Top 20 Unsolved Mysteries Episodes That Will Keep You Up at Night



Top 20 Unsolved Mysteries Episodes That Will Keep You Up at Night

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
These are the "Unsolved Mysteries" episodes that will keep you up at night. For this list, we'll be ranking the scariest and most memorable episodes of the original Unsolved Mysteries series that gave us the creeps. Our countdown includes friends to the end, scared to death, the Tatum House, and more!

Top 20 Unsolved Mysteries Episodes that Will Keep You Up at Night

Maybe you can help solve a mystery… or at least stay awake thinking about one. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 20 Unsolved Mysteries Episodes that Will Keep You Up at Night.

For this list, we'll be ranking the scariest and most memorable episodes of the original Unsolved Mysteries series that gave us the creeps. We’ll also be allowing moments from the latest Netflix revival of the series.

#20: A Salon Owner Goes Missing in 13 Minutes

Some fans are split on the 2020 Netflix reboot of "Unsolved Mysteries", a much more serious-minded and true crime focused take on the classic, spooky series. This case seems to possess universal interest from viewers, specifically the death of Georgia salon owner Patrice Endres. Police claimed that there was only a thirteen minute window within which Endres could've been abducted from her business, and her killer has never been found - even though remains were found relatively close to the salon more than a year later. The kicker here is how guilty her husband, Rob comes across in the episode, and how much of an outlier it is compared to the stoic nature of the season's presentation on the whole.

#19: Stockton Arsonist

There's just something creepy about finding some lost, obscure found footage on an old VHS tape. This is made doubly disturbing when it's also an actual unsolved mystery. The Stockton Arsonist episode of the series followed a family whose car broke down on the side of the road, during which time the young son found an abandoned jacket with a tape inside the pocket. On the tape is what appears like an intentionally set home arson, which is bad enough, but the voice speaking on the tape makes mention of Satanism, while a search of the site later by police turned up ritualistic paraphernalia. Updates in later episodes revealed that 2 underage suspects were ultimately tried, but it’s the Satanic implications - including the discovery of a ceramic skull - that are hard to forget.

#18: The Tallman House

Ghost stories and creepy reenactments are absolutely essential aspects of a classic "Unsolved Mysteries" episode, and this one certainly delivers the goods. It all started with a second hand bunk bed for the Tallman Family, a seemingly innocuous purchase that would turn their lives upside down. For it was soon after bringing the bed into their home that the Tallman's experienced all sorts of unexplained paranormal phenomena, from disembodied voices calling out in the home to household items operating strangely and dangerously as well as unexplained fires in the garage. The reenactment clicks all the boxes for a classic 'Unsolved Mysteries" fan, guaranteeing unsettled dreams and a questioning over what might lie beyond.

#17: The Lizzie Borden House

The tried-and-true murder mystery always makes for creepy nighttime viewing when it comes to diehard fans of "Unsolved Mysteries." And what better true crime tale than the infamous case of Lizzie Borden? This episode not only detailed facts about the horrible double murder from New England, but also goes into the present-day history of the Fall River home that Lizzie shared, alongside her father, stepmother, and live-in maid. The house may be a popular bed and breakfast for the brave and the bold, but there are also plenty of late night ghost stories that keep us awake wondering whether or not Lizzie still prowls the hallways, axe steadily in hand.

#16: The Vampire Cult Murders

While we admit there is something comfortingly nostalgic about the early internet footage present within this episode of "Unsolved Mysteries," there's nothing remotely funny about the actual case. Richard and Naoma Wendorf were the victims of a local gang who were obsessed with vampirism, to the point where one of the men arrested for the murders was actually convinced he was immortal. The Wendorfs’ daughter Heather was supposedly involved with the group, but any charges against her were eventually dropped. The episode itself points out the vampire's cultural significance over the years as a media symbol, while also doing a good job at presenting the real life creepiness of those real life fans who take their obsession too far.

#15: The Tatum House

Okay, so it isn't as if "Unsolved Mysteries" needed an excuse to be creepy, but this special Halloween episode delivered the supernatural goods with a host of frightening tales. The "Tatum House" segment dealt with poltergeist activity in a home owned by a retired married couple, who reported continued explained noises in the house. The reenactments forego cheesy theatrics and overacting, and instead describe the Tatum's experiences with a basic, matter-of-fact delivery that makes it feel all the more real. As a result, we can identify much more with how the couple must've felt, particularly Jim Tatum, who becomes increasingly upset as he describes what happened to the camera.

