Molnar left his residence in Daytona Beach, Florida to drop his younger brother off at school. He never returned home. Weeks later, Tim’s family discovered that his credit card had been used to buy gas in Lake City nearly 250 kilometers (150 mi) away. A few months after that, the Molnars received a letter from a towing company in Atlanta telling them that Tim’s 1969 Dodge Dart had been found abandoned. Tim’s wallet was left behind in the vehicle, but there was no money inside and a stereo system he had recently installed was also missing. After receiving no leads for over a decade, Tim’s family decided to have his disappearance profiled on Unsolved Mysteries. When the segment was broadcast in 1996, there was a most unexpected development.
On March 23, 1986, the skeletal remains of an unidentified male had been found in a secluded woodlot near the town of Merton, Wisconsin. Because of the freezing temperatures, the remains were encased in a sheet of ice. Since the victim showed no signs of trauma, his cause of death could not be determined. He was not identified until the person who found the remains saw the Unsolved Mysteries segment about Tim Molnar and called in a tip. The victim had been found with a set of keys on him, including one for a 1969 Dodge Dart and another which was a match to the Molnar family’s house key. DNA tests finally confirmed that the unidentified male was Tim Molnar. However, there is still no explanation for how or why Tim Molnar made his 2,000-kilometer (1,200 mi) journey from Florida to Wisconsin or why he died.
1 The Body In The Shoebox
On the morning of August 8, 1886, a large box was discovered underneath some trees in a rural area outside of Wallingford, Connecticut. It was the same type of box ordinarily used to transport shoes; the words “French toe, fine stitched” were written on the side. After the box was opened, it was found to be lined with tar paper, but there was a much more shocking discovery inside: an unclothed male torso. Its arms, legs, and head had been completely removed. A medical examination determined that the victim was likely in his early thirties, and since traces of arsenic were in his stomach, the probable cause of death was poisoning.
Shortly after the body’s discovery, local residents saw what they thought was a large bag at the bottom of a nearby well. They needed to get some tools to retrieve the bag, but when they returned the following day, the bag was no longer in the well. However, a small piece of human scalp was now on the ground, so it seemed that the victim’s head might have been in the bag. One month later, a farmer found a set of arms and legs in the area which were also wrapped in tar paper. Investigators eventually traced the box to a shoe dealer in Chicago. The dealer claimed that after receiving a shipment of shoes from Massachusetts, he left the box in his backyard before an unidentified man saw it and offered to buy it. There was no explanation for how the box wound up in Wallingford with a human torso inside. Since the victim’s head was never found, his identity and the circumstances surrounding his death have remained a mystery.
Robin Warder is a budding Canadian screenwriter who has used his encyclopedic movie knowledge to publish numerous articles at Cracked.com. He is also the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row and recently worked on a sci-fi short film called Jet Ranger of Another Tomorrow. Feel free to contact him here.