Unsolved murders can be frustrating—not only to those directly involved, but to the world at large. We like to think the world works under some form of justice and retributive control. Even if we don’t ascribe to it in a spiritual or religious way, humans assume a sort of karmic “reap what you sow” mentality, and unsolved murders work directly against this understanding. How could someone commit an act so vile, so heinous as to take another person’s life, without suffering the consequences of their actions?
Unsolved murders can also be fascinating. The fear of the unknown and the need to solve the mystery and bring upon that justice often thrills even the outsider that holds no real connection to the case. It’s why so many true crime stories dominate the airwaves. People like JonBenét Ramsey, the Black Dahlia, and Jack the Ripper are household names, but thousands of murders go unsolved each year.
Here are 5 lesser known, unsolved murder cases that still haunt us:
Amber Hagerman and her brother Ricky were riding bikes in their neighborhood in Arlington, Texas on January 13, 1996. After venturing into an abandoned parking lot, Ricky left Amber to return home for fear of breaking their mother’s rules of riding too far away. When Amber didn’t return with Ricky, Amber’s parents and grandparents left in search of her. Finding a police officer at the scene, they were told a man had called the cops when he heard a young girl screaming and saw a man carrying a young girl to his truck. Four days later, after an extensive search, Amber’s body was found stabbed to death near a drainage ditch. Despite the horror of the case, it led to the development of the AMBER Alert system.
Jack the Stripper
We’ve all heard of Jack the Ripper, but few remember the murder spree of Jack the Stripper. The nickname arose because of the similarities between the cases—murdering prostitutes in London—though Jack the Stripper's spree came nearly a century later.
The unknown serial killer murdered 6-8 women from 1964 to 1965. Evidence of flecks of paint from a motor-car manufactory linked the murders and led to several suspects, but none were ever charged. The most likely suspect, a security guard working for a factory where the paint was traced, committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning shortly after, leaving a note for his wife that read: “I can’t stick it any longer…. To save you and the police looking for me I’ll be in the garage.”
Robert Edward Crane was an American actor best known for his role as Colonel Robert E. Hogan in the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. In June of 1978, after failing to show up for a lunch date with co-star Victoria Ann Berry, she discovered his body in his apartment, bludgeoned to death with an electrical cord tied around his neck.
Although his friend John Carpenter was suspected and blood matching Crane’s blood type had been found in his rental car, DNA testing was not yet available and the evidence was circumstantial, causing the Maricopa County Attorney to decline to press charges. The case was reopened 1992, and Carpenter charged and tried, however, the new DNA testing came back inconclusive and no new evidence was strong enough to convict. Carpenter was found not guilty and continued to profess his innocence until his death.
Peter Ivers was a beloved American musician and host of the television program, New Wave Theatre. Similar to Bob Crane, Ivers was found bludgeoned to death in his bed in his Los Angeles apartment. Upon his death, hundreds of friends flocked to his apartment to pay their respects, compromising much of the evidence of the murder scene. Although the killer was never caught, a 2008 book titled In Heaven Everything is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of the New Wave Theatre by Josh Frank and Charlie Buckhotlz shed new light on the case, and the LAPD reopened their investigation.
Suzanne Jovin was a 21-year-old German-born American student at Yale University when she was brutally stabbed to death 17 times in the back of her head and neck. After borrowing a campus station wagon to drive a volunteer home from a pizza-making party she had organized, Jovin returned the keys to the police communications center. About 30 minutes after, a passerby dialed 911 to report a woman bleeding on the corner of Edgehill Rd. and East Rock Rd., about 2 miles off campus. Authorities found her face down on the side of the road, her legs stretched into the street. Although a brown van was spotted adjacent to where Jovin was last seen and DNA was found under her fingernails, no charges were ever filed and no suspect pursued.