The 12 Most Bizarre Unsolved Mysteries of 2018
2018 had more than its fair share of bizarre and disturbing events—but these may be the most mysterious of all.
A mysterious polio-like illness that strikes children
A strange paralyzing illness is on the rise this year in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have been at least 252 cases reported from at least 46 states. It starts with mild cold-like symptoms, but it progresses to weakness and, eventually, paralysis. The CDC is referring to the illness as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), but no one’s sure what causes it or how to prevent or treat it—yet.
The bones in the basement
On Oct. 30, a skeleton was discovered more than six feet beneath the basement of a house in Lake Grove, on Long Island, New York. The homeowner, Michael Carroll, believes the bones, which show blunt force trauma to the skull, belong to his father, George, who was in his twenties when he disappeared in the early 1960s. The exact date of George’s disappearance isn’t known, which only adds to the mystery; so does the fact that George’s wife, Dorothy, never reported her husband missing and led her children to believe George had abandoned the family.
The Dutchman who disappeared in the Arctic
On Aug. 20, a leading Dutch cybersecurity expert, Arjen Kamphuis, checked out of his hotel in Norway, telling friends he was flying back to Amsterdam. He was never seen again. In September, his ID card was pulled from nearby Arctic waters. Yet Kamphuis’s phones had been turned on more than 1,600 kilometres away in a small northern Norwegian town on Aug. 30. Because Kamphius was an outspoken advocate for online privacy, some speculate he was assassinated. Others believe he’s become a spy.
Seals with eels up their nostrils
Recently, scientists have been observing Hawaiian monk seals with live eels hanging out of their noses, according to Live Science. Not only do the seals not look happy, conservationists are alarmed because this species of seal is among the most endangered on the planet. Charles Littnan, a monk seal conservation biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, posits it could have something to do with the seals’ feeding habits. The good news is that so far every seal found with an eel in its nostril has survived.
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The disappearance of Meng Hongwei
Meng Hongwei, the head of Interpol (the international network of police forces from 190 countries) and Vice Minister of Public Security in China, disappeared in September after sending his wife an alarming text message that included a knife emoji and instructions to wait for his call. At least that’s what his wife says. Chinese officials claim they heard from him in October when he supposedly resigned his post amid corruption allegations. Meng’s wife, herself, who is now in the custody of Chinese authorities, believes her husband is being politically persecuted by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
What happened in the Hart family’s SUV?
In March, an SUV driven by Jennifer Hart, which was also carrying her wife and their six adopted children, plunged off a cliff in California. The entire family perished, and no one knows what happened or why—only that the crash appeared intentional. The SUV had come to a complete stop before accelerating over the cliff. No one was wearing a seatbelt, and Jennifer was mildly intoxicated. The Harts appeared to be a happy family. A deeper delve into allegations of abuse and neglect is ongoing.
Why the earth didn’t move under our feet
On Nov. 11, low-intensity seismic waves were detected around the world, from Africa to Chile to New Zealand to Canada to Hawaii, according to National Geographic. No one knows what caused the waves, which were the type that would normally be observed at the tail end of a significant earthquake. The theories so far: Was it a meteor strike? A submarine volcano eruption? An ancient sea monster rising from the deep? The investigation continues.
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Death of a billionaire and his wife
Barry and Honey Sherman, a Canadian billionaire businessman and his wife, were found dead in the basement of their 12,000-square-foot home. They were at the side of their indoor pool, and both had been apparently strangled by the men’s leather belts looped around their necks. The case was investigated for most of 2018 as a murder-suicide, but that has since been ruled out. Some are claiming the Toronto police bungled the investigation; all Toronto officials will say is that the deaths are “suspicious.”
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The hoofbeats of the fourth horseman?
In April, video footage from around the world captured strange, “apocalyptic sounds” (some sounded almost like trumpets) coming from the sky. Snopes.com confirms that the sounds were heard—and have been heard from as early as 2012—but the origin is unknown. Although they likely have an “earthly origin,” they could have come from an astronomic event such as a meteor passing by, or they could all have originated from a glitch on the someone’s smartphone.
Where is Jayme Closs?
Wisconsin teenager Jayme Closs has been missing since October. What makes the case unusual is that she disappeared within minutes of her parents having been shot to death. Law enforcement came to the Closs home following what CNN calls a “cryptic 911 call.” No weapon was found, and no motive has been discerned. Although investigators have received more than 800 tips, they have no plausible leads in the murders or Jayme’s disappearance. They currently believe Jayme is in danger, but that she is still alive.
What actually happened to Jamal Khashoggi?
On Oct. 2, journalist and Saudi Arabian dissident Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain documents related to his upcoming wedding. He was never seen again. Saudi officials have since admitted Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, but the circumstances remain unclear. At various times, it’s been claimed as an accident, a kidnapping gone wrong, or a premeditated assassination. Saudi officials claim it was the result of a rogue operation by individuals who exceeded their authority. The latest lead is a series of recently discovered WhatsApp messages that may shed light on what happened.
Is this man D.B. Cooper?
This mystery actually begins on Thanksgiving Eve in 1971. A man calling himself Dan Cooper—the “D.B.” was an error made by a news outlet—successfully hijacked a commercial airplane and then parachuted into the night. He’s never been caught, and the FBI investigation was closed in 2016, but that hasn’t stopped independent investigators like Thomas Colbert. In June, he and his team named Vietnam veteran Robert Rackstraw—a person of interest in the original case—as Cooper based on coded messages sent to the media in the months after the hijacking. The FBI does not appear to be taking Colbert’s findings seriously.
Next, here are 16 more of the strangest unsolved mysteries of all time.