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Five of the Most Famous Unsolved Crimes

The advances in forensics technology have made 'the perfect crime' almost impossible to pull off in modern times, even for the most brilliant, diabolical criminal minds. With DNA evidence and connected databases that law enforcement can use to track and match criminals, it's no wonder law enforcement agencies have gotten so good at catching the bad guys in recent decades.

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However, this wasn't always the case, and there are still head-scratching unsolved crimes that historians will continue to debate and agencies will continue to piece together as long as we live.

Let's take a look at some of the most famous unsolved murders and crimes that still leave us in wonder. We won't go into the most famous unsolved mystery of all: the identity of Jack the Ripper, who tormented the streets of London in 1888.

The following unsolved crimes are just the tip of the iceberg of mysteries that still haunt us today.

  • The whereabouts of DB Cooper. If you haven't heard of DB Cooper, it's probably because he didn't go on a mass killing spree that included puzzles, gore, or intrigue that often make front page headlines and hang around the public psyche forever. Instead, he pulled off a feat so impressive and daring, that you almost have to respect the courage it took to pull off.

    In 1971, a man who is still unidentified hijacked a passenger airplane and extorted a $200,000 ransom before allowing the plan to take off while he was still in it. On the way to its destination, he parachuted from the plane in-between Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. You would think it wouldn't take long for authorities to locate and arrest him. But no such luck.

    The identity and location of this individual, as well as his fate, remain a mystery today.

  • The murder of JonBenet Ramsey. On Christmas Day, 1996, while most children were celebrating the most anticipated holiday of the year, 6-year-old JoneBenet Ramsey was found murdered in her parents' basement. She was killed by strangulation by a still unknown killer.

    The news of this young pageant queen's death shocked the nation and her picture was on the cover of hundreds of news publications across the world. Even though her parents were indicted in the case, and accused of child abuse, there has never been a conviction, and the case remains officially unsolved to this day remaining one of the most famous unsolved murders of the modern era.

  • The disappearance of Adam Walsh. On July, 27th, 1981, a young boy named Adam Walsh was abducted from a Sears store at a mall in Florida. After an extensive search, his body was found decapitated 130 miles away by two men who were fishing. At first, a man named Ottis Toole was thought to be Adam's killer. He described Adam's killing to police, but was never charged in the case because of lost evidence. He died in prison while serving time for other crimes he committed. While many people are confident he was the killer, there has also been debate that world famous killer Jeffrey Dahmer was Adam's real killer.

    One bright spot in this case, if there is one, is that Adam's father, John Walsh went on to become one of the most relentless pursuers of unsolved crimes. His show America's Most Wanted ran for 24 years on Fox television network. He helped solve countless crimes across the nation while the show aired.

  • The Zodiac Killer. San Francisco in the late 1960's was held hostage by a creative, taunting, killer, who is thought to have murdered five people in the Bay Area between 1968-69. Even though police think his killing spree ended before the turn of the decade, he still taunted police with letters until 1974.

    The first killings took place on a night that was supposed to be romantic, as two teen lovers were shot and killed on a road where they parked on a date night. Over a year later, another couple was killed on a similar abandoned road in the Bay area while they were parked. About an hour later, a man called the local police department and confessed to the crimes. Then, he sent letters to the San Francisco Examiner newspaper with details that only the person who committed the crime could know.

    He was responsible for the death of a cab driver in October, 1969, which was the last crime he was known to commit- although there have been other murders that some speculate he may be responsible for. This case still fascinates the public today and is one of the most famous crimes of the last century, and has spawned many movies, including the 2007 film, Zodiac.

  • Tupac "2Pac" Shakur and Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Smalls. There is a reason why Nick Broomfield's 2002 documentary 'Biggie & Tupac' investigates the murder of these two famous rappers in the same film – and why we include them both in the same entry on this list.

    In the mid-1990's, the feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers was in full effect. Although these rivalries were often thought to be created to generate album sales, there was reason to believe the bad blood between Tupac and Biggie was real. On September 7th, 1996, Tupac was shot to death after leaving a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas. Speculation immediately began to pin the blame on Notorious B.I.G. due to his feud with Tupac over leaving his East Coast record label for Death Row, operated by the infamous Suge Knight, who many actually believe to be the man behind Tupac's death.

    Rumor has it that Tupac was about to leave Death Row, and Suge wanted to keep his unreleased music in the catalog and make millions on it after Tupac was killed. Either way, in retaliation, B.I.G. was gunned down on March 9, 1997, by a still unknown killer. Critics of the deaths also claim that the FBI and LAPD was partially responsible for their deaths, which are still unsolved today.

We may never know the real killers behind these murders and famous crimes, or the whereabouts of DB Cooper. But we do know the advancements in the field of criminology will continue to make it harder and harder for these kinds of crimes to be committed.

If you are interested in helping to solve unsolved crimes like those above, check out our forensic science programs and get started in this field by earning your degree. You can find schools and programs below.