Summer is the season for taking the scenic route, and here at The Lineup, we’ve been scouring the country for the strangest and most bizarre true crime in each state’s history. So far, we’ve traveled through thirty states, discovering a headless torso buried in a cave, a woman who died twice, and an interstate murder that took place through the United States Postal Service.
Curious to see what we dug up this month? Read on to see if your state is on the list. And if not, check out Part One, Part Two, and Part Three to see if we've already covered your state. And if not, stay tuned. We’ll be back next month with the final ten states, uncovering the oddest, weirdest, and creepiest true crime cases in the entire country.
Virginia—The Unsolved Colonial Parkway Murders
On October 12, 1986, two bodies were found on the side of the Colonial Parkway in Williamsburg, Virginia. Over the next three years, six more people were either found or disappeared along the same route stretching through the state. Every incident occurred at night and involved a pair of victims. But then the killing stopped.
Over the years, many theories have emerged. Was this the work of a new serial killer in the making who simply moved on? Was it multiple killers who used similar methods? Authorities have never named a suspect, though a former deputy was investigated as having ties to the case. With no new murders matching motive or profile, the case has long gone cold, but the victims’ families continue to pursue justice.
Alaska—The Murderous Love Hexagon
In 1994, Mechele Hughes moved to Alaska for a fresh start. She started working as an exotic dancer and two years later had three fiancés. The men were aware of each other, and in fact, all lived in the same house at various points in their relationship with Mechele. But then Kent Lippink’s body was found, and a letter he sent to his parents implicated Mechelle and the two other men.
Investigators couldn’t tie any of them to the crime for ten years, when a determined detective was able to use technology that wasn’t available initially. Mechelle and John Carlin were eventually convicted of murder. But the case doesn’t end there. After Mechelle wins an appeal, Carlin is killed in a prison fight while on appeal, causing his case to be thrown out. Mechelle is back in Seattle and continues to deny her involvement in the murder.
Arkansas—The Mysterious Remains of Old Mike
Old Mike was a traveling salesman who used to travel to Prescott, Arkansas, once a month to sell various supplies to the town. He’d stay overnight and move on with his sales route the next morning. But on August 21, 1911, Old Mike was found dead underneath a tree in the city park.
No one knew his actual name, and a search of his belongings didn’t provide any identification. In an effort to identify them, the city embalmed him and displayed the body outside of the funeral home—where it remained for sixty years. He was finally laid to rest on May 12, 1975, and his identity has never been uncovered.
Illinois—The Pirate Broadcast of Max Headroom
Football fans got quite a surprise on November 22, 1987. Minutes after the Chicago Bears beat the Detroit Lions, screens across Chicago went black. A man then appeared, wearing a Max Headroom mask and sunglasses. He stumbled around for a few moments before the station switched signals and regular broadcasting resumed.
Shortly after, a different station experienced the same strange interruption. During the weekly Doctor Who episode, the Max Headroom lookalike cut in. This time he stayed on the air for approximately ninety seconds, spewing random thoughts and ending by getting spanked on their naked buttocks with a flyswatter. No one was ever identified and the culprit(s) were never caught.
Washington—The Cowboy Bandit
On September 19, 1987, a man walked into a bank in Spokane, Washington, and pulled out a gun. In less than five minutes, he walked out with over $100,000 without leaving a single fingerprint or being caught on camera. Less than a year later, the same man robbed another bank for $14,000 getting away without leaving any evidence. He was tall, well-dressed, had a mustache, and wore cowboy boots.
Over the next five years, the same man robbed nine banks in the Spokane area and was tied to three robberies in Tuscon, Arizona. In total, he absconded with over $400,000. Even though he was eventually captured on camera, law enforcement was never able to identify him and he has yet to be caught.
Wyoming—The Discovery of Gabby’s Bones
After a man named Gabby moved away from Thermopolis, Wyoming, he left some items in an old shed. His friend, Newel Sessions agreed to move the shed to his property until Gabby could pick up the items. Six years went by, and Newel went through the shed, finding an old footlocker inside. But when he opened it, he was shocked when he found a human skeleton hidden beneath a sheet of plastic.
Newel called the sheriff, who discovered a bullet lodged in the skull, right behind the left eye. The lock on the trunk ended being dated back as far as the 1930s, with other evidence indicating the murder took place sometime between 1940 and 1960. In 2017, the man was identified through DNA testing as Joseph Junior Mulvaney who disappeared in 1963. Some speculate his wife killed him, but there is little evidence to investigate, and no charges have ever been filed. How Mulvaney ended up in that trunk is a question that will likely never be answered.
Nebraska—The Disappearance (and Reappearance) of Lawrence Bader
Cookware salesman Lawrence Joseph Bader disappeared after going fishing near his home in Akron, Ohio. There had been a storm and his boat was found damaged after he was reported missing. But he left behind a string of financial problems. Four days later, a man named John “Fritz” Johnson arrived in Omaha, Nebraska.
John was known for his big personality and gained quite a reputation, turning into a bit of a celebrity. In 1965, a friend of Lawrence insisted John was the same man, even bringing Lawrence’s niece to identify him. John laughed it off, but when he was fingerprinted, he was identified as being the same man. He had no memory of life in Akron and a psychiatrist believed he wasn’t lying. John died a year later, and the truth was never determined.
North Carolina—The Strange Death of Debbie Wolfe
Debbie Wolfe was a young nurse who left work at a Fayetteville, North Carolina, hospital at 4 pm on December 26, 1985. When she didn’t show up at work the next day, her family went to her rural cabin home and were surprised at how disheveled her normally clean home was. Her dogs hadn’t been fed, a strange car was in her driveway, and her nurse uniform was thrown on the kitchen floor.
The police didn’t investigate until the family had two divers search the pond behind her home. They found her body in a barrel wearing clothes no one recognized and didn’t fit. Even after reports of two men bothering Debbie at work, along with other evidence that something happened on the property, authorities ruled her death an accident. Her family believes she was murdered.
Rhode Island—The Fugitive Adam Emery
Adam Emery and his wife were at a roadside food stand when a car sideswiped theirs. Enraged, Adam followed the car he believed hit him and essentially forced them to pull over. But then events take a turn for the shocking. Adam jumped out of his car, runs up to the offending vehicle, and fatally stabs the 20-year-old driver, Jay Bass, through the heart.
After investigating, it turned out that Adam followed the wrong car. To make things worse, he didn’t show any remorse for losing his temper and killing someone. He was convicted of second-degree murder but before he could be sentenced, his car was found abandoned on Newport Bridge. Elena’s body was eventually found but Adam’s never was. He is still one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives.
Kansas—The Strange Disappearance of Randy Leach
On the evening of April 15, 1988, Randy Leach took his mother’s car to attend a pre-graduation party in rural Linwood, Kansas. He was seen drinking and having a good time throughout the night and is believed to have left around 1:30 in the morning. But Randy never made it home that night, and neither he nor his mother’s car was ever seen again.
People go missing all the time, but there were several strange occurrences with this disappearance. First, there were rumors of satanic activity in the area. The area where the party took place was thoroughly cleaned before investigators arrived, and mysteriously burned to ash shortly after the investigation began. To date, most people who cooperated with the police have died in unusual circumstances. The police have no leads, and the case remains open today.