Unfortunately, murders and disappearances happen all over the world every day, and
Texas has plenty of grisly unsolved mysteries to keep you awake at night. I dug deep to uncover some of the most baffling, bone-chilling mysteries that are still unsolved today despite relentless and tireless police investigations. If you’re a true crime buff, buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy, creepy, and exciting ride. Maybe you have the missing piece to the puzzle, or maybe you just like a good mystery. Here are 7 of the most disturbing, bewildering unsolved mysteries in Texas:
1) The murder of Amber Hagerman
Perhaps one of the most well-known, frustrating cases ever in Texas, the murder of Amber Hagerman gained worldwide attention and even prompted officials to create Amber alerts for missing persons. On January 13, 1996, the nine year old was riding her bicycle to an abandoned grocery store in Arlington with her five year old brother, but he went home while she stayed behind for a while.
A neighbor, Jim Kevil, saw Amber riding her bike alone from his backyard. He witnessed someone in a pickup truck pull up and snatch her. When she screamed, he immediately called police, and they launched a massive search to find her along with volunteers and the FBI. They felt certain that the abductor knew the area well since the abandoned lot was popular for young kids to play at.
Four days later, a man walking his dog found Amber's body at the bottom of a creek bed in Arlington. An autopsy confirmed she had been held alive for two days, and during that time she had been sexually assaulted. The police have responded to thousands of leads during their investigations, but none of them led to the murderer. The killer still runs free today, but police say they will never give up on her case.
A lot has changed since 1996 and stranger danger has taken on a completely new meaning since this case. Families are much more protective of young children knowing that horrors like this can and have occurred.
2) Lover's Lane Murders
On August 23, 1990, 22 year old Cheryl Henry and her 21 year old boyfriend Andy Atkinson went out for the night, never to return. The next day, they were found brutally murdered in a desolate, undeveloped wooded area in West Houston that was popularly known as "Lover's Lane" since many couples ventured there for alone time. The couple's car was still at the scene, but their bodies were found in the woods nearby. Cheryl had been raped and then murdered; her throat was slashed and her body was covered up with pieces of wood. Her boyfriend Andy was found tied to a tree with his throat also slashed. Apparently he was nearly decapitated, and the police also found a golf club and three golf balls lined up in a row pointing to Cheryl's body.
Four partially deflated balloons were discovered tied to the tree above Cheryl's head, and a $20 bill was on the ground next to her. Cheryl was killed first, which meant Andy had to look on helplessly and hear Cheryl scream in agonizing terror. The Harris County Sheriff's Department linked the murders to another unsolved rape and burglary that was committed a few months before the Lover's Lane murders, but the case still remains unsolved.
Similar to the Amber case, this is a killer who knew the area well enough to know that this spot was frequented by couples. But the "games" arranged around the couples adds a terrifying and psychotic element to the case.
3) The Killing Fields
This story consists of many, many murders and disappearances along a stretch of I-45 South between Houston and Galveston. Since the 1970s, more than 30 young women and children have been found dumped along this remote stretch of highway, and some have been found in a 25 acre patch of land a mile from I-45 that has been dubbed "The Killing Fields." Detectives believe this was the work of a serial killer due to the sheer number of bodies found in the same area. In a letter written to police in 1998, a convicted murderer named Edward Howard Bell claimed to have murdered 11 girls in Galveston County, and although he was a suspect in the case, police didn't have enough evidence to press charges against him. Only one of the brutal murders was ever solved when Louisiana police arrested Kevin Edison Smith in 2009 on drug charges. His DNA matched the biological evidence found at the crime scene of Krystal Jean Baker, who was just 13 years old when she disappeared from a Texas City convenience store in 1996. Unfortunately, the rest of the murders stand unsolved...
But what we can gather from the confession and then conviction from two different criminals is that there may have been many killers involved in this case.
