We’ve covered more than a few unsolved mysteries at Listverse. There’s an exhilaration in trying to piece together clues that have eluded detectives over the years. Some of the unsolved mysteries that puzzled us a few years ago aren’t mysteries anymore. Today, we’re going to revisit those mysteries and find out how the pieces came together when they were solved.
10 Lori Ruff’s True Identity
In 2004, Blake Ruff married the love of his life, a woman he thought was named Lori Kennedy. Lori was a private person who refused to speak about her past, and most who knew her accepted her silence as part of who she was. When Lori committed suicide in 2010, the Ruff family found a box that revealed a whole other story: Since 1988, she’d been living under a fake identity stolen from a dead girl.
After Lori’s story became legend, Colleen Fitzpatrick, a genetic genealogist, signed up to help solve the case and led police to the Cassidy family. The Cassidys had a daughter named Kimberly McLean who ran away from home in 1986, furious over her parents’ divorce. When police brought Lori’s picture to a family member, she cried out, “My God, that’s Kimberly!”
A DNA match confirmed that Kimberly McLean was Lori Ruff. The discovery was bittersweet; her mother had finally found her missing daughter, but she would never get to see her alive again.
9 The ‘Grateful Doe’ Identified
In 1995, Michael Hager crashed his car into a tree in Virginia. The accident killed both him and a teenage hitchhiker he’d picked up. The only clues to the boy’s identity were a Grateful Dead shirt on his back and a note in his pocket from two girls promising that they’d meet him again. Since then, the Grateful Doe’s face has been spread all over the Internet in the hope of finding someone who knew him.
In 2015, all that work paid off. The boy’s mother stumbled upon the Grateful Doe’s Facebook page and, in complete shock, sent them a message. Her son was Jason Callahan, a troubled boy who ran away so often that she didn’t report him missing, believing that he’d gone to live on his own.
8 Benjaman Kyle Learns His Real Name
In 2004, a man in his fifties was found lying naked between two dumpsters behind a Burger King in Georgia. He had been hit three times in the head, and he couldn’t remember his own name. He picked up the nickname “BK” and fleshed it out to “Benjaman Kyle.” Benjaman lived out the next decade of his life with no clue who he really was.
CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist, took the job of tracking Benjaman’s past down, and she found that he’d been missing for a lot longer than ten years. He ran away from his parents in 1976 and hadn’t spoken to them since.
Benjaman’s real name hasn’t been revealed because he wants to keep his privacy. He has, however, reunited with his family, which, ironically, might never have happened if he’d never gotten amnesia.
7 What Happened On The Mary Celeste
In 1872, a ship called the Mary Celeste was found at sea completely deserted. Strangely, there were still six months of food and water onboard and no sign of any damage or fighting—but every crew member had vanished. The legendary story of the Mary Celeste has attracted a lot of interest over the years, and now chemistry professor Dr. Andrea Sella believes he’s figured out what happened.
According to Dr. Sella, 1,100 liters (300 gal) of alcohol had leaked on the boat, and the crew abandoned ship when that alcohol exploded. Dr. Sella has conducted an experiment that simulated the explosion. It would have blown the hatches open and terrified everyone on board—but wouldn’t have left a single trace of damage.
6 Caledonia Jane Doe Identified
In 1979, a young woman was brought out into a Caledonia, New York, cornfield and shot two times in the head. Her pockets were emptied, and heavy rain had washed away every piece of evidence that could have identified her. Even dental records didn’t turn up a match, and the woman was buried without a name.
Over in Florida, though, another woman got to wondering about an old classmate of hers named Tammy Jo Alexander. She hadn’t heard from her in years and tried to track her down. When she did, she found out that Tammy had run away years ago and that her mother, who had a heavy drug addiction, hadn’t even bothered to report her missing.
The classmate reported her worries to the police, who soon realized that Tammy was the Caledonia Jane Doe. They hadn’t been able to identify her by dental records because, in her 16 years of life, Tammy’s mother had never once taken her daughter to the dentist.
5 Chelsea Bruck’s Murderer
Chelsea Bruck went to the last Halloween party of her life in 2014. She came dressed as Poison Ivy and went home at 3:00 AM with a man in a costume. No one knew her mystery man’s name, and Bruck never came home. Three weeks later, she was found dead in an empty field.