#14: The Allagash Abductions

Okay, we admit it: sometimes the recreations on "Unsolved Mysteries" and other similar shows are more... well, "humorous" than frightening. Thankfully, this isn't the case with our next entry, a harrowing tale of an alleged contact with the extra-terrestrial. "The Allagash Abductions" doesn't play it light, or for laughs, but instead presents the four subjects as men who definitely seem to be shaken by a collective experience. As a result, we can put ourselves in their shoes, and imagine how we might feel if we felt we were abducted by visitors from outer space. It's here that "Unsolved Mysteries" has always shined, and an example of why this episode continues to give us the creeps.

#13: The Blind River Killer

We sometimes take solace in the fact that many notorious killers have been caught by police and brought to justice, but what about the ones who get away? Sadly, there was no justice during the lifetime of Gordon McCallister, who passed away in 2012 without discovering the identity of the Blind River Killer. This unidentified man accosted and robbed McCallister and his wife Jackie while they were parked for the night in their RV at a rest stop. The reenactment for this episode really drove home the tragedy of when McCallister's wife (as well as a good Samaritan at the rest stop) were shot and killed by the gunman, and we can't help but wish things could've turned out differently.

#12: Prison Mystery

Speaking of reenactments, the updated version of "Unsolved Mysteries," hosted by Dennis Farina, featured increased production values when it came to staging these sequences. As a result, this episode from that iteration's second season has aged pretty well, all things considered. The murder mystery which serves as the centerpiece to this episode deals with Judge James Michael Francke, who was hired by the Oregon State prison system to try and increase inmate capacity. The reenactments do a great job at stressing how Francke was murdered outside of his office in an apparent robbery-gone-wrong, while also lending credence to the theories that he might have been the victim of an inside hit by corrupt government officials. Either way, it's truly chilling stuff.

#11: Edward Bell & Larry Dickens

Many A-list actors possess humble origins, and Matthew McConaughey is no exception, with one of his first on-screen roles being here reenacting a terrible 1978 murder case. McConaughey plays Larry Dickens, who was the tragic victim of what can only be described as a senseless rampage from one Edward Bell. Bell, who was thankfully captured years later thanks to viewer tips, attacked the Dickens Family with no apparent motive, and seemed to be a career criminal with offenses dating back years before the incident. What's troubling about this episode isn't only the reenactment, but the fact that Bell was out on bail only two months after his arrest, thus allowing him to slip through the system for far too long before he was brought to justice.

#10: Resurrection Mary

There's a tinge of sadness to the next entry on our list, the tale of Resurrection Mary. It's a ghost story about a young life taken too soon, and the people who swear they've seen her spirit prowling the streets near Resurrection Cemetery in Illinois. Mary Bregovy was her name, a girl who is said to have died in a car accident during the mid-thirties. Multiple folks claim to have encountered her over the years, some of whom have even attempted to give her rides, only for her to disappear. The episode itself possesses a dreamlike allure, and captures well the tragedy of Mary's story. This is perhaps, in part, why the story of Resurrection Mary has survived to this day.

#9: Rey Rivera & the Mystery on the Rooftop

The case of Rey Rivera is the very first to be covered on Netflix's "Unsolved Mysteries" reboot. Rivera's death seems to be a suicide on the surface, but forensic evidence and medical examiner data led many to believe that this finance writer was the victim of foul play. A letter found near Rivera's computer complicated matters further with its talk of secret societies and Hollywood bigwigs, while Rey's employer placed a gag order that forbade anyone to speak of the case to police. With all of these loose ends involved, one might think that there would be a stronger push for the truth, but the unsolved nature of this crime, and the police's backpedaling into once again calling it a suicide leaves us awake at night wanting some closure.

#8: The Circleville Letters

The word "chilling" doesn't even begin to describe what happened to the residents of Circleville, Ohio during the late 1970s. Small town gossip turned deadly when residents of this otherwise unassuming small town began receiving threatening letters about their personal lives, increasing exponentially to the point where the entire community was turned upside down with paranoia, fear, and anger. The reenactments do a great job at presenting how tense and on edge the whole affair made the community, and the voice-over of the Circleville Writer is delivered in an ultra-creepy monotone. Finally, it's revealed that even the crew behind "Unsolved Mysteries" weren't safe from being harassed, as they received a threatening postcard prior to airing the episode.

