Real-life unsolved mysteries that sound unreal. - The Comprehensive Minds

Real-life unsolved mysteries that sound unreal. 

Sometimes, life is stranger than fiction. Even though these weird tales seem anything but true, historical records disagree. Here are a few totally true mysteries that remain unsolved to this day. 


The story of Kaspar Hauser

The mystery of Kaspar Hauser
pic credit: Wikimedia commons

If there's any life story that deserves to be made into a period piece on Netflix, it's the story of Kaspar Hauser, who was found wandering in a town square in Nuremberg on May 26th, 1828. When questioned, the man knew strangely little about his life apart from his name, Kaspar Hauser. 

Later, when curiosity about the stranger kicked into high gear, Hauser would claim that he had been kept in a dark room by people he never saw, which sort of explained why he had no manners to speak of and a preference for bread and water. 

It only gets weirder, because, over the next few years, there were at least three attempts on his life. No one ever saw any attackers, and Hauser was thought to be alone when they happened. In 1833, he was killed in one of these mysterious attacks. 

There are tons of theories about just who he was and what really happened to him, and they range from the possibility that he was a complete fraud to the theory that he had mental and emotional issues stemming from childhood abuse. 

One of the stranger theories is that he was an illegitimate claimant to the throne and someone wanted him out of the way… but we'll likely never really know. 


Man in the Iron Mask

Man in the Iron Mask

You probably know the 19th-century story of the Man in the Iron Mask, but while the book was fiction, the story has a basis in reality. The real man in the iron mask was every bit the mystery as his fictional counterpart. 

Benigne de Saint-Mars was one of the King's men put in charge of governing prisons. As Saint-Mars was transferred from prison to prison, a mysterious, unidentified prisoner stayed with him the whole time — allegedly masked in iron -- or in velvet, as some reports claimed. 

The mystery man died at the Bastilein 1703, and the name "Marchioli" was recorded in the death register. No one really believes the name was real and attempts to figure out who the prisoner was have uncovered more than 50 different possibilities, ranging from a 12-year-old who punched the Dauphin to an illegitimate son of Charles the Second. To this day, no one knows who it may have been -- but we’re willing to bet it wasn’t Leo DiCaprio’s twin. 


The murders of Sture Bergwall

Would you confess to being a serial killer who was responsible for a string of the most horrible murders one could possibly imagine… even if you weren't the killer? According to reports, Sweden's Sture Bergwalldid exactly that. 

Bergwall was committed to a secure psychiatric hospital in 1991 when he took the name Thomas Quick, which he said was a combination of his mother's maiden name and his first victim, who he claimed he killed when he was 14. 

By 2001, he had confessed and been convicted of eight murders. He knew grisly, horrible details, he could describe what had been done to bodies in graphic terms, and he confessed freely. Open and shut case, right? After his eighth conviction, Bergwall stopped cooperating. 

He refused to say anything else until 2013 when he admitted that not only had he never killed anyone but that he had gotten most of his information by coercing it out of law enforcement and journalists. So, why confess to murders you never committed? 

According to Bergwall, he felt that therapists found his actual emotional issues boring, and he wanted to do something to make himself seem like more of an interesting case. "We never believed Thomas Quick’s story. He said he had killed over 30 people over Scandinavia, including Israeli special forces soldiers." 

The Local out of Stockholm reported in 2010that Bergwall had been acquitted of all the murders. But the revelations about his false confessions mean that Sweden now has a whole string of unsolved killings. 


Candy from strangers

Candy from strangers

The first known account of the perils of taking candy from strangers was published in 1876 by Christian Ross, a grieving father. Titled The Father’s Story of Charley Ross, the account begins on July 1st, 1874, with an unknown man in a wagon passing out candy to children in Germantown, Philadelphia. 

Charley and his brother Walter had been coerced into the wagon with candy and fireworks. However, Walter was soon abandoned, and a manhunt for Charley commenced. In 2013, a librarian stumbled across ransom notes for Charley Ross -- the first ransom notes ever sent in America. 

The kidnappers demanded $20,000 for the four-year-old return, the equivalent of about $400,000 today. Over the next five months, Charley's family received 23 letters from the kidnappers and investigated more than 600 children who might have been Charley. Unfortunately, he was never found. 


The Circleville Letter Writer

The Circleville Letter Writer

One of the most recurring horror tropes is the mysterious entity that seems to know everything about you and those you love. But this scary movie plot was a horrifying reality for some time in Circleville, Ohio -- and to this day, no one knows who was behind the ominous letters that began terrorizing a small-town in 1976. 

While we don’t know much about the CirclevilleLetter Writer, what we do know is just enough to make you remember to close your curtains at night. The series of letters started with one that accused bus driver Mary Gillispie of having an affair with the school's superintendent. 

