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Thread: Bizarre/unsolved mysteries

  1. #136
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    Default Robin's Top 10 Favourite Unsolved Mysteries Segments

    Robin's Top 10 Favourite Unsolved Mysteries Segments



    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.

    Follow up:

    10. Dottie Caylor:

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSQTnVuV_Sw&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]

    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:

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSSbaJkB6rc&feature=player_embedded#at=143[/YOUTUBE]
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeCaJN0wTUg&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    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:

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHGCOf-eZno&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Urd-Escbck&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    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:

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzUR3IzJBr0&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQmDrOEdS1Y&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    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.

    6. Cindy James:

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0i6mgFcu2oQ&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp63AjL5jeE&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    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:

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ekm4I_v_nFk&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBIMwfACY8g&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    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:

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwwbZaZ4K-w&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DOuZx4SRhM&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    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. What’s not mentioned in the segment is that a woman eventually came forward claiming to have seen Arnold 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:

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntYiR4HIhUY&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAl_xHmEUVA&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    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:

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsJUUn2dQpQ&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9jOeJVXHIs&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peQr2tUqTWE&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbR9ihoE2HM&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    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:

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5lCx-KC5HY&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN4UhUANmKk&feature=player_embedded[/YOUTUBE]
    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.

  2. #137
    Elite Member SuriCruise's Avatar
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    Creeped out as hell now. I love this thread.
    And so, I will keep fighting to make the US a more progressive, multi-cultural country, and my fight starts on GossipRocks - mikesandy

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    That was a damn good list, celeb. Thanks for that!

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    ugh, that damn fucking show was the cause of my decades long childhood insomnia im not even kidding you guys. I saw a segment once on aliens and aline-abduction and from then on; i didn't sleep for years ugh

    i would even scare myself so silly that i'd crawl into bed w/ my sister who peed the bed but i didn't care as long as i was with somebody

    and the shit of it is, that even though i believe in that crap; i've never ever seen a UFO!

  5. #140
    fgg
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    his voice freaks me the fuck out! he could be reading a grocery list and i'd pee my pants.

  6. #141
    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fgg View Post
    his voice freaks me the fuck out! he could be reading a grocery list and i'd pee my pants.
    You and me both!

    Thanks celeb for posting those. I watched some of the vids before work yesterday and was freaked out all day. and today I came back for more. I will be scared silly all week!

  7. #142
    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default 7 Scariest Unsolved Mysteries Segments

    Since you guys loved those, here are 7 more (a few are repeats though):

    X-Entertainment - The 7 Scariest Segments from UNSOLVED MYSTERIES!

    Murder and mayhem. Ghostly apparitions. Alien abductions. Robert Stack in a trenchcoat...never, ever blinking. I want to marry Unsolved Mysteries.

    Debuting in 1987 and lasting through several incarnations (including a couple of stupid ones), it was Unsolved Mysteries' first few years that fans remember most fondly. In the sea of thirty-minute sitcoms and sixty-minute melodramas that owned our TV sets in the late '80s, try to fit in this square peg: A show focused on bizarre murders, UFO sightings, and on particularly lucky Wednesday nights, the Loch Ness Monster. With a straightshooting motif that never felt particularly sensationalized, even its most preposterous segments seemed totally believable. (They even made me slightly buy into that one about a psychic who gained his powers after being struck by lightning...triggering an otherworldly visit to the celestial home of glowing angel people...who then showed him glimpses of a hundred future events by opening a series of magical briefcases in some idiotic near-death parody of Deal or No Deal. But only slightly.)


    Unsolved Mysteries had its share of feelgood stories and happy endings, but that isn't how the series made its mark. No, people watched Unsolved Mysteries because getting creeped out is a big old bag of secret joy. The people behind this show were the masters of creeping you out. As if the true crimes and maybe-true supernatural events weren't freaky enough in plain facts, the way they were presented was guaranteed to get my ten-year-old ass hiding under a Snoopy blanket, every time. From Stack's haunting voice (he could rattle off his favorite condiments and still send men into tears), to the soul-destroying synthy music, to the insane overacting of the amateurs hired for the reenactments, Unsolved Mysteries was downright unsettling without ever really seeming like it was trying to be. On the other hand, it's hard to argue that they weren't trying just a little, otherwise Robert Stack wouldn't have been telling us so many critical details while standing in front of battle-damaged mausoleums at four o' clock in the fucking morning.

    I had a record-setting number of irrational fears throughout my childhood. I blame this show. It taught me that good people could be get murdered simply by parking too far away from a shopping mall's entrance. That investigating a peculiar noise in the backyard could lead to an alien abduction. That placing a classified ad is an invitation for a serial killer to come knocking on the front door. I still can't look through a window without expecting some bogeyman to hop up with Rambo's knife.

    In celebration of the show that turned a generation into spineless tiptoers, surrender your sense of safety to the seven scariest segments in Unsolved Mysteries history!



    Summary: Random Family X finds a videocassette on the side of the road. They take it home, reinforcing that nobody can spot an abandoned videocassette and not take it home. Instead of the expected Hollywood blockbuster or slimy porn, they're treated to several minute scene of a house burning to the ground, demonically narrated by the person who set the fire.

    Thoughts: I was a pretty young when this segment aired, and it did a number on me. I don't think anything in the world had scared me so thoroughly, not even that scene from The Fly where Jeff Goldblum throws up on Twinkies. The video of the burning house, apparently shot from the darkness of a nearby woods, would've been eerie enough. With the narration, it was utterly horrifying. Speaking obtuse lines ("LOOK AT IT, OMAR.") with an intentionally demonic voice, Unsolved Mysteries doesn't just present this as the work of a demented arsonist, but as the work of a SATANIC demented arsonist. The worst kind! (There was some oddball paraphernalia found with the tape -- such as a ceramic decorative skull, which to this day remains the true calling card of any legitimate devil worshipper.)

