Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z Is for the Zodiac Killer

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

It began on December 20, 1968, when teenagers David Arthur Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen were shot to death in Benicia, California.

There were three more incidents that same year, all in California. Each time, couples were targeted and all died but two survivors. Here is the full list of the deaths he was confirmed to have caused.

Unlike many serial killers, the Zodiac Killer liked to draw attention to himself. He repeatedly sent letters to area newspapers taking credit for the killings. Each letter contained part of a 408-symbol cryptogram, along with a demand that the paper print the symbol on its front page to avoid another person being killed.

In 1970, a reporter linked the killer to another murder three years earlier. Cheri Jo Bates was a student at Riverside City College in Riverside, California. 

After the possible connection made news, the killer disappeared. Police were eventually able to crack the cryptogram, finding it read that the killer was collecting slaves for the afterlife. Giving his identity away would stop his progress on that, he said.

A number of suspects have been named over the years, including this man:

But to this day, it remains a mystery. Perhaps one of the most puzzling unsolved serial murder cases of all time.

Thank you so much for sticking with me through my last A to Z Challenge. It's been a blast the past few years. The fun won't end here. I'll still be sprinkling some unsolved mysteries into my blog posts, including some that I couldn't get to this month.

⬅️ Y Is for Ylenia Carrisi

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y Is for Ylenia Carrisi

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

Ylenia Carrisi was the daughter of two Italian singers and actors. When she was 13, she appeared in this movie with her parents:

As she reached adulthood, she starred as the letter turner on the Italian version of Wheel of Fortune.

However, her real dream was to be a novelist. She attended King's College London, where she studied literature. While studying, she decided she wanted to travel the world.

Ylenia sold everything she had and traveled to South America. On the day after Christmas, 1993, she left for New Orleans.

A week later, Ylenia disappeared, leaving behind her passport and some luggage. She was last seen in the French Quarter early in January. She was staying at this hotel with a street musician who was 20 years older than her.

On January 6th at 11 p.m., a woman jumped into the river near the Aquarium of the Americas. A man said she looked at him, said, "I belong in the water," and jumped. She swam for about 100 yards but a barge came by, making waves. She screamed and disappeared.

Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans

The drowned woman's body was never found.

Do you believe Ylenia Carrisi drowned? Or is there another explanation for her disappearance?

⬅️ X Is for X Marks the Spot

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X Is for X Marks the Spot

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

I'm going to be honest. X sucks! I think it sucks for almost everyone, every year. So this year I'm fudging a little and use a term that is attached to treasure maps.

So far this month I've covered missing people, missing airplanes, and even a vanishing boat...but the case of the missing colony may be the largest group I've covered so far. The Roanoke Colony was settled in 1585, during a time when Europeans were beginning to settle in Virginia.

Soon after the colony was established, the settlers were running out of food and tools. John White, who had been named governor of the area, volunteered to travel back to England to get the supplies they needed. He said he'd be back the next year.

A picture of a ship similar to John White's.

He left his wife, his daughter, and his grandaughter, who was the first baby born in the New World to English parents.

Unfortunately, John White encountered several obstacles. It was a full three years before he returned to Roanoke. When he arrived, the area was completely deserted. The only clue was a word carved into a tree: "Croatoan."

Croatoan was the name of a nearby island, as well as a Native American tribe in the area. Over the years, several clues have arisen that might answer the mystery. Recent archaeological finds suggest the colonists may have split into two groups, settling into two Native American colonies. These finds include items that were distinctly European and unlikely to have belonged to Native Americans.

Unfortunately, John White never located his family in his lifetime, although he never gave up searching.

Do you believe the colonists simply relocated? Or did they meet with some sort of tragic end?

⬅️ W Is for the Woolpit Green Children

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W Is for the Woolpit Green Children

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

It was harvest time in the mid-12th century when villagers discovered two children beside one of the wolf pits. They had an odd color that many described as green. They spoke an unknown language and their clothing was unfamiliar to the villagers.

The villagers took them in and began feeding them. Soon they lost their green color and began to acclimate. Unfortunately, the boy died soon after being baptized.

Sign in the village, erected in 1977. Photo credit: Wikipedia

The older sister found a way to communicate with the villagers. She explained they were brother and sister, from "the land of St. Martin." In St. Martin, she explained, it was always twilight and everything was green.

Illustration by Randolph Caldecott. Photo credit: Wikipedia

She told the villagers that one day, she and her brother followed the sound of some bells, somehow made their way into a cave, and were later discovered near the wolf pit.

