Famous Unsolved Mysteries That Haunt History

By: Kim Seidler | Last updated: Nov 02, 2023

It’s time to wander down some dark, mysterious corridors towards the unknown and unsolved. Everyone loves a good mystery. They captivate the imagination and open the mind and conversation. Join us on an intriguing expedition to the corners of the globe to delve into some of the world’s most famous unsolved mysteries.

These mysteries are more than mere enigmatic stories—they are riddles and puzzles, begging for someone to crack the code. So, grab your detective hat, magnifying glass, and notebook, and as the famous Sherlock Holmes exclaimed with a wink and a twinkle of excitement in his eye,” The game is afoot! Let’s go!”

The Peculiar Nazca Lines Of Peru

The arid plains of Peru, where, from a birds-eye view, one can see a series of enormous geoglyphs etched into the desert floor is a mystery in itself. Spanning a 20-square-mile stretch, these baffling and beautiful desert designs of various creatures are one of the most attractive ancient mysteries in the world. What’s so mysterious about these you ask? How did the ancient peoples of Peru (if indeed it were them) craft these astounding and intricate designs on such a grand scale over 2000 years ago without aerial view technology?


Source: Wikimedia Commons / www.atlasobscura.com / Diego Delso, CC BY-SA

With some motifs measuring up to 1,200 feet long, theories abound on how exactly these pre-Inca people carved such precise imagery. Allegedly, these incredible etchings were, in fact, used for astronomical tools and communication. However, this has never been proven, and it still remains one of archaeology’s most perplexing puzzles. Researchers have recently confirmed that some of the geoglyphs of birds were initially incorrectly identified as regional species, and the drawings actually represent exotic birds that lived far away from the site itself.

The Mysterious Winchester Mansion

Would you love to visit a haunted mansion? Well, you can in San Jose, California, if you dare to visit Sarah Winchester’s old and creepy residence. The widower of William Winchester (the son of the infamous founder of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company) built the 161-room bizarre mansion to confuse the grumpy ghosts she believed were haunting her. The spooky, sprawling estates’ architectural oddities have confused people (not just ghosts) for centuries. Winding staircases that ascend several floors end abruptly—reaching nowhere. Doorways that only open to walls and secret passages that lead you in circles, and corners will meet you with dead ends and a chill to the spine.


Source: winchestermysteryhouse.com

Sarah consulted a medium to channel in her dearly beloved and departed husband, William, in the hope that he would advise her what to do with her newly inherited fortune. Apparently, dear William was most helpful and suggested she leave Connecticut, head west to California, and build a stately home for the spirits of those who died at the point of Winchester rifles. However, many suggest that perhaps poor Sarah was just plain mad and built the maze-like house on a haphazard whim. People claim to have heard and seen ghostly apparitions from the windows late at night.

The Cursed Tales of Tutankhamun Tombs

If you venture into Egypt you may hear of the tomb of Tutankhamun. The famous boy pharaoh died in 1323 BC, and while thieves plundered most pharaoh’s tombs, Tutankhamun’s was the first to be found intact by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. However, Carter may have uncovered more than he expected—a deathly decree from the dead known as the “Curse of the Pharaohs.” The young pharaoh was accompanied to the afterlife by a treasure trove of artifacts, including elaborate paintings and cryptic scrolls.


Source: WikiMedia Commons / EditorfromMars / CC BY-SA 4.0

Some say these mysterious inscriptions spoke the words of a deadly curse, “the direst punishment follows any intruder into a sealed tomb.” Carter died a miserable death in 1939 after dismissing the curse as ‘Tommy rot,’ adding fuel to the bubbling curse theory. While the curse has never been proven, several mysterious deaths followed the tomb’s unveiling. The Earl of Carnarvon, Carter’s financier of the project, died shortly after its discovery. Carter’s secretary, Richard Bethell, also died supposedly smothered in his bed in 1929, and his father committed suicide. Arthur Mace, part of the excavation team, passed from a suspicion of arsenic poisoning in 1928.

Vandals and Vengeful Spirits of Sleepy Hollow

Now, we can find some peace in the quaint historic village of Sleep Hollow. If serenity is what you are after, spookiness is what you may find instead. Nestled aside the Hudson River, this historic town is home to many ghost stories and terrifying tales; however, within this town also resides the mystery of the cemetery vandals.


Source: ActionKid / Youtube

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, famously known as the resting place of prominent figures such as Washington Irvin, has been plagued by mysterious vandalism. The community has been baffled and appalled by defaced graves marked with cryptic symbols and words, statues destroyed, and strange footprints found where no soul should enter. Despite extensive surveillance and increased security, the vandals were never found, vanishing without a trace—leaving only a trail of eerie mystery behind.

