Above: An empty frame remains where The Storm on the Sea of Galilee was once displayed in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts
Unsolved crimes fascinate the public. While crimes committed before DNA testing and other technologies are understandably harder to solve, there are still ones that baffle police and experts even with modern tools at their disposal. Here are five of history’s most famous unsolved crimes:
1. Jack the Ripper
In 1888, five prostitutes were brutally murdered in Whitechapel, London. Police received letters from the murderer, calling himself “Jack the Ripper,” but were unable to pin down his identity. Eventually, the murders stopped, but speculation continues to this day. Some possible suspects include a mentally-unstable lawyer whose body was found in the river after the last murder and a barber who killed three of his wives.
2. The Gardner Museum art theft
In 1990, two men disguised themselves as policeman and were let into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Art Museum in Massachusetts. As soon as they were through the door, the robbers attacked the guards and handcuffed them. The men left off with $300 million in art, including paintings by Rembrandt and Manet. The thieves and art have never been found. The museum still has a $5 million reward for any information.
3. D.B. Cooper
In 1971, a man whose ticket read “Dan Cooper” told a flight attendant he had a bomb and that he was hijacking the plane. Upon Cooper’s orders, they started to fly to Mexico, but Cooper jumped from the plane with $200,000 and one parachute. He was never heard from again. The FBI only recently closed the case, having no leads as to Cooper’s real identity or his fate.
Elizabeth Short arrest photo from 1943 for underage drinking
4. The Black Dahlia
In 1947, a young woman named Elizabeth Short was found cut in half, drained of blood, and wearing a ghoulish smile created by 3-inch cuts on the corners of her mouth. Miss Short was a familiar sight at jazz clubs and had a lot of male friends, so the police were unable to figure out who she had been with right before her death. Her murder remains unsolved.
5. JonBenet Ramsey
In 1996, Patsy Ramsey received a ransom note claiming that her daughter JonBenet had been kidnapped. 8 hours later, John Ramsey found the 6-year murdered in the basement. Immediate suspicion was placed on JonBenet’s parents and her 9-year old brother, but no one was charged. In 2006, an arrest was finally made, but a DNA test revealed he had not even been at the crime scene. Further tests confirmed that JonBenet’s parents were not responsible for her death, but the true identity of the murderer remains a mystery.