Very few shows in the history of television have terrified audiences more than Unsolved Mysteries. With its nightmare-inducing theme song and velvety-voiced Robert Stack hosting, each week viewers were introduced to perplexing cases involving wanted criminals, missing persons, the paranormal, and UFO’s. After watching an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, it was common for me to slowly peek out of the blinds to make sure one of the murderers wasn’t waiting outside my bedroom window.
But were any of the cases highlighted on Unsolved Mysteries ever solved? The short answer is yes. But some were not solved until way after the show was off the air. Below is a list of some of the cases presented on Unsolved Mysteries that have been resolved.
Kristi Baskin and Bobby Baskin (Aired February 7th, 1990)
This case saw Bobby and Kristi Baskin disappearing from Murfreesboro, Tennessee with their maternal grandparents Marvin and Sandra Maple in 1989. Eventually, all four relocated to the San Jose area and the children assumed new identities. According to the grandparents they disappeared with the children after allegations of abuse against the sibling’s parents and fled to keep them safe. It wasn’t until 2009, nearly twenty years after the case originally aired on Unsolved Mysteries, that the case was finally resolved. Authorities acting on a tip located the grandfather and the two children, now obviously adults, still living in San Jose. The grandfather was arrested and extradited to Tennessee to face kidnapping charges. Sandra had passed away 2 years prior. Marvin was sentenced to 4 years’ probation for the crime and he passed away in 2016. Kristi and Bobby Baskin now in their 30’s have repeatedly told the media that their grandparents gave them good lives and have no desire to reconcile with their biological parents.
The Shane Stewart and Sally McNelly Murders (Aired September 18, 1991)
Shane Stewart and Sally McNelly were both teenagers residing in the San Angelo, Texas area. The teens had been dating but after a nasty split they decided to reconcile and watch the fireworks together. On July 4th, 1988 the pair was last seen together sitting on the banks of Lake Nasworthy. It would not be until 4 months later that their bodies were discovered. Sally was found on November 11th, 1988 on the side of a rural Texas highway while Shane’s body was discovered November 14th. According to law enforcement reports, both had been killed by a shotgun blast to the head. What makes this case even more interesting is that both Shane and Sally were suspected of being involved in a satanic cult and practicing black magic. The case aired on Unsolved Mysteries and eventually grew cold when investigators ran out of leads. Fast forward to June 2017, more than 25-years after the case originally aired on Unsolved Mysteries. Police in San Angelo initiated a traffic stop on local resident John Gilbreath. Gilbreath’s passenger informed police that Gilbreath was a trafficker in narcotics. With this information police obtained a search warrant for his residence. While there, they located several items that linked Gilbreath to the murders of Shane and Sally. According to available news reports, police uncovered writing’s within Gilbreath’s residence referring to the murder specifically. Law enforcement also recovered hair, blood and finger nails. While this Unsolved Mysteries segment has yet to be conclusively resolved, Gilbreath is considered a very strong person of interest.
The Bike Path Rapist (Aired February 23rd, 1996)
Between 1981 and 2006 residents in the Buffalo, NY area were at the mercy of a madman. The Bike Path Rapist killed 3 women and had assaulted and raped several along bike paths in the area. Eyewitness accounts from several of the victims described the suspect as a stocky, short man wearing a blue hat and possibly in his mid 30’s. After the case was presented on Unsolved Mysteries, investigators took another look at the evidence. While reexamining evidence and witness statements, they discovered that one of the rapist’s victims had informed police she saw her attacker at a local mall shortly after her attack. The victim was able to follow the individual and was even able to write down his license plate. When police followed up on the information they found the car was registered to a Wilfredo Sanchez Caraballo. When interrogated by police Caraballo told him he had not been driving his vehicle that day. Caraballo was once again interviewed by police but this time he confessed that he had lied back in 1981. Caraballo told police he had lent his car to his nephew that day, one Altemio Sanchez. Law enforcement were able to get a DNA sample from Sanchez after he had finished eating and departed a local restaurant. The DNA from Sanchez matched that of the Bike Path Rapist. Sadly, because of the passage of time the statute of limitations had been exhausted for the rapes. But Sanchez was arrested, tried and convicted for the 3 murders and was sentenced to 75 years in prison.
