30 Famous Historical Mysteries That Continue to Baffle Us

By Jack Ripley | November 6, 2023

What Happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke?

This gallery of 30 famous unsolved mysteries from history will bring you across the globe and through the centuries, introducing you to enigmas that have puzzled scholars, intrigued investigators, and captured the public's imagination. From the ghostly murmurs of vanished civilizations to chilling tales of inexplicable events, these mysteries have withstood the onslaught of time, maintaining their veil of secrecy. As you explore, remember: every mystery is a door waiting to be opened, a question yearning for an answer. Will you be the one to solve the unsolvable? Let your journey into the heart of history's greatest mysteries begin...

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(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1587, the winds of adventure carried a group of English settlers across the vast Atlantic to the shores of North Carolina. However, when a supply ship returned in 1590, they discovered an eerie, abandoned settlement and a single word etched into a tree: "CROATOAN." A popular theory among historians is that the colonists, faced with dwindling supplies and harsh conditions, sought refuge with the local Croatoan tribe that inhabited the nearby Hatteras Island. However, could the settlers have so fully integrated with the tribe within a mere 3 years that there would have been no sign of them in 1590? Another theory suggests that the colonists fell victim to a conflict with the Croatoan tribe, but this would be unexpected as their relationship at the time was amicable. A third theory posits that the settlers, realizing the precarious nature of their situation, abandoned Roanoke in search of a more sustainable location, and succumbed to the elements. 

Who Is Responsible For The Chicago Tylenol Murders?

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In the fall of 1982, the city of Chicago was gripped by a wave of fear unlike any it had experienced before. It all started on September 29, when 12-year-old Mary Kellerman complained of a cold and took a Tylenol capsule. Within hours, she tragically died. That same day, 27-year-old Adam Janus also unexpectedly died after taking Tylenol for minor chest pain. When his brother and sister-in-law took pills from the same bottle while mourning his loss, they too suddenly fell ill and passed away. Each victim had consumed Extra-Strength Tylenol shortly before their demise. Police swiftly discovered that the Tylenol capsules they'd ingested had been laced with deadly cyanide, causing panic to surge throughout the city. In the following days, three more people died under similar circumstances, bringing the death toll to seven. Terrified consumers across the country purged their medicine cabinets. The manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, initiated a massive, unprecedented recall of approximately 31 million bottles of Tylenol, costing them over $100 million. The investigation that followed was exhaustive, but despite extensive efforts, the perpetrator was never found.  Authorities discovered tampered Tylenol bottles in various stores, suggesting the killer had purchased bottles, poisoned them, and returned them to the shelves. Theories have swirled over the years, with various suspects investigated and subsequently cleared. The chilling fact remains: the Tylenol Murders were never solved, and the cyanide poisoner remains a specter in the annals of American crime.