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The Strangest True Crime Cases in States Across the Country: Part Three

Is your state's most bizarre true crime case on the list?

A map of the United States to show the most bizarre true crime cases in the country
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  • Photo Credit: Mackenzie Cruz / Unsplash

Here at The Lineup, we know everyone has their secrets. And we’ve been working our way across the country, uncovering all of the strangest and most bizarre true crimes in each state’s history. Last month we discovered a phantom barber, a star-crossed astronaut, and a pair of tunneling burglars, among other oddities. Curious to see what we dug up this month? Read on to see if your state is on the list. And if not, stay tuned: we’ll be back next month with ten more states, taking us that much closer to covering the entire country.

Read Part One and Part Two

Idaho — Joseph Henry Loveless' Torso in Buffalo Cave

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  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In 1979, a family discovered a human torso while hunting for arrowheads in a series of caves made from ancient lava tubes, known as the Civil Defense Caves in Dubois, Idaho. The body was a male torso wrapped in burlap with nothing wearing a dark red sweater. They had little to go on and the case went nowhere until two boys found two arms and two legs wrapped in burlap in the same caves a decade later.

The remains were examined by the FBI, the Smithsonian, Idaho State, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, the University of New Hampshire, and Othram laboratory. Eventually, the body was identified as Joseph Henry Loveless, a bootlegger, and counterfeiter of the late 1800s. Officials believe he was murdered after killing his wife and fleeing to the caves in 1916, though there who killed him and why is still unknown.

Related: 10 Serial Killers Who Were Never Caught

Hawaii — The Disappearance of Daylenn “Moke” Pua

hawaii the disappearance of daylenn moke pua

On February 27, 2015, Daylenn “Moke” Pua told his grandmother he was going to hike a banned area known as the “Stairway to Heaven”. Even though she told him not to, he boarded a bus and headed out. Throughout the day, he posted photos of the hike on his social media but at some point, his posts stopped, and he never came home.

The family studied the photos Moke posted and noticed a man lurking deep in the bushes behind Moke in one of the pictures. A search effort took place along the trail and on the mountain using local law enforcement, the fire department, drone cameras, and the US Navy, but no trace of Moke was found. Three days later, two hikers reported hearing cries for help, but the search never found anything. Was the man in the bushes stalking Moke? Or did something else happen?

Related: 29 Unsolved Murders That Will Send Shivers Down Your Spine

West Virginia — The Harpers Ferry Remains

west virginia the harpers ferry remains

When a sheriff’s deputy came across a steamer trunk on the side of the road outside Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, he was immediately suspicious. Why was it covered in duct tape and abandoned? Inside he found a duffel bag inside a duffel bag filled with old clothes and a human hand. And beneath that was a human body.

The man was wearing nothing but a pajama top and appeared to be about in his seventies. He was extremely emaciated weighing only 111 pounds. Officials created a computer-generated likeness of the man in an attempt to identify him, but no one has ever come forward. Even with dental records and fingerprints, John Doe has yet to be identified.

Connecticut — The Kidnapping of Carlina White

connecticut the kidnapping of carlina white
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It’s not every day that a kidnapping victim solves their own case, but that’s exactly what Carlina White did. She grew up as Nejdra “Netty” Nance and believed her mother Annugetta “Ann” Pettyway. When Netty was pregnant with her daughter, she asked her mother for her birth certificate so she could get prenatal care. And that’s where things got strange.

Netty was told her birth certificate was false, and when confronted, Ann admitted she wasn’t her birth mother. Believing she had been abandoned by drug addicts, Netty began searching for her biological parents. A shocking DNA test later, and Netty learned she was actually Carlina White, a baby that had been taken from the hospital twenty-three years earlier. Now, White lives a private life with her daughter and is building a relationship with her biological parents.

Related: The Vile Murders of Cheshire's Petit Family

Georgia — Burger King Doe

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On August 31, 2004, a man was found behind a dumpster in a Burger King parking lot in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He was naked, bleeding, and didn’t have anything that could identify him. Employees called the police, and he was taken to St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital in Savannah under the name ‘Burger King Doe’ where they found three depressions on his skull indicating blunt force trauma, among other injuries.

