When it comes to a mystery, having photographic evidence is usually pretty helpful in solving the mystery. But then there are a few mysteries that revolve around pictures themselves, and these are the most mysterious of those unsolved pictures.
10. Grandpa’s Ghost
When Denise Russell’s grandmother was 94-years-old, her mind was starting to deteriorate, and she needed to be placed in a nursing home. The first week in the home was tough for the whole family, so at the end of the week, which was August 17, 1998, the family went out for a picnic. That is where Denise’s sister snapped the picture above. They had the picture developed and did not pay much attention to it over the next few years.
In April of 2000, Denise’s grandmother passed away and on Christmas, Denise’s sister started looking through some loose photographs and came across the picture. That’s when she noticed there was a man standing behind her grandmother. When Denise arrived for Christmas day celebrations, her sister asked her who did the man standing behind their grandmother look like. Denise realized it looked just like her grandfather, who died in August of 1984. Denise’s family believe that her grandmother’s deceased husband was there watching over her in a difficult time in her life.
Another surprise in the picture that makes it a bit spookier is that there is another face in the photo. If you look above the red car in the bushes, you’ll see a white face with a black hood over it.
9. The Hook Island Monster
Hook Island is off the coast of Queensland, Australia, and Robert Le Serrec, his family, and a friend, Henk de Jong, stayed there for three months in late 1964. On December 12, 1964, the Le Serrecs and De Jong were crossing Stonehaven Bay on the island when Le Serrec’s wife noticed something odd in the water: it was a long, tadpole-like creature. They took a number of photos, including the one above and believed that it was at least 30 feet long. Le Serrec and de Jong decided to venture into the water and record it on film. When they entered the water, the monster was even bigger than they thought. But as they started recording, the creature opened its mouth and swam away. When they checked the film, they had no footage of the creature, but the pictures clearly show it. The pictures were published in a magazine and eventually spread across the world, making it one of the most famous and unexplained pictures of a cryptid.
There are a number of possible explanations as to what the creature really is. One is that it was just a plastic bag that had been used by the American Navy for experiments in towing fuel. Or, it could be a deflated skyhook balloon covered in weeds. Finally, it could be a roll of cloth that was tied together and placed in the bottom of the lagoon.
8. John Doe 29
During an investigation, the FBI came across a series of disturbing photos of a young girl being abused by an unidentified man. The only picture in the series that was normal, and safe for publication, featured the man above holding the girl. The FBI released the picture of the man, identified as John Doe 29, in the hopes that someone will recognize him. They are not accusing the man of abusing her, but do believe that he may have information about the girl, who could still be very much in danger.
The man has tanned skin and shoulder length dark hair. He appears to be between the ages of 30 and 45. He is also wearing a large silver ring on his left ring finger. The man, who is the abuser in the other pictures, is wearing a similar ring on the right hand.
The problem with the picture is that it is unclear where in the world it was taken, making the search for him the proverbial needle in the haystack. The FBI is hoping that anyone who knows the identity of the man will come forward and hopefully save the young girl from further abuse.
7. The Babushka Lady
One of the most enduring mysteries is: who was responsible for the assassination of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy? The reason remains such a mystery is that, according to the Warren Commission, the November 22, 1963 assassination was committed by alleged lone gunman Harvey Lee Oswald. This is bothersome to many people because Oswald was killed two days after the assassination by nightclub owner Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Police Station during a prison transfer, leaving a lot of questions unanswered and no one to fill in those blanks.
One witness to the shooting that could answer a lot of questions is a mysterious woman nicknamed the “Babushka Lady.” She is called that because the scarf she was wearing on her head looked like something an older Russian woman would wear, and Babushka means older woman in Russian. When the shots that killed Kennedy were fired, she was standing close to the motorcade with some type of camera, and the camera was aimed at the car at the time of the shooting, meaning she would have some of the clearest images as to what happened when Kennedy was shot. But after the shooting, the woman crossed Elm Street and seemingly disappeared. There are no clear shots of the woman’s face, but she is seen on a lot of the films and in many photographs from the scene. After the assassination, she never came forward either, despite requests from the FBI to do so.
In 1970, a woman named Beverly Oliver claimed she was the Babushka Lady, but there were a lot of holes in her story and not many people were convinced she was actually in the area at the time of the shooting. Even 50 years later, the identity of the Babushka Lady has never been found and it looks unlikely that this mystery will ever be solved.
6. The San Mateo Jane Doe
On June 6, 2006, off of a service trail in Pacifica, California, city officials doing a survey came across a lone tent. On the outside, written in tape, was the message, “No Go, No Eat, No Drink, Murder.” Inside the tent was the body of a woman who had died three months prior. Also inside the tent were a lot of books, including two Bibles, a “Busy Women’s Journal,” and a copy of a Harry Potter book.
