When you’re a famous movie star, performer or celebrity, solving your possible murder would seem like a pretty high priority. There’s always a high demand from the public to know what happened when it comes to celebrity deaths, and the more technological advances that become available to forensics experts, the more likely they ought to be able to take a look at the deaths of stars and find the answers people have sought for decades. Some celebrity deaths are just so bizarre and have little to no evidence that they may forever remain mysteries, prompting us to keep seeking answers for many years to come.
Then there are the deaths of famous people that are thought to be straightforward enough, but the celebrities’ families demand more, or different, answers, claiming that something nefarious had to have occurred to their loved ones rather than horrible accidents.
Whether due to inconclusive evidence, weird circumstances, or even possible cover-ups, these 16 Mysterious Celebrity Deaths That Were Never Solved remain baffling today as ever.
16. Brittany Murphy
She was the beloved actress from films like Clueless, Girl, Interrupted and Just Married. Brittany Murphy’s sudden death in 2009 devastated the talented actress’s fans. She was only 32 when she died of what was ruled a combination of anemia, pneumonia and multiple drugs in her system.
Both of Murphy’s parents, who are no longer married, have accused one another of being involved with the star’s tragic death. There have been talks of reopening the investigation into her death since some lab reports indicate that she could have been poisoned, corroborating the stories that her parents tell.
In 2013, a lab report commissioned by her father showed the same heavy metals present in rat poison in Murphy’s hair, but the chief coroner on the case has stated that the same results can be found in people who simply dye their hair.
15. Marilyn Monroe
One of the most beloved actresses in history, Marilyn Monroe is just as pitied today as she is adored. Tales of her time as a foster child, her lifetime of depression, constantly seeking love and affection in a lifetime of loneliness, and her treatment from men who didn’t even know her (such as Hugh Hefner, who used her nude photo without her permission, or the men who sought to be buried next to or even on top of her grave) has us wishing the star had a better life.
When Monroe died from an overdose of barbiturates at age 36, it was believed to be a suicide, since the doses found in her bloodstream were several times over the lethal limit and she had overdosed before. Conspiracy theories have circled her death for many years, with many claiming that she had been murdered.
14. JonBenet Ramsey
One of the most tragic tales within this list is that of young child pageant star JonBenet Ramsey. The child was only six years old when she was killed in her own home on Christmas in 1996. The case ended up being a media circus, with both Ramsey parents being unwilling to cooperate with police, a long ransom note found at the scene, police pointing fingers at the Ramseys with little evidence, and a widespread public outcry calling for justice that the child still has yet to have to this day.
In 2003, new DNA evidence showed traces of an unknown male at the scene of JonBenet’s death, which led to the police apologizing to the Ramseys after accusing them of the crime. Was Ramsey’s death a kidnapping gone wrong at the hands of some stranger? It’s possible, but it’s also still an unsolved case for over twenty years now.
It’s one of the most devastating celebrity deaths that fans are still enraged about. When Tupac Shakur was shot, also in 1996, during a drive-by shooting, the hip-hop artist was only 25 years old. He was hit with four bullets when he stopped at a red light but didn’t succumb to his injuries for six days, when he died of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.
While investigative reports have stated that Orlando Johnson, the Compton gang member that Tupac had an altercation with, shot the artist, and while other accounts claim The Notorious B.I.G., his murder is still considered an unsolved case due to disputes between witnesses of the crime and the police who investigated the murder. Police also claimed that Tupac’s friends refused to cooperate with the investigation.
12. Natalie Wood
The star of Miracle on 34th Street, Rebel Without a Cause and many other films, Natalie Wood tragically died on November 29, 1981 at the age of 43. The official cause of her death was “drowning and other undetermined factors,” since the circumstances around her death were pretty sketchy.
Wood was on a weekend boat getaway with Robert Wagner, her husband. The only other people with the couple were actor Christopher Walken and boat captain Dennis Davern. When Wood’s body was found in the water, it was a mile from the boat. An inflatable dinghy was near her body.