    There were creepier segments on Unsolved Mysteries, but the difference here is that what you saw was real. This footage shown from the tape was no reenactment: Real house, real fire, real Lucifer doing the voice-over.

    While the "UPDATE" added to the video below wasn't a part of the original segment, the big revelation will come as no surprise: This was really just the work of some bored, punk kids, who burned down an unoccupied home for kicks. It's still a big time crime, but it doesn't pack quite as much punch as a nomadic Satanist setting houses on fire while old ladies slept inside.

    PS: The music accompanying those Unsolved Mysteries "UPDATES" used to torment me, and not just because it was typically the cue for declassified footage of a found corpse. I'm saying, the music itself is scary. It's the kind of music that'd play in some bad old video game when you were running out of time to complete a puzzle. I hate it.

    When I watch this segment now, the arsonist's narration seems more stupid than creepy, and clearly reads as an idiot kid just messing around in a really stupid way. But when I was young and impressionable, this was powerful stuff that kept me awake for far too many nights. I never found out who "Omar" was, but I knew he had horns.

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j826yxjyAis&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]


    Summary: Matthew Chase moves to Los Angeles with a few friends. He then goes missing, and the only clues to his whereabouts are left in an suspicious trail of ATM machine visits on the night of his disappearance...including one with a surveillance camera nearby. When that last part comes to light, the guy doing the score punches eighty-five keys on his piano simultaneously to guarantee maximum fear.

    Thoughts: I got into Unsolved Mysteries because I loved anything having to do with ghosts, monsters and space aliens. But those aren't the segments that stuck with me. The "true crime" stories were ten times as horrifying. The crimes differed and the victims sometimes didn't lose more than their wallets, but the takeaway was always the same: No matter how normal your life, no matter how normal your neighborhood...bad people are out there, and they're gonna get you.

    When this story debuted, it was only classified as a "Missing Persons" segment. Later, one of those infamous "UPDATES" was tagged on, adding a whole new layer of terror: Matthew Chase's body was found, shot to death.

    That makes the key shot of the original segment all the scarier. A record of his bank activity showed that on the night Chase vanished, he made a string of visits to random ATM machines. At one of these machines, a security camera got a few shots of Matthew...and at the last second, someone standing right beside Matthew. The mysterious person is presumed to be his thief and eventual murderer. Between the situation, the eerie grain of the security tape and the shadowy shot of the presumed killer, those few seconds of Unsolved Mysteries felt like hours. Knowing that the case still hasn't been solved makes it all the more haunting.

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6XOA8TsrXo&feature=player_embedded[/youtube][youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEVhbggtBhQ&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]


    Summary:
    After purchasing a used bunk bed, the Tallmans' home is invaded by a horde of evil spirits, who torment the house's occupants in the form of witches, fog, disembodied voices, ghastly telekinesis and fiery illusions. House's occupants are not pleased.

    I'll explain the bunk bed part in a minute.

    Thoughts: Most of the show's "ghost segments" seem pretty silly in retrospect. When you strip away the reenactments and just listen to the "facts," you're left with a lot of obvious bullshit -- like ghosts who can ring dinner bells and jiggle cans of change, but use their powers to do nothing but those things. The reenactments are generally good, but the on-camera witness/victim testimonies are...well, they're usually from the exact types of people who you'd expect to yap about ghosts on national television.

    The team behind Unsolved Mysteries was great at making everything -- and especially, everyone -- seem legitimate. With careful wording and editing, all of the obvious holes in the stories were effectively masked, and it could take several viewings for someone to realize that they were being spoonfed a load of crap.

    I had to include at least one ghost story on a list of the show's scariest segments, and common sense dictated that I choose one with a great "ghost shot." Such ghoulish images were par for the course on Unsolved Mysteries, providing the series with many of its most frightening visuals. In "Tallman's Ghost," there are no such visuals. In the reenactments, you never really see the specters. Even without them, it's still the show's scariest ghost tale.

    As the story goes, the family picked up a bunk bed that had some baaad
    feelings attached to it, because once it came in the house, the Tallmans were almost constantly under siege by evil spirits. Some of their claims are dumb -- in one instance, they blame the family's three young children being sick on GHOSTS, because it's apparently unimaginable that three kids living in the same house would get sick at the same time. Others were more undeniably attributable to pissed off spirits -- such as radios turning their dials by themselves, and garages going on fire only to return to normal moments later. Typical ghost shit.
    Set in a shadowy house full of creepy nooks and really dim lighting, it wasn't so much what you saw that was so frightening, but what you didn't
    see. In the segment's scariest scene, a family member is woken up and surrounded by ghastly smoke. The kind of ghastly smoke that can talk. Since talking smoke isn't the type of entity to waste words with benign pleasantries, it goes right for the throat: "YOU'RE DEAD."

    The story is relentlessly ludicrous, and that's what makes it great. Unsolved Mysteries treated the ludicrous stories with just as much respect as the believable ones, and when you apply that kind thoughtfulness to a story about a family under attack by witches and fake fires, you've got a Top 7 moment.



    Summary: Gord McAllister and his wife are sleeping comfortably at a rest stop, in their parked camper. A cop knocks on the door and warns that they can't park there overnight. Only he wasn't really a cop.