The Hunting Headless Horseman

Before we leave the sweet and spooky town of Sleepy Hollow, we must mention the town’s most famous resident, the Headless Horseman. Washington Irvin may have created this mythical man for his classic short story “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow’, but he appears to roam relatively freely and frequently around the town.

Source: www.wgpfoundation.org / William G. Pomeroy Fountation

Many have cited seeing an eerie figure hunting for his lost head, particularly on Halloween night. Horses whining, thumping sounds of rolling heads, a man’s screams piercing the night—these are just some fun things you may encounter walking the streets of Sleepy Hollow on All Hallow’s Eve. Is the horseman still hunting his head, or are these just wild visions conjured in the heads of die-hard ghost story fans?


The Circulating Secrets of the Circleville Letters

1970 Ohio, holds mysteries, it is where hundreds of residents received sinister letters threatening to reveal their deepest and darkest secrets and more…”I’m watching you; I know you have children,” read Mart Gillispie’s letter in 1977. You may feel sorry for poor Mary, but our seemingly innocent victim was having an affair with the local bus driver, Gordon Massie. Not long after Mary’s menacing mail, her husband, Ron, received his own, “Mr. Gillispie, your wife is seeing Gordon Massie; you should catch them both and kill them.” Read the letter.

Source: crimejunkiepodcast.com / Circleville, Ohio

Sadly for Ron, after a mysterious phone call and declaring that he would confront the Circleville letter writer, he left in his truck, slid off the road, and slammed into a tree. Ron died at the scene. The letters continued and grew more intense. Ron’s brother-in-law, Paul Freshour, was charged as the evil letter writer behind the town’s misery. Paul never admitted to the crime, and even though he was safely behind bars, hundreds of letters kept arriving in mailboxes. Freshour was even lucky enough to receive an anonymous letter of his own while in prison. Decades later, no one knows who composed the Circleville letters. The local sheriff’s office marked this an unsolved case.


Disturbing Deaths At Dyatlov Pass

It’s time to put on your thermals, mountain gear, and snowshoes as we hit the slopes of the treacherous terrain of the Ural Mountains in Russia. On February 1st, 1959, nine hikers mysteriously died in the depths of the night. The mountaineers made camp on a slope, had dinner, snuggled into their sleeping bags—and met a tragic, unexplained end.

Source: midjourney

Twenty-five days later, a search party discovered a gruesome sight. The hiker’s abandoned tent was found ripped to shreds from the inside, and footprints in jumbled directions left by the victims were scattered around the site, indicating a mad rush from something… or someone?! Some prints showed a single shoe or barefoot, but they all eventually led to the forest’s edge, where two bodies lay dressed only in underwear. Over a few months, the remaining bodies surfaced—as did the full extent of this horrific incident. Some victims had blunt force trauma and third-degree burns, while another was missing his tongue! Although there are many theories such as Yetis, aliens, and the KGB this mystery remains unsolved. Another possible theory was death by “infrasound hum” or Vibroacoustic disease. I guess we will never know.


The Ghostly Voyage of The Mary Celeste

From the slopes to the seas of the Atlantic, we travel back to 1872, when the British-American Ship the Mary Celeste was discovered abandoned and adrift. The ship was in perfect condition, with its cargo fully intact, except for a missing lifeboat—and the whispers of spirits. Where was the crew? Where did they go? Evidence showed that they boarded the lifeboat calmly and orderly, but not a single crew member was ever found to shed some light on this bizarre boating mystery.

Source: Saltwire

The Mary Celeste set sail in 1872 from New York to Genoa, Italy. It was laden with luxurious goods and seven crew members, including Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife, and his two-year-old daughter. The Captain’s last daily log entry was strangely normal, with nothing untoward revealed. It was as if they had vanished into thin air. The crew’s mysterious disappearance has been linked to pirates, giant octopuses, and sea monsters. But was this part of some divine plan that Captain Briggs and his crew devised to disappear with new identities and start a life somewhere else, never to be found?


The Mysterious Language of the Voynich Manuscript

In the city of ancient Rome is our next destination, where a 600-year-old mystery still stumps scholars today. In 1912, a 240-page 15th-century manuscript of a cryptic medieval codex written in an indecipherable language fell into the hands of Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish book dealer. The mysterious manuscript contained intricate and elaborate illustrations of alien plants, strange objects and equations, naked women, and zodiac symbols. Scholars, physicists, and cryptographers have tried to decipher its meanings and origins, and still to this day, it remains unsolved.

