Holiday Mayhem: 5 Thanksgiving Crime Mysteries

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Photo courtesy of baytowncrimestoppers.com.

The true purpose of Thanksgiving is to show gratitude for the wonderful things in your life. And to celebrate that appreciation with your loved ones.

Unfortunately though, for some, the holiday does not represent gratitude. But rather, the day has become synonymous with grief and terror.

Here are 5 horrific Thanksgiving crimes that have yet to be solved.

Exploding Briefcase

It was Thanksgiving 1985 in Lake Worth, Texas. A few members of the Blount family were returning home after a quick drive to the convenience store. When they arrived, 15-year old Angela Blount discovered a briefcase on the front porch of the family’s residence.

So, Angela decided to open the bag, which exploded. Angela died immediately, along with her father and cousin. The crime went unsolved for a decade. Then, a man named Michael Tony was arrested and convicted for the triple murder of the Blount family.

Years later, Toney’s conviction was overturned. Toney’s exoneration was a result of the prosecution’s withholding of crucial evidence that casted serious doubt on his guilt.

Officials have speculated that the killings were a case of mistaken identity, and that the briefcase was intended for their neighbors. This theory, however, never gained traction. And, no further evidence was ever produced in the case.

To date, no one has been held accountable for the crime.

Eureka Vanishing

It was 1997, and a seemingly quiet Thanksgiving in Eureka, California. A college student named Karen Marie Mitchell was home for the holiday to see her family and earn a couple of bucks at a part-time job.

After leaving work, Karen stopped by her aunt’s shoe store for a quick visit. They chatted for a bit, and then Karen headed home to prepare for the family’s Thanksgiving feast.

Sadly, Karen was never seen again.

Suspects were identified. The first person of interest was brought in, and admitted to several killings, but denied any involvement in Karen’s disappearance. Police eventually released him, as it became apparent they had the wrong guy.

Then, the next suspect was questioned. It was Robert Durst, the infamous killer that was profiled on HBO’s The Jinx. Eyewitnesses verified that Durst had visited the aunt’s shoe store on several prior occasions. And that he was in Eureka on the day of the vanishing. Unfortunately, however, the evidence tying Durst to Karen’s disappearance was weak. So, he was never held accountable for the crime.

Karen’s whereabouts remain a mystery.

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Photo courtesy of thegreatcourses.com.

A Century of Mystery

On Thanksgiving Day in 1919, a Schenectady, New York wildlife agent named John H. Woodruff left his home early in the day to conduct his daily patrol. Off into the wilderness he went, never to return home.

Two years later, Woodruff’s mutilated body was found buried in shallow grave near a forest waterway. His skull was broken in half, which indicated Woodruff had taken a blow to the  head from a rather large object.

Mrs. Woodruff claimed that her husband had received a threatening letter a few months prior to his disappearance, but that she had since discarded the note. Witnesses claim to have spotted Woodruff arguing, on the day in question, with another man. And that the two of them went off into the woods together.

None of these leads resulted in any real evidence. Not a single suspect was ever identified, and the case was never solved.

Thanksgiving John Doe

On Thanksgiving Day in 1997,  a woman was taking a stroll through the scenic landscape of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The woman was an avid bird watcher, and had spent the better part of Thanksgiving viewing these creatures in the forest near her boyfriend’s house.

Suddenly, she spotted (what she thought was) a heron. Her heart raced with excitement, as she proceeded to get a closer look. The woman’s excitement turned to horror upon realizing that what she spotted was not a heron, but rather – a pair of sneakers. And that the sneakers were attached to the decomposing body of a young man, who was wedged between rocks on the shore of the Neshaminy Creek.

The man was dressed in nice Tommy Hilfiger clothing, but he had no wallet or any sort of identification.  It’s twenty years later, and his identity and cause of death remain a mystery.

The Mystery of D.B Cooper

On Thanksgiving Eve in 1971, a man named Dan Cooper boarded a Northwest Airlines flight from Portland to Seattle. Around mid-flight, Cooper approached a flight attendant to reveal he had a bomb in his carry-on luggage. And it wasn’t a bluff.

According to the flight crew, Cooper (who the media dubbed D.B. Cooper) was exceptionally polite to everyone on board, and never showed signs of aggression during his hijacking. The pilot complied with his request to land in Seattle. And, upon landing, he asked for $200,000 in cash, and two parachutes. His demands were met by both the airline and FBI.

Once Cooper received his cash and parachutes, he released the unharmed passengers. But, the flight crew stayed onboard, and were instructed to fly directly to Mexico City. A short while into the flight to Mexico, Cooper advised the attendants to move to the cockpit, for their own safety. He then proceeded to open a cabin door, and jump out of the plane with cash in hand, and a parachute on his back.

Years later, a small portion of the stolen money was found in a forest located near Portland. But, although some of the cash was located – Cooper has never been found. In fact, no one even knows his true identity. In 2009, the FBI officially closed its file on this unsolved mystery.

These spine tingling true life mysteries confirm that we must always remain vigilant and aware of our surroundings. Are there any unsolved Thanksgiving crimes from your neck of the woods?

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Click on more articles that might be of interest:

The Future of Forensics: 5 Cutting Edge Techniques

 

8 Key Traits of Highly Effective Detectives

 

10 Common Traits of Career Criminals

 

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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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