    Thoughts: This one packs the extra whammy of having victims who you really, really feel bad for. After the "cop" reveals himself to be an armed thief, Gord barely escapes with his life as the thief murders his wife and another person in a nearby car.

    The reenactment is one of the best (worst?) of the series, with the actors playing the victims seeming legitimately terrified, and the guy playing the killer seeming legitimately terrifying. Just reading the details of the case is enough to make you wonder what's wrong with the world, but seeing it reenacted with such horrifying finesse is almost too much to take. During the interviews with Gord (the real one, not the actor), he's beyond heartbroken and understandably unable to move on. When you remind yourself that these events actually happened, and that the guy on the screen's pain is totally real, it's hard to watch. Then remember that when you're finished watching it, they're going to transition to a shot of a scary police sketch using a musical sting better served as the audio introduction to the Imperial attack on Hoth.

    Using what was then new technology, Gord and the cops formulate a 3D composite of what the killer looks like. And he looks like a killer. Criminal sketches were some of the most chilling parts of Unsolved Mysteries, and this one was easily among the most brutal. It's a weird phenomenon, but people always look so much scarier when they're drawn or rendered.

    Unsolved Mysteries never tacked an "UPDATE" onto this segment, but from what I've read, a suspect was finally named.

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_M2VuHdRYs&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]


    Summary: After a camping trip, a group of guys are alarmed to learn that they've all been having the same series of strange nightmares. Now they're convinced that they were abducted by aliens during that trip, and they've done a good job of selling their story to the masses.

    Thoughts: In retrospect, many of the alien-related segments on Unsolved Mysteries were pretty bland. Lots of junk with home-taped footage of what were either flying saucers or porch lights, along with banal interviews about alleged government cover-ups. I ate it up as a kid, but there's only so many times you can watch terrible footage of an alleged UFO before wondering if anyone...anywhere...has a decent fucking video camera or a view that isn't obstructed by five barns and ten thousand trees. Fool me twice.

    But when Unsolved Mysteries had a good alien story, they didn't mess around. Skipping past the long build, this one's money scene detailed the victim' memories while under hypnosis: Aliens beamed them onto their ship, stripped them, experimented on them, and then dumped them back at their camp site with wiped-out memories and nothing but a sense of lost time to tell them that something was amiss.

    They include the real audio from those hypnosis sessions, along with sketches of what the guys claimed they'd endured. Many abduction stories have a "harmless" quality to them, but this one doesn't. (I cannot count space aliens who swipe semen samples from their captives among the "happy go lucky" variety.) For as much as I would've killed to see a flying saucer during my youth, segments like this made me think twice about going out to look for one.



    Summary: Pregnant woman stops at a soda machine, gets assaulted by a serial killer. He leaves her for dead, but she survives and drives off...only to end up directly behind her would-be murderer's car.

    Thoughts: Though the segment is more specifically about how the authorities go about profiling a serial killer, the scene described in my summary is what everyone remembers most. With the right music and the right kind of lunatic playing the killer, it's important to note that a scene where a pregnant woman is stabbed 475,000 times isn't even the scariest part of the segment. That honor goes to the scene where the woman somehow pulls herself together and drives off, only to end up directly behind her attacker. Exiting her car and making it to the safety of a friend's house, the bad guy pulls up, stares and drives off into the night.

    "New Hampshire Serial Killer" is a pretty popular (if that's the right word) segment with Unsolved Mysteries fans, but if I'm being honest, I think it has just as much to do with the blacked-out Pepsi logo on that vending machine as the attack itself. No idea why, but I always remembered that. On Unsolved Mysteries, even debranded vending machines were kind of creepy.



    Summary: After years of harassing calls, notes and brutal attacks, Cindy James was found dead outside an abandoned house, bound, gagged and drugged. Yet, everyone but Cindy's family members and closest friends believes she committed suicide.

    Thoughts: This one's a bit of a cheat. I don't think it really stands up as one of the "scariest" segments in Unsolved Mysteries history, but it's certainly one of the most eerily fascinating.

    One of the "fun" things about watching the show now is that you're a Google search away from seeing if there have been any updates to the cases. Even if there haven't been, you're going to uncover a heck of a lot more information than you got from one hasty segment of Unsolved Mysteries. When the show was at its peak, it wasn't just the best resource for this kind of stuff -- it was seemingly the only resource. Now? Plug nearly any featured case into a search engine, and you'll be shocked at all of the twists and turns that the show left out -- either for time, or because certain details didn't mesh with how they wanted to portray a specific case. This is a perfect example: There are many details about this story that Unsolved Mysteries never brings up. If you want to freak yourself out, look it up sometime.

    Nobody who has ever spoken out about the Cindy James case really knows what happened. If they do, they aren't telling us the whole story. As we learn, Cindy reported instances of harassment for years, which sometimes culminated in violent attacks. But according to some, the harassment and attacks were all staged by Cindy herself. After her body was found, an autopsy revealed that she died from an overdose of morphine. How she managed to hogtie herself up in a way that screamed "I was murdered!" after taking that much morphine remains a serious point of debate, and to this day, anything said about Cindy James's death has seemingly carried no more weight than an opinion.

    On Unsolved Mysteries, we hear both sides of the argument, but the "suicide" argument reads louder and clearer. Having read so much more about the case, I'm not so sure. It may not be one of the show's scariest segments in a literal sense, but the fact that you can't watch it without spending a few minutes (or hours, or days) envisioning the grim scenarios and trying to plug in the missing pieces -- which presumably would also be grim -- gives it a distinct chill.

  8. #143
    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    Awesome!! I can't wait to go through these celeb!

    I didn't say anything about it yesterday but the guy in this one really scared me.

