Where do you start when talking
about real life mysteries? What do you include, and what can you in
good conscience leave out?
Where, exactly, was the Garden of Eden? What happened to the Ark of
the Covenant? Are Atlantis, Lyonesse, and the continent of Lemuria actually
buried under the sea waiting to be discovered? What about the lost cities
of Aztlan, “Z”, and El Dorado, or the lost colony of Roanoke?
If we find “Z”, will we learn the fate of the Percy Fawcett
expedition that vanished in a Brazilian jungle in 1925?
What about the Bermuda Triangle, crop circles, Roswell, or the conspiracy
theories concerning the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, John F Kennedy,
Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, or Robert Kennedy?
Over 211,000 homicides committed in the U.S. since 1980 remain unsolved.
In one third of all murders, police fail to make an arrest. The homicide
rate has been dropping since 1990, but homicides are less likely to
be solved today than they were 40 years ago. Investigations are expensive
and often hindered by a shortage of police personnel to provide the
necessary man hours.
There are approximately, 90,000 missing persons in the U.S. at any given
time. According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System,
40% of those missing are juveniles. Where is Jimmy Hoffa? Who killed
Jon Benet Ramsey? What happened to D.B. Cooper, the lone hijacker of
a Boeing 747, somewhere between Portland and Seattle? What was the fate
of Amelia Earhart? Will Natalie Holloway’s family ever really
know what happened to her?
After the death of his wife in 1847, rumors circulated about Edgar Allan
Poe’s drinking and erratic behavior. On October 3, 1849, Poe was
found delirious on the streets of Baltimore dressed in someone else’s
clothing. He died at a local hospital on October 7, 1849. Poe never
fully regained consciousness, but allegedly called out the name “Reynolds.”
There was no one in his circle of acquaintances with that name. All
medical records, including his death certificate, were mysteriously
Doctors have speculated his death at 40 was caused by alcoholism. Some
theorize Poe was the victim of “cooping,” a form of voter
fraud where random citizens were abducted, taken to polling locations,
and forced to vote for certain candidates. Many were forced to change
clothing with other victims to alter their appearances at the polls.
Ambrose Bierce was an American Civil War soldier, author, journalist,
and literary critic. His most acclaimed works include The Devil’s
Dictionary and the short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek
Bridge.” In December 1913, Bierce reportedly went to Chihuahua,
Mexico to gain first-hand experience of the Mexican Revolution by travelling
with rebel troops. He was never heard from again.
Skeptics doubt the 71-year old-Bierce, who suffered from severe asthma,
was healthy enough to make the trip. Letters from Bierce to his niece
Lora indicate his intention to go and his desire to die in the pursuit
of something instead of waiting idly for death to come. Bierce stated
in his first letter, “To be a gringo in Mexico—ah, that
is euthanasia.” His final letter was dated December 26, 1913.
Theories suggest Bierce was executed by Poncho Villa’s men, or
he became ill and after his death, rebels buried him somewhere in Mexico.
Another theory suggests Bierce settled in Mexico and lived the remainder
of his life in anonymity. The Old Gringo by Carlos Fuentes offers a
fictionalized account of his disappearance.
In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared after her husband, Archie asked
for a divorce. A heated argument ensued; Archie left to be with his
mistress, Nancy Neele. Christie disappeared after leaving a note for
her secretary saying she was going to Yorkshire. Christie’s abandoned
car, expired driver’s license and clothes were later found at
Newlands Corner. A newspaper offered a reward. One thousand police officers,
15,000 volunteers and several aircraft searched for Christie who was
eventually found at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel registered as Mrs. Teresa
Neele (the surname of Archie’s mistress).
Christie was diagnosed with fugue state, probably caused by overwork
and depression over the death of her mother the previous year and her
husband’s infidelity. Fugue state, a rare temporary psychiatric
disorder is characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity.
It often involves unplanned travel or wandering, and the establishment
of a new identity.
Some angry fans labeled her disappearance a publicity stunt and others
believed Christie was trying to embarrass her husband or frame him for
her murder. Christie’s autobiography, published posthumously in
1977, makes no reference to her disappearance.
So, there you have it…three real life mysteries about three authors.
If you could solve only one of these mysteries, which one would you
choose? Send us your thoughts with the subject heading “which
one” in an email to email@example.com. Feel free to send us “your
solution” and maybe we’ll print it in an upcoming issue
of This Awful/Awesome Life.
Sources: www.ancient-origins.net (5 Lost Cities -story by April Holloway)
America’s 60 Greatest Mysteries and Crimes Season 1 (DVD)
Fran Joyce is an author and co-publisher of This Awful/Awesome