No one is naive enough to think that TV detectives get things right all the time. Real life is confused and complicated, and there are plenty of mysteries, from deaths to sightings to strange numbers. But sometimes you see a mystery and can’t help but think things didn’t go as you might expect…
The Killer of Ken McElroy
On June 10th 1981, a man called Ken McElroy was killed in Skidmore, Missouri, as he sat in his truck. He was killed by the gunfire of two people, but luckily there were over forty witnesses to the killing. There must have been an easy case for the police to make right?…
Wrong! Actually, no one was ever convicted, because every single person denied witnessing anything.
Ken McElroy was not a popular man you see. He had been charged twenty one times for crimes ranging from assault to paedophilia, and was almost universally hated. In 1980 he’d accidentally shot a shopkeeper while trying to not-so-accidentally threaten him and got out on appeal. This led to him appearing, heavily armed, in a bar, threatening people, and meant on June 10th the townsfolk of Skidmore had gathered to discuss with the sheriff what to do to defend themselves.
Apparently, they decided not to mention his murder…
The Bear Brook Murders
On November 10th, 1985, a hunter in Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire (USA) found a metal drum. It was capable of holding fifty gallons of liquid, but sadly in this instance was discovered to contain two bodies, one of an adult woman, the other a young girl - a subsequent examination discovered they were related. To this day the identities have never been discovered, and no murderer was ever caught, despite the bodies clearly having been killed. Normally, that might be where things ended. But in 2000 another metal drum was discovered…
The second drum was found one hundred feet from the first drum. Yes, another 55 gallon drum, and inside two more bodies, this time both of children, one of which was related to the first couple. This fact suggests the drum had been sat there for the whole of the 1985 investigation, and the fifteen years after, but was missed. Still, DNA could only say the woman was related to two of the children, but not how, so a mother, aunt, etc., and no one knows who they are.
The likeliest solution came via the DNA discovery that the fourth child, unrelated to the rest, was likely the daughter of Robert Evans, a convicted murderer… but he died in 2010 before any case could be put or any evidence found.
“America's Unknown Child”
You may be aware that speed is vital in solving crimes - if you can get to evidence early things get a lot better for the police. Hold that thought.
In winter 1957, a man in woods near Fox Chase, Philadelphia made a terrible discovery: a JC Penny box, containing the body of a young boy wrapped only in a blanket. But the man who made the discovery wasn’t a dog walker out in the woods, he was actually trapping animals - and he was so scared the police would be angry at him, that he left the box and didn’t say anything. Luckily the next person to find it would report it right?…
Actually they didn’t. A few days passed when a young man who claimed he was interested in animals (but was actually more interested in spying on the girls in a nearby residential school) found the box, but of course didn’t say anything either because of his own wrong doing - so he left it too and only reported it later when conscience got the better of him.
Police searched far and wide to find the identity of the boy, let alone who killed him and put him in a box, but both came to nothing. To this day he lives up to his reputation as American’s "Unknown Child". Whether vital clues were lost in the delay we will never know.
The Brass Handles Murders
The Brass Handles Murders are the ultimate in a community sticking together, but really in the worst way possible. In March 2006 two small time gangsters walked into a pub in Salford, intent on a bit of gangland killing. Richard Austin and Carlton Alverange took guns into the place during a busy football match, using a spotter to direct them. But when people realised, the regulars in the bar pulled the guns away from the killers, shot them and dumped them outside, where they died.
It was a busy pub, filled with people watching football, but you’ve been reading this article for a few minutes so you know where this is going....
Everyone mysteriously ducking or looking the other way.
The man the killers had tried to assassinate had been wounded, but survived, and the man who arranged it fled abroad, but was caught and locked up. Alive.
Tara Calico and the Polaroid
Tara Calico vanished in 1988 while out riding a bike near her home in New Mexico. What happened next spawned one of the most gut-wrenching mysteries and photographs of the modern era.
On June 15th 1989 a woman shopping in Port St. Joe, Florida, found a Polaroid photo on the ground. She picked it up, and found an image of two bound and gagged people staring back at her, a young woman and a young boy. Some later attempts unofficially identified the lady as Tara Calico, but the identity of the young boy is still unknown. Why a photo of two bound people was lying on the car park asphalt no one knows, but she rang the police and got a description of the vehicle the photo was with: a white Toyota van with no windows and a mustachioed driver.
Police set up road blocks, but the van was never seen again. No answer was ever given to why that picture was taken, if it was connected to the van, if it was really Tara or what happened between her disappearance and after. Just a picture of two people desperately staring out that was found by total chance and didn’t lead to anything. Whoever they were, they were lost.
Well that's it for this week folks - we're writing more as we speak. Thanks for checking-in and please give us a like if you enjoyed it.
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