    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!
    I don't want to give anything away to anybody who watches the videos but that guy is a CREEP. I don't know if he did it but he is scary.

  9. #144
    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    you guys stop posting those damn creepy stories!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. #145
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    Default The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist

    (not unsolved but still creepy and bizarre no matter how you look at it)

    The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist | Magazine


    According to the FBI's profile, the bomb builder was a "frugal person who saves scraps of sundry materials in order to reuse them in various projects."
    Photo: Michael Schmeling


    At 2:28 pm on August 28, 2003, a middle-aged pizza deliveryman named Brian Wells walked into a PNC Bank in Erie, Pennsylvania. He had a short cane in his right hand and a strange bulge under the collar of his T-shirt. Wells, 46 and balding, passed the teller a note. “Gather employees with access codes to vault and work fast to fill bag with $250,000,” it said. “You have only 15 minutes.” Then he lifted his shirt to reveal a heavy, boxlike device dangling from his neck. According to the note, it was a bomb. The teller, who told Wells there was no way to get into the vault at that time, filled a bag with cash—$8,702—and handed it over. Wells walked out, sucking on a Dum Dum lollipop he grabbed from the counter, hopped into his car, and drove off. He didn’t get far. Some 15 minutes later, state troopers spotted Wells standing outside his Geo Metro in a nearby parking lot, surrounded him, and tossed him to the pavement, cuffing his hands behind his back.

    Wells told the troopers that while out on a delivery he had been accosted by a group of black men who chained the bomb around his neck at gunpoint and forced him to rob the bank. “It’s gonna go off!” he told them in desperation. “I’m not lying.” The officers called the bomb squad and took positions behind their cars, guns drawn. TV camera crews arrived and began filming. For 25 minutes Wells remained seated on the pavement, his legs curled beneath him.

    “Did you call my boss?” Wells asked a trooper at one point, apparently concerned that his employer would think he was shirking his duties. Suddenly, the device started to emit an accelerating beeping noise. Wells fidgeted. It looked like he was trying to scoot backward, to somehow escape the bomb strapped to his neck. Beep… Beep… Beep. Boom! The device detonated, blasting him violently onto his back and ripping a 5-inch gash in his chest. The pizza deliveryman took a few last gasps and died on the pavement. It was 3:18 pm. The bomb squad arrived three minutes later.

    The police began sorting through a trove of physical evidence. In Wells’ car, they discovered the 2-foot-long cane, which turned out to be an ingeniously crafted homemade gun. The bomb itself was likewise a marvel of DIY design and construction. The device consisted of two parts: a triple-banded metal collar with four keyholes and a three-digit combination lock, and an iron box containing two 6-inch pipe bombs loaded with double-base smokeless powder. The hinged collar locked around Wells’ neck like a giant handcuff. Investigators could tell that it had been built using professional tools. The device also contained two Sunbeam kitchen timers and one electronic countdown timer. It had wires running through it that connected to nothing—decoys to throw off would-be disablers—and stickers bearing deceptive warnings. The contraption was a puzzle in and of itself.

    The most perplexing and intriguing pieces of evidence, though, were the handwritten notes that investigators found inside Wells’ car. Addressed to the “Bomb Hostage,” the notes instructed Wells to rob the bank of $250,000, then follow a set of complex instructions to find various keys and combination codes hidden throughout Erie. It contained drawings, threats, and detailed maps. If Wells did as he was told, the instructions promised, he’d wind up with the keys and the combination required to free him from the bomb. Failure or disobedience would result in certain death. “There is only one way you can survive and that is to cooperate completely,” the notes read in meticulous lettering that would later stymie handwriting analysis. “This powerful, booby-trapped bomb can be removed only by following our instructions… ACT NOW, THINK LATER OR YOU WILL DIE!” It seemed that whoever planned the robbery had also constructed a nightmarish scavenger hunt for Wells, in which the prize was his life.

    In the frantic hours after Wells was killed, the cops tried completing the hunt themselves. The first note was straightforward enough: “Exit the bank with the money and go to the McDonald’s resturaunt [sic],” it read. “Get out of the car and go to the small sign reading drive thru/open 24 hr in the flower bed. By the sign, there is a rock with a note taped to the bottom. It has your next instructions.” Wells drove straight there after he left the bank with the bag of cash. He retrieved a two-page note from the flower bed, which directed him up Peach Street to a wooded area several miles away, where a container with orange tape would hold the next set of instructions. Wells was caught before he got to that clue, but the investigators picked up the thread, locating the container with the orange tape. In it, they found a note directing them 2 miles south to a small road sign, where the next clue would be waiting in a jar in the woods nearby. When they got there, they found the jar, but it was empty. Whoever had set this macabre ordeal in motion, it seemed, had called it off once the cops had appeared—and had probably been watching them every step of the way.

    Wells’ clothing added another layer of intrigue. He died wearing two T-shirts, the outer one emblazoned with a Guess clothing logo. Wells wasn’t wearing the shirt at work that morning, and his relatives said it wasn’t his. It appeared to be a taunt: Can you guess who is behind this?

    That was just one of the questions that perplexed investigators. What, for instance, was the purpose of the scavenger hunt? Why send a hostage hopping around Erie in broad daylight? Why scatter clues in public locations where they might be discovered? How was Wells chosen to be the hostage?


    The bomb was rigged such that any attempt to remove it would set it off.
    Photo: Erie Federal Courthouse; Erie Bureau of Police; Newscom


    The riddles transfixed the city of Erie and drew headlines in newspapers from St. Louis to Sydney. It also set in motion a byzantine investigation, with federal agents sniffing out clues and hunting down leads in twisted pursuit of the shadowy criminal who came to be known as the Collar Bomber. For seven years, the FBI was engaged in a scavenger hunt of its own, one that the Collar Bomber seemed to have planned as intricately as the one that had ensnared Wells. The only question was whether the Feds would get any further than Wells had.

