(Unfortunately, these Unsolved Mysteries clips have been removed from Youtube – Gill)
Okay, I know I’ve been posting a lot of items related to Unsolved Mysteries on this site lately, whether it be early acting appearances from Matthew McConaughey and Bill Moseley or pointing out how much a segment on the show inspired the opening to Jeepers Creepers. So I thought it only appropriate that I write a column where I list what I consider to be my top ten favourite Unsolved Mysteries segments. What’s even better is that all these segments are available for viewing on Youtube, so I can even post them all here for you fine folks to watch!
I’ve mentioned before that watching old Unsolved Mysteries segments on Youtube this summer has become a nostalgic blast for me. I was a huge fan of this show when I was a kid even though it often scared the crap out of me and gave me nightmares. But did that mean I wasn’t going to tune into the show the following week? Hell, no! The invention of the Internet has almost given the show a second life for me since it allows me to search for more information on the cases featured on the show and learn a lot of interesting new tidbits I didn’t know before. In particular, this message board is a great place to go to find out more information about the cases profiled and read theories from other fans. Of course, I found it extremely difficult to narrow down my selections to just ten choices, but I chose segments that either succeeded at scaring the crap out of me or featured a mystery that was so bizarre and baffling that trying to solve it could seriously wrack your brain.
10. Dottie Caylor:[video:youtube:Y9B-Y7HZGoU] [video:youtube:fhZ84Zc5ftY]
This is one of the very first cases I remember watching and profiles a woman named Dottie Caylor who suffered from agoraphobia and couldn’t leave the house for several years before setting off on a train trip one day and just vanishing without a trace. Was she a victim of foul play or did she just decide to go off and start a new life and escape her unhappy marriage? There is a compelling argument for both sides, but while the mystery itself is pretty standard, what really puts this segment over the top for me are the interviews with Dottie’s husband, Jule Caylor, who has to be one of the oddest people ever featured on the show. The guy’s very nonchalant reaction to his wife’s disappearance does a lot to create suspicion that he might have murdered her, but even if he isn’t guilty, he sure seems like one hell of a douchebag! Apparently, Jule’s attorney was in the room while he was being interviewed and was none-too-pleased about the things his client was saying. Jule’s interview segments are ten times funnier to watch if you visualize a lawyer standing off-camera with his jaw hitting the floor. To this day, Dottie’s fate still remains unsolved, but Jule wound up making the news a few years later when he was kicked out of a Wendy’s for making a mess at their salad bar. He responded by writing an eight-page letter to the Wendy’s manager detailing his stellar salad-making abilities and even included a photograph of himself with a freshly made salad! So I guess if he really did murder Dottie, I can only assume it was a crime of passion brought on by salad!
9. Eric Tamiyasu:[video:youtube:-pmiZtO9Kow] [video:youtube:nFkXQkX-3r0]
When Unsolved Mysteries moved from being shown on NBC and CBS to the Lifetime network in its later years, it made the unfortunate decision to go from filming its segments on grainy film stock to filming them on video, which nearly robbed the show of its aura of creepiness. But despite the noticeable drop-off in quality in their later years, the show still did feature some very compelling cases and this is one of the best. It involves a man named Eric Tamiyasu being found shot three times in his bed, and the segment works on the level of an Agatha Christie whodunit, where there a number of possible suspects to the murder and some of them look REALLY suspicious. The local sheriff makes the inexplicable decision to destroy evidence by burning the mattress that Eric’s body was found on, which means he may have been involved in the murder or just happens to be one of the dumbest cops who ever lived! The real guilty-looking centrepiece of this segment, however, is the creepy Don Dixon, who found Eric’s body and acts like him and Eric were best friends, even though many of Eric’s other acquaintances don’t seem to have any idea who this guy is! Is it just me or does Don Dixon strike you as the kind of guy who would keep sending you friend requests on Facebook even after you’ve rejected him several times? On the aforementioned Unsolved Mysteries message board, an anonymous poster claimed that Don Dixon was innocent and that he and Eric really were good friends because they shared Taco Bell lunches at his office together! He never posted there again and everyone pretty much assumes that it was Don himself, who was probably desperate for a new friend to share Taco Bell with. Unfortunately, since this is not a movie or an Agatha Christie novel, the identity of Eric Tamiyasu’s murderer is still unknown, which is why real life can really suck sometimes!
