The mystery documentary television series Unsolved Mysteries first premiered in 1987 as a series of contained specials. Hosted by the iconic Robert Stack, the show became a full-fledged series in 1988. Offering viewers a chilling look at cold cases and paranormal phenomena alike, the show was an absolute staple for any true crime buff. Unfortunately, after switching hands from NBC to CBS to Lifetime over a span of 14 years, the original series was canceled in September of 2002.
But Unsolved Mysteries has a legacy that can't be silenced. In 2008, the series was rebooted by Spike, this time hosted by Dennis Farina. Though the show once again saw cancellation in 2010, Unsolved Mysteries would rise again a decade later. Netflix picked up the show, releasing six gripping episodes per volume. Volume three is set to hit the streaming service sometime in 2022.
While you're waiting for more episodes to unravel baffling mysteries, why not take an eerie walk down memory lane? Here are eight of the best episodes of Unsolved Mysteries.
Airing in 1994, season 7 episode 6 dives into the chilling mystery of the Circleville Letter Writer. In 1976, a reign of terror fell over the unsuspecting town of Circleville, Ohio. It began with a letter to bus driver Mary Gillispie proclaiming that the writer knew of her affair with the school's superintendent—and that it better end. It wasn't the last letter Mary received, but she kept them a secret until her husband Ron received a similar threat—to end his wife's affair or risk his life.
With suspicions of who the letter writer was, Ron took his weapon and went to confront them. On the way he died after losing control of his vehicle. His gun was missing one bullet, with no clues as to where or who he fired at. But only more confusion followed with a potential cover up and a series of booby traps...
What's more chilling, a postcard from the letter writer was actually sent to Unsolved Mysteries, warning them to stay away.
Funnily enough, this so-called unsolved mystery was actually solved before the episode—season 2 episode 26—aired. Nevertheless, this case which sees the collision of violent true crime and the paranormal is no less chilling.
On February 21, 1977, respiratory therapist Teresita Basa was found dead in her Chicago apartment. Called to put out a fire, firefighters found her naked body beneath a burning mattress—a knife stabbed through her heart. There was no apparent motive, but Terisita's co-worker, Remibias "Remy" Chua, reported having visions of Teresita where she begged her to tell the police what happened. Remy even claimed to be possessed by a spirit as she spoke the name of the man who would eventually come to be convicted for Teresita's murder.
"Mystery on the Rooftop"
This episode is the first of Netflix's 2020 resurrection of the series. It covers the bizarre mystery of Rey Rivera. This case is so strange that viewers may find themselves only more confused as they receive more information.
Rey's body was found on May 24, 2006 inside of the historic Belvedere Hotel of Baltimore, Maryland. He had gone missing eight days prior after rushing out following a phone call. Investigators found some of his belongings on the roof, which—paired with the whole through the hotel ceiling—made some think Rey's death was a suicide. But multiple instances of his home alarm sounding and a new and shady business deal his friend roped him into led many others to believe it was an act of foul play.
"House of Terror"
According to IMDb, this episode—the season 1 episode 3 of the 2020 reboot—is the highest rated Unsolved Mysteries episode of all time. As the episode revolves around a French family, this episode is actually entirely in the French language—with English subtitles available, of course.
Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes came from an aristocratic French family. From the looks of things, he had what appeared to be a happy life with his wife, Agnes Hodanger, and four children, Arthur, Thomas, Anne, and Benoit. But one day their house turns up empty, as if the entire family has packed up and moved away without a trace. Until investigators discover the bodies of Agnes, Arthur, Thomas, Anne, and even their two dogs buried beneath the porch under a slab of cement... and Xavier is nowhere to be found.
"Pix of the Dead"
Featured on episode 11 of season 3, Coral Polge was a British artist with an alleged psychic ability. Through her art she could depict the faces of the dead—faces she had never seen before. As this episode explains how Polge came to discover her gift and how she uses it to comfort those in the grip of grief, the story is as remarkable as it is eerie. With more than 10,000 portraits of the deceased—portaits Polge claims were made under the guidance of spirits on the other side—the results are incredibly accurate.
"A Death in Oslo"
In season 2 episode 2 of the Netflix reboot, the chilling murder of a woman in a hotel leads not only to speculation after her killer, but to the identity of the woman herself. On May 31, 1995, a woman using the name Jennifer Fairgate checked into the 5-star Plaza Hotel in Oslo. The two-person reservation included the name "Lois Fairgate"—assumed to be the man standing by her at check in. Throughout their two-day stay in expensive room 2805, the maids were shocked that it was kept so tidy. Almost as if the pair were never in there at all.
Jennifer decided to extend her stay, and while electronic communications are sent out from her room, no one appeared at the front desk and a "Do Not Disturb" sign remained on her door. When a part-time security guard knocked on her locked door to check on her, he heard a gunshot. During the 15 minutes it takes to alert the authorities, the killer seemingly disappears.
With a gun strangely positioned by the body, it almost looks like a suicide. But as the name Jennifer Fairgate doesn't actually exist, many believe her to be a spy murdered in a covert incident.
As eerie and frustrating as some of the other cold cases on this show may be, season 1 episode 2 of the Netflix reboot is heart-wrenching beyond measure. On April 15, 2004, hairstylist Patrice Endres went missing. When two regular customers arrive at the salon, Patrice is nowhere in sight—though her purse and keys are on the counter, and her car—albeit parked at an odd angle—is present in the lot. When the women find the cash drawer empty, the police-driven search begins.
Investigators painstakingly recreated the timeline of Patrice's last known day. Only 13 minutes are unaccounted for—a dangerous and fateful 13 minutes. With such a tight window of time unspoken for, many believe it was Patrice's jealous soon-to-be ex-husband, Rob, who executed the kidnapping—though he has an airtight alibi for the crime. Months after Patrice went missing, serial killer Jeremy Jones confessed to her kidnap and murder—though he later recanted, crossing him off most suspect lists. And, nearly two years after she vanished, Patrice's remains were found in a similar area to the disposal of another victim of serial killer Gary Hilton, making him a prime suspect in the case but providing no further concrete evidence.
Many may know the haunting story of the ghost ship the Mary Celeste, but season 7 episode 7 of Unsolved Mysteries took a closer look at the tale back in 1994. Captain Benjamin Briggs—along with his family and his crew—set off on November 5, 1872 for Europe from New York. Below deck Briggs had stored thousands of barrel of pure alcohol—a dangerously flammable cargo. 10 days after the Mary Celeste set off, it was hit by a considerable storm. But weather was clear again by November 25, and Briggs made an entry in his journal.
On December 4, the ship was found abandoned several hundred miles off the coast of Portugal. The ship's compass was shattered and the navigation instruments were missing, but all personal items—including money and jewelry—had been left behind. But how did the Briggs family and the ship crew vanish without a trace? And where did they go?