Saturday, April 09, 2016

H Is for Hikers

This month I'm participating in the A to Z ChallengeMy theme this year is Unsolved Mysteries. Today's letter is:

Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers aren't the first people to disappear while hiking. But their story gained attention because of what was discovered on their cameras when their backpack was found.

The tragic, mysterious deaths of Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers began with a hiking trip to Panama. Their journey was documented with more than 100 photos, all found after their deaths. Here they are at the airport.

Photo credit: Imgur

On April 1st, they set out from their hostel to travel through the rainforest.

They never told anyone where they were going. Nobody knows why they didn't go with their appointed guide. When they never returned, an extensive search began.

More than two months later, a backpack was found across the continental divide, many, many miles away. Its contents were confirmed as belonging to the missing girls. Nearby? A shoe containing (without being too explicit) evidence at least one of the girls was likely dead. The remains were found soon after.

In addition to the discovery of the girls' remains, forensics hint that the girls may have been murdered. The details are too explicit for this blog, but if you want to read about it, this guy has a detailed account.

In the backpack, which was found in pristine condition despite supposedly being out in the elements for two months, were a camera and a cell phone. At 4:30 p.m. on April 1st, someone tried to dial 911 on the phone. A second call was placed 20 minutes later. Just over two hours before that 911 call, the girls took this photograph:

Photo credit: Imgur

And this one:

Photo credit: Imgur

The camera recorded no other activity until eight days later, when 90 photos were taken in complete darkness. This was one:

And another:

The first 911 call was made 12 hours from where the bodies were discovered. It's possible they somehow got lost out there and eventually perished, but who took those final pictures?

What do you think happened to Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers?

⬅️ G Is for Ghost Ship

Friday, April 08, 2016

G Is for Ghost Ship

This month I'm participating in the A to Z ChallengeMy theme this year is Unsolved Mysteries. Today's letter is:

In June of 1947, multiple ships in the straits of Malacca heard a series of distress signals.

"All officers including captain are dead, lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.”

The message was followed by Morse Code that couldn't be deciphered. Then came a grim message:

"I die."

A group of ships nearby triangulated the signal and traced it back to a Dutch freighter by the name of SS Ourang Medan.

There was an American merchant ship nearby called the Silver Star. They decided to respond to the SOS and changed their course to head straight for the SS Ourang Medan.

As they neared the ship, the crew of the Silver Star saw no signs of life on board. The captain bravely volunteered to step aboard the ship, assembling a small crew to go with him.

What they found aboard was death.

Everyone on board was dead, including the ship's dog. Despite the looks of horror frozen on their faces, there were no signs of the cause of their deaths. Not only did their bodies appear to be unharmed, but the ship itself was in pristine condition.

They decided to tow the boat back to port but as they stepped back on their own boat, the crew noticed billows of smoke pouring from the lower decks of the death ship. The ship burned, eventually disappearing beneath the water, never to be seen again.

Some say the crew died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Some say there may have been lethal cargo like nerve gas underneath the ship that killed the crew and eventually caught fire. And some say the SS Ourang Medan never existed at all.

What do you think?

⬅️ F Is for Frederick Valentich

Thursday, April 07, 2016

F Is for Frederick Valentich

This month I'm participating in the A to Z ChallengeMy theme this year is Unsolved Mysteries. Today's letter is:

There are few disappearances more fascinating than vanishing aircraft. How does a plane simply disappear? Where does it go? The fact that it happens so often is the most disturbing part of all.

Frederick Valentich didn't just disappear. He disappeared after saying something very mysterious. And that makes his case the most interesting of all.

On October 21, 1978, Frederick Valentich contacted Melbourne Air Flight Service from his aircraft, a single-engine Cessna 182L. He was flying over Bass Strait, headed for King Island. He asked if there was any known traffic. When the air traffic controller said no, he said he could see a large aircraft with four bright lights that looked like landing lights. The aircraft was at least 1,000 feet above his.

The aircraft was flying at high speeds, passing over him multiple times. Then he said it seemed to stop. "It's a long shape... It’s got a green light and sort of metallic. It’s all shiny on the outside."

The mysterious aircraft vanished and then Valentich reported engine problems. The last words Valentich said before communication cut off were perhaps the most haunting. "It is hovering, and it’s not an aircraft." The transcript then reports an unidentified staccato noise.

Neither Valentich nor his aircraft were ever seen again. The disappearance led many to speculate that the unidentified flying object hovering above Valentich was of the extraterrestrial kind.

There have been other theories over the years, including that he might have been flying upside down, with the lights being his own lights, reflected on the water. Others have said it was suicide or a staged disappearance. Not as interesting, but perhaps more acceptable to some people than this...

What do you think happened to Frederick Valentich and his airplane?