    The hunt began at Mama Mia’s Pizza-Ria. That’s where Wells was working at 1:30 pm on the day of the robbery, when an order came in for two small sausage-and-pepperoni pies to be delivered to a location on the outskirts of the city. Wells was a loyal employee—in 10 years, the only time he had called in late for work was when his cat died. Even though he was at the end of his shift, he agreed to deliver the order. He walked out of the shop, two pies in hand, at about 2 pm.


    Wells entered the bank with this ingenious handmade gun disguised as a cane.
    Photo: Michael Schmeling


    The delivery location, reachable only by a dirt road, was a TV transmission tower site in a wooded area off of busy Peach Street. When investigators combed the vicinity, they discovered shoe prints consistent with Wells’ footwear and tire tracks matching the treads on his Geo Metro. But the site offered no clues as to who may have lured him there or what happened once he arrived.

    The next day, a reporter and a photographer for the Erie Times-News headed to the tower. The dirt road leading there was cordoned off by authorities, but the journalists spotted a tall, heavyset man in denim Carhartt overalls pacing in front of a home that sat right next to it. His backyard extended almost to the transmission tower. The man identified himself as Bill Rothstein.

    Rothstein, 59, was an unmarried handyman and a lifelong resident of the area. He spoke elegantly, like someone who takes great pride in his mastery of the English language. (He was also fluent in French and Hebrew.) Rothstein seemed oblivious to the investigation unfolding beyond his backyard. The journalists, eager to get a view of the scene, asked Rothstein if he could lead them through his yard. He agreed. They headed into the thick brush but still couldn’t see much. After spending about 15 minutes at Rothstein’s place, they took off.

    Bill Rothstein may have appeared to be just a man who owned a house next to a TV tower. But he turned out to be hiding a dark secret. On September 20, less than a month after the bomb killed Wells, Rothstein called 911. “At 8645 Peach Street, in the garage, there is a frozen body,” he told the police dispatcher, referring to his own address. “It’s in the freezer.”

    Within hours of making the call, Rothstein was in custody. He told the cops that he had been in agony for weeks. He had considered killing himself, he told them, and had gone so far as to write a suicide note, which investigators found inside a desk at his home. Writing in black marker, Rothstein expressed his apologies “to those who cared for or about me,” identified the body in his freezer as that of Jim Roden, and noted that he “did not kill him, nor participate in his death.” The note opened with a curious disclaimer: “This has nothing to do with the Wells case.”


    Bill Rothstein was a handyman with the skills to fabricate an elaborate explosive device.
    Photo: Erie Federal Courthouse; Erie Bureau of Police; Newscom


    Over the next two days, Rothstein explained to police how a dead man came to be in his freezer. In mid-August, he said, he’d received a phone call from an ex-girlfriend, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, whom he had dated in the 1960s and early 1970s. Diehl-Armstrong told him she had shot her live-in boyfriend, James Roden, in the back with a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, in a dispute over money. Now she needed help removing the body and cleaning up the scene inside her Erie home, about 10 miles from Rothstein’s place. Rothstein did what she asked. He kept the corpse in a chest freezer in his garage for five weeks. He painstakingly melted down the murder weapon and scattered the pieces around Erie County. But, Rothstein said, he couldn’t go through with the plan to grind up the body, and he called 911 because he was afraid of what Diehl-Armstrong might do to him.

    On September 21—the day after Rothstein called 911—Diehl-Armstrong was arrested for the murder of Roden. Sixteen months later, in January 2005, she pleaded guilty but mentally ill and was sentenced to seven to 20 years in state prison. But by that time, Rothstein was past caring about the old girlfriend he’d given up to the cops: He had died of lymphoma in July 2004.

    The team of federal agents investigating the collar bomb mystery hadn’t been paying much attention to the Roden murder. It was a local matter and seemed to have nothing to do with their case. But in April 2005, they got a phone call from a state police officer who had just met with Diehl-Armstrong about an unrelated homicide. Rothstein’s suicide note, it seemed, was a lie; Diehl-Armstrong had said that Roden’s murder had everything to do with the collar bomb plot. When the Feds met with Diehl-Armstrong, she told them that, if they could arrange a transfer from Muncy state penitentiary to the minimum-security prison in Cambridge Springs, a facility much closer to Erie, she would tell them everything she knew.


    At the crime scene pages of instructions spelled out a macabre scavenger hunt. "Act now, think later" the note read, "or you will die!"
    Photo: Erie Federal Courthouse; Erie Bureau of Police; Newscom


    Even before she was arrested for killing Roden, Diehl-Armstrong was one of Erie’s most notorious figures, well known for her string of dead lovers. She first drew public attention in 1984 when, at 35, she was charged with murdering her boyfriend, Robert Thomas. Diehl-Armstrong claimed she shot him six times in self-defense, and a jury eventually acquitted her. Four years later, her husband, Richard Armstrong, died of a cerebral hemorrhage. The death was ruled accidental, but questions lingered; Armstrong had a head injury when he arrived at the hospital, but the case was never forwarded to the coroner’s office.