Source: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University

Code breakers from World War I and II were enlisted to crack the Voynich Code, but alas, it evaded them also. So, was it just some fictitious fantasy work but an artistic dreamer? Is it a cryptic code manual or language from another world, or an encyclopedia of unknown lands travelled by the author? No one knows, but they do know that the language doesn’t fit any known linguistic paradigm. So, the who, what, and why remains unanswered.


The Vanishing Village of Hoer Verde

Now we land in the jungles of Brazil at the town of Hoer Verde. It is not uncommon for people to go missing, but when an entire village of 600 people does, that’s a little concerning. Leaving their food, clothes, and belongings behind, the residents seemed—to just disappear.

Source: r/controlgame / Reddit

On February 5th, 1923, a neighboring village was awaiting a daily shipment from the town of Hoer Verde—it never arrived. They went to investigate, expecting to be greeted with the usual friendly warmth and hospitality; instead, they found an empty, deserted ghost town. Doors were open, and tables were still set as if they had left in a hurry. On the ground outside the school was a pistol lying in the dirt, still smelling of a recent fire. On the board, eerily etched in chalk, were the words. “There is no salvation.” No one ever discovered their fate. This mystery is veiled in many theories, such as being swallowed by the black hole, alien abductions, and soldiers forcing them to evacuate. Some say the town never existed, and it is merely a legend passed along the jungle vines…


The Tamam Shud Case

We find our next mystery on the eastern shores of Australia, but not many clues. On December 1st, 1948, an unidentified body known as “The Somerton Man” was found dead on an Aussie beach, with a scrap of paper in his pocket bearing the words “Tamam Shud.” This phrase means “ended” in Persian and was torn from a book of poetry found in a car parked nearby. A code was written on the back cover, which remains unsolved, as does this mystery.

Source: Public Domain / Australian Police File

A month after the gruesome find, a suitcase was found in the cloakroom at the Adelaide Railway Station. It was checked on the day before the body was discovered and contained unlabeled clothes and waxed thread not sold in Australia. Despite an extensive investigation, they never found The Somerton Man’s killer.


The Green-Skinned Children of Woolpit.

We venture to England, where the country is renowned for its dazzling greenery. However, it was the green skin of two children in the 12th-century village of Woolpit that has held an enduring fascination for the world. According to the legend, two children (a boy and a girl) suddenly appeared in a nearby field, wearing strange clothes and speaking an unknown language to accompany their green-tinged skin.

Source: Rod Bacon / CC BY-SA 2.0 / WikiMedia Commons

Over time, the children settled into their new surroundings and learned English. They spoke of their home, “St Martin’s Land”—a place of eternal darkness, where everything was green. The boy eventually died from illness, and the girl married a villager. No real evidence existed for these children, but many swear it to be true. If so, were these little ones from some other parallel universe, or were they migrant orphans—tinged green from malnutrition?


The Mysterious Last Flight of Amelia Earhart

As we fly from one place to another, we hover over the Pacific Ocean, where the iconic aviator disappeared in 1937 while attempting to fly solo around the world. What was meant to be her ultimate achievement was her demise. But how? Amelia and navigator Fred Noonan vanished near Howland Island. They never found their bodies and were declared officially dead in 1939.

Source: nationalgeographic / SZ PHOTO, BRIDGEMAN, ACI

Theories have flown around for years about this famous mystery, most of which have sunk like her plane. Did she crash and drown only to be slowly consumed by crabs or sharks? Did she fake her death, take the name Irene Craigmile, and move to New Jersey to marry her secret love, Guy Bolam?


Who Was Jack the Ripper?

We slip back into the streets of Victorian London to the time of the most gruesome crimes that shocked the world. Jack The Ripper still holds as much fascination today as his creepy acts did back in 1888. This menacing man terrorized the streets of Whitechapel, leaving a deathly trial of unsolved murder mysteries and some craftily captivating letters to the press. The letters tauntingly described the crimes and were signed by yours truly. However, the creepy correspondence was never proven to be written by the villain himself.

Source: midjourney

Known for famously killing at least five women from the “night working” district, the true identity of this slashing sinter fellow has never been revealed. Of course, with all great mysteries—theories are aplenty. Was Jack The Ripper a delusional doctor? A mad midwife? Queen Victoria’s grandson? Or a German sailor named Carl Feigenbaum, who loved visiting the odd brothel?