Eventually, he named himself Benjaman Kyle. It took over ten years for him to find his true identity, but thanks to extensive DNA research he discovered he is William Burgess Powell, a man who had lost contact with his family over twenty years ago. With no records covering that time span, the mystery of who he is and how he ended up behind that Burger King has yet to be solved. He’s the only American listed as missing whose physical location is actually known.

Kentucky — The Double Death of Octavia Smith Hatcher

kentucky the double death of octavia smith hatcher

James Hatcher and Octavia Smith were happily married in 1889. She gave birth to a son shortly after, and they lived a content life in Pikeville, Kentucky. Shortly after she gave birth, the baby and Octavia both became very sick and the baby died in January 1891. Octavia fell into a dark depression after their son died, and eventually slipped into a coma. She died on May 2, 1891.

But the story doesn’t end there. Shortly after her death, several people in town suffered the same illness. But after these individuals “died”, they woke back up. Hope renewed; James had Octavia’s coffin exhumed where they made a horrific discovery. Octavia had woken up and tried to claw her way out. Many believe her grave is haunted and every year the statue that marks her grave reportedly turns its back on the city on the anniversary of her death.

Related: The Bronze Lady: The (Other) Spooky Legend of Sleepy Hollow That You've Never Heard of

Ohio — The Mysterious Case of Brian Shafer

ohio the mysterious case of brian shafer
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Going to a bar to celebrate the beginning of Spring Break is a ritual participated in by college students participate all over the world. And on March 31, 2006, that’s exactly what Brian Shafer did. He was last seen talking to two women just before 2 am, before entering the Ugly Tuna Saloona for one last drink before the bar closed.

There’s only one entrance to the bar, an escalator leading to the main entrance. Shafer was seen entering, but not exiting, a trick that seems impossible as there no other way to leave. Columbus is known for having more security cameras than any other city in Ohio, but none of the footage around the bar shows any trace of Shafer after he went inside the bar. Did he change clothes and hide his face in order to lead a new life? Or did something else happen to Shafer that night?

Related: 6 True Crime Reads About Serial Killers on Campus

South Dakota — The Theon Stone

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Prior to 1887, it was largely accepted that the Custer Expedition of 1874 discovery of gold in South Dakota led to the Black Hills Gold Rush. But when Louis Theon discovered a sandstone slab on his property, that history was called into question. The slab, now known as the Theon Stone, claimed that the first gold was actually found in 1834.

According to the stone’s engraving, Ezra Kind and six others struck gold in June 1834. The entire party was allegedly murdered, but not before Ezra carved their journey into stone. The slab was buried several feet below the ground, possibly in an effort to ensure it wasn’t destroyed. Over the years, the authenticity of the stone has been challenged, but several descendants of the names listed confirm they had relatives who disappeared after heading West.

Missouri — The Murder in Room 1046

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  • Photo Credit: Kansas City Public Library

One of the strangest cases we’ve come across in our state-by-state journey is the murder of Artemus Ogletree. He died on January 5, 1935 in a Kansas City hospital after being beaten and stabbed. At the time of his death, his true identity was unknown, but even more mysterious were the circumstances around his death.

Three days earlier, Ogletree checked into the Hotel President with only a comb, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Over the next few days, a woman was seen coming and going from his room and fighting was heard from neighboring rooms. On January 4, a bellboy found Ogletree beaten, stabbed, and restrained with the phone cord around his neck. Despite detectives continually reviewing the case into the 1950’s, no one knows who killed Ogletree or why.

Delaware — The Poison Candy Murders

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After her husband began having a drunken affair with Mrs. Cordelia Botkin in California, Mary Elizabeth Pennington moved back to Dover to live with her father, former Congressman and Attorney General John B. Pennington. But when her husband indicated he wanted her to take him back, Mary began receiving letters detailing his affair and urging her to leave him.

In August 1898, she got a box of chocolates with a note signed, ‘Love, Mrs. C’. Mary and her sister died from arsenic poisoning after eating several of the candies. It took both states working together to charge Botkin for murder, as Delaware couldn’t extradite her and there wasn’t a body in California. Eventually, she was brought to trial—twice—and sentenced to life in prison. This was the first crime where the U.S. Postal Service was used to commit murder.