By Diana Vilibert
Two children’s bodies are recovered from a train crash… but no one comes forward to identify them. A man is found, alive, with both legs amputated and no clues as to who he is. Some unsolved mysteries remain just that: perpetually unsolved, as the following chilling stories prove.
1. The Somerton Man
“Taman Shud,” read the scrap of paper torn from a rare book of Persian poetry. The words—translated to “it is finished”—didn’t offer Australian investigators much clarity, but that’s about all they had to go on when they came upon a man’s body at a Somerton beach back in 1948. Soon after, in a car parked near the beach, they found the book that the paper was torn from—and inside, a handwritten cipher and a phone number.
The number belonged to Jessica Thompson, a nurse in Somerton who said she’d never seen the mysterious man before (neighbors said otherwise, claiming the man knocked on Thompson’s door the day before he was found). It wasn’t until Thompson passed away that her daughter came forward, claiming her mother was a former Soviet spy who had an affair with the mysterious man. Did Jessica Thompson have anything to do with the man’s death? We’ll likely never know: government officials refused to exhume the body for DNA testing, and his autopsy revealed nothing conclusive.
2. Jerome of Sandy Cove
On September 8, 1863, a frightening discovery was made on the beach of Sandy Cove in Nova Scotia. Alongside a large rock was man with both legs amputated and only partially healed. Beside him was a jug of water, a tin of biscuits, and nothing more. What had happened to the man? We’ll never know: the locals who took him in attempted to speak with him, even bringing in sailors of different nationalities to see if he would speak their language, but he said nothing aside from mumbling something that sounded like “Jerome.”
Many tried to discover Jerome’s real identity, with little luck. Some guessed his amputation was punishment for attempting a mutiny on a ship. Others speculated that he was heir to a fortune, and left on the shore by someone hoping to get his inheritance. But with Jerome not able (or willing) to confirm or deny any theories, none could be proven, and he took his mysterious past with him when he died almost 49 years later.
3. The Charfield Railway Children
In October 1928, a train carrying 60 passengers was making its way from Leeds to Bristol: but it never reached the destination. Thick fog obscured a red signal by the Charfield railway station, and the train crashed into a freight train, igniting gas cylinders and causing a fire. Sixteen passengers died in the crash, including two young children: a young boy and girl burned so badly that they couldn’t be identified.
No one came forward to claim the children, which was strange enough, but after a memorial was built for the victims of the crash, it got even stranger. Locals say that every year on the anniversary of the crash, a mysterious woman wearing a long, black robe visited the children’s graves, leaving behind flowers. She visited every year until the early 1960s. When a member of the media tried to approach her on the anniversary, she ran off … and hasn’t been back since. To this day, there are reports of sightings of the ghosts of the children, standing hand in hand near the site of the deadly crash.
4. The Green Children of Woolpit
In the mid-12th century, in the Woolpit village of Suffolk, two young children allegedly emerged from a pit used for trapping wolves in the area. Their skin had a green tint, they were dressed in strange clothing made from a fabric no one recognized, and they spoke a language no one had ever heard before.
When a local landowner first took the young boy and girl in, they refused to eat anything besides beans still in their pods, and continued to speak only in their mysterious language. The boy didn’t adapt as easily as the girl: he became depressed and ill, eventually passing away. The girl, meanwhile, had picked up enough English to try to explain what happened to them. The tale she told was chilling: she said the boy was her brother, and they came from an underground land full of fellow green people. When they were out herding cattle one day, they fell into a large, pitch-black pit. Eventually, a flash of light appeared and they followed it … only to emerge from a wolf trap in Woolpit. To this day, no one knows for sure who the children were or where they came from.
5. The Toledo Clubber
Toledo, Ohio was a scary place to live in the 1920s. Lumberyard fires. Tenement bombings. And a series of terrifying murders. At the center of it all was one man, nicknamed the Toledo Clubber. Police believed he started with fires and bombings, turning to murder once he realized investigators started looking into his crimes. And so began a series of horrific attacks.
In just one week in November, at least nine women were raped by the unknown man, clubbed with a heavy object, and left for dead. Almost a year later, another two Toledo women were attacked within hours of each other. And shortly after, a Toledo lumberyard and several buildings were set on fire. Finally, just as suddenly as the crimes began, they came to an end. Tips came in about the identity of a man, and a suspect (a convicted grave robber) was even questioned, but nothing led to an arrest. The identity of the Toledo Clubber remains a mystery.
6. Kaspar Hauser
Little was known about Kaspar Hauser when the teenage boy first appeared in Nuremberg, Germany in May 1828. He claimed to have been held captive in a cell, but couldn’t say for how long or who kept him there. He was taken in by a local schoolmaster, and his story got stranger from there. A year and a half after being taken in, he claimed his captor returned and slashed him with a razor. And years later, he arrived home with a serious chest wound and a mysterious note from the stranger that stabbed him.
The note didn’t help anyone track down Hauser’s origins—in fact, many believed both the note and the wound came from Hauser himself—and he died three days later, his life remaining a mystery.
This article was first published on The Lineup.
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