There’s a dark side to this scenic beauty queen we call Northern California. Unfortunately, heavenly weather and cultural diversity doesn’t exclude us from our ugly share of homicides, gang violence or serial killers.
Murder and mayhem pepper the nightly news, and for the most part the police are fantastic at finding their man…or woman. But every so often a sinister foe gives them a run for their money and eludes capture.
It’s these disturbing stories and unanswered mysteries to some of the most heinous crimes we’re shining a spotlight on today. (Just plan on sleeping with the lights on tonight.)
1. The Legend of the Lemurian People, Mt. Shasta
California's Mount Shasta has been the subject of an unusually large number of myths and legends. Mount Shasta has also been a focus for non-native American legends, centered on a hidden city of advanced beings from the lost continent of Lemuria. The legend grew from an offhand mention of Lemuria in the 1880s. In 1899, Frederick Spencer Oliver published
A Dweller on Two Planets, which claimed that survivors from a sunken continent called Lemuria were living in or on Mount Shasta. Could it be they're just confusing themselves with the folks who love to hike year-round?
2. The dissappearance of Pan Am Clipper Romance of the Skies
Clipper Romance Of The Skies was an around-the-world flight originating in San Francisco that flew westbound with several stops before arriving in Philadelphia. On the morning of November 8, 1957 the aircraft, a Boeing 377, departed San Francisco on its first leg to Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii at 11:51am PST. Last contact with the aircraft consisted of a routine radio transmission between the pilot in command and a US Coast Guard cutter performing radar surveillance duty at Ocean Station November located at the approximate halfway point between the mainland and Oahu. The flight never arrived in Hawaii. It plunged into the Pacific, killing all 44 people on board. Subsequent investigations showed suspicious circumstances surrounding the crash, but no definitive cause has ever been found.
3. Escape from Alcatraz
On the night of June 11 or early morning of June 12, 1962, inmates Clarence Anglin, John Anglin, and Frank Morris tucked papier-mâché heads resembling their own likenesses into their beds, broke out of the main prison building via an unused utility corridor, and departed Alcatraz Island aboard an improvised inflatable raft to an uncertain fate.
Hundreds of leads have been pursued by the FBI and local law enforcement officials in the ensuing years, but no conclusive evidence has ever surfaced revealing the success or failure of the attempt. Numerous theories of widely varying plausibility have been proposed by authorities, reporters, family members, and amateur enthusiasts. In 1979 the FBI officially concluded, on the basis of circumstantial evidence and a preponderance of expert opinion, that the men drowned in the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay before reaching the mainland. The U.S. Marshals Service case file remains open and active, however, and Morris and the Anglin brothers remain on its wanted list.
4. The Willard Keith DD-775
It's rumored that during World War II and during a training run from San Clemente to San Francisco, the Willard Keith encountered, depth-charged, and supposedly destroyed a sonar contact of unknown origin or nationality. The matter was allegedly suppressed by the ship's officers, save the eyewitness accounts of some crew members. However, no documentation or physical proof of this alleged encounter has ever been discovered. A few remaining crew members of the Willard Keith have formed a non-profit organization (The Marine War Memorial Association of Half Moon Bay, CA) with the mission of finding and memorializing this alleged sunken wreck.
5. The Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House is a mansion in San Jose, California which was once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester. After her husband's death from tuberculosis in 1881, Sarah Winchester inherited more than $20.5 million. The couple had only had one child, who died soon after birth. Tabloids from the time claimed that a Boston medium told Mrs. Winchester - while channelling her late husband's ghost - to make amends to those killed by Winchester rifles and build them a mansion big enough to hold their spirits. In 1884 she purchased an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley and began building her mansion. She hired carpenters who worked on the house day and night until it became a seven-story mansion.There are roughly 160 rooms, including 40 bedrooms and two ballrooms (one completed and one unfinished), 47 fireplaces, more than 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys (with evidence of two others), two basements, and three elevators. Some doors open into walls, and some hallways lead to dead ends.
After Sarah Winchester's death in 1922 the mansion was opened as a tourist attraction. Even Harry Houdini couldn't resist taking a tour; the local newspaper was there to record his visit. The mystery remains: what exactly did Mrs. Winchester hope to achieve with her bizarre house of wonder?
While the world may be curious about these unsolved mysteries, we are better off burying these memories in the sand at the nearest beach and reminding ourselves what lovely weather we have instead.