In the past, there was no visual evidence when a crime took place, but the invention of surveillance cameras has changed all that. However, surveillance footage sometimes raises more questions than it answers. Even in those cases, it may provide an eerie chronicle of the last moments of a person’s life before that person becomes the victim of a baffling, unsolved mystery.
10 The Disappearance Of Steven Koecher
In April 2009, Steven Koecher quit his job in Salt Lake City and moved to St. George, Utah. After spending several months struggling to find a job, Steven abruptly left St. George on December 12, 2009. The following day, he telephoned two of his friends and claimed that he was in Las Vegas. Steven never offered any explanation for his trip, but his family believes that he may have been looking for a job.
These phone calls were the last time anyone ever heard from Steven before he mysteriously vanished without a trace. His abandoned car was located in a residential neighborhood in Henderson, Nevada, with wrapped Christmas presents that Steven had purchased for his family in the back of the vehicle.
Investigators eventually uncovered some surveillance footage of Steven taken on December 14, 2009, from a camera at a residence in the Henderson neighborhood. The video showed Steven parking his car, crossing the street, walking down the sidewalk, and then disappearing out of the frame. This was the last confirmed sighting of him.
No one understands why Steven parked his vehicle in this upscale neighborhood, which seemed like an unlikely place for him to become the victim of a violent crime. His cell phone signal was picked up at various locations by a tower several miles away, but the signal died after two days. With his employment and financial difficulties, some people have speculated that Steven may have staged his disappearance to start a new life. However, there has been no trace of him for nearly six years.
9 The Mysterious Death Of Alan Jeal
On February 25, 2014, a nude, male body washed ashore on a beach in Perranporth, England. The man was wearing only socks and one shoe, but the police also made another peculiar discovery. “A set of headphones were found in [the man’s] mouth, as well as a rolled-up sock,” said a police spokesman in an official statement in May 2014. “The white Apple iPhone or iPod style headphones, with volume control, were looped around the back of the sock and were trailing out of his mouth.”
A number of items were found nearby, including a jacket, a wallet, and a photo of a toddler. The victim was identified as 64-year-old Wadebridge resident Alan Jeal, and the toddler in the photo was Alan when he was two. While Alan did have surviving family, he was a loner, so suicide was considered to be a possibility. Alan had recently purchased a weighted training vest and ankle weights, which suggested that he may have been planning to drown himself. However, these weights were never found, and the unexplained injuries to Alan’s chest and head meant that foul play couldn’t be ruled out.
The day before his body was found, Alan had traveled from Wadebridge to Truro and was seen wandering through the area on closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage. The most intriguing video showed him speaking with individuals at a bus station in Truro, but they have never been identified. Alan also traveled to Newquay before taking a bus trip to Perranporth. He was last photographed in Perranporth at 10:27 PM on February 24, 2014.
The strangest detail from the CCTV footage showed Alan wearing a completely different jacket than the one found on the beach! The jacket that he wore in the footage was never recovered. The rest of his clothing and his bank and credit cards are also missing. No one knows what Alan was doing in Perranporth that night or how his body ended up in the water.
8 The Disappearance Of Pamela Butler
On February 12, 2009, 47-year old Pamela Butler called her mother from her home in Washington, DC, and said that her boyfriend, Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, was planning to take her out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. Sometime during the next few days, Pamela vanished without explanation.
When Pamela’s family searched her home, she was nowhere to be found. Even though both of Pamela’s vehicles were left behind, her keys, purse, and credit cards were gone. Strangely, some bedsheets were also missing from the house. Pamela was always concerned about her personal safety and had equipped her home with a high-tech security system with surveillance cameras at nearly every exit. However, an examination of the surveillance footage only raised more perplexing questions.
The last footage of Pamela showed her walking outside of her house to get the mail on February 12, but there is no sign of her leaving afterward. The following day, Jose Rodriguez-Cruz is shown arriving at Pamela’s house, where he claimed that Pamela suddenly broke up with him without explanation and kicked him out.
Throughout the next three days, the surveillance footage showed Jose entering and exiting the home on numerous occasions. Jose claimed that he was picking up his personal belongings and that Pamela was not there during this time period, but no footage exists of Pamela exiting the house.
The only exit point which wasn’t covered by a surveillance camera was a trio of first-floor windows, and one of them was found unlocked. In spite of some suspicions about Jose’s story, there were no signs of foul play in the home or any evidence that a crime had been committed. Pamela Butler’s disappearance remains a baffling mystery.
7 The Disappearance Of Dale Kerstetter
In 1987, 50-year-old Dale Kerstetter was employed as a security guard at the Corning Glassworks plant in Bradford, Pennsylvania. On the evening of September 12, Dale arrived at the plant to work the graveyard shift. The following morning when another security guard showed up to relieve Dale, he was inexplicably missing.
