If you were alive in the 80s or 90s, you undoubtedly remember the TV series “Unsolved Mysteries.” Touching on everything from horrific murders to terrifying tales of hauntings and demonic possessions, the show was enough to keep you awake at night. (Or, at the very least, force you to sleep with the light on.) And then there was the host, Robert Stack, who had a knack for making things sound even creepier. With all that going on, you may not have realized that several of the show’s stories have Wisconsin roots. Read on for a few of the unnerving tales linked to the Badger State.
1. The Haunting of the Tallman Family
The story of the Tallman family – and the inexplicable occurrences that happened in their Horicon home – is one of the scariest and most well-known tales depicted on "Unsolved Mysteries." The family’s plight began in February of 1987, when Allen and Debbie Tallman brought home a bunk bed that they purchased from a thrift store. In May of that same year, the bunk bed was moved from the basement, where it was being stored, to an upstairs bedroom – and that’s when things got really creepy. From the moment the Tallman’s children slept in the bunk bed, they were tormented by an evil entity. Eventually, the entire family was being terrorized. Doors slamming shut, items moving on their own, and phantom voices were just a few things the Tallmans experienced. Probably the scariest of all, though, is the
red-eyed witch, which was seen by one of the children along with a friend of Allen Tillman. After enduring months of torment, the Tallmans destroyed the bunk beds and moved out of the home.
2. The Murder of Dexter Stefonek
On November 18, 1985, Dexter Stefonek, a 67-year-old widower, left his son’s home near Corbett, Oregon to return home to Rhinelander. Less than 24 hours after his departure, Dexter’s car was found at a rest stop, engulfed in flames. It didn’t take long for investigators to determine that Dexter’s body was not in the car when it was set ablaze, and so, a search for the Wisconsin man quickly ensued. Several months after Dexter’s disappearance, a local couple found his body along with some of his belongings in a landfill. Among other things, Dexter’s discarded possessions included a suitcase with cash – so police quickly ruled out robbery as the motive behind his murder. Investigators were left with very few clues – one of which was a note that was discovered in the men’s bathroom of the rest stop. Written on the wall, the note read: "HOT JOCK SHOT WAD FROM WISCONSIN 11/85 SATURDAY THE 3rd."
3. The Corpse in the Shed
On the night of March 26, 2001, Michael "Mike" J. Tlusty mysteriously vanished from the Arkdale home he shared with his longtime girlfriend, Laura Law. After Mike’s sudden disappearance, Laura told her boyfriend’s family that the two had an argument and he packed his clothes, took $73,000 in cash, and set out on foot in the middle of the night. A couple weeks later, Laura communicated to friends and family that Mike contacted her and said he was "out West." Things got even stranger when Denise, Mike’s cousin, tried to retrieve her snowmobiles, which were stored in a shed on Mike and Laura’s property. Initially, Laura refused to let Denise enter the shed. Becoming incensed, Denise threatened to cut the shed’s lock to gain access to the snowmobiles. Laura then compromised – still refusing to let anyone in the shed, she removed the snowmobiles herself. When authorities got wind of the shed incident, they obtained a warrant. By the time they were able to search the shed, Laura was long gone; however, Mike’s body was recovered. After being examined, it was determined that the decomposing corpse had been in the shed for about 9 – 10 months! Not "unsolved" for long, Laura Law was captured on July 16, 2002.
4. The Botched Kidnapping of John Grundhofer
November 19, 1990, started off just like any other day for Minneapolis businessman John Grundhofer. He drove to his office, pulled into the parking garage, and exited his car; however, that’s where things seem to have gotten off track. While in the parking garage, a man abducted John at gunpoint, handcuffed dynamite to John’s arm, and ordered him to drive to Wisconsin. By the time John and his kidnapper arrived in Wisconsin, around 8:45 a.m., the FBI was already alerted of the kidnapping. Officers were also armed with an important piece of evidence - a "cheat sheet," which was believed to be dropped by the kidnapper. The little piece of paper contained information on the assailant’s demands, leading police to believe he wasn’t a professional. Around 9 a.m., the kidnapper demanded $3 million in ransom. John complied, calling his office to obtain the funds. Before the bank could finish preparing the ransom, the kidnapper realized he lost his cheat sheet and began to panic. He then removed the dynamite from John’s arm, forced the businessman into a sleeping bag, and fled the scene. By 10:25 a.m., John had freed himself and contacted his office. The FBI set up a tip hotline, which eventually led them to a maintenance man named John Henderson, but with no concrete evidence tying Henderson to the kidnapping, no charges were ever filed.
5. The Mysterious Murder of Chad Maurer
A young man with a promising future, 19-year-old Chad Maurer’s life was cut short on May 19, 1990, when his body was discovered in his car in a garage on the south side of Chicago. Determined to save enough money to attend college in Colorado, Chad spent his days working at Village Pedaler, a bike shop in Monona. On the day he disappeared, Chad stopped by his family home for lunch, ate, and then headed back to work. Shortly after, Chad’s parents drove past his workplace and became concerned when they didn’t see his car parked outside. Their concern turned to panic when they learned that Chad never returned to work. Two days later, Chad’s body was discovered in Chicago. The Chicago police department deemed his death a suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning; however, there was evidence that said otherwise. When viewing Chad’s body, his parents immediately noticed injuries to their son’s face and knuckles. Furthermore, the shirt that Chad was wearing when his body was discovered had big bloodstains on it. The teen’s parents immediately took their concerns to the Madison Police Department. After taking a closer look, the Madison Police Department determined that some things didn’t add up, such as the amount of carbon monoxide found in Chad’s body. Much higher than what’s typically found in suicide victims, the amount of carbon monoxide in Chad’s system was 74%, which likely means he was unconscious when he inhaled it. Through a crime hotline, police were told that Chad was involved in a drug deal gone wrong; however, nothing has been proven. The case remains unsolved.
Were you a fan of “Unsolved Mysteries?” If so, do you remember seeing these stories on the show? Tell us in the comments section.
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.