The Most Infamous Unsolved Crimes Ever Committed

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes a crime can be so sensational that it grips an entire nation, and sometimes the world. Not all of these major offenses are solved, however, and there’s something fascinating about unsolved mysteries. (Read about these 22 famous unsolved crimes in America.)

To compile a list of the most infamous unsolved crimes ever committed, 24/7 Tempo used reference materials such as Britannica, Biography, and Smithsonian, as well as media sources like NBC News and Time. We used editorial discretion to assemble the list, based on such factors as the notoriety of the crime, the public’s interest in the incident, the length of time it has remained unsolved, and the place the crime holds in popular culture.  

Every continent but Antarctica is represented here, but the majority of the unresolved crimes on our list are from the United States – especially murders. More and more U.S. homicides go unsolved. In the 1960s, more than 90% of all homicides were “cleared” by police – meaning that an arrest was reported. That clearance rate has dropped over the past six decades and is now just 50%. (See the most infamous crime committed in every state.)

After some of the murders on this list, the perpetrator has taunted police with letters or other clues. Some were particularly gruesome. A sad truth is that most of the murder victims in the cases here were sex workers, female factory or day laborers, and children – among the most vulnerable members of society.

Other types of lawlessness – kidnappings, hijackings, heists of art and precious valuables – have fascinated the public because of their ingenuity and brazenness, so have found a place on this list as well.

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