6 Unsolved Murder Cases That Will Keep You Up At Night

Published October 5, 2021
Updated April 3, 2024

From "the boy in the box" to the mystery of room 1046, these stories about unsolved murder cases will creep into your brain and never leave.

Today, one-third of all murders in the United States go unsolved. And it’s murder cases like these that haunt us with the thought that the killer was never caught and could still be walking among us.

Unsolved Murder Cases

The Kansas City Public Library/Creative Commons

Throughout history, in fact, there’s been no shortage of unsolved murder cases that are as creepy as they are baffling…

Famous Unsolved Murders: The Boy In The Box

On February 23, 1957, a man was checking his muskrat traps in the woods off Susquehanna Road in Fox Chase, Philadelphia, when he came upon a baby bassinet box with a dead body in it. Knowing that his muskrat traps were illegal, the man decided against reporting the body.

Boy In The Box

Wikimedia CommonsThe crime scene where the body was found in the woods off Susquehanna Road in Fox Chase, Philadelphia. February 1957.

Two days later, a college student named Frederick Benosis was spying on girls at the Good Shepherd School when he too came upon the body. Benosis was also reluctant to notify the police, but a day later he nonetheless reached out to the authorities.

The body was that of a young child who has since become known as the “Boy in the Box” as well as “America’s Unknown Child.”

Famous Murder Cases

Creative CommonsThe original poster with which the police tried to identify the body of the unknown victim in 1957.

The boy was completely naked, and his hands and feet were wrinkled as if he had been submerged into water before he died. Furthermore, his esophagus contained a dark substance suggesting that he might have vomited shortly before he died, the cause of which appeared to be several blows to the head.

Surprisingly, even though the case attracted significant media attention, no one ever came forward to identify the boy.

However, progress was made in 2002 when a psychiatrist contacted the authorities with information regarding the case. The psychiatrist claimed that a patient of hers, a woman named Mary, confided that her parents had bought “America’s Unknown Child” and used him as a sex toy.

Boy In The Box Reconstruction

Creative CommonsForensic facial reconstruction showing what the boy may have looked like when alive.

According to Mary, her mother had been bathing the boy when he suddenly threw up. Angered, Mary’s mother beat him to death. Mary claimed that she accompanied her mother to Northeast Philadelphia woods where they wrapped the boy in a blanket, placed him in a box, and left him there.

The investigators were convinced that Mary was telling the truth, even if she was mentally unstable. However, when Mary’s name leaked to the press, she left the country and no further efforts have been made to investigate the curious case of “America’s Unknown Child.”

The Black Dahlia

Black Dahlia Murder Scene

Los Angeles Public LibraryThe body of Elizabeth Short, covered in a field in Los Angeles’ Leimert Park. January 15, 1947.

On January 15, 1947, the dismembered body of a woman was discovered in a vacant lot in Leimert Park, Los Angeles. So surreal was the scene that the woman who discovered the body, Betty Bersinger, initially thought that she had come upon a severed mannequin. The body was completely drained of blood and had seemingly been washed. And the face had been slashed from mouth to ear.

The upper and lower parts of the body were placed a foot away from each other and were posed: The hands were placed over the head, the elbows bent, and the legs spread. The intestines were tucked under the buttocks.

After the authorities were called, the body was identified as Elizabeth Short, later known as the “Black Dahlia,” a 22-year-old aspiring actress who had been dating a married salesman.

Elizabeth Short's Mugshot

Creative CommonsA mugshot of Elizabeth Short from 1943 following her arrest for underage drinking.

Six days after the gruesome discovery, on January 21, the editor of the Los Angeles Examiner, James Richardson, received an anonymous call. The caller told Richardson to expect “souvenirs.”

On January 24, a curious envelope was discovered by a U.S Postal Service worker. The envelope was addressed to “The Los Angeles Examiner and other Los Angeles papers.” The letter contained Short’s birth certificate, photos, and other personal belongings.

On January 26, another letter came. It read:

“Here it is. Turning in Wed., Jan. 29, 10 am. Had my fun at police. Black Dahlia Avenger.” The note included the location where the killer would supposedly show up. The police waited patiently, but to their dismay, the killer never showed. That same day another note was sent: “Have changed my mind. You would not give me a square deal. Dahlia killing was justified.”

Over the years, the police have questioned countless suspects and self-confessed Black Dahlia killers, including one promising lead in the form of George Hodel. However, to this day, the Black Dahlia’s murderer has not been found and remains one of the most baffling unsolved murder cases in history.

Laura Martisiute
Laura Martisiute is a freelance writer based in Tramore, Ireland. In her spare time, she likes to explore secret beaches, pet cats, and read.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.