3 Chilling Unsolved Mysteries
Updated: Mar 2
For today’s post, I wanted to share with you three unsolved and utterly haunting mysteries that I've stumbled upon in recent years. Enthusiasts will already know about these infamous and chilling cases, and I promise that more obscure examples will be coming in future posts; but if you're still pretty new to the world of online sleuthing, then prepare to learn about some of the most bizarre and disturbing mysteries in recent history, each of which remains unexplained to this day.
As well as a brief summary of each one, I've included a link to an excellent (and concise) YouTube video that will explain the case in more detail. But beware: once you start delving into these, you might find yourself lost down a rabbit hole for days, obsessing over every detail while you come up with your own dark theories...
You have been warned.
1). The Dyatlov Pass Incident
This is the godfather of unsolved mysteries, and has inspired countless theories, spin-off movies, and books including the excellent 'Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story Of The Dyatlov Pass Incident', which I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed.
Nine hikers, led by the charismatic Igor Dyatlov, ventured into Russia's North Ural mountains in 1959, laughing and joking along the way, befriending the locals and tribespeople they met en route to the start of their excursion. They set out onto the icy slopes with ample provisions, the right equipment, and years of experience between them.
When they failed to arrive at their destination on the other side of Kholat Syakhl (literally translated as Dead Mountain, referencing the area's unforgiving and hostile conditions), a search party was dispatched, and eventually found the team's tent in shambles and the hikers missing. Gradually over the coming days, the bodies of the group were unearthed from the snow, frozen and dead.
This is where things get creepy - I am literally breaking out in goosebumps even as I type!
The tent showed signs of having been sliced open from the inside, as though the hikers had fled in desperation. Furthermore, almost all of their equipment was left behind, and the tracks that ran in different directions from the camp showed that some of the poor hikers had escaped into the freezing snow without even their shoes or socks. The bodies were barely clothed, or in some cases wearing each others' clothes, once again supporting the theory that they left their tent in a state of panic.
What could have terrified them so much? There was no evidence of an avalanche, attacking strangers, or any other justification for their inexplicable actions; and such an experienced bunch would have undoubtedly known that to flee into the snow without even a light source to help navigate back to camp was tantamount to suicide. It would apparently take as little as seven minutes to freeze to death without adequate clothing in those conditions - yet the group were so frightened that they somehow thought this was preferable to remaining inside the safety and warmth of their tent.
To compound the mystery, some of the bodies showed signs of internal trauma, with fractured skulls and chests, and one of the corpses was missing its tongue and eyes. Dyatlov himself was found alone, separated from the other members of his group, and clinging desperately to a tree as though perhaps trying to scale it for shelter... or to escape. Even more bizarrely, some of the bodies apparently gave off unexpectedly high readings of radiation!
The coroner's report unhelpfully described the cause of death as an 'unknown compelling force' - little better than a shrug of the shoulders. Theories regarding this case range from rare topographical features creating terrifying freak soundwaves to secret Russian military experiments, abominable snowmen, and - you guessed it - aliens. Whatever the explanation, this remains one of the world's most enduring and frightening mysteries, and you can learn more about it here.
2). The Yuba County Five
Sometimes called 'The American Dyatlov Pass Incident', this case details the baffling deaths of four young men, and the disappearance of a fifth, in Northern California in February 1978.
The men suffered from various learning difficulties, with 25-year-old Gary Matthias being treated for schizophrenia, but the significance of this should not be exaggerated; Matthias was on medication for his condition, and all of the men were perfectly functional in society, holding down jobs and in some cases with military backgrounds. On the night of the incident, they had driven together to attend a college basketball game, before stopping at a nearby market for snacks and drinks on their way home to their loving families. They were never seen alive again.
Days later, Jack Madruga's Mercury Montego was found abandoned in a remote area of Plumas National Forest, around seventy miles out of their way. The mountain dirt road could not have been driven along by mistake; it was treacherous and frostbitten, the car partially buried beneath a snowstorm (although not so seriously buried that five healthy young men couldn't have dug it out).
