I love a good mystery, and when it comes to real life mysteries I say put my name on the holds list for that book! Of course, I love when a mystery can be summed up and solved in 250 pages, but what about those unsolved mysteries? Well, I may love them even more. There’s always more to read, more theories to explore, and modern day sleuths that keep these cases alive. If you’re like me and love a good mystery, here are three real life mysteries with a twist. These mysteries involve famous people who have never been identified!
D.B. Cooper – Let’s start close to home on this one. Who was D.B. Cooper? A man flying under the alias of Dan Cooper who hijacked a flight from Portland to Seattle in 1971 then demanded $200,000 in ransom and parachutes. Once his demands were met, D.B. Cooper released the plane’s passengers and had the pilots start flying to Mexico City. Somewhere between Seattle and the California/Oregon border, D.B. Cooper disappeared from the plane, presumably by jumping out the door that was opened mid-flight. Want to know more? Check out these books.
- The Secret History of D.B. Cooper, by Brian Churilla
- Mysteries and Legends of Oregon: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained, by James Yuskavitch
Jack the Ripper – If you haven’t heard of Jack the Ripper, then put down your coffee. This one is gruesome. Jack the Ripper is the name given to a London serial killer who was active from 1888-1891 in the Whitechapel area. Jack the Ripper wasn’t too kind to his victims and from the evidence left behind, some thought Jack the Ripper had surgical knowledge. I’ll let you read more on the nature of the murders if you so choose. Over the years, Jack the Ripper has been speculated to be responsible for 11 murders, but without a suspect to interview one can only make an educated guess. Many names have been proposed as to who Jack the Ripper was, including the serial killer H.H. Holmes who claimed victims at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and Francis Tumblety, a man posing as a Indian Herb doctor. But who am I to give you theories? You can read about them yourself.
- The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Companion, by Stewart Evans and Keith Skinner
- Jack the Ripper: First American Serial Killer, by Stewart Evans
- Jack the Ripper: A Journal of the Whitechapel Murders 1888-1889, by Rick Geary
And for a lighter, tribute-like mystery, how about the Poe Toaster? The Poe Toaster is a name given to the person, or series of persons, who dressed in black and secretly delivered three roses and a half bottle of Martell congnac to Edgar Allan Poe’s grave each year on the famous writer’s birthday. These gifts continued for decades until the last known visit in 2009. Who was the Poe Toaster? Since I have never spotted him myself, I can’t give you any clues, but maybe Laura Lippman can. Then again, maybe she’s unwilling to unmask the Poe Toaster in any way, like a true Baltimorean. If you’re interested in reading Laura Lippman’s essay recounting her glimpse of the Poe Toaster, check out In the Shadow of the Master edited by Michael Connelly. Her essay, entitled In a Strange City : Baltimore and the Poe Toaster, is just one of many excellent writings in this book.
Your partner in true life mystery reading,