True Crime Inspiration: Four Terrifying Unsolved Murders

canstockphoto16043224Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction. That’s certainly the case with these four true, unsolved mysteries. These investigations spooked me, and — in all respect to the victims — would make great fiction.

The February 9 Killer

On February 9, 2008, Damaiana Castillo was assaulted and strangled while alone in her Salt Lake City apartment. There was no sign of forced entry. No items were stolen. No witnesses. The only lead was this murder seemed eerily similar to another one that occurred exactly two years to the date, on February 9, 2006. Sonia Mejia was pregnant when she was attacked and strangled in her apartment about a mile away from Castillo’s place.

At first, police took the repeated circumstances to be a grisly coincidence. However, DNA analysis of evidence collected at both scenes proved that the murders were committed by the same man, whom the media promptly dubbed the “February 9 Killer.”

While police have a DNA profile, they don’t have a match for that profile—meaning that unless the perpetrator eventually surrenders a DNA sample for some unrelated crime, he may never be caught.

The Boy in the Box

“The Boy in the Box” refers to a young boy whose body was found in a cardboard box in the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 25, 1957. The boy (who was approximately four to six years old at the time of his murder) had been wrapped in a plaid blanket, placed in the box, and abandoned.

The boy’s face was posted all over the news and in the media, and a rumor circulated that he was a runaway from a nearby foster home. However, this was later ruled out after police interviewed workers at the home. A break seemed to surface when a teenager came forward saying that the child was her “adoptive brother.” She said that her father had purchased the boy from a poor family, and that the father was “extremely abusive.” However, the teenager had a history of mental illness and couldn’t be taken seriously.

While no progress has been made in identifying the boy or his killer, mitochondrial DNA has been extracted from the boy’s teeth in an attempt to locate his identity.

The Reverend’s Affair

On September 17, 1922 the bodies of Reverend Edward Wheeler Hall (41) and Eleanor Mills (34) were found in an apple orchard outside New Brunswick, New Jersey. The Reverend had been shot once in the head, but Eleanor was shot three times and her throat slashed. Both victims were covered with explicit love letters they had written to each other.

Clearly, someone had discovered – and did not approve of — the illicit affair between the two lovers. The crime scene, however, was improperly handled. No autopsies were performed on the bodies. And the police seemed to take little interest in solving the murder.

Four years after the murders occurred, a reporter found one of the cards collected at the crime scene and had it tested for fingerprints. The prints matched those of the Reverend’s brother-in-law. As a result of this finding, the case was reopened and the brother-in-law along with the Reverend’s wife were arrested and brought to trial. Unfortunately, they were acquitted of the charges against them and no one has ever been held accountable for the murders,

The Lake Bodom Murders

On June 5, 1960 four teenagers went camping on the shores of Lake Bodom when, sometime between four and six am, an unknown suspect attacked them. The four were attacked with a knife as well as a blunt object. Only one of the four teens survived the bloody attack. Nils Wilhem Gustafsson suffered a concussion, a fractured jaw and many bruises.

There were several suspects in the multiple homicide. A runaway teen found in the area was a prime suspect, but he had a confirmed alibi. There was also a ex-convict working in the area who had a history of violent crimes. His wife gave him an albi for that night, but it was later discovered that she was lying to protect him. And, ultimately, Gustafsson, the sole survivor of the attack, became the police focus in the investigation. He was arrested and charged with the murders, but the district court ultimately found him not guilty. Today, the case remains unsolved.

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