America's Most Infamous Murder Mysteries

The coldest cases in America's crime history...

For nearly three decades, Robert Durst, the multi-millionaire real-estate heir, has been suspected of three murders. Though he attempted to disassociate himself with these crimes, he recently wanted to tell his side of the story in the HBO documentary series, The Jinx. This, however, only drew more attention to him and the cold cases he was linked to. With suspicious evidence being brought to light and strange half-confessions on camera, Robert Durst's case is no longer considered cold. However, this is just one of America's infamous murder mysteries. 

01
of 05

Hollywood's Black Dahlia Murder

56717144.jpg
Archive Photo/Getty Images

The Murder: On January 15, 1957, 22-year-old Elizabeth Short's body was found in a vacant lot. The body was cut in half, her mouth was cut at the sides, and she was left in a vulgar position without much blood at the scene.

The Investigation: The media frenzied over the gruesome killing of a young, beautiful girl, who became known as the Black Dahlia. She had a bit of a wayward reputation, which led to over 200 suspects and several false confessions. 

The case remains one of Hollywood's most notorious unsolved crimes. 

02
of 05

Cleveland's Torso Murders

Kingsbury_Run_investigations,_sept_1936.jpg

The Murders: During the 1930's, 12 people were found beheaded and dismembered, usually found with their torso split down the middle. The victims were all drifters and lived in the Shanty towns common during the Depression. 

The Investigation: Due to the nature of the murders, the killer was thought to have a background in anatomy or butchering. Two men were arrested, but one was released due to lack of evidence. The other was recanted his confession  (claiming that it was forced out of him). He was later found dead in prison. Cause of death was officially documented as suicide, but it could have been killed by other inmates. 

Theories persist that there was more than one Torso Killer. It's also believed that Eliot Ness, the Public Safety Director, knew who the killer was but couldn't prove it.  

03
of 05

Nashville's Ade Family Murder

19df677c3fd063807a43b5ecf5057ec5.jpg
Jan Duke

The Murder: In 1897, The Ade family house was found burning with the family inside. It was later discovered that four members of the family and one neighbor were likely killed then set on fire.

The Investigation: Due to rain on the night of the murder, it was difficult to gather evidence. There was only one person in the community who was loosely suspected of a motive, but when his alibi was confirmed, the investigation reached a dead end. 

04
of 05

Northern California's Zodiac Killer

Exam-3.jpg

The Murders: From 1968 to 1969, The Zodiac Killer shot and killed 5 confirmed people, while 2 survived the attack. He seemed to target young couples in secluded areas during their date.

The Investigation: The Zodiac case is interesting because the killer sent several letters to the police and the press to taunt the investigation. In the letters, the killer took credit for the murders and even claimed there were more bodies not yet found. Circumstantial evidence led the investigation to one suspect, but DNA samples concluded this was not, in fact, the Zodiac Killer. 

 

05
of 05

Boulder's JonBenet Ramsey Case

748856.jpg
Karl Gehring/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Murder: On the day after Christmas in 1996, a ransom note was found by the mother, Patsey Ramsey, on the back steps of the family's house. She called 911, and later that day the body of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was discovered by her father, John Ramsey, in the cellar. 

The Investigation: The nature of the murder made the parents the prime suspects, at least according to the District Attorney. The ransom note was not a solid match to the father's handwriting; however Patsey Ramsey was not conclusively ruled out as the possible writer. However, Lou Smit, the lead investigator, in the case believed that evidence pointed to an intruder. 

The investigation went to a grand jury, which looked at forensic evidence, analysis of handwriting, DNA evidence, and hair and fiber evidence. However, when Smit testified, the jury felt there was not enough to indict any family members, and the case is still unsolved today.