Are you someone who couldn’t get enough Unsolved Mysteries when it was on TV? Did you love the conspiracy theories and the mysterious cases that Mulder and Scully got caught up in on the X-Files? Whether you love hearing about mysterious happenings or you get your kicks from having a stack of books on true crime and unsolved happenings to plow through, we’re pretty sure that these 11 unsolved mysterious in Illinois will leave you scratching your head. Make sure to turn on the lights and lock the doors before reading.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Airtight Bridge Murder, Coles County
The Airtight Bridge hangs over the Embarras River in this rural region of Illinois. It used to be a popular spot for teens to get together to drink. In October 1980, two Urbana men discovered the naked body of a woman near the bridge. She was missing her head, hands and feet. While a full investigation was conducted, no killer was ever found. Fortunately, a major break in this case in 1992 allowed the local Sheriff’s department to identify the woman, who was a Bradley, Illinois resident. Her tombstone now displays her name in Charleston’s Mound Cemetery.
2. The Devil Stone, Glen Ellyn
In the mid 1970s, Gilbert and Trudy Woods unearthed a strange stone in their backyard that had odd etching and symbols that included a serpent. Soon after, disturbing instances plagued them. Gilbert experienced a heart attack and Trudy unexplainably went blind for three months, and was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Once this happened they offered the stone to a friend who also experienced creepy happenings: Lights that turned off and on by themselves, and bees that swarmed her home in the winter. Unfortunately, no one knows where that mysterious stone is today (you better check your backyard!).
3. The Burton Cave, Quincy
In the late 1800s a group of friends were picnicking near the cave when a storm sent them running into the cave for refuge. There they reported seeing a man dressed in a long, draping black robe and a dead woman all in white laid out among candles like a funeral. You better believe they immediately rushed out of there and reported their findings to the Quincy authorities, who ventured out the next day and found no trace of the robed man or the dead woman.
4. Burrows’ Findings, Richland County
In 1982, Russell Burrows discovered a cave near his hometown of Olney. What he discovered in the cave was truly astonishing. Along with human remains he also found gold artifacts that contained Egyptian, Greek, Middle Eastern and other European words and etchings. Of course, Burrows refused to show scientists where he found these awesome finds and unfortunately the artifacts were said to be frauds, but until the cave is unearthed we will never really know for certain!
5. Watseka Possession, Watseka
A 13-year-old Wateska resident named Lurancy Vennum found herself the center of spiritual possession in the late 1800s. She would slip into and right back out of short comas and awake to tell people that she had communicated with people in Heaven. Her parents sought professional help from Dr. E. Winchester Stevens. When he asked her to let a spirit take control of her body she awoke telling everyone she was Mary Roff, a woman from Wateska who had died in a mental hospital when Lurancy was only a child. Lurancy had personal and specific knowledge of Mary Roff’s life to which she never would have had access.
6. The Max Headroom Broadcast Hijack, Chicago
It’s November 22, 1987. The Chicago Bears have just beat the Detroit Lions 30-10. Then suddenly the screen goes black and then a man appears, wearing a Max Headroom mask and sunglasses. He shuffles around on screen before the frequency is quickly changed.
Later that night while viewers were enjoying Doctor Who, WTTW’s signal was hijacked once more. The same Max Headroom hijacker spouted weird statements about “fricking Liberals” and talking about a bloodstained glove. He even went so far as to be spanked on public television. The hijacking was over before anyone at WTTW could figure out what was going on. Fortunately, Doctor Who fans were taping the episode so that others now can experience the weirdness first hand.
7. John Doe No. 24, Jacksonville
In Jacksonville in 1945, police found an unidentified teenager who was deaf and mute wandering around the town. No parents claimed him so he was sent to a state mental health facility. His medical records stated that diabetes had taken his eyesight and that he was severely mentally challenged.
But the nursing home in Peoria where his spent the last six years of his life reported John Doe scribbling down the name “Lewis” on multiple occasions, as well as physically reenacting experiences with circus parades and lively foot-tapping jazz bars. While no one will ever know the potentially amazing life this John Doe had experienced as a youngster, you can now visit his gravestone, which was purchased by the famous singer Mary Chapin Carpenter.
8. Mystery of the Albino Railroad Tracks, St. Clair County
When this railroad was laid back in the 1800s, a disease also tore through the neighboring town. One farmer blamed this pandemic on a pair of young albino twins. He took the children and tied them to the tracks, where a train struck and killed the twins. The ghosts of these twins have been said to push non-working or stalled vehicles over the tracks to save drivers’ lives.
9. The Mystery of Diamond Island, Hardin
It was 1885 and two local men went out fishing along the river on a small island near the rural town of Hardin. At midnight they reported seeing a bright fire ball that shot through the trees and into the air where it hovered. When town got word of this weird phenomenon, a local gathering went out to Diamond Island to see for themselves. It didn’t take long for them to witness the whole island immersed in glowing light. A flaming ball rose out of the trees and into the air where it then landed in one of their boats, pushing it out into the river. Within the flames the ghost-hunting team said they saw an old man in overalls standing on the boat as it was carried away. After a few more months of fiery terror in this small town, the “Hardin Monster” was never seen or heard from again.
10. The Grass Lake Encounter, Grass Lake
For those UFO lovers out there, this story is for you. In 1973, this small farming town that sits on the Illinois-Wisconsin border reported orange UFOs in the night sky. These nightly UFO sightings were documented by at least three local families who also reported experiencing disturbing poltergeist activity shortly after. They found visible claw marks furniture knocked over in the homes, and they even felt their houses bouncing around and shaking from the very foundation. Even sightings of creepy, Bigfoot-like humanoids were experienced in these homes.
11. The Mad Gasser of Mattoon, Mattoon
Back in the 1940s, a small Illinois town fell victim to someone or something that was emitting poisonous gasses into people’s homes. In some cases, the gasser even made barricades to prevent the victims from escaping. People reported sore throats and nausea, and some people swore they even saw someone moving around outside their homes at the time. While some theories point to an angry local medical student, they have never discovered who led this little hamlet into mass hysteria. Weirdly enough, this same gassing scenario had happened a few years prior in Virginia.
Are there other unsolved mysteries in the state of Illinois that you would love to add to this list? We are ready to hear more stories that give us goosebumps. Be sure to share your stories in the comments!