No one knows how she even entered the water; her husband claimed that she wasn’t in bed when he went to sleep. Her recovered body showed bruises and an abrasion that could have meant foul play, but no one knows for sure what happened on that boat.
11. Biggie Smalls
According to South Park, if you say his name in the mirror in the dark, hip hop sensation Biggie Smalls, AKA The Notorious B.I.G., will show up in your bathroom. Christopher Wallace may be no Bloody Mary but his 1997 death, which followed the murder of Tupac by mere months, was no less tragic. Wallace, who is considered one of the top 10 rappers to have ever lived, died at the age of 24, long before his time should have come. He left his wife, Faith Evans, and two children behind.
Wallace was shot multiple times in a Los Angeles drive-by shooting. Unlike Tupac’s terribly drawn out death, Biggie Smalls died within an hour from his wounds. He was rushed to the hospital after receiving four shots to the chest but it was too late. Like Tupac, Biggie was shot after stopping at a red light, and his murderer continues to walk free.
10. Bruce Lee
Adored film and martial arts star, Bruce Lee was strong, handsome and seemingly invincible, which is why it’s so baffling that a headache led to his death. Lee was given a prescription for Equagesic in 1973 to help with his pain, but instead it sent him into a coma he never woke up from. The drug, which the coroner ruled caused an allergic reaction in Lee, killed him at age 32 while he was filming Enter the Dragon.
It seems strange that Lee would be given a medication that was so dramatically dangerous to him for a headache and many people believe that he was intentionally murdered with the drug. As far as who would want him dead, one theory is that the Hong Kong-based organized crime group known as the Triads were behind his death. Some fans believe that it wasn’t the drug that killed him at all, and that a “death strike” or Dim Mak was given to Lee by his monk master.
9. Christa Helm
The lovely blonde actress Christa Helm was known for her small roles on programs like Wonder Woman and Starsky and Hutch, but she became even more well-known after her death due to sketchy circumstances. Helm wasn’t a very successful actress, but she had so many intimate relationships with celebrities like Mick Jagger and Warren Beatty that she was still famous. She kept a sex diary with all of her secrets featuring the big names that she partied and slept with in which she ranked the men in bed. She also kept secret videos of many of her encounters, and the police who investigated her murder believed it to be the reason why she was killed– to keep her mouth shut.
In 1977, Helm was stabbed and bludgeoned to death and left for the police to find on the street. Both the diary and video tapes Helm kept were missing when she was murdered. Right before she died, Helm sent a friend a postcard saying that she was way over her head. Her death remains a mystery to this day.
8. George Reeves
The handsome star of the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman was only 45 years old when he was mysteriously killed. George Reeves was in his own bedroom when he died of a single gunshot to the head, and while the official ruling was that he committed suicide, his home had been full of guests who all seemed to have different stories about the events that led up to Reeves’ death when he died. His guests were drunk, incoherent, and delayed calling law enforcement following the shot.
Reeves had no gun powder residue on his hands and no prints were found on the gun. One guest who had apparently been near him during the shooting demanded that the rest of the party goers say she’d been with them at the time of his death instead. Three bullets were fired, although guests claimed to have only heard one shot. Many people believe that Reeves was either murdered or accidentally shot due to the circumstances around his death.
7. Jimmy Hoffa
His death is so famous that it’s routinely referenced in media. Jimmy Hoffa wasn’t a movie star, but the notorious union leader and gangster’s disappearance and apparent death are so famous that they made him even more of a celebrity.
Hoffa was set to meet up with another union leader-slash-mobster to settle a beef in 1975 when he seemed to simply vanish. Although his car was discovered, his body was missing, prompting people to believe he was dead. He wasn’t legally declared dead until 1982, but without a body, plenty of rumors and theories have circulated for decades about what really happened to Hoffa.
Some say that he definitely sleeps with the fishes, but others argue that he became an informant and received an entirely new identity. Law enforcement officials still search for his body from time to time, following various tips that are reported about where Hoffa’s remains might be located.