#7: Friends to the End

Not every unsolved mystery can be resolved during the lifetime of a family member, friends or, in this case, a dedicated prosecutor. Richard Garrett was determined to uncover what happened to Kevin Ives and Don Henry, two popular teenagers who were tragically run over by a train, under mysterious circumstances. It took multiple autopsies and the testimony from witnesses as bizarre as former professional wrestler Billy Jack Haynes to discover that the boys were murdered and brought to the tracks, not accidentally run over while under the influence of marijuana. The episode detailing their demise is a somber and sad affair, a story which haunts us almost as much as it seemed to haunt Garrett, who died in 2018 without receiving an answer to his investigation.

#6: Danny Casolaro

We'd need a lot more time to fully detail all of the twists in the story of Danny Casolaro, because this thing reads like a paranoid thriller from the 1970s. Casolaro's body was found as an apparent suicide while staying in a West Virginia hotel. The thing is, Casolaro was a computer industry writer hot on the heels of a story that he felt involved upper level government officials, organized crime and lucrative contracts for law enforcement software. Casolaro's family felt that his fear of blood made his method of suicide unlikely, and the local investigation into the case seemed skewed against letting anyone else in on any specifics. Honestly, we suggest doing a deep dive into this case yourself. It's compelling stuff.

#5: War of the DePues

Once a happy couple, various issues would later cultimate in Dennis Depue assaulting his wife, Marilyn. While he told his children that he was taking her to the hospital, a few days later, police would find Marilyn’s body off a deserted road. Now here comes the biggest twist of the episode. The night that it aired, a woman named Mary came to her house to find that her boyfriend, Hank, was in a hurry to leave the house. After he left, it wasn’t long before she discovered who her boyfriend really was. Later that evening, police were able to track Dennis down and after a brief standoff, he would take his own life.

#4: Spirits at The Comedy Store

Sometimes, buildings have personalities all their own. Case in point? California's classic stand-up venue The Comedy Store, which possesses a history dating all the way back to the 1940s and '50s. The Comedy Store was known as Ciro's during these days and was a hub for criminal activity for the local mobsters. As a result, some people claim to have witnessed paranormal activity and other mysterious occurrences, such as inanimate objects being moved around by an unknown force. Given the fact that so much comedy seems to come from pain, we're not entirely ruling out the possibility that The Comedy Store walls have some sort of bad juju lurking deep inside.

#3: Scared to Death

There's harassment, and then there's what reportedly happened to Cindy James. The nurse claimed to be the victim of threatening phone calls, letters, and behavior for over seven years, so much so that she told friends that she feared she was going to be "scared to death." Still, James' reluctance to reveal specific details about the case has raised suspicion about what exactly happened leading up to her death in 1989. The "Unsolved Mysteries" take on her tale raises more questions than answers about how she was bound, hand and foot, with a lethal dose of morphine found in her system. Yet, it's the evidence and mystery behind the death of Cindy James that continues to haunt our dreams every time we re-watch the episode.

#2: The Son of Sam

The name of this pick is probably a familiar one, even if you've never seen an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries." David Berkowitz was known as the “Son of Sam" when he terrorized New York City during the late seventies, stalking and killing young couples who were parked out in cars late at night. Berkowitz, who also bore the moniker of the “.44 Caliber Killer,” claimed Satanic leanings in letters, and confessed that he was driven to commit these heinous acts by a dog owned by his neighbor Sam. Serial killer stories are always uneasy listening, so it just goes to show that this episode of "Unsolved Mysteries" had us reaching for that night light when it was bedtime.

Before we name our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions

The ATM Abduction of Matthew Chase
Because Crime Can Strike Anywhere & at Any Time

The Connecticut River Valley Killer
Will the Truth Ever Come Out?

The Disappearance of Tara Calico
A Kidnapping & a Grainy Polaroid

#1: Shane Stewart, Sally McNelly & Satan

"Satanic Panic" refers to a period during the 1980s where moral outrage over the occult, heavy metal, and “Dungeons & Dragons” spilled over into accusations of Satanic ritual abuse. Shane Stewart and Sally McNelly were teenagers whose disappearance and violent deaths were attributed to their involvement in a local cult. Although today "Satanic Panic" is largely seen as a reaction to Christian conservatism, misinformation, and paranoia, those involved at the time seemed to be searching for something to blame for this tragic loss. A person of interest for the murders didn't emerge until 2017, when a Texas Sheriff's Office named John Gilbreath as someone who possessed "biological material" associated with the case. Sometimes, reality is much scarier than anything associated with imagination or The Devil.