The Nauseating Noises of Havana

We journey from the grim streets of old London to more modern times in Havana, where a mysterious illness surfaced in 2016.  By the end of 2018, approx. 26 Americans and 13 Canadians suffered from unexplained symptoms such as nosebleeds, blurred vision, headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

Source: midjourney

While the symptoms themselves were not unusual, the cause was. The victims said they all heard weird noises in their homes or hotel rooms before feeling unwell. Some claimed it was like a beam pointed at them or a high-pitched squeal, while others spoke of sounds like marbles rolling around the floor. And the answer is still rolling around out there, unexplained. One scientist studied a recording of one of the sounds and believed it to be the mating song of crickets. But perhaps it wasn’t the loud cries of love-struck insects, and it was some secret new weapon or strange feedback from ultrasonic waves?


The Bizzare Flight of MH370

Back in the air on another flight, we go! Malaysian Airlines Flight MH360 vanished into thin air and from the radar screens on March 8th, 2014, while flying from Malaysia to China. All 239 passengers and crew members were never found, despite one of the most significant search investigations in aviation history. This sad mystery has also sparked some of the most conspiracy theories in modern times.

Source: Laurent ERRERA, Soerfm / WikiMedia Commons

As with all supposed theories, they can get pretty wild. From crew suicide and high jackings to meteor strikes and our beloved aliens abducting once again.


Tales From Loch Ness

Let’s dive into the cold waters of Scotland, where rumors of a giant creature have been swimming around for years. The legend of dear “Nessie” dates back to the 6th century, with many a gallant soldier claiming to fight the unruly beast, though no evidence has ever surfaced.

Source: midjourney

Despite numerous scientific investigations, Nessie’s existence is still waiting to be verified. However, some claim to have found carcasses and the remains of Nessie’s ferocious appetite scattered around the shores of Loch Ness.


The Curious Case of The Lost Colony Of Roanoke

To the coast of North Carolina, is our next stop! Legend has it that in 1587, an entire British colony community vanished, leaving a single spooky clue carved into a post—“Croatoan,” the name of the local native British-allied tribe. It was thought the nearby Powhatans massacred them, but there was no evidence to support this theory.

Source: Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection / William Ludwell Sheppard, Engraving by William James Linton / WikiMedia Commons

Some say the colonists disappeared to the other islands to hide as they didn’t like the colony’s rules. Others say witch doctors cursed the colony. Or what is simply another case of “did this colony ever exist?”


The Reincarnation of the Pollack Sisters

England beckons us again, as does the question of reincarnation, with a case so mysterious that even scientists were left dumbfounded. In 1957, two sisters, Joanna Pollock, 11, and Jacqueline Pollock, 6, tragically died in a car accident. A year later, the family welcomed twin sisters. Even though this was a happy event after such a tragedy, it came with a spooky twist.

Source: Gillian and Jennifer Pollock / Reddit

Once the twins could speak, they began identifying and asking for toys that belonged to their dead siblings and became panic-stricken near cars and knew landmarks familiar to their sisters. Scientists tried for years to discover how and why the twins did these strange acts. This may not seem unusual, but they were too young to know about their sisters or their fate. Was it reincarnation, or was it just some innate familial sense?


The Chilling Case of the Zodiac Killer

Time to travel to the chill vibe of the ’60s and ’70s in California, except this is more of a spine-chilling journey. The Sunshine State was rocked by a series of unsolved murders that terrorized the public. The mysterious murderer teased law enforcement and the media with cryptic coded letters. And just like their correspondence, their identity has remained a mystery.

Source: San Francisco Police Department

This case has inspired amateur sleuths and code breakers for decades, with many saying that it was perhaps more than one person who was writing this spine-chilling story, and it wasn’t one murderer they were looking for, but a few….


The Bizarre Phenomenon of the Bermuda Triangle

North Atlantic Ocean, here we come! Oceans and seas hold great mysteries, as we have seen, but none have the reputation of the infamous Bermuda Triangle—a place where ships, people, and aircraft disappear without a trace. The central peak formed by Miami, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico is a terrifying triangle that has scared sailors and pilots for decades.

Source: The Bermuda Triangle into Cursed Waters Documentary / The History Channel

While scientists have struggled to find a genuine explanation for these mysterious disappearances, they have come up with suggestions of magnetic pulls and methane hydrate eruptions. But others insist it is the work of extraterrestrials that created an invisible vortex to capture earthly treasures for research!


Putting the “Wow” in Wonder

Let’s head halls of the University of Ohio. In 1977, the university’s Big Ear telescope detected a strange signal from outer space. The spooky sound lasted 72 seconds and was so astounding that astronomer Jerry R. Ehman simply wrote “Wow” on the data printout. Therefore, the wonderous noise was called the “Wow” sound. They were never able to find out how the “Wow” happened or what caused it. And no similar sound has ever been detected since.