    Back in high school, according to former classmates, Diehl-Armstrong was known for her dazzling intelligence, and she still possessed an almost encyclopedic knowledge of literature, history, and the law. But over the years, that brilliance had become spiked with madness. According to court records, she suffered from bipolar disorder. Her moods swung sharply, and she appeared unable to control her nonstop, rapid-fire speech. She was paranoid and narcissistic. In 1984, investigators found 400 pounds of butter and more than 700 pounds of cheese, nearly all of it rotting, inside her trash-strewn house. Psychiatrists deemed her mentally incompetent seven times before a judge finally ruled she was fit to be tried in the Thomas case.

    She seemed to be exactly the kind of person—murderous, eccentric, and intent on demonstrating her intellectual gifts—who might devise an overly complicated bank heist. She also seemed to be the kind of person who would likely be unable to stop herself from telling the world about her brilliant ruse.


    Evidence collected over the course of the complex investigation: a Remington shotgun shell.
    Photo: Michael Schmeling


    When Diehl-Armstrong met with federal investigators for a series of interviews, that’s exactly what she appeared to be doing. While she insisted that she was not in any way involved in the plot, she admitted that she knew about it, that she had supplied the kitchen timers that were used in the bomb, and that she was within a mile of the bank at the time of the robbery. She also said that Wells, the dead pizza delivery guy, was not just a victim but had been in on the plan. And so was Rothstein, the man who turned her in for Roden’s murder. In fact, she asserted, he had masterminded the whole thing.

    But even as Diehl-Armstrong pointed the finger at Rothstein, she was implicating herself. Indeed, even before hearing her self-incriminating testimony, investigators had begun to suspect that Diehl-Armstrong was behind the collar bomb plot. Over the previous weeks, they had met with four separate informants who revealed that Diehl-Armstrong had talked about the crime in intimate detail. One kept notes of the conversations, which included Diehl-Armstrong’s assertions that she killed Roden because “he was going to tell about the robbery” and that she had helped measure Wells’ neck for the bomb.

    Then, in late 2005, a few months after Diehl-Armstrong first talked to the Feds, they received another break in the case: A witness came forward to say that an ex-television repairman turned crack dealer named Kenneth Barnes was also involved. Barnes, an old fishing buddy of Diehl-Armstrong, had spoken too freely about the plan, and his brother-in-law had turned him in while Barnes was already in jail on unrelated drug charges. Threatened with even more time behind bars, Barnes agreed to a deal: He would give a full account of the crime in exchange for a reduced sentence.

    Barnes confirmed the Feds’ belief that Diehl-Armstrong was the mastermind behind the collar bomb plot. He claimed she needed the cash so that she could pay him to kill her father, who she believed was blowing through his fortune—money she expected to inherit. Barnes insisted he was kept in the dark about several aspects of the plot. But even with holes, his account corroborated much of what the agents had already heard. The investigation, finally, was gaining steam.

    On February 10, 2006, federal agents met again with Diehl-Armstrong, who had brought her attorney. The agents told Diehl-Armstrong they had enough evidence to bring an indictment against her. She went ballistic, slamming her fist on a conference table and cursing out the agents and her lawyer. But, incredibly, she continued to speak with them. In a subsequent meeting, she even agreed to drive around Erie with them to point out where she was the day Wells robbed the bank. At the conclusion of the drive, in which she admitted to being at several locations linked to the crime, Diehl-Armstrong told the agents she wouldn’t provide any more information without receiving an immunity letter. It was too late. The woman who couldn’t stop talking had already said far too much.

    In July 2007, a month shy of the four-year anniversary of Wells’ death by collar bomb, the US attorney’s office in Erie called a news conference about “a major development” in the case. Standing before a bank of TV cameras, US attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced that the investigation was over. Diehl-Armstrong and Barnes were charged with carrying out the sensational crime—a plot that Diehl-Armstrong had put into motion. The indictment also charged that other conspirators were involved. Rothstein was one. And Wells, the purported victim, was another. Pulling together information culled from more than a thousand interviews over almost four years, the indictment charged that Wells was in on the scheme from the beginning. He had agreed to rob the bank wearing what he thought was a fake bomb. The scavenger hunt, he was told, was simply a ruse to fool the cops; if he got caught, he could point to the menacing instructions as evidence that he was merely following orders.

    But over time, Buchanan said, Wells went from being a planner to “an unwilling participant.” At some point, instead of merely playing the part of a hostage, Wells was double-crossed and actually became one. The fake bomb turned out to be a real one. And the scavenger hunt went from a clever piece of misdirection to a real-life race against the clock. Sitting in the press section, Wells’ family seemed stunned. One of his sisters, Barbara White, repeatedly shrieked “Liar!” as Buchanan completed her statement.

    Wells’ relatives weren’t the only ones who were dubious. For those who closely tracked the case, the government’s long-awaited announcement was severely unsatisfying. It seemed to provoke as many questions as it answered. Why would Wells participate in such a plot? Did he realize the danger that he was in? And could Diehl-Armstrong, with her myriad mental issues, really plan such a complex crime? The questions only multiplied a week later, when it was revealed that the FBI had concluded that the entire scavenger hunt was a hoax. The bomb was rigged such that any attempt to remove it would set it off. Wells was destined to die.

    Barnes pleaded guilty in September 2008 to the conspiracy and weapons charges involved in the collar bomb plot. He was sentenced to 45 years behind bars, but he agreed to testify against Diehl-Armstrong in the hope of getting his sentence reduced.