6. Peter Ivers
Musician, songwriter, and host of the New Wave Theater Peter Ivers was never a superstar, but he was well-liked and connected enough to have his own TV show and to open for larger acts, like Fleetwood Mac. In 1983, Ivers was discovered bludgeoned to death in his own bed in Los Angeles, a crime that is still unsolved. One of the most tragic things about Ivers’ case is that because he was well-liked, he had lots of friends come to offer their respects in his home, causing them to damage all of the evidence at the scene, making it much more difficult to solve his murder.
The investigation into Ivers’ death was reopened after a biography written about him in 2008 offered new information about his murder, but police are still unable to find his killer. Some speculate that it could have been someone at his theater while others claim it was likely a robbery gone wrong.
5. Thomas Ince
At the age of 44, movie producer, actor, and director Thomas Ince officially died of heart failure after boarding the private yacht of William Randolph Hearst. That doesn’t sound like an unsolved murder, but even now, 93 years later, the scandal and controversy around his death make people believe that something far more nefarious, despite witnesses testifying that it was a medical condition that caused his death.
Ince was known to have ulcers and he consumed foods that irritated his stomach, and he was accompanied by a doctor to a hotel where another doctor and nurse treated him before he went home and died. Even with witness corroboration, it does seem a bit sketchy that all of these doctors, one of them not even a practicing physician, would see him in a hotel rather than take him to a hospital.
4. Jill Dando
A favorite journalist and BBC TV presenter, Jill Dando had worked in the business for over a decade before her untimely death at age 37. After leaving the home of her fiancee on April 26, 1999, she was shot in the head and murdered by an unknown gunman. The fact that it was a single shot that killed her points to the job being intentional and possibly professional. The public outcry was understandably enormous and led to the biggest investigation in the area since the Yorkshire Ripper in 1981.
While Operation Oxborough proved to be a strong effort, unfortunately Dando’s killer was never found. This year, an unnamed hitman claimed to know who murdered Dando but refused to reveal his knowledge, stating that he feared for his safety over the revelation.
3. Mary Rogers
She was known as the “Beautiful Cigar Girl,” and her death was so tragic that it inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” in 1842. Mary Rogers worked in a New York tobacco store and while she was very beautiful, she wasn’t known outside local circles until her eerie death. On July 28, 1841, her body was found floating in the Hudson River.
The general consensus among law enforcement was that Rogers was a victim of gang violence, but there are several other stories to explain her unsolved death. One is that she committed suicide, while another is that she was dumped after she died from complications from a botched abortion attempt. Her boyfriend’s suicide note months later indicated that he may have also been involved in her death.
2. Bob Crane
Bob Crane, the Hogan’s Heroes actor known for his catchy grin and wholesome persona, was brutally murdered in his own apartment in 1978 at the age of 49. Crane had an electrical cord around his neck and he’d been bludgeoned to death by an object that was suspected to be a camera tripod.
Crane’s death has never been solved, but many, including investigators, are convinced that the murderer was his longtime friend and underground sex scene collaborator, John Carpenter, who helped him film his sexual exploits. DNA testing wasn’t yet available at the time, but some blood matching Crane’s blood type was found in Carpenter’s vehicle.
Other than that, there was no evidence to put Carpenter at the scene. In 1992, the case was reopened and Carpenter was charged with the crime, but he was acquitted and died in 1998. We may never know what happened that terrible day.
1. Elizabeth Short
Elizabeth Short’s brutal murder remains one of the biggest controversies in Hollywood. It’s such a popular mystery that her story’s even been used as a plot in American Horror Story and films like Black Dahlia, the latter of which is named after the woman.
Unlike most of the other people listed here, Elizabeth Short didn’t become famous until after her grisly murder. The nature of her death, which involved mutilation and her body being severed at the waist, made it much more gossip-worthy in 1947 than many other deaths.
Short was rumored to have been an aspiring actress, but there’s no proof to support the theory. Investigators considered over 150 suspects for her murder, but the crime is still one of the most famous unsolved murders in history.
Do you have any theories about these mysterious deaths? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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