Source: midjourney

This sound has been one of the most substantial signs of extraterrestrial intelligence to date. However, was it just a reverberating and resounding sound from somewhere on Earth? Or was it someone on Earth communicating with aliens?


The Sinister Smiley Face Case

We find ourselves now jumping forward to the 1990s Boston. The 1990s were a time when graffiti art was on trend, and this creative art brightened up the city streets, but this murderous mystery is nothing to smile about. Don’t get confused by the “Smiley Face Killer” this was a different case entirely.

Source: midjourney

A series of deaths occurred where young men drowned, often with smiley-faced graffiti found nearby. The reason for the young men’s deaths or the creepy graffiti grins was never revealed. Investigators eventually dismissed the theory that the smiley faces were messages left by the murderer. But then why was there one found nearby in every case?


Jars of Mystery

Back to Brazil, but this time, we dive deep into the waters of Guanabara Bay, where treasure hunter Robert Marx unearthed a rather unusual site in 1982. In an area spanning the size of three tennis courts, he discovered an enormous trove of 200 Roman jars. What’s the mystery? Well, the first Europeans didn’t land in Brazil till 1500, and the jars were dated far older than this.

Source: TravelScape / Freepik

According to Brazil’s official historical records, the Portuguese were the first to arrive in Brazil. But these jars of mystery may say otherwise. Were the Romans actually the first, or was it some wayward traveling ship that lost its way on a stormy voyage? Only the sea knows…


Area 51, Infamous Indeed

We find ourselves in the desert of southern Nevada now, at the infamous Area 51. The US Military base is shrouded in secrecy and wild stories of aliens and extraterrestrial technology. While we didn’t know of its existence till 2013, the base has been a hub of excitement since the 1950s. So why was this secret hideaway kept under lock, keys, and bolts? And why do they still keep its activities a mystery to the public?

Source: Paul Boger / KUNR Public Radio

Many believe that this base is a massive morgue for crashed aliens, where they conduct experiments on the bodies. The evidence does suggest that it’s used for some type of experimentation, mainly for developing and testing aircraft and weapons. However, could these aircraft be for time travel or teleportation? Is it a meeting place for the outer space residents to converse with us earthlings?


The Unsolved Story of the Sodder Children

Let’s linger a while longer in the States with the unsolved mystery of the Sodder Children. On Christmas Eve in 1945, in West Virginia, the Sodder home burnt to ruins. Most of the family was lucky to escape alive, except five of their ten children—or so they thought. There was no physical evidence of their remains ever found. It was as if they vanished like the last wisps of smoke from a fire.

Source: Brian Wolly / www.smithsonianmag.com

Strange occurrences that evening add fuel to this fire. The father claimed he tried to save the children with his coal truck—which was inoperable. The phone lines were cut, and the apparent five victims were seen peering out of a car as the house burned. The children were said to be accompanied by two men and two women of Italian origin. Some theorize that it was the mafia’s doing, and others, it may have been closer to home. Or could it have been staged for some strange purpose that we will never know?


The Disappearing Act of Louis Le Prince

France is our next stop, and we are taking the train. In 1890, a pioneering filmmaker, Louis Le Prince, disappeared on a train in Paris. In his possession were the world’s earliest motion picture films. He and the coveted films were never found. So, what happened to the Father of Photography?


This story undoubtedly resembles something from an intriguing movie script, but the real-life story remains a mystery. Was it assignation? Or a decree ordered by his family due to financial woes? Or was it suicide or something more sinister?


The Deathly Dancing Plague of 1518

We remain in France for the end of our mysterious adventure. Dancing to death may sound crazy, but it was a grim reality for some groovers in Strasbourg (now in France) in 1518. A mass case of dancing mania swept through the city, where the inflicted had no choice but to dance for days. Some 50-400 people were affected by this bizarre “illness,” with many dying from heart attacks and strokes. Who could choreograph such an epidemic?

Source: midjourney

The cause was never known, but the most common theory for the dance craze of the century was demonic possession and ergot poisoning. But were they simply just keen dancers who didn’t know when to stop?


Mysteries in Our Midst

That concludes our eerie unsolved expedition. The world’s mysteries will continue to mystify and manifest the creation of good, bad, fun, and fanciful stories. They will always be a part of life and history.

Source: midjourney

That is their nature. While we may never get the answers we crave, these mysteries teach us to keep exploring and questioning, and they make for one hell of a tale to tell at a dinner party or around the campfire on a dark and mysterious night.

Happy Sleuthing!