An autopsy was performed and there were no signs of foul play. It appears that the woman, for reasons unknown, starved herself to death. The coroner was able to get a thumb print and it was run through the system and they got a match: Sam Smith, who had been born January 20, 1960, in Louisville, Kentucky and there was a mug shot, as she had been arrested a year before on January 20 in Redwood City, California.
The problem was that only the picture was real, and all the other information was false. They could not find anyone from Jefferson County (where Louisville is located) with that name and birthday. This made her a Jane Doe and the only other thing that they really know about her is that she had a lot of high quality dental work done. They are hoping a dentist will recognize the woman and bring closure to the case.
5. Amityville Ghost
One of the most famous haunted houses in the United States is the Dutch Colonial house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. The haunting stems from the night of November 13, 1974, when 23-year-old Ronald Defeo shot and killed all six members of his family. He was arrested, convicted, and given six concurrent life sentences.
In December of 1975, George and Kathy Lutz, along with their three children, moved into the house and claimed that spooky things were happening. For example, George would wake up at 3:15 every morning, which was the approximate time that Ronald killed his family. Kathy said she would feel a ghostly presence and be embraced by it. One of the children befriended an imaginary friend named Jodie that looked like a black pig with glowing red eyes. And those are just a few of the mysterious things that forced the family to flee in fear after only staying in the house for 28 days.
On the night of March 6, 1976, famed and self-appointed demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, visited the house and set up time lapse infrared cameras, and were able to capture the image posted above. The picture wasn’t made public until three years later when George Lutz appeared on The Merv Griffith Show in 1979. Believers of the haunting think that the picture is the ghost of the youngest Defeo son, John Matthew, who was nine at the time of the murders. Others believe that the picture is one of the Warrens’ helpers, who was wearing a shirt that looks a lot like the shirt the ghost is wearing in the picture. And the reason the young man looks like a demonic boy is because he was crouching and the infrared camera made his eyes look like they were glowing. Despite the controversy, this picture is one of the most frightening images from the Amityville Horror.
4. The Murder of Eva Kay Wenal
On May 1, 2008, 60-year-old Eva Kay Wenal, a former model and Playboy cocktail waitress, had lunch with her millionaire husband of 20 years, Hal Wenal. When Hal returned home later that evening, he found his wife dead. Eva had been beaten and her throat had been slit. Hal was quickly dismissed as a suspect and the case grew cold after a few months, despite a number of odd clues. One clue was a letter made out of font that was cut out from magazines and sent to the newspaper, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, and read:
I loved her. She said we could be together. She told me she hated her house and that fat miserable lying [expletive] husband.
She said she loved me, but that was a lie too. I told her this would happen if she didn’t keep her [expletive] promises to me.
His money was more important than our love. We could have been so happy together.
This led people to think the killer was a lover of Eva who was angry that she ended the relationship. Another clue to the murder is a police sketch of a man who was seen in the area of the Wenals’ house the night before and the night of the murder. Then, after the murder, Eva’s family members were looking through old photos that Eva had in her possession, and they saw a familiar face. It was a man, whom none of them knew, and he looked just like the police sketch. But no one knows who the man is or how Eva knew him. Police are currently looking to talk to the mystery man, and hopefully he will be able to shed some light on the mystery.
3. The Disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley
In March 1998, 23-year-old Amy Lynn Bradley from Petersburg, Virginia, was on a Caribbean Cruise with her parents and younger brother. On the night of March 27, 1998, she was hanging out with the ship’s band, but broke off from them at about 1:00 a.m. At about 5:30 a.m., as the ship was docking in the island country of Curacao, Amy Lynn’s dad saw her leave her cabin, barefoot with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. That was the last confirmed sighting of Amy Lynn.
It’s unclear what happened to Amy Lynn, and her family said she had no reason to run away. She had a new job, a new home, and loved her dog, plus she had never run away before. Since it is unlikely she would have run away, some theories are that she fell overboard, she was kidnapped, or she met with some other type of foul play. Her parents complained that the disappearance was not looked into properly by the authorities in Aruba or Curacao, and the cruise line had no explanation as to what happened to her.
Then, seven years after Amy Lynn seemingly vanished into thin air, her parents received an email with some pictures. The sender, who wanted to be anonymous, said that the pictures came from an escort website, and the scantily clad woman in the pictures looked a lot like Amy Lynn. Her parents had a forensic analysis performed, and they said it was possible that the woman in the picture was, in fact, their daughter. Apart from that possible clue, the case remains cold. Amy Lynn’s family believes that she is alive, and that she was kidnapped and put into a sex-slavery ring.
2. The Disappearance of Tara Calico
On April 21, 1988, Michael Henley, 9, of Milan, New Mexico, traveled to the Oso Ridge area of the Zuni Mountains for a family camping trip. About 20 minutes after their arrival, he went missing. A search was started, but a storm blew in quickly, holding off the searchers for some time, and the boy wasn’t found.