Some say the language the children were speaking may have been Flemish, since many immigrants were in the area at the time. They believe the children were green due to a disease known as hypochromic anemia, otherwise known as "green disease." That would explain why the green tinge would have disappeared once they began eating. 

But some have more other-worldly explanations. Is it possible the land of St. Martin actually exists? Or were the two children merely malnourished?

⬅️ V Is for Vermont's Bennington Triangle

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V Is for Vermont’s Bennington Triangle

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

On December 1, 1946, 18-year-old Paula Welden went on a hike in an area of Vermont known as the Long Trail. It was a few miles away from Bennington College, where she was an art major.

Paula Welden

She hitchhiked her way there. A local contractor picked her up and dropped her off at the trail that afternoon. She was seen on the trail by several people that afternoon. At approximately 4pm, she approached a man and asked how far the trail went. An elderly couple who were walking 100 feet behind her said they saw her turn a corner and when they got to the corner, she was nowhere in sight.

Paula was one of five people who went missing in the area between 1945 and 1950. The cases have led to the area being nicknamed "The Bennington Triangle" after the similarly legendary Bermuda Triangle. Legend goes that if you enter the woods, you may never emerge.

The last missing person was Frieda Langer, who disappeared in 1950 while hiking with her cousin. She slipped and fell in a stream, at which point she said she was going back to the campsite to change. She was never seen again.

Frieda Langer

Locals say the area was deemed "cursed" by Native Americans, who always avoided it. Over the years, there have been numerous claims about the area, including reported sightings of UFOs, hairy "wild men," and strange beasts.

Were these disappearances connected to the same killer? Or is there a more supernatural explanation?

⬅️ U Is for UFOs

Monday, April 25, 2016

U Is for UFOs

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

On November 5, 1975, Travis Walton finished his work for the day in the woods near Turkey Springs, Arizona. He and his fellow workers piled into a truck to head home.

Just before leaving, they saw a yellowish light peeking out from behind a hill. As they drew closer, they say they saw a disc hovering just below some tree tops.

The men said when the driver stopped the truck, Travis jumped out and ran toward the disc, ignoring their cries for him to come back. As he drew closer, the disc made a strange noise, at which point he started to turn away. Before he could get away, though, the men say a beam of light shot out, pulled Travis in the air and held him for a while, then was shot back toward the ground. His coworkers panicked and drove off.

In the days that followed, the area was searched on foot, on horse, and with helicopters. No trace of Travis Walton was found. Then, on November 10th--five days after he'd disappeared--Travis Walton reappeared at an Exxon station more than seven hours away from where he'd disappeared.

To this day, Travis stands by his detailed account of what happened to him during those five days. He claims he was poked, prodded, and otherwise studied by creatures who looked a lot like the "aliens" we see depicted in film and TV today.

There are those who say the whole thing was an elaborate hoax. When he returned, Travis would only speak to media outlets that paid him. Plus he failed a lie detector test. Plus others in his family have claimed UFO sightings over the years. Plus, to this day, Travis has continued to make money off of his UFO story through books and speaking engagements.

To do that, though, he would have had to have fooled the six guys who were with him, who swear they saw a disc hovering in the sky that zapped Travis with a light...

Do you think Travis's tale is true? Or was it all an elaborate money-making scheme? Do you believe extraterrestrials exist?

⬅️ T Is for Tara Grinstead

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cover Reveal: Catalyst by Kristin Smith

Today is a very special day on my blog. We're celebrating the first book for one of my favorite people, Kristin Smith. You've probably seen Kristin around here a lot over the past couple of years. Now she has a book of her own...and I get to help with her cover reveal!

Ready to see her beautiful cover? Scroll down to read more about it.


Too pretty.

Too smart.

Too perfect.

In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teens, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she's ever known and loved changes in an instant.

With little skills to help provide for her family, Sienna clings to the two things that come easily—lying and stealing. But not all thief-for-hire assignments go as planned. When a covert exchange of a stolen computer chip is intercepted, she becomes entangled with a corrupt government official who uses her thieving past as leverage, her mother as collateral, and the genetically modified poster boy she’s falling for as bait.

In order to rescue her mother, there may only be one option—joining forces with the Fringe, an extremist group, and their young leader who’s too hot to be bad. Problem is, these revolutionaries aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re hiding could be more dangerous than Sienna is prepared for. In the end, she must be willing to risk everything to save the one thing that matters most.


Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels. When she’s not writing, you can find her dreaming about the beach, beating her boys at Just Dance, or belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to chocolate, you can visit her at