Top 10 Mysteries in Modern History



Top 10 Mysteries in Modern History

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
These modern mysteries have us stumped. For this list, we'll be going over some of the most perplexing unsolved mysteries from modern – if not recent – times. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Mysteries in Modern History.
These modern mysteries have us stumped. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Mysteries in Modern History.

For this list, we’ll be going over some of the most perplexing unsolved mysteries from modern – if not recent – times.

#10: The Mary Celeste

There have been many mysterious and abandoned ships to be discovered at sea, but few have fired the imaginations of the public quite like the Mary Celeste. Bound from New York to Italy, the vessel was discovered off the coast of Portugal in 1872 with all hands missing and one lifeboat gone. This in itself wasn’t so unusual, but the ship’s condition was unusual, as it was still in seaworthy shape with minimal damage to the sails and only a small amount of water in the hold. Additionally, none of the crew or passengers were ever seen again. Why they abandoned ship has been a matter of speculation for almost 150 years and we’re no closer to an answer.

#9: The Fate of Jimmy Hoffa

Jimmy Hoffa was a labor union leader during the late 1950s until the early ‘70s. But, Hoffa was also involved in organized crime during the same period. However, following Hoffa’s fall from grace, his attempts to return to his former position were opposed by the mob. On July 30th, 1975, Hoffa was scheduled to meet with a mobster with whom he’d had several disagreements with to discuss peace. He went missing the same day. Who was responsible for his disappearance has never been proven definitively, and Hoffa himself has never been located, dead or alive. Hoffa’s elusive fate has become so famous that his name has practically become a byword for something that’s difficult to locate.

#8: The Disappearance of the USS Cyclops

The sea may cover most of the Earth, but it still holds many mysteries. One of them is the location of the USS Cyclops. A Naval cargo ship during the First World War, the USS Cyclops was returning to Baltimore from Rio De Janeiro loaded down with ore, when the vessel, and the hundreds of people onboard, disappeared en route. While some reports put it near Virginia when it vanished, others put its final location in the infamous Bermuda Triangle; blaming the region’s ill, supernatural reputation on its loss. Another theory puts forth that its loss was due to structural issues, since several of its sister ships were also lost at sea. Even so, no trace of it has ever been found.

#7: D.B. Cooper

Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 was hijacked on November 24th, 1971. The hijacker, who flew using the name 'Dan Cooper', used what he claimed to be a bomb to ransom $200,000 – around $1.2m in today's money – for the lives of the passengers, before escaping in midair by parachuting from the plane following its delivery. Etched into legend as D.B. Cooper, the true identity of the hijacker remains unknown, as does what became of him and the money he stole after exiting the plane, despite decades of investigation; leaving it the only unsolved case of air piracy on a commercial airplane.

#6: The Zodiac Killer

During the late 1960s and 1970s, the San Francisco Bay Area was rocked by a series of high profile murders, perpetrated by a serial killer, calling himself the Zodiac. The killer has at least 5 confirmed victims, although two more attempted victims survived, and he has claimed responsibility with at least 37. Zodiac’s taunts to the press and police, particularly his cryptic letters written in code, most of which were never deciphered, have made him infamous in pop culture. Half a century after his confirmed killings, the Zodiac case remains unsolved and even still open in some cities.

#5: The Fate of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart is perhaps one of the most famous pilots to ever fly, in part because of her famous disappearance. While attempting to circumnavigate the world in July 1937, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, vanished somewhere near Howland Island, between Papua New Guinea and Hawaii. Despite many search attempts both contemporary and after the fact, neither they, nor their plane have ever been located. The most common explanations are that their aircraft simply ran out of fuel and crashed, since the length of the flight was near the plane’s maximum capacity, or that they crash landed on an island and subsequently died there. Yet, the number of theories, both wild and credible, are in no shortage of stopping.

#4: The Wow! Signal

The SETI project is dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. On the 15th of August, 1977, a volunteer member of the organization at Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope picked up a transmission consisting of a burst of radio energy thought to have come from the direction of the Sagitarrius constellation. The signal was nicknamed the “Wow!” signal after a note written in the margins of a report made by its discoverer. Attempts to find the signal again by more powerful detection devices have proved fruitless, yet no one has been able to prove or disprove the source of the signal. If aliens exist and have tried to get in contact, this is one of the best attempts.

#3: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

The most recent mystery on our list, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was a passenger flight from Malaysia to China on March 8th, 2014. Over the South China sea, contact was lost. Although contact was never reestablished, 370 was located on military radar heading west, rather than northeast; deviating from its scheduled flight path. Despite several exhaustive searches, and some potential wreckage being found washed up on shore, 370 has yet to be found as of 2019. Theories for the cause of its loss include decompression, as well as a potential hijacking. For all our technological advances, the loss of an airplane in this day and age should be unheard of, which makes this mystery all the more baffling.

#2: The Assassination of JFK

Dallas, Texas. November 22nd, 1963. President John F. Kennedy is assassinated while being paraded through town. This much, the world agrees on. However, the who, why, and how of the event have been endlessly questioned. Lee Harvey Oswald is generally held to have committed the act, however, Oswald was murdered before he could stand trial and his killer died not long after. Many speculate that Oswald didn't act alone and/or that there was a second shooter. Numerous conspiracies have cropped up over the incident, and even the number of people in the car at the time has no clear consensus. Even after half a century, we doubt everyone will agree on exactly what occurred.

#1: Jack the Ripper

There have been many mysterious serial killers throughout modern times, but none of them are quite as infamous as Jack the Ripper. The murders usually attributed to the Ripper occurred in 1888 in the Whitechapel district of London, with the victims primarily being prostitutes. Although only 5 victims are generally agreed to have been the doing of the Ripper, killings for around the next 3 years were also cited as possibly being his work. Over a hundred suspects for the killer’s identity have been suggested, but no one definitive has ever emerged. The Ripper has fired the imaginations of the public ever since, and short of someone traveling back in time, it's doubtful the true culprit will ever be found.