4) The Ice Box Murders
This is one of the most baffling, strange cases in Houston's and even Texas's history. On June 23, 1965, police got a call from a man named Marvin, the nephew of Edwina Rogers, who was one of the victims in the crime. He had been calling the house a few times and got concerned when his phone calls went unanswered, so Marvin contacted police. When they arrived at the home of the elderly couple, Fred and Edwina Rogers, they saw nothing immediately suspicious. The house was locked, but they forced their way inside. Food was found on the table, and for some reason the officers had a hunch to check the fridge. Inside, they found numerous slabs of washed, unwrapped meat stacked in an orderly fashion on the shelves, which they thought had come from a butchered hog. They didn't find that particularly unusual; however, just as one of the officers was about to close the door, he saw two heads staring back at him from the vegetable bin, which were that of Fred and Edwina Rogers. The cuts of meat were actually the legs and torsos of the victims. Investigators determined that a claw hammer was used to beat Fred to death, and both his eyes had been gouged out. Edwina had been shot at close range in the head, and both their bodies had been dismembered and hacked apart in the bathroom. Despite the gruesome murders, not a drop of blood was found in the house. The couple's sex organs had been found in a sewer outside the house, and some of the body parts were never recovered.
They strongly suspected the couple's 43 year old unemployed son, Charles Frederick Rogers, who lived in the attic. There were a few drops of blood found near the attic door, and a bloody keyhole caused even more suspicion, but they didn't find Charles inside. He disappeared and was declared dead ten years later in 1975. Some believe that Charles was a CIA agent who was somehow involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but of course, these claims can't be validated. Perhaps the strangest part of this case was the fact that Charles only communicated with his parents by slipping notes under their doors. Neighbors never recalled even seeing the man, and although police are almost certain Charles was responsible for his parent's murders, the case remains unsolved.
One of the threads in these unsolved cases is that sometimes the authorities know who the killer is, but they don't have the legal evidence to put them behind bars. That's the most bone chilling part of all.
5) The Phantom Killer
The Phantom Killer, an unidentified serial killer, was responsible for what news media call the Texarkana Moonlight Murders committed in the spring of 1946. The killer attacked eight people within ten weeks, five of whom were killed. He struck only at night, usually three weeks apart, and all the documented cases happened between the weekends of February 22 and May 3. The murdered include Richard Griffin and Polly Ann Moore, Paul Martin and Betty Jo Booker, and Virgil Starks. The first two victims, Jimmy Hollis and Mary Larey, as well as the last victim, Katie Starks, survived, but were wounded severely. Most officials don't connect this last attack to the work of the Phantom Killer, but they can't be sure.
The Texas Rangers came in to investigate, including the famous M. T. "Lone Wolf" Gonzaullas. Texarkana was on high alert that summer, and most people didn't dare step foot outside their homes or hotels at night. A movie and book have even been created about the grisly murders, and the 2014 book "The Phantom Killer: Unlocking the Mystery of the Texarkana Serial Murders" by james Presley points to a man named Youell Swinney as the killer. While he was arrested for car theft, he was never convicted of murder. The old wives tale says that the crazy people come out at night, these killings give new credence to that saying.
6) The Yogurt Shop Murders
On December 6, 1991, four young women were found inside a I Can't Believe It's Yogurt! shop in Austin after the store had been set on fire. After the fire had been put out, firefighters found the charred bodies of Amy Ayers, Jennifer Harbison, her sister Sarah, and Eliza Thomas. The investigation spanned nearly eight years, and although two suspects were convicted, both were released in 2009 due to lack of evidence. According to information I've found, five cold case detectives are still working on the case.
7) The Televangelist Bomber
An unidentified bomber first sent a package to Lakewood Church in Houston on January 30, 1990. Pastor John Osteen's daughter Lisa opened the package, leaving her with third degree burns and cuts to her abdomen and legs after the bomb exploded. A package was also mailed to the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia, nearly taking the life of Scott Scheepers, a security guard for the business. Both packages were mailed from near Fayetteville, North Carolina, but no suspects have ever been apprehended.
With a mailed bomb it's impossible to know who the killer really was. They could have had someone else mail the package, then it was handled by dozens of employees on the way to its destination. There's no way to track or locate the killer.
So, will you be sleeping with one eye open tonight? Terrible things happen everywhere, but it’s a little more bone chilling when they happen so close to come. Which of these did you find the most disturbing or perplexing? Do you know of any other unsolved mysteries in Texas?
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