The first of the men, 32-year-old Ted Weiher, was found another nineteen miles (!?) from the car, inside a trailer at a mountain campsite. He had died of a combination of hypothermia and, horrifyingly, starvation, but in extremely bizarre circumstances: he appeared to have lost up to 100 pounds in weight despite the trailer containing ample provisions for his sustenance, and a propane tank that could have kept him warm. He was wrapped in sheets in a manner that suggested the involvement of a third party, and a gold watch that seemingly did not belong to any of the men had been left on a nearby table. Weiher's shoes were missing, and the presence of Gary Matthias's sneakers at the scene suggest that he too had made it to the trailer along with Weiher. The absence of Weiher's own shoes suggests that Matthias had perhaps struck out from the trailer having exchanged his footwear for something more durable, given how horrifically frostbitten his feet must have been.
The other men were found over the coming days long the road between the car and the trailer, their remains decayed and scattered by scavengers. Tragically, 24-year-old Jack Huett's own father, hunting desperately for his son as part of a search party, discovered his son's backbone beneath a bush. Only Gary Matthias remains missing, but the likelihood of him surviving outdoors in such hostile conditions is highly remote.
More peculiar facts began to emerge. Joseph Schons came forward, having spent the night in his car close to where the Montego was found, to inform police that he may have seen the men that night. Schons had suffered a heart attack while driving up the same road to his own cabin, and lay for many hours in his VW Bug with the engine running to keep him warm. He told police that after six hours in this state, he saw headlights approaching, and a group of people emerge from a car - one of whom appeared to be a woman holding a baby!? He yelled for help, but the group became quiet and switched off their headlights. Hours later, he saw flashlights around his vehicle, and again cried out for assistance - but the lights were switched off, and no aid was given.
Miraculously, after his car finally ran out of fuel in the morning, Schons managed to walk eight miles to a nearby lodge. Doctors confirmed that he had indeed suffered a heart attack. Was his sighting of a woman with a baby part of the solution to this perplexing mystery, or was he so delirious with pain and fright at that point that he had misinterpreted what he saw?
The more I read about this case, the more tragic and bewildering it becomes. Watch this video for a more detailed account.
3). The Death of Elisa Lam
Another very famous unexplained death, this case is perhaps the most harrowing of all that I have presented here. A 21-year-old Canadian-Chinese woman disappeared in Los Angeles in 2013 while she was staying at the budget Cecil Hotel, already infamous in its own right for connections to previous murders in the area. She was travelling and blogging, and also battling bipolar disorder and depression, and had been moved from a shared room to a room of her own after roommates complained of odd behaviour.
After her parents did not hear from her on the day she was supposed to check out of the Cecil to head to Santa Cruz, they contacted police and a search began. Several days into the investigation, CCTV footage emerged from the hotel elevator that shows Lam acting very strangely, apparently hiding from someone inside the lift before emerging to remonstrate with them. The footage really is disturbing, and could suggest anything from a determined stalker to a psychotic episode if Lam was off her medication.
The case took an even more sinister turn weeks later when hotel guests began to complain of low water pressure, as well as their water supply having a strange colour and taste. The water tanks on the building's roof were examined, and Lam's naked body found inside. She had drowned... and the hotel guests had been drinking water containing particles of the decomposing girl for weeks.
Lam's clothes were found floating nearby, as well as her watch and room key. There was no evidence of sexual assault, physical trauma or suicide by means other than the drowning itself, but the water tank lid was far too heavy for Lam to have opened it on her own. This, coupled with the distressing footage from the elevator, has led to many people theorising that Lam was murdered, perhaps even by hotel staff who could have turned off the roof alarms to gain access to the water tank.
This video further explores some of the theories surrounding this awful and tragic case.
I hope you have found these mysteries as intriguing as I did, and will be bringing you more in the very near future.
Until then, try not to have nightmares...