Dale’s truck was still in the parking lot, and his keys and other personal items were left behind. It was soon discovered that $250,000 of platinum pipe had been stolen from the plant. The situation became even more perplexing when investigators checked the plant’s security tapes.
Surveillance footage showed that an unidentified masked man had entered the plant sometime during the night. At one point, Dale was seen leading this man through the building and staring directly at the camera. Upon first glance, it seemed like the intruder was forcing Dale to take him to the area where the platinum was stored, but the footage made it impossible to determine whether Dale was under duress or working in conjunction with the thief.
Dale was in debt at the time, so there was speculation that he may have been involved in the heist and skipped town with his share. The plant’s management seemed to think that Dale stared directly at the camera to taunt them. However, Dale’s family never believed that he was involved and suspected that he was an innocent murder victim.
Indeed, the surveillance footage also showed the masked intruder wheeling a large bag out of the plant, which could have contained Dale’s body. Whatever the truth, Dale Kerstetter has not been seen in nearly 30 years.
6 The Murder Of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin
One of the most horrific unsolved mysteries in the history of Malaysia is the murder of an eight-year-old girl named Nurin Jazlin Jazimin. Nurin lived in the Wangsa Maju township of Kuala Lumpur. On the evening of August 20, 2007, she left her home to go to a nearby market and never returned home. According to witnesses, an unidentified man forced Nurin into a white van.
On the morning of September 17, a sports bag was found in front of a shop in Petaling Utama. It contained the nude body of a young girl with a cucumber and eggplant stuffed into her genitals. She was soon identified as Nurin Jazlin Jazimin. Nurin had died before she was found, and bruises on her neck seemed to indicate strangulation. It appeared that Nurin had been kept alive for nearly a month to be abused and tortured.
When investigators checked CCTV footage in the area, they saw a motorcyclist dropping off the bag containing Nurin’s body in front of the shop, which was closed at the time. While doing so, the man was speaking on his cell phone, but unfortunately, the image was too blurry to make out his face or the license plate on the motorcycle.
One hour later, the CCTV showed a woman loitering in the same area before she was picked up by three men in a van, who chatted with her for several minutes before driving away. Once again, the footage was too blurry to obtain any useful information.
However, none of the featured individuals seemed to acknowledge the bag on the ground, suggesting that they may have been involved in Nurin’s death. Sadly, this hideous crime remains unsolved.
5 The Disappearance Of Jesse Ross
In 2006, 19-year-old Jesse Ross was a sophomore majoring in communications at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. On November 18, Jesse and several students in his program were invited on a trip to Chicago to participate in a program called the “American Model United Nations.” Three days later as the program was ending, the students were invited to a dance at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel from 10:00 PM to 3:00 AM.
However, at 2:00 AM, they were assembled for a mock “emergency” United Nations Security Council meeting. A half hour later, Jesse left the room, telling everyone that he was leaving for a 30-minute break. He never returned.
Surveillance footage provided the last confirmed sighting of Jesse, filming him in a hotel elevator before he walked through the lobby toward the main doors at approximately 2:30 AM. Initially, it was speculated that Jesse had attempted to return to the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, where the students were staying.
With the hotel less than a block away, the walk there would have taken 10 minutes. In spite of the late hour, the route between the two hotels was well lit and not known for being dangerous. The problem was that it was also lined with multiple security cameras, but none of them captured any footage of Jesse.
One theory was that Jesse wandered off and fell into the nearby Chicago River. Although there are contradictory accounts about whether he was drinking that night, witnesses say that he didn’t look intoxicated. Furthermore, his body wasn’t found in the river. It’s almost like Jesse Ross simply vanished into thin air.
4 The Disappearance Of Trevor Deely
In 2000, 22-year-old Trevor Deely (in an age-progressed photograph above) was employed at the Bank of Ireland Asset Management (BIAM) in Dublin. On the evening of December 7, he and his coworkers attended the bank’s Christmas party, but they also went to a number of other locations before eventually ending up at a nightclub.
At approximately 3:30 AM, Trevor left the club and walked to BIAM headquarters, where he had coffee with a coworker who was working late. Soon afterward, CCTV footage captured Trevor exiting BIAM. With no cab service because of an ongoing taxi strike, he had grabbed an umbrella from his workplace because there were heavy rains that night. The last sighting of Trevor was CCTV footage of him passing a security camera at a nearby Bank of Ireland ATM at 4:14 AM. After that, he vanished without a trace.
Even though the footage placed Trevor at nearby Baggot Street Bridge, a search of the Grand Canal failed to find his body. However, there were some intriguing clues. When CCTV footage originally captured Trevor arriving at his workplace, another man was seen standing near the back entrance. But this man was not seen in the footage of Trevor exiting the bank.