Her husband, Ron, also received letters informing him of the alleged affair. Friends and family were questioned, and the letter's stopped… but whoever was behind the accusations apparently wasn't done yet. After receiving a phone call in August 1977that made him angry, Ron grabbed a gun and left his house in a rage. 


Also Read:  7 Mysteries Of American History

Later that day, he was found dead, after apparently driving into a tree and firing his gun. No one knows what was said on the other end of the phone that led to his death. Mary Gillispie’s brother-in-law, Paul Freshour, was ultimately arrested for the whole mess, but handwriting tests and other evidence proved inconclusive. 

Despite that, Freshour was still found guilty and served a 10-year prison sentence, during which time he received his own cryptic letter. He maintained his innocence until his death in 2012 and still, no one knows the whole truth about where the letters came from or how the writer knew so many small-town secrets. 


The surprise skull

Let's be honest here: museum dioramas can be scary for kids. And in 2017, Pittsburgh’s Tribune-Review reported on a discovery from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History that proves just how disturbing they truly can be. 

The natural history museum has a pretty disturbing exhibit called "Lion Attacking a Dromedary.” The camel's rider has real, human teeth, it was only when they dismantled the display for restoration that they discovered the mannequin also has a real human skull. "It was intended to be an exciting, dramatic, a scene that would cause to stop you in your tracks.” We have so many questions… and so does the Carnegie Museum. 

The diorama is actually surprisingly old and was first displayed in Paris in 1867 before eventually being bought by Andrew Carnegie. Still, no one can figure out where or who the human skull came from. It’s possible that the disturbing work's original creators might have swiped a skull from the Paris Catacombs, but the original owner of the incredibly life-like face remains a mystery. 


The Isdal Woman

A badly burned body of an unidentified female, known only as The Isdal Woman, was recovered from Norway's Isdalen valley on November 29th,1970, and has since been a source of endless mystery for the Scandinavian country. 

The woman’s jewelry and watch had been set out beside her, labels were cut off her clothes, and those who saw the crime scene likened its appearance to something ritualistic. Investigators found the woman’s suitcases at the lost luggage department of a nearby railway station and found money from several different countries stashed inside, as well as prescription eczema cream with the name removed, wigs, and a mysterious coded message. 

Once decoded, the message was revealed to be a list of all the places the woman traveled to before she was killed. Police later discovered she had stayed at a series of hotels under at least seven different aliases. 

Autopsy results revealed that she had been alive when she was set on fire and that she had between 50 and 70 sleeping pills in her system. Rumors suggested that she was a spy of some sort, especially since Russian and Israeli agents were operating in Norway at the time, but there was never any concrete proof. 

The case was closed in 1971, but since DNA and tissue samples were saved, it's possible that authorities might someday identify the Isdal Woman. 


The Lead Masks Case

The Lead Masks Case

There are so many crime dramas on television that it seems like they're all just trying to outdo each other in terms of the craziest body discovery. But they don't have anything on the bodies of Manoel Pereira da Cruz and Miguel Jose Viana, two Brazilian electrical engineers who went out in the most spectacularly bizarre way possible. 

When they were found on August 20th,1966, the men were laying side-by-side, dressed in suits, waterproof coats, and wearing lead masks over their eyes. In a notebook found at the scene, investigators discovered a message that read: “16:30 be at the agreed place, 18:30 swallow capsules after effect protect metals wait for mask signal.” And that’s about it. 

No one has any idea how the two men died, and since no toxicology reports were ever done, the capsules mentioned in the notebook entry remain a mystery, as well. And those metals that needed protecting? No clue there, either. While the case will likely never be solved, theories about the deaths range from foul play to a drug overdose, to -- of course-- aliens. Always aliens.


Bella in the wych elm

Bella in the wych elm

In 1943, four boys were hunting in Worcestershire, England when they made a grisly discovery: the skeletal remains of a woman lodged inside a hollow tree. Her hand and shin bones were buried nearby, but since dental records didn't match anything on file, the case went cold pretty fast. 

However, it became the subject of much speculation once graffiti started popping up around the area that read, “Who put Bella in the wychelm?” There were plenty of theories as to who Bella was, with many claiming the murder had something to do with witchcraft. 

However, in 1953, a mysterious informant made a different claim: that the woman had been killed by a German spy ring that had set up shop in the British Midlands. Far-fetched crazy talk, right? Well, maybe not. 

The theory, supported by declassified documents, says that a German actress and cabaret singer named Clara Bauerlewas the lover of a Gestapo agent named Josef Jakobs. Upon being arrested in 1941, Jakobs told British intelligence that Bauerle was also connected to the Nazi party. Photographs showing Jakobs and Bauerle together proved they knew each other, and the up-and-coming actress disappeared after 1941. 

Was she also recruited, only to meet a grisly end? Jakobs who was the last person to be executed at the Tower of London was definitely real, so is it possible that the mysterious remains are from a Nazi spy? Most certainly. Unfortunately, we’ll likely never know for sure. 

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