Chevy Chase Bandit (November 2, 1988)
Today’s kids are probably unaware of the trademark Chevy Chase fall. The famed star used to perform the joke on Saturday Night Live. Thanks to a bank robber’s own two feet, he was given the unfortunate nickname the Chevy Chase Bandit and landed on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. On November 3rd, 1987, an unknown man wearing a suit and sunglasses waltzed into a Beverly Hills bank and proceeded to rob it. As he walked in, he took a spill which witnesses said reminded them of the trademark Chevy Chase fall. After picking himself up, he walked over and handed a teller a note that read: “Relax, no alarms. I have a gun and a bomb. Give me big bills, top and bottom drawer. Hurry. No tricks, I Have a partner.” The teller cooperated, and the Chevy Chase Bandit made off with $700. Bank surveillance cameras were able to capture the perpetrator, whose picture was then broadcast on the show. After an airing of the Unsolved Mysteries segment, a viewer was able to identify the Chevy Chase Bandit as Bernard Strick. Upon seeing the segment, the viewer contacted the FBI who followed up on the information. Strick was taken into custody on April 26th, 1989 (less than a year after his case originally aired on Unsolved Mysteries). Investigators found that Strick was a former high-priced attorney who had been disbarred. Strick was convicted and sentenced to 4 years in prison. He died in 2013.
Oliver the Humanzee (January 31st, 1997)
The story of Oliver the chimpanzee is a fascinating and heartbreaking one. Oliver’s story begins in the 1960’s when he was acquired by Janet and Frank Berger, both animal trainers. During the Berger’s time with Oliver, they began to notice odd, almost human-like characteristics. Oliver had a habit of walking upright and his facial features, the Berger’s believed, were different than normal apes. The Berger’s sold Oliver and in 1977, new owner Michael Miller began showcasing him. Audiences were struck by Oliver’s very human-like appearance and behavior. Media reports also began to surface claiming Oliver to be the missing link. Oliver’s next owner acquired him 1985 but noticed that the primate had a difficult time getting along with fellow chimps. In 1989 Oliver was sold to an animal research facility and was kept caged for 9 years. Eventually Oliver lived out the rest of his days at Primarily Primates in Texas. In 1996 genetic testing was done on Oliver which showed him to have 48 chromosomes, which is the normal number for chimps. Tests were also conducted which showed that even though Oliver’s face was flatter than most, his ear shape and baldness were normal for a chimpanzee. Testing was further conducted by the American Journal of Physical Anthropology which found Oliver’s DNA was a match for apes known to the Republic of Congo and other Central African Areas.
Guardian UFO Video (Aired February 3rd, 1993)
In August 1991, Diane Labenek of West Carleton, Ontario, claimed to have witnessed a UFO after hearing her dogs barking. Upon investigating the commotion she witnessed red flames in an adjacent field as well as smoke. Labenek then says she witnessed an Unidentified Flying Object land. After observing the landing, the UFO then climbed into the sky and disappeared. The next day, during daylight hours Diane went to the field but could find no physical evidence of the close encounter the previous night. 6 months later in Feb. 1992, a local a ufo researcher received a mysterious package containing military documents, photographs and a videotape. The video was labeled “Guardian” and contained video of the craft that Diane described, in the exact area she described seeing it. Adding to the mystery, a single fingerprint was left on the tape. After the incident, reports of unmarked helicopters in the area began surfacing. Who was this mysterious Guardian? Most agree that the sighting and video were all an elaborate hoax perpetrated by Bobby Charlebois. Charlebois was a local UFO enthusiast who knew Diane personally and had also used the nickname Guardian on previous occasions. In 1991 several packages began being delivered to the Mutual UFO Network in Ottawa, Canada. The packages contained documents which allege to show that China had entered into an agreement with extraterrestrials. China, with help from beyond the stars, intended to take over the world. All the packages including the Guardian tape were postmarked from Ottawa. Investigators tried to get Charlebois fingerprints in an attempt to match them to the one on the Guardian tape to no avail. The military documents contained in the packages were also ruled to be fraudulent. While not technically “solved” all of the evidence points to an elaborate hoax.
KROQ Murder Confession (Aired October 10th, 1990)
Local radio morning shows have a long history of outrageous callers and maniacal stunts. Howard Stern has built a whole career around it. But in 1990, KROQ morning hosts Gene Baxter and Kevin Ryder weren’t prepared for the call they received. During a bit known as “Confess Your Crime” the morning hosts encouraged people to call in and unburden themselves of their crimes. They received a disturbing call from a man who claimed to have murdered someone. The caller explained that he had come home and found his girlfriend of 6 years in bed with another man. The caller then claimed that he beat his girlfriend to death. He elaborated by saying that several of his friends and coworkers had been interviewed by police, but he hadn’t been caught. While the disc jockeys attempted to keep the caller on the phone, he hung up. The hosts then called law enforcement. The police began an exhaustive investigation and believed the suspect to be a white male between 35-45 and gathered that the murder had taken place outside the city of Los Angeles. But it was all fake. Police uncovered an elaborate hoax orchestrated between the two DJ’s and Doug The Slug Roberts, also a radio DJ in Arizona. Eventually Baxter and Ryder came clean and admitted it was a stunt to gain ratings. The pair were suspended from KROQ without pay for 5 days, directed to perform 149 hours of community service and were also forced to pay for the investigative costs incurred by local law enforcement for the tasteless stunt.