However, approximately 30 seconds after Trevor passed the ATM security camera, another man with an umbrella was seen walking by. Although investigators believe that the man standing outside BIAM headquarters and the man passing the ATM are probably two different people, neither has ever been identified. So no one knows if they have any connection to Trevor’s disappearance. Despite a high-profile campaign to locate him, Trevor Deely has never been found.
3 The Murder Of Jane Rimmer
On June 8, 1996, 23-year-old Jane Rimmer spent the night partying with friends in the Claremont suburb of Perth, Australia. After drinking at the Continental Hotel, Jane and her friends went to Club Bayview, a nearby nightclub. But they didn’t enter the club, instead opting to go to a friend’s house to continue their partying.
At around midnight, the group returned to the Continental Hotel, where Jane decided to go home. Jane’s friends left in a taxi, and this was the last time they saw her alive. On August 3, her body was discovered over 40 kilometers (25 mi) away in a remote area near Wellard.
It’s believed that Jane was the victim of an unidentified serial killer, who was also responsible for the murders of two other young women in Claremont during this time period: Sarah Spiers and Ciara Glennon. Even though her body was never found, Spiers disappeared in January 1996 after leaving the Club Bayview, so her case and Jane’s appear to be connected.
In Jane’s case, the only major lead is some CCTV footage from outside the Continental Hotel, which showed an unidentified man approaching her shortly after she split from her friends. The man appeared to be speaking with Jane before the footage suddenly switched to a different view of the hotel. Within a few minutes, both Jane and the man were gone, but the footage did not capture either of them leaving. It’s unknown if this man was responsible for Jane Rimmer’s disappearance, but he has never been identified. The identity of the notorious Claremont serial killer also remains a mystery.
2 The Disappearance Of Mari Ann Fowler
In 2000, Jerry Fowler, the elections commissioner for the state of Louisiana, made the news when he received a five-year sentence in a Texas federal prison for bribery. Two years later, his 65-year-old wife, Mari Ann Fowler, made headlines for different reasons.
On Christmas Eve in 2002, Mari Ann was on her way from Louisiana to Texas to visit her incarcerated husband when she stopped at a Subway sandwich shop at a strip mall in Port Allen. Shortly after purchasing some food, Mari Ann disappeared. Her vehicle was left behind with wrapped Christmas presents inside, and her food, purse, and keys were scattered in the parking lot. Some false fingernails were also found on the ground, which likely came off when Mari Ann struggled with an attacker.
Investigators checked footage from a nearby surveillance camera. Although it was hard to see anything at first, the FBI eventually enhanced the footage enough to make out the image of Mari Ann being forced into a Chevy pickup truck before it sped out of the strip mall parking lot. Unfortunately, the footage was not clear enough to provide an adequate shot of the assailant.
The most likely suspect is Derrick Todd Lee, the notorious Baton Rouge serial killer, who is currently on death row for the murders of at least seven women. Lee owned a pickup truck similar to the one seen in the surveillance footage, and cell phone records placed him in Port Allen on the day of the abduction. However, there has never been enough evidence to conclusively link him with Mari Ann Fowler’s disappearance. To date, she has not been found.
1 The Murder Of Matt Flores
After a stint in the Army, 26-year-old Matt Flores got a job at a computer company called Applied Materials. On the morning of March 24, 1994, Matt showed up for training at their headquarters in Silicon Valley. As he stepped out of his vehicle in the parking lot, he was shot in the back of the head at point-blank range.
Amazingly, the murder took place in broad daylight when 20 other people were in the lot. But even though many of them heard the gunshot, no one caught a glimpse of the killer before that person fled the scene. Matt left behind a wife and eight-month-old daughter and appeared to be a well-liked guy with no skeletons in his closet. His murder resembled a professional hit, but why was he targeted?
Even though there were security cameras throughout the parking lot, Matt’s murder took place in a blind spot and was not recorded. However, the surveillance footage did reveal one curious lead. Approximately 20 minutes before the shooting, a Ford Explorer pulled into the parking lot. It appeared to be following a white vehicle which bore a resemblance to Matt’s car.
Shortly thereafter, the footage captured the Explorer exiting the lot. It returned one minute later and then disappeared out of camera range. Not long afterward, Matt’s vehicle arrived. Two minutes later, the Explorer sped out of the lot. It seems likely that the driver of the Explorer was the killer, and it’s been theorized that Matt might have been an unfortunate victim of mistaken identity. No one has ever uncovered the full truth behind Matt Flores’s murder, which was essentially the perfect crime.
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 wrote the award-winning script for a short film called Indefinite Late Fee. Feel free to contact him here.