Top 10 Unsolvable Crimes That Were Actually Solved

Top 10 Unsolvable Crimes That Were Actually Solved
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Don Ekama
The truth rarely stays buried. For this list, we'll be looking at the most puzzling criminal cases that had investigators stumped for extended periods of time and were only solved due to a lucky break or unexpected clue. Our countdown of unsolvable crimes that were actually solved includes The Disappearance of Paulette Jaster, The Cold Case of Susan Schwarz, Son of Sam, and more!

Top 10 Unsolvable Crimes That Were Actually Solved

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Unsolvable Crimes That Were Actually Solved.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most puzzling criminal cases that had investigators stumped for extended periods of time and were only solved due to a lucky break or unexpected clue.

Did we miss any other challenging cases that were eventually cracked? Kindly demystify them for us in the comments below!

#10: The Disappearance of Paulette Jaster

On May 12th 1979, Paulette Jaster left her parents’ home in Davison, Michigan and disappeared without contact. For more than 30 years, her family remained clueless on her whereabouts. Meanwhile, over a thousand miles away in Houston, Texas, officials sought to identify a hit-and-run victim from March 1980, without any DNA or dental x-rays on file. This Jane Doe remained nameless until January 2014 when forensic anthropologist Sharon Derrick cracked the case. Autopsy pictures of the unidentified victim showed three distinctive freckles on her cheek. After receiving an online tip, Derrick contacted Jaster’s family and was able to match the freckles with her childhood pictures, confirming Jane Doe’s identity as the long-lost Jaster.

#9: Texas Crime Solved by “America’s Most Wanted”

A crime in Rollingwood, Texas would’ve probably gone unsolved if not for an eerie coincidence. In May 1992, a cook at the Green Parrot Cafe in Salt Lake City, Utah was killed in a robbery gone wrong. After the suspect jumped bail, the case was featured on a 1993 episode of “America’s Most Wanted”. Many of the employees and patrons of the Green Parrot gathered at the cafe to watch the segment. Coincidentally, the subsequent segment featured a case in Rollingwood, Texas whose runaway suspect turned out to be Kenneth Lovci, the replacement cook hired after the former chef was killed. Lovci was still in the kitchen flipping burgers when the police were called in to arrest him.

#8: The Case of David Guy

In July 2012, the remains of David Guy, a Hampshire, England resident were discovered on a beach. Guy had been murdered, wrapped in a curtain and dumped there, presumably by his killer. Despite an initial lack of evidence, a breakthrough emerged when police discovered eight cat hairs on the curtain. This proved to be their smoking gun, as David Hilder, one of Guy’s neighbors who owned a cat, became a prime suspect. Mitochondrial DNA analysis confirmed a match between hairs from Hilder’s cat and those obtained at the crime scene. Hilder was subsequently convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to life imprisonment, making the first instance cat DNA was used in a British criminal trial.

#7: Son of Sam

Dubbed the Son of Sam, David Berkowitz killed six people and wounded seven others in 1970s New York. His seemingly random spree baffled investigators until a parking violation led to his arrest after months of eluding police. In July 1977, Berkowitz drove to Brooklyn for what would be his final murder, but was issued a ticket after parking illegally. Cacilia Davis, a local resident who was walking her dog that night, witnessed the ticket being issued and later encountered Berkowitz with what looked like a gun in his hand. Moments later, she heard the gunshots that claimed his final victim. Davis reported the encounter to the police, who traced the ticket to Berkowitz’s car and arrested him just outside his house.

#6: Finnish Car Theft

Mosquitoes are often only viewed as vectors of the deadly disease, malaria. But when a car was stolen in Lapua, Finland in 2008, it was a mosquito that helped police in identifying the suspect. The stolen car was found abandoned near a railway station, roughly 15 miles away from where it was taken. Inside the vehicle, police discovered a mosquito that appeared to have recently sucked blood. They carefully collected the insect and sent it to a laboratory for analysis. The test results revealed a match between the blood in the mosquito and that of a man in the police register. Although the suspect denied the allegations, claiming to have only hitchhiked in the car, he was arrested by police.

#5: Steve Carter Solves His Own Disappearance

What would you do if you found your picture on a missing persons’ site? For Steve Carter, that wasn’t just a hypothetical. In 2010, Carter, who was adopted as a child, embarked on a search for his roots. This led him to a missing children’s website where, astonishingly, he found an age-progression image of himself. Carter contacted the police and took a DNA test, which confirmed that he was Marx Panama Moriarty Barnes, who had been missing since 1977. Barnes was taken by his birth mother and ultimately ended up in an orphanage in Hawaii. The case would’ve probably remained unsolved, if not for Carter’s own curiosity, which reunited him with his birth family after more than three decades.

#4: The Cold Case of Susan Schwarz

For over 30 years, the 1979 shooting death of Susan Schwarz at her Washington home puzzled detectives. A major breakthrough came in 2011 when an inmate saw Schwarz’s face on a cold case card and called police with a tip. The inmate recalled a man named Gregory Johnson confessing to the murder. This tip led police to a witness who admitted to being present at the scene when Johnson took Schwarz’s life. She had been threatened to prevent her from coming forward with her testimony. Apparently, Schwarz was a friend to Johnson’s wife and had helped her leave him after repeated cases of domestic violence. Johnson was arrested based on the witness’ testimony and dealt a 24-year prison sentence.

#3: The Kidnapping of Monica Judith Bonilla

In 1983, Nyleen Marshall was abducted during a family panic at the Helena National Forest in Montana. Her disappearance garnered significant attention and was featured on the NBC series “Unsolved Mysteries” seven years later. After the episode aired, authorities received a call from a viewer who believed he had seen Marshall. When the tip was investigated, police discovered that the girl was not Marshall. Instead, she was Monica Judith Bonilla, who had been kidnapped in 1982 by her non-custodial father. Bonilla’s mother had spent about $20,000 searching for her, to no avail. She was reunited with her daughter after eight long years. Sadly, the mystery behind Nyleen Marshall’s disappearance remains unsolved.

#2: The Disappearance of Dawn Sanchez

Sometimes, criminal cases get so out-of-this-world that investigators have to call on NASA to help solve them. Dawn Sanchez disappeared on August 30th 1991 after leaving a motel in the car of her boyfriend, Bernardo Bass. Despite a witness alleging that Bass had killed Sanchez in his car, a lack of evidence led to the case being dismissed. Nearly two decades later, police got information that Bass’ car was possibly buried in an abandoned lot. Due to cost constraints, they turned to NASA for help. Using an underground magnetic rover, they were able to unearth vehicular parts that matched Bass’ car and found evidence that Sanchez’s body had been there. Bass ultimately pleaded no contest to manslaughter and received a six-year prison sentence.

#1: The Golden State Killer

Between 1974 and 1986, hundreds of lives were affected by the actions of the Golden State Killer. The then-unidentified individual was responsible for 13 murders, as well as dozens of assaults and burglaries. After 1986, however, the killer’s reign of terror came to an end and the case grew cold. It would take the persistent efforts of investigators, and crime writer Michelle McNamara, to identify the culprit. By 2018, DNA technology had advanced enough for police to trace evidence from the crime scenes to former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo. DeAngelo had stopped killing and transitioned to normal life as a truck mechanic before he was arrested in April 2018. He was sent behind bars for the rest of his natural life.