8. Allagash Abductions:[video:youtube:PHGCOf-eZno] [video:youtube:3Urd-Escbck]
Unsolved Mysteries was famous for broadcasting a lot of UFO stories, but even the producers themselves have admitted they thought about 80 % of them weren’t very believable. So you’d think the idea of four men being kidnapped by aliens and being experimented on while naked would be a laughable bunch of tripe, but only Unsolved Mysteries could make a story like that legitimately terrifying. The segment involves four guys who encounter a UFO while on a camping trip in Allagash, Maine, but then the UFO just disappears and they realize that several hours have suddenly passed without any memory of what happened. Years later, all four of them begin having the exact same terrifying dreams about being experimented on by the aliens and each go under hypnosis to try and recall their experiences that night. This is definitely one of the most believable UFO stories you are likely to see as all four of the interviewees seem like very straightforward, credible guys who genuinely believe what they’re talking about. Unsolved Mysteries was a show that gave a lot of people a genuine fear of police composite sketches of criminals, but since the four guys in this segment were all art school graduates, they were able to make drawings of their experience and give a lot of viewers a new-found fear of alien composite sketches! The sequence where they play actual audio of the victim’s hypnosis sessions over the alien drawings is one of the more chilling in the show’s history. If this is a hoax, these guys would have had to have gone to a lot of trouble to make it this believable.
7. Mike Riemer and Diana Robertson:[video:youtube:fzUR3IzJBr0] [video:youtube:mQmDrOEdS1Y]
Now this is one of those segments that made the show so addictive as it presents a mystery where a finding a logical solution to the whole thing is almost impossible. Diana Robertson and her boyfriend, Mike Riemer, go on a trip into the woods with their two-year old daughter, Crystal. Diana is soon found murdered next to their vehicle, Mike completely vanishes, and Crystal is abandoned outside a department store many miles away. There are so many possible scenarios about what could have happened, but there so many more things that just don’t make any sense. Mike was known for being abusive, so he could have very well murdered his girlfriend and dropped his daughter off at a public place before he disappeared. But why drive many miles to a crowded area and then drive all the way back to the crime scene to abandon the vehicle? Diana was found with a tube sock around her neck, which was similar to how another murdered woman was found in the same area a few months earlier. So the couple could have been murdered by a serial killer, but why would he hide Mike’s body, leave Diana’s body in the open, and go out of his way to make sure the child is found? No matter how hard you analyze it, there’s just so much in this case that doesn’t make sense, which is what makes this segment so great. It remains unsolved to this day and, as far as anyone knows, Crystal has never been able to provide any information about what happened, so this very well could be one hell of a repressed memory for her.
UPDATE: (picture Robert Stack saying that with the creepy Unsolved Mysteries update music playing in the background) A major development has occurred in the Riemer/Robertson case since this column was originally published! Click here for more details!
6. Cindy James:[video:youtube:0i6mgFcu2oQ] [video:youtube:hp63AjL5jeE]
Unsolved Mysteries has covered a few baffling cases over the years that involved people being harassed for a very long period of time by an unknown assailant that no one was ever able to identify. Since the harassment goes on so long and no one is able to find out who’s responsible, people start to believe that the victim is perpetuating an elaborate hoax or has some serious mental problems. However, there are still quite a few elements that make one think that it’s not possible for the victim to have staged the whole thing. These cases are so great because it’s virtually impossible for the viewer to come up with a definitive conclusion about how real or fake the situation is. A Vancouver woman named Cindy James claimed to have been harassed and assaulted by an unknown assailant for a period of over seven years before her hogtied body was found strangled and drugged with an overdose of morphine. Of course, it’s very hard to believe that anyone could go to the lengths of stalking and harassing someone for seven whole years without being seen, so it’s not hard to identify with the police in this segment when they believe that Cindy staged the whole thing herself and committed suicide. The whole segment is very creepy and well-produced and convincingly addresses both sides of the argument. You may change your mind about the case several times while watching it. In my opinion, I think the attacks on Cindy may have been genuine at first, but caused a mental breakdown that prompted her to stage at least some of the attacks later on. Of course, there’s no way anyone can definitively know for sure, but I do find it REALLY hard to believe that anyone could hogtie themselves after taking that much morphine!