    More evidence collected over the course of the investigation (from left): a component from the collar bomb and directions leading the doomed victim to an orange-taped container in the woods.
    Photo: Michael Schmeling



    Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong's brilliance had become spiked with madness. Paranoid and narcissistic, her moods swung sharply and she appeared unable to control her nonstop, rapid-fire speech.
    Photo: Erie Federal Courthouse; Erie Bureau of Police; Newscom


    Diehl-Armstrong’s trial promised to clear up the mysteries that had surrounded the collar bomb case. But those revelations would have to wait. First a federal judge ruled Diehl-Armstrong mentally unfit to stand trial. When she finally was deemed ready to face a judge and jury, she was diagnosed with glandular cancer, and the proceeding was put on hold again as she awaited her prognosis. The judge received the doctors’ assessment in August 2010: Diehl-Armstrong had three to seven years to live. Prosecutors opted to press on, and the trial was rescheduled for October 12.

    Most intriguing, Diehl-Armstrong’s lawyer, Douglas Sughrue, had decided to let his client take the stand. It seemed to be a risky move. After all, she had already implicated herself in the murder. Was it wise to let such an erratic, unpredictable personality testify?

    On day five of the trial in the Erie Federal Courthouse, Ken Barnes took the stand. By this time, the prosecutor—Marshall Piccinini, a fast-talking, silver-haired assistant US attorney—had already built an impressive case. Summarizing the strange characters linked to the Wells plot as a cast of “twisted, intellectually bright, dysfunctional individuals who outsmarted themselves,” Piccinini had trotted out seven former inmates who recounted incriminating information that Diehl-Armstrong had shared with them. Barnes—the ex-crack dealer and would-be hit man—was Piccinini’s star witness, and his final one. He was also the man who seemed prepared, finally, to tell the whole story of what happened in the days leading up to August 28, 2003, the day of the robbery. Barnes, who had the wan face and sparse collection of teeth of the former crack addict he was, approached the bench and took the oath. Then he sat in the witness box and matter-of-factly described the conspiracy to a rapt jury.

    Diehl-Armstrong, Barnes said, devised the plan and enlisted a few coconspirators to help carry it out. Rothstein was one of them. Wells was another, lured in with the promise of a payday. He certainly needed the money. It turned out that the quiet pizza man had a relationship with a prostitute. With the help of his pal Barnes, he bought crack, which he then gave to the prostitute in exchange for sex. But in the weeks before the robbery, Wells fell into debt with his crack dealers and needed cash. It was only on the afternoon of the crime, when he delivered the pizzas to the TV transmission tower, that Wells realized he had been double-crossed and that the bomb was real. He was tackled as he tried to sprint away and locked into the device at gunpoint.

    Throughout Barnes’ testimony, Diehl-Armstrong angrily whispered to her attorney. Several times she blurted out “Liar!” drawing stern warnings from the judge. To all appearances, it was excruciating for her to listen to people like this discredit her.

    On October 26, the eighth day of the trial, Diehl-Armstrong finally got the opportunity to tell her version of events. For five and a half hours over two days, she used the witness stand as her stage. Her wavy black hair looked greasy and clung to the sides of her face. Every time she opened her mouth, she unleashed a torrent of words. She ridiculed her lawyer: “That’s a stupid question, Mr. Sughrue.” She belittled the prosecutor: “If this is the kind of evidence you have against me, I’m telling you, this is a pitiful case.” She cried. She yelled. More than 50 times, the judge sought—often futilely—to cut her off.

    During her first day on the stand, she mentioned Brian Wells only once, in the final 10 minutes of a nearly 100-minute-long diatribe: “I never met Brian Wells, and I never knew Brian Wells. Never. I became aware of him the day that he died. I saw it on the news.”

    The jury didn’t buy it. After deliberating for 11 hours, the seven women and five men returned guilty verdicts on all three charges: armed bank robbery, conspiracy, and using a destructive device in a crime of violence. She could face a mandatory life term when she is sentenced on February 28.

    After seven years, the outstanding questions had finally been answered. At least, that’s how most observers viewed Diehl-Armstrong’s conviction. But that’s not how Jim Fisher sees things. A retired FBI criminal investigator, Fisher started closely tracking the collar bomb case after he saw footage of Wells squirming on the pavement with the device yoked around his neck. The then-64-year-old criminal justice professor had a thing for unsolved crimes, and this was one of the most staggering he had ever seen. He obsessively pored over the media coverage of the case and studied every piece of evidence released by the FBI. And, according to Fisher, there is no way that Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong planned the collar bomb caper.

    For proof, Fisher points to a profile of the Collar Bomber produced by the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. “It continues to be the opinion of the [department] that this is much more than a mere bank robbery,” it reads. “The behavior seen in this crime was choreographed by ‘Collarbomber’ watching on the sidelines according to a written script in which he attempted to direct others to do what he wanted them to do… Because of the complex nature of this crime, the [FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit] believes there were multiple motives for the offender, and money was not the primary one.” In other words, the robbery was never the point. Whoever planned the heist didn’t care whether Wells ever delivered the cash. They just wanted to craft a beguiling puzzle, one that would resist explanation for years to come and that would keep cops and investigators hunting fruitlessly after clues just as Wells was sent on his doomed scavenger hunt.

    None of this, Fisher says, sounds much like Diehl-Armstrong, who prosecutors credited with planning the whole affair in order to get enough money to pay a hit man. But if Diehl-Armstrong didn’t set this plan in motion, who did? Fisher turns back to the FBI’s profile, which states that the bomb builder was “comfortable around a wide variety of power tools and shop machines.” He was “a frugal person who saves scraps of sundry materials in order to reuse them in various projects.” And he was “the type of person who takes pride in building a variety of things.”

    To Fisher, that sounds like a description of Bill Rothstein, the man who lived next to the TV tower and who agreed to keep a dead man in his garage freezer. The handyman had the skills to fabricate such an elaborate explosive device. Even more convincing to Fisher was the description of the mastermind directing others according to a written script that only he seemed to have access to.


