In each of these unsolved cases, a killer walked free and a murdered victim went into the ground without a name. Many were children. Despite years or even decades passing since these murders, many still hold out hope that the victims will be identified and their killers found.
1. The Boy in the Box
This young boy was only between three and seven years old. His naked body was found wrapped in a blanket inside a cardboard box. It was hidden in a wooded section of Philadelphia. A local trapper discovered the boy and the box in February, 1957.
The boy’s corpse showed signs of malnutrition. His hair had been shorn, and there were bruises on his body. His image appeared in Philadelphia papers and on hundreds of thousands of flyers distributed to homes, but no identification was made. He is buried in a Philadelphia cemetery under a headstone reading “America’s Unknown Child.”
3. Little Miss Nobody
In the summer of 1960, a local Arizona family found a young girl’s body partially buried in sand. Investigators said it looked like whoever buried her had made several attempts to dig a proper grave. The girl’s toenails and fingernails were painted a bright red, and her hair was dyed auburn.
It was a local radio host who gave her the name “Little Miss Nobody” and began a campaign to raise funds for her burial, so she would not have to go to a Potter’s Field. More than 70 people showed up for the service. Although Little Miss Nobody’s DNA was uploaded to national databases of missing persons, she has never been identified.
3. The Lady of the Dunes
The body of the Lady of the Dunes was found in 1974 in the dunes near the tip of Cape Cod. She had been murdered by blows to the head, but police found no sign of a struggle before she was killed. Perhaps she knew her killer, or perhaps she was asleep when he struck.
Her body has been exhumed three times in a search for more clues. In 2000, investigators extracted DNA. Then in 2010, a CAT scan was taken of her skull to create a more accurate reconstruction of her face. But so far she is still a Jane Doe. Connections to Whitey Bulger, Boston mob boss, and Tony Costa, a local serial killer, have been proposed, but neither has been proven.
4. Eklutna Annie
Discovered in 1980 in Eklutna, Anchorage, Alaska, this young woman is still unidentified. Her body was found alongside power lines. An autopsy revealed she was killed by a single stab wound to the back. While we still do not know her name, we do know her killer. Four years after her death, the Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen confessed to her murder, saying that Eklutna Annie was his first victim. Hansen died in 2014, while serving a life sentence for the unidentified victim and three other murders.
5. Little Lord Fauntleroy
In 1921, the body of a young boy was pulled from a pond in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Police estimated he was between five and seven years old. He had been killed by a blow to the head. The body had been in the water several months, leaving his face unrecognizable. The clothes he was wearing indicated he came from a wealthy family, leading to Little Lord Fauntleroy’s nickname.
Years later, in 1949, a medical examiner suggested the body might be that of six-year-old Homer LeMay (pictured above) who had disappeared around the same time. LeMay’s father claimed his son had died in a car accident in South America. There was no proof, but also not enough evidence to charge LeMay’s father with murder. Years after Little Lord Fauntleroy’s death, a woman in a veil would regularly come to leave flowers at his grave, leading locals to believe that she knew who the boy really was.
6. Girl with the Peach Tattoo
The body of this murdered woman was found by a hiker in a wooded section of Long Island, New York in 1997. It was missing both arms, both feet and its head. But there was one very identifiable mark: a tattoo on the left breast. It showed a heart-shaped peach with a bite taken out of it and two drops of juice.
Police published a picture of the tattoo and a tattoo artist came forward to say he remembered giving it to a young woman from the New York area. In 2016, investigators linked other skeletal remains found on Long Island to the torso with the peach tattoo. It is now believed she may have been an early victim of the Long Island Serial Killer, who also remains unidentified.
7. Wych Elm Bella
In 1943, four boys discovered a skull inside a witch elm tree (sometimes spelled “wych elm”) in Worcestershire, England. Police determined it belonged to a woman who had been dead at least a year and a half. A piece of cloth was found in the throat. Police believe she was suffocated with the cloth and her body squeezed into the hollow tree before rigor mortis set in.
Thanks to the all-consuming World War II, the murder did not capture the public imagination. That is, it didn’t until a year later, when graffiti began appearing around the region. The first was in nearby Birmingham: “Who put Bella down the Wych Elm.” The scrawled message has also appeared periodically on the Hagley Obelisk near where the body was found.
Related: Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?
8. Orange Socks
In 1979, a motorist spotted the body of a young woman on the side of the road in Georgetown, Texas. Police think she had been strangled only hours before her body was found. She was naked—except for a pair of orange socks on her feet. In 1982 the notorious serial killer Henry Lee Lucas confessed to her murder, claiming he had picked her up hitchhiking in Oklahoma. But the timeline raised questions: Lucas would have had to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. It is known that Lucas confessed to hundreds of unsolved murders he did not commit.
9. Allenstown Four
In 1985, a hunter in the Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire found the bodies of a woman and a young girl wrapped in plastic inside a 55-gallon metal drum. Fifteen years later, the bodies of two more young girls were found nearby, also in a 55-gallon metal drum. DNA showed the woman was related to at least two of the girls.
In 2017, DNA also revealed a likely suspect: Terry Peder Rasmussen, who also went by Robert “Bob” Evans. Rasmussen died in prison in 2010 serving time for another murder. DNA showed he was the father of one of the four girls. The four young girls have not been identified, and the location of Rasmussen’s previous girlfriend, Denise Beaudin, and her six-month-old daughter also remain a mystery.
Featured photo of the Orange Socks victim: Unidentified Wiki