Five months later, on September 28, 1988, 19-year-old Tara Calico left her home in Belen, New Mexico, on her mother’s bicycle. She told her mother if she wasn’t back by noon to come looking for her. Her mother went to find her when she didn’t return, and the only trace of Tara that she found was a cassette she had been listening to on her Walkman. Tara was last seen at about 11:45 a.m., about two miles away from her home. A 1953 Ford pickup with a homemade camper shell was driving slowly behind her. It is believed that Tara didn’t know the truck was behind her because she had headphones on.
Neither disappearance appeared to be connected until an odd discovery on June 15, 1989, when a woman in Port St. Joe, Florida, pulled into a Junior Food Store off of Route 98. She parked beside a white Toyota cargo van and went inside the store. When she came back, the van was gone, but on the ground, she found a Polaroid picture of two young people bound, with duct tape over their mouths. They appear to be in some confined area, like the back of a van, and they are sitting on bed sheets and pillows and there is a paperback novel, My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews beside the young woman. The woman who found the picture called the police and they quickly set up roadblocks, but no sign of the van was found.
Two months after the picture was discovered, the television show A Current Affair did a piece on the mysterious Polaroid picture and the news ended up getting back to the parents of Tara and Michael. They examined the Polaroid and they believed that the people in the picture were their children. Then two years later, the case took another twist: Michael’s body was found near the place where he went missing, meaning that he was not the boy in the picture. This discovery did not change Tara’s mother’s mind and she believed that it was Tara in the picture until the day she died in 2006.
Since the discovery of the picture, two other Polaroid pictures possibly related to the case have been found and handed over to the police. The first was found at a construction site in Southern California, showing a girl with duct tape on her mouth, but the picture is blurry. There is also a pillowcase in the picture that is similar to the one in the first Polaroid. The film the picture was taken with wasn’t available until 1989. The second Polaroid was a woman who was loosely bound and blindfolded with gauze. She is also wearing large framed glasses and appears to be riding on an Amtrak train. And again, the young woman isn’t alone in the picture. In this one, she is seated next to an unidentified man. The picture was taken using film that wasn’t available until 1990. These two other photos have never been made public and there are still no clues as to what happened to Tara, or the true identity of the two people in the Polaroid.
1. The Sodder Fire
On Christmas Eve in 1945, George and Jennie Sodder and nine out of their 10 children went to bed in their home near Fayetteville, West Virginia. Their 10th child wasn’t home because he was serving in the Army at the time. At about 1:00 a.m. on Christmas morning, a fire broke out in the home, supposedly due to faulty wiring. George and Jennie, along with four of the children got out of the house, but the other five children, Maurice, age 14, Martha, 12, Louis, 9, Jennie, 8 and Betty, 5, didn’t make it out.
George tried to drive his truck to get help, but it wouldn’t start. As a result, the fire department wasn’t notified until it was too late. They arrived at 8:00 a.m., and by that time the house was in rubble. The wreckage was combed, but the bodies of the five children weren’t there. There was absolutely no trace of them. The obvious answer is the fire completely incinerated the bodies. The problem is that in order for bones to turn to ash, they need to be heated at 2,000 degrees for over two hours and the Sodders’ home burned down in 45 minutes, and most house fires reach temperatures of about 1,100 degrees.
Then odd clues started popping up. After the fire, a telephone repairman visited the house, and said that it looked like the Sodder’s wires had been cut, and not burned. If that were the case, then there would not have been any hydro going into the house, making it impossible for an electrical fire to start.
What’s interesting is that just before the fire, the family had electricity and the phone was working. Shortly after everyone went to bed at 12:30 a.m., someone called the house. Jennie answered it; the caller was a woman, and it sounded like she was at a party. The caller asked for someone who didn’t live at the house, so Jennie told her that she had the wrong number and went to bed. As Jennie dozed, she heard a large bang on the roof, followed by a rolling sound, and then a few minutes later smoke billowed into her room. After the fire, a family member visiting the site found a hard rubber object. This has led to speculation that someone threw a firebomb on the roof, which started the fire.
Then there was an eyewitness who saw a man near the house with a block and tackle used for car repair. Did he sabotage the truck so George couldn’t drive it? The next odd part is that there were a series of witnesses who claimed to see the children after the fire. For example, a woman swore she served them breakfast the morning after the fire, five hours away from their home.
The final and strangest clue is the picture above. In 1968, Jennie received an envelope addressed only to her with a Kentucky postmark and no return address. Inside the envelope was the picture of a man in his early-to-mid 20s. On the back, it said, “Louis Sodder. I love brother Frankie. Ilil Boys. A90132 or 35.” The picture looked a bit like their son Louis, who was nine at the time of the fire, but forensics have been unable to tell if the boy in the picture is their missing son.
George and Jennie believed that their children didn’t die that night in the fire, but sadly would never receive a definitive answer as to what happened to them. George died a short time after receiving the picture and Jennie passed away in 1989.