It took nearly two years for the police to narrow in on a suspect, and in July 2016, they arrested a man named Daniel Clay, whose girlfriend claims that he confessed to the crime. So far, the police haven’t released many details.
The charges, though, paint a story on their own: The sexual conduct charges give us a pretty good guess of what Clay wanted. The second-degree murder charge tells us that the night didn’t go the way he hoped. And the concealment of a body charge tells us he was hoping no one would ever find her.
4 ‘Baby Hope’ Identified
In 1991, construction workers in New York stumbled upon a blue cooler containing something terrible. Inside, wrapped in a black garbage bag and buried under cans of Coca Cola, was the dead body of a four-year-old girl, her body too deteriorated to identify.
It took until 2013 until police, with the help of phoned-in tip, tracked down Margarita Castillo and managed to identify Baby Hope as her daughter, Anjelica.
Anjelica’s story was even more horrible than it appeared. Her cousin, Conrado Juarez, raped her. When she cried out for help, he smothered her with a pillow—and accidentally killed her. Conrado told his sister, Margarita’s niece, what he’d done. She gave him a cooler and told him to get rid of the body.
Margarita hadn’t reported her daughter missing because she was an illegal immigrant who couldn’t speak English, and she was afraid she would be deported. She’d seen the stories about Baby Hope but was too afraid to call in—until the police came knocking on her door.
3 Bella In The Wych Elm
In 1943, four boys in Worcestershire made a terrifying discovery—a human skull inside of a witch hazel tree. Police investigations soon turned up the body of a woman who seemed to have been ritualistically murdered. The case became truly eerie, though, when strange graffiti messages started popping up around the town reading: “Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?”
The body was unclaimed, and there was no record of anyone named Bella having gone missing, so police had no idea who they’d found or why these taunting messages called her “Bella.”
However, today, Professor James Webster is convinced he’s solved it. Bella, he claims, was a German actress named Clara Bauerle. Clara performed in the West under the name “Clarabella,” so Webster believes that she is the “Bella” in the message.
Clara was working as a Nazi spy and was ordered to parachute into the area in 1941. She landed but never reported back and was never heard from again. Webster believes she was spotted—and stuffed into a witch hazel tree.
2 The Cause Of Raoul Wallenberg’s Death
Raoul Wallenberg is a hero. He was a Swedish businessman who saved more than 100,000 Jewish lives during World War II. Wallenberg made fake papers for the Jews to help them escape and was repaid for his trouble by being thrown into a Soviet prison camp.
Wallenberg died in 1947, but how it happened has always been disuputed. The Soviets claim he had a heart attack, but many doubt that they’re telling the truth.
In June 2016, the diaries of KGB head Ivan Serov were published. Inside, he writes, “I have no doubts that Wallenberg was liquidated in 1947.” He further claims that Wallenberg was killed on orders directly from Stalin and Molotov.
The diary entry isn’t entirely conclusive, but it makes it clear that the KGB didn’t believe that Wallenberg died by accident. Even within the highest ranks, it was accepted that Stalin had him killed.
1 Paul Fronczak’s True Identity
In 1965, the Fronczaks were reunited with a child they thought was their own. Their baby, Paul, had been abducted, so when they heard that a toddler had been found abandoned in a stroller, they were sure it was their boy. They took him and raised him as their own.
As the baby grew, though, he looked less and less and like the Fronczaks. In 2012, the family took a DNA test and found out that the child they’d raised wasn’t their flesh and blood.
CeCe Moore—yes, the same CeCe who helped Benjaman Kyle—helped Paul track down his real identity. She found out that his birth name was Jack. His biological parents had since died, but he had a twin sister named Jill. Jack and Jill both vanished before their second birthdays—and Jill was still missing.
CeCe’s discovery led to more questions: No one knows what became of Jill or Paul, why Jack was left in a stroller, or who was behind all these abductions. Jack, at least, finally knows where he came from.
+ Further Reading
While most of our archived lists from this category remain unsolved, we have also covered many solved unsolved mysteries! Here are a few for your pleasure:
10 Perplexing Mysteries That May Have Finally Been Solved
10 Intriguing Historical Mysteries That We’ve Finally Solved
10 Baffling Cases Solved Decades After The Cops Gave Up
10 Mysteries Resolved By Unbelievable Surprise Twists