⬅️ E Is for Elisa Lam

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

E Is for Elisa Lam

This month I'm participating in the A to Z ChallengeMy theme this year is Unsolved Mysteries. Today's letter is:

21-year-old Elisa Lam was a college student on a "west coast tour" when she vacationed at a seedy hotel in L.A. in January 2015. 

She bought some books at a nearby bookstore, returned to the hotel, and disappeared. A search team tried to find her with no luck...until February 13th, when police released this video from just before she disappeared. It was taken in the elevator of her hotel:

She steps in the elevator, steps out of the elevator, looks around, and ducks back in, seeming to hide from someone...or something.

It's the stuff Internet legend is made of. People had a field day wondering what might have been in the hallway. Was someone chasing her? Or was she suffering from some sort of mental breakdown?

Five days after the video was released, hotel guests began complaining about the water pressure in their rooms. The water also had a "funny taste." Hotel employees traced the problem to the water tank on the roof, where they found Elisa's body.

Had she fallen in? Or had someone put her there? Theories seemed to continue to emerge. Two filmmakers demonstrated how she could have easily climbed to the roof through a ladder near an open window, climbed inside the tank, and drowned. Police seem to believe that is what happened.

Why? Apparently Elisa was on medications for mood disorders, and experts believe she had a manic episode. But the murder theories continue to circulate, mostly because they're much more interesting than the truth. Here's the elevator video...decide for yourself.

What do you think happened to Elisa Lam?

⬅️ D Is for D.B. Cooper

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

D Is for D.B. Cooper

This month I'm participating in the A to Z ChallengeMy theme this year is Unsolved Mysteries. Today's letter is:

On the day before Thanksgiving in 1971, a man boarded an airplane in Portland, Oregon under the name "Dan Cooper."

He took a seat in the rear of the plane and lit a cigarette. He ordered a bourbon and soda and waited as the plane took off. Soon after takeoff, he handed a note to flight attendant Florence Schaffner.

The note demanded $200,000 in $20 bills and four parachutes. He opened his briefcase and showed the flight attendant what she believed was a bomb. She gave his instructions to the cockpit and when she returned, the passenger was wearing dark sunglasses.

The FBI gathered the money in unmarked bills but made copies of each of them. The plane landed, the passengers disembarked, the money and parachutes were passed to the crew, and the refueled plane took off with only the hijacker and the crew aboard.

The hijacker had very specific instructions for takeoff, including demanding that the rear exit door remain open with the stairs extended. Twenty minutes after takeoff, he ordered all of the flight crew to lock themselves inside the cockpit.

At 8:11 p.m., the crew felt a sudden change in the pressure in the plane. Despite the fact that there were planes following the hijacked aircraft, no one witnessed his exit. The area where he might have landed was thoroughly searched and he was never seen again.

Did he get away with it? The FBI published the serial numbers multiple times, offering a reward for any information. The serial numbers never resurfaced...until 1980. That was when an eight-year-old boy discovered three bundles of the ransom cash on the Columbia River.

The discovery brought more questions than it answered. Had someone else discovered the ransom cash and buried it there? If D.B. Cooper survived the landing, why didn't he use the money? Did he escape to another country and exchange the American dollars for foreign currency, losing only part of the money?

What do you think happened to D.B. Cooper?

⬅️ C Is for Combustion

Monday, April 04, 2016

C Is for Combustion

This month I'm participating in the A to Z ChallengeMy theme this year is Unsolved Mysteries. Today's letter is:

In December of 2010, an Irish man was awoken by the sound of a smoke alarm in the house next door. When the fire brigade arrived, they found 76-year-old Michael Flaherty's body, partly burned, with no visible accelerant nearby.

Michael Flaherty's home
After exhausting all possible other causes, the coroner ruled his death spontaneous combustion.

A similar case happened in 1957. Anna Martin was found in her bedroom, burned except for a small portion of her torso and her shoes. The medical examiner concluded that temperatures of at least 1,700 degrees would have been necessary to do that type of damage. Newspapers only two feet away weren't even scorched.

Spontaneous human combustion is a phenomenon that held more weight in previous centuries. Today's scientific minds refuse to believe someone could simply burst into flames. However, here are a few things that have historically been present with spontaneous combustion cases:
  • Victims are elderly or not very mobile.
  • The fire damage is primarily confined to the victim.
  • Feet and hands are sometimes unaffected by the fire.
  • The damage to the body is far worse than it would be in a normal fire.

Of course, in a science-driven society, experts have worked hard to find an explanation for historical cases of spontaneous human combustion. They've come up with one moderately plausible explanation, called "the wick effect."

With the wick effect, it is believed that the clothing of an immobile human is ignited. When the fire comes into contact with the subcutaneous fat found in the human body, it combines with the clothing to act like the wick of a candle.

This creates the fuel necessary to catch the person on fire. However, in the case of Michael Flaherty, no ignition source was found. He died near a fireplace...but they couldn't find any evidence of a fire in it.

Do you think people can burst into flames without an external source?

⬅️ B Is for Brianna Maitland