5. Connecticut River Valley Killer:[video:youtube:Ekm4I_v_nFk] [video:youtube:tBIMwfACY8g]
I’ve often said that the scariest segments on Unsolved Mysteries could be more terrifying than any horror movie could ever dream of. There is one sequence in this segment that I believe should be studied by every horror filmmaker as a case study on how to scare the bejeesus out of your audience. This segment covers the case of the Connecticut River Valley Killer, who was believed to have murdered at least seven women around the same area in New Hampshire. His killing spree may have come to the end after an unsuccessful attack on a pregnant woman named Jane Boroski. If there’s one thing that Unsolved Mysteries has taught viewers over the years, it’s to never, EVER pull into a deserted rest stop late at night because that’s where a lot of really bad things happen to people. In a truly terrifying and brilliantly filmed sequence, Jane is attacked, stabbed and left for dead at a rest area by the mysterious killer. Since this happened in the era before cell phones, the wounded Jane is forced to try and drive herself to safety and, in a twist that would seem unbelievable if it happened in a fictional movie, she winds up pulling up right behind the vehicle of the man who attacked her! YIKES! Thankfully, Jane and her unborn baby both survived the attack and provided Unsolved Mysteries with one of its many creepy police composite sketches. On the Unsolved Mysteries message board, Jane Boroski herself has posted that she believes that a deceased killer named Michael Nicholaou was the one who attacked her, but because of lazy police work, no one has been able to determine that conclusively. I should also point out that to avoid product placement in this segment, Unsolved Mysteries chose to black out the logo on the rest stop’s Pepsi machine, but for some reason, that just seems to add an extra aura of creepiness to the proceedings!
4. Arnold Archambeau and Ruby Bruguier:[video:youtube:pKbF42ITw0E]
This is one VERY bizarre case that could conceivably have a very simple solution, but there’s just too much that doesn’t add up. If foul play was actually involved, then this would have to be one of the weirdest murders in history. The story involves a Sioux Indian couple, Arnold Archambeau and Ruby Bruguier, who are travelling on an icy road with their cousin, Tracy, when their car flips over. For whatever reason, Arnold and Ruby exit the car and leave Tracy behind, and neither of them are seen again for three months. Police search the area exhaustively, but don’t find anything until spring when they discover Ruby and Arnold’s bodies in the exact same area of the accident, but their bodies are in different stages of decomposition! While I’m definitely willing to accept the possibility that the two of them simply died on the night of the accident and were buried underneath the ice, and that the police just didn’t search as exhaustively as they claims, there are just too many weird elements to this case. No one is entirely sure if Arnold was wearing the same clothes that he wore on the night of the accident and he also had a mysterious set of keys in his pocket that didn’t belong to him. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder, a friend of Arnold’s claimed to have seen him in a bar between the time of the accident and when his body was found! I personally believe that Tracy has never really told the entire truth about the accident that night as she gives a very shifty interview that must set some sort of record for usage of the phrase “you know”. I honestly think this is one of those non-UFO cases where abduction by a UFO for three months would probably make more sense than most of the logical theories anyone has provided!
3. Tallman Family Ghost:[video:youtube:dWtI5Irwano]
I’ve already made a posting about this segment on this site before, but this is the Unsolved Mysteries case that probably gave me the most nightmares. Of course, it all depends on context and the fact that I watched this when I was only nine years old probably didn’t help at all. Anyway, this story involves the Tallman family moving into a new house in a small town in Wisconsin and finding themselves being terrified by unseen evil spirits. For unknown reasons, their haunting may have been brought upon by a set of bunk beds they bought for their children. After watching this as a kid, I never, EVER wanted to own a bunk bed or have a clock radio in my room. Anyway, unlike many of the Unsolved Mysteries ghost segments, this one never actually shows any ghosts, but I think that’s what it makes it so effective. There are many scenes here where the family gives off terrified reactions to something that they are seeing, but the viewer isn’t shown or even told about what they’re looking at. When I was nine, my imagination was running wild about what was terrorizing the Tallmans and that wasn’t a nice feeling to have when you were lying alone in bed with the lights off. Anyway, scepticism has run wild over the years about whether or not this story is true and if the Tallman family were attempting an Amityville Horror-type hoax. However, while the the story in this segment may be a complete load of crap, you can’t deny that it’s an incredibly scary and well-made load of crap.