    Ex-television repairman turned crack dealer Ken Barnes testified on day five of Diehl-Armstrong's trial. Several times throughout his testimony, Diehl-Armstrong blurted out "Liar!"
    Photo: Erie Federal Courthouse; Erie Bureau of Police; Newscom


    In Fisher’s view, Rothstein toyed with the investigators from the start, concocting the scavenger hunt at least in part to send them on a useless chase, eating up valuable time in the precious days after the robbery. Then there was the 911 call. Fingering Diehl-Armstrong in the Roden murder case allowed Rothstein to frame the Wells investigation on his own terms. If he hadn’t gone to the Feds, he knew, Diehl-Armstrong or one of his coconspirators would have. So he implicated Diehl-Armstrong in the Roden case before she could rat him out, all while pleading ignorance of the collar bomb affair. He also gave the impression that he was a man with nothing to hide. After all, why would someone who was involved in the plot voluntarily call the cops and meet with them for hours? Rothstein continued to deny any knowledge of the collar bomb plot on his deathbed, even though he seemingly had no more reason to hide. Until his dying day, Rothstein was insulating himself, or in Fisher’s words, “controlling the narrative.”

    In his closing argument at Diehl-Armstrong’s trial, the prosecutor, Piccinini, described the crime as a “ludicrous, overwrought, overworked, desperately failed plan.” If stealing money was the ultimate goal, then that’s a pretty accurate summary. But Fisher thinks that this wasn’t about money. Rothstein, who never accomplished much in life, wanted to prove his brilliance by executing a crime that would grab headlines across the globe and baffle authorities for years. He recruited coconspirators he knew he could control and kept crucial details of the plot from them—a tactic designed to further complicate the investigation.

    “The son of a bitch ended up winning,” Fisher says. “He died with all of the secrets. He died taking all the answers with him. He gets the last laugh in that sense. He escaped punishment. He escaped detection. He left us with these idiots and a bunch of questions.”

    Those questions, Fisher says, serve as a reminder of Rothstein’s ultimate triumph. He died a free man. And the last step in the scavenger hunt, the clue that reveals the answers that the agents had been searching for all along, will forever remain hidden.

  11. #146
    Elite Member SuriCruise's Avatar
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    Holy hell, that is some Saw type shit right there. What an interesting read! Please share any more like this you know about, celeb2006!
    And so, I will keep fighting to make the US a more progressive, multi-cultural country, and my fight starts on GossipRocks - mikesandy

  12. #147
    Elite Member Nevan's Avatar
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    That was a lot to read, but well worth it!! Love it and I agree; please share more if you have them!!

  13. #148
    Elite Member NoNoRehab's Avatar
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    Re: Brandon Swanson-

    "We were saying, 'We're flashing our lights!' " Annette Swanson said. Over the phone, they could hear their son working the light switch in his car. Click-click, click-click.

    "Don't you see me?" he asked.

    "There was nothing," his father said, "absolutely nothing."

    Everyone grew frustrated.
    I remember seeing a somewhat similar incident to this on one of those crime/mystery shows like Dateline. A young couple were heading home from a party in a northern state (Idaho or Montana or something like that) when a snowstorm struck. Their car died and they started wandering around, but called 911 several times on their cell phones and the authorities followed their directions to try and rescue them, but there was no trace of them in the spots they claimed to be. At one point, the man of the couple was on the phone with 911 when he claimed he saw a crowd of people and yelled to them for help, but that the people wouldn't respond.

    Anyway, the couple's bodies were eventually discovered and it turns out they died of exposure. In retracing their steps, the police discovered that the "people" who the guy was screaming at were cows in a field. The directions were all wrong because the couple had taken some drugs (I think ecstasy) at the party they had been at and so that's why they were certain about where they were even though they had gotten off course.

    Anyway, that's the first thing I thought of when I read that article about Brandon Swanson, because there are several similarities, including that Brandon at one point got frustrated and hung up on his mom (the man in the show I saw also got angry at the 911 operator and hung up on her at one point). The certainty/ belligerence about being in an area that you should be familiar with, but then people can't find you there and it turns out you're several miles nearby is really similar in the two cases.

    Re: his car being drivable. I think the couple in the story I saw also left their car when it was actually drivable. They were stoned and just mistakenly thought the car was dead when it was just turned off, and wandered out into the woods. They would have lived had they just stayed in the car and not gone out into the weather. I'm thinking that Brandon, being a college student out partying that night, probably took some drugs that fucked up his senses and he was convinced that he was where he told his parents he was, but his sense of direction was all fucked up. He thought his car was totaled even though he could've driven it out of the ditch, but was too stoned to notice. He probably cursed when his phone's battery died, and then wandered into the river nearby and drowned.
    "Don't trust nobody, and 'nobody' meaning Jay Leno in particular." -Chris Rock

  14. #149
    Elite Member NVash's Avatar
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    That Collar Bomb case was a long read but it was definitely worth it. However Im thinking Rothstein didnt get off so easy, dying of lymphoma. I dont know if thats karma or what, but the man died of lymphoma, the other was blown up, and the woman died of glandular cancer?

  15. #150
    Elite Member NoNoRehab's Avatar
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    This is one of my favorite creepy UM segments. It inspired the beginning of the movie "Jeepers Creepers."

    I always thought this couple was extremely lucky that Dennis Depue didn't go after them and kill them. They were brave to be so persistent in getting his license plate but also kind of foolish!
    "Don't trust nobody, and 'nobody' meaning Jay Leno in particular." -Chris Rock

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