Can’t get enough of those true crime podcasts? Then you’re going to love Portable Press’s Strange Crime. But until it arrives, delve into these stories about the most notorious, mysterious — and unsolved — criminal acts in American history.
- In 1968 two teenagers were found shot in a Northern California parking lot. Half a year later, another couple were shot in a parked car — one person survived, the other didn’t. In all, five people died in connection with this odd string of killings, which got even weirder when the individual claiming responsibility for the deaths started sending cryptic, cypher-laden, puzzling notes to police, supposedly offering clues about the crimes and the person who committed them. In one such coded letter, the killer identified themselves as “Zodiac.” One more victim linked to the Zodiac Killer deaths of 1968 and 1969… and he or she has never been identified or captured.
- William Desmond Taylor was among the most prolific filmmakers of the silent film era, appearing in 27 films and directing 60 in the 1910s and 1920s. In 1922, his valet, Henry Peavey, discovered his body at his bungalow in a populated Los Angeles neighborhood. A crowd of onlookers amassed, from which emerged a man claiming to be a doctor, who performed an examination on Taylor’s corpse that ruled that a stomach hemorrhage killed the director. But when the actual authorities showed up, they found a gunshot wound in Taylor’s back. That doctor was never heard from again. Taylor had a lot of money and jewelry on his person, so it wasn’t a botched robbery, but there may have been some kind of movie studio cover-up —a detective working the case years later claimed he was told to stop looking for the killer. No one was ever charged with the crime, although the leading suspect disappeared like the doctor: Taylor’s disgruntled ex-valet Edward Sands.
- In December 1959, the Walker family of Osprey, Florida — two young parents and their two children — was murdered during a home invasion. Police found little evidence beyond a bloody boot print and a fingerprint on a faucet, and they pursued more than 500 suspects before the case ultimately went cold and no arrests were made for this shocking crime. Flash-forward to 2010, when the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office received a lead that connected the Walker murders to the deaths of the Clutter family, the subject of Truman Capote’s 1966 true crime genre-launching book In Cold Blood. A month before the Walkers’ deaths, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock killed the Kansas family in their home, a crime that closely resembles the In Cold Blood murders. But since Smith and Hickock confessed to the Clutter murders and were executed in 1965, there’s no way of knowing now if they were guilty of the Walker murders, too.
The award-winning and fully illustrated Strange Crime is available now from Portable Press.