2. Alcatraz Escape:[video:youtube:FsJUUn2dQpQ] [video:youtube:w9jOeJVXHIs] [video:youtube:peQr2tUqTWE] [video:youtube:cbR9ihoE2HM]
Of all the segments that Unsolved Mysteries has devoted to famous historical events, this one is probably the best and was my most frequently watched Unsolved Mysteries segment during my youth. I remember how excited I was when I found out that the show was planning to run a 90-minute special one night and that it was going to cover the famous escape from Alcatraz. I recorded it and watched it so many times that I probably wore out the tape. I think the reason this was my favourite Unsolved Mysteries show to watch as a kid was because the story wasn’t that scary and wasn’t going to give me nightmares, and the whole re-enactment of the escape from Alcatraz was just flat-out enjoyable to watch. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, this is the 1963 escape attempt where Frank Morris and John & Clarence Anglin broke out of Alcatraz and tried to use a homemade raft to cross San Francisco Bay to their freedom. No one really knows if the three men were successful or not, but their bodies were never found. There have been a few unconfirmed sightings of the men over the years, along with conspiracy theorists who believe that if the trio were re-captured, they would have been secretly killed and disposed of in order to preserve Alcatraz’s reputation as an inescapable prison. No one will probably ever find out the real answer for sure, which is what makes this such a great unsolved mystery. This segment is the longest, most expensive one that Unsolved Mysteries ever produced and is one of the few segments that I would still pop in and watch late at night when I’m alone.
1. Aileen Conway:[video:youtube:w5lCx-KC5HY] [video:youtube:rN4UhUANmKk]
This is my personal favourite Unsolved Mysteries segment because it was on one of the very first episodes I watched and it’s segments like these that hooked me onto the show for life. I also selected it because it’s a case that would cause Sherlock Holmes to throw his hands in the air and go “WTF?!”. It involves a housewife named Aileen Conway dying in a flaming car accident that causes her body to be burned beyond recognition. The fact that this happened many miles from Aileen’s home in an area she’d never been before was strange enough, but things get REALLY bizarre when her husband returns home to find the house in a very weird state. In a wonderfully eerie re-enactment, he finds such odd things as an open patio door, a garden hose running water into the pool, an iron left turned on, a bathtub full of water, a phone off the hook, and Aileen’s glasses and purse have been left behind. There are many indications that she could have been surprised by an attacker at home and run into foul play, but why would her body and car be found nearly twenty miles away and how does that explain many of the weird details at the house? This is such a great Unsolved Mysteries case because it’s virtually impossible to come up with an airtight solution to this. There are literally pages and pages full of theories from people about this case on the Unsolved Mysteries message board, but all of them have at least some holes and weird elements that just cannot be explained. What’s particularly frustrating is that Internet searches about this case have turned up about absolutely ZERO developments or new information within the last 24 years. This is one case where you really feel sorry for the victim’s family as Aileen’s husband is just as baffled by her death as everyone else and there’s no way he could ever attain real closure on this. In my opinion, the best theory would be that Aileen just had a massive mental breakdown that caused her to do a lot of odd things before irrationally driving her car off into an unfamiliar location, but that’s really stretching it. This is one of those mysteries that’s bound to remain unsolved forever, but that’s what makes it such an ideal choice for #1 on this list.
Lake Wales Haunting:[video:youtube:WPXJak7bUsY] [video:youtube:XlcyS6vbYK0]
Okay, I include this one as an honourable mention because even though the whole story is a load of crap, this may be the most hysterically funny segment ever featured on Unsolved Mysteries. It’s pretty obvious that the producers didn’t believe this story either, but I’m sure it made it to air because they knew comedy gold when they saw it. It involves a family from Lake Wales, Florida who find out that their house is haunted after the 19-year old son, Alan, has an encounter with a ghost. But you automatically sense something is off right away when Robert Stack mentions that Alan lives there with his 16-year old bride, Linda!! Well, considering that Alan is nearly 300 pounds and still lives at home with his parents, who WOULDN’T want to marry him?! Of course, Linda doesn’t seem like much of a prize herself and the whole family comes across as pretty flaky. The standout scene involves Linda getting possessed by an evil spirit and trying to have a wild, rough sex with Alan! Okay, come on, even a demonic spirit would probably have better standards than that! Robert Stack narrates the whole segment with tongue planted firmly in cheek and delivers what may be his all-time funniest line: “A spiritualist told the Manns to pour salt all around the house. A number of snails were sacrificed”. I also couldn’t help but laugh at the scene where the family uses a Ouija board to spell out the name “Kramer”. I know I couldn’t have been the only person hoping that Rex Kramer would come bursting through the door![video:youtube:qse_wf57tZM]