The Murder of Jesse Howell (Aired April 17th, 1998)
19-year-old Jesse Howell was a young man who lived in Woodstock, Illinois. In 1996 he met 16-year-old Wendy Von Huben, and the two began a relationship. Wendy was having problems at school and told her parents she would be staying overnight with a friend. Jesse and Wendy then fled Illinois presumably to start a new life together. The pair drifted around and eventually found themselves in Bradenton, Florida which is south of Tampa. The couple eventually found themselves homeless after running out of money. Wendy reached out to her parents asking them to wire her money, so she and Jesse could return home on a bus. Jesse similarly reached out to his parents and told them he would be coming home. But Jesse and Wendy never made it back. Jesse’s body was discovered with severe head trauma near a set of railroad tracks. Investigators were able to conclude that Jesse was struck from the rear. Police discovered a small droplet of blood on Jesse’s jacket which they believed belonged to Wendy, but Wendy could not be found. In July 2000 (two years after the episode aired on Unsolved Mysteries) investigators arrested serial killer Angel Resendiz for the murder of Jesse Howell and Wendy Von Huben. Resendiz had been traveling around the United States via the railroad which made it hard for police to pin him down. Upon his arrest, it was found Resendiz had killed a total of 15 people. Resendiz confessed to the murders of Howell and Wendy Von Huben. Resendiz was executed on June 27th, 2006 by lethal injection thus ending the horrific saga of The Railroad Killer.
Vallejo Armored Car Robbery and Murders (Aired April 22nd, 1992)
Like something out of a Hollywood movie, in November 1991, 4 men brazenly robbed an armored car depot and killed 3 of the guards. The assailants made off with $1 million dollars in cash. According to police, several items were left behind at the scene and in the immediate area. Military style clothing, bolt cutters, tools, lighter fluid, an AK-47 rifle, and shoes were recovered. Investigators also discovered that the murder weapon that had been used to kill guards Martin McCumber, Dennis Jacobson and Alphonso Lontayo had been left at the scene. Witnesses described seeing a white male and black male in the area around the time of the murders. Police confirmed these eyewitness accounts of the presence of the male subjects through hair samples recovered from ski masks near the scene. Police concluded that the subjects were lying in wait and snuck in behind an armored truck when the gate was opened. The assailants then proceeded to kill three guards and make their getaway. Not realizing how heavy the cash would be, the suspects ended up dropping all the money they had stolen. The public was shaken, and police were on edge attempting to find any additional clues. Investigators received their break in the case in November 1993. A fingerprint left behind at the murder scene was matched to a convicted felon named Thomas Young. When questioned, he confessed to the murders and implicated Eugene Livingston, James Gary Brown, and Victor McClain as accomplices. Young was found guilty for the murders and sentenced to 3 life sentences. Livingston was a fellow employee with the slain guards and was charged with murder, conspiracy and robbery. Livingston was acquitted of murder and released after 3 years in prison. Brown and McClain were also arrested and charged with murder and robbery. Later Young recanted his confession and involvement and the charges against Brown and McClain were dropped. But in 1999 a DNA match was found between Brown and one of the ski masks. He was rearrested for murder and sentenced to life.
Taos, NM Hum (Aired May 19th, 1995)
Imagine if every single day of your life, you were plagued by an unknown sound. Never being able to discern where it was coming from. A humming noise that has no rhyme or reason to why you are hearing it. That is the exact struggle facing a very small handful of the general population. It is described as air sizzling, a very low hum. Those afflicted claim that no matter where they go or what they do, they are followed by the continuous sound. This unknown phenomenon is heard around the world in places such as South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Germany. Doctors and scientists have been baffled and have suggested everything from tinnitus to local industry and even animals. In August 2009 (fourteen years after the episode aired on Unsolved Mysteries) a report was published in Geophysical Research Letters. The report written after analyzing the data believes that the hum originates from the ocean. According to researchers, the culprit is two waves colliding. The waves must be traveling different directions, but on the same frequency. The collision creates a pressure wave shoving it to the bottom of the ocean floor. The pounding of these waves creates the constant humming sound at 10 millihertz which can be heard by a small group of people.
*Updated September 20, 2019