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As if the episodes of Unsolved Mysteries about a serial killer on the run weren’t terrifying enough, there have to be the ones about GHOSTS. Ghosts can’t be brought to justice. Ghosts’ DNA profiles can’t be entered into the national database. Ghosts can’t receive a cease and desist letter from your lawyer. For your nostalgic viewing pleasure (or pain), here are the scariest paranormal Unsolved Mysteries episodes. And yes, of course, all of these horrifying interludes remain unsolved.
Black Hope Curse
Season 12, Episode 7
Sam and Judith Haney were excited to start construction on a swimming pool in their backyard when a man knocked at the door warning them that if they dug up their backyard they would be digging up human remains. The land that made up their neighborhood had once been Black Hope Cemetery, a nineteenth century burial ground for African-Americans–many of whom were former slaves. The Haneys dug anyway, disturbing the resting place of at least two people, wedding rings still visible on their remains. Plants on the property died; there were unexplained pockets of freezing air, shadows, and flickering lights in their house. And then things got really, really bad. Six Haney relatives were diagnosed with cancer. The couple sued the developer but lost. Mounting court fees forced the Haneys to declare bankruptcy. Another neighbor, attempting to prove that they were living on a cemetery, continued to dig up remains. She died of a heart attack at only 31.
The Comedy Store
Season 8, Episode 12
The Comedy Store, a famous comedy venue in Los Angeles, is believed to be a hotbed of paranormal activity. Waitresses complained of working the whole afternoon setting up tables only to turn around and find the room in complete disarray. A bouncer, who proudly proclaimed that he didn’t believe in ghosts, taunted the spirits and was hit by a flying ashtray in an empty club. No one could understand or explain why these strange things kept happening–until it was revealed that the Comedy Store was once Ciro’s, a haven for mobsters from the 1930s to the 1950s. The Comedy Store is still a popular comedy venue on Sunset, open seven days a week, 365 days a year. Hoping for laughs at a show, you may instead end up running from a long-dead Mafioso.
The Smith Home
Season 9, Episode 16
Joe and Mary Smith moved into their new home in Cleveland when Mary was expecting their first baby. As soon as they moved in, strange things started happening. Mary heard a commotion in the attic and called the police, but they were unable to discover anything that could have caused the sounds. Doors slammed, there were other unexplained noises, and, terrifyingly, Mary’s own son started screaming one day for no reason. The disturbing sound of the screaming boy really puts this episode over the top. Several years later, Mary discovered the previous owners of the house had adopted a little boy in the 1940s who died under mysterious circumstances. None of the activity in the Smith House, though, was ever explained.
Season 5, Episode 1
The story of David Chase begins like many other Unsolved Mysteries—with an unexplained death. In 1995, David went to cash a check after a hard day’s work and then headed to the bar with his friend Matt. He was never heard from again. When questioned by the police, Matt said David had decided to “take a swim in the river”. The river was, at the time, covered in snow and ice. Days later, David’s body was recovered. It appeared that he had drowned, but his autopsy looked suspicious.
A few months later, a private detective named Phil Harris approached David’s girlfriend, Judi, claiming that he heard David’s voice from the grave, telling him he was murdered. Harris said that David had told him details about how Matt had killed him. Tragically, Phil died of a heart attack before he could work the case. It remains unsolved. In the years since the airing of the Unsolved Mysteries episode, Judi has alleged that David was murdered as part of a cover-up of negligence and trafficking in the child services department in their area. We may never know just what happened—and David’s voice has never again been heard.
The Crew of the L-8
Season 5, Episode 24
After an oil refinery was attacked in California during WWII, American forces feared aerial attacks from the Japanese. The Navy put several blimps on patrol to protect the coastline, which was vulnerable to attack. On August 16, 1942, two pilots went out on their patrol—and were never seen again. Witnesses reported seeing the blimp lose altitude, before it became tangled in power lines, which brought it down to the ground. When the Navy went to investigate, the blimp was empty. There was no sign of either man who had left the base only an hour and a half before. One possible theory is that the two pilots saw something unusual in the water and went to investigate and drowned, but the case of the so-called ghost blimp has never been solved.
The Lizzie Borden House
Season 3, Episode 15
It’s nearly impossible to grow up in the United States without hearing the popular story of Lizzie Borden, whose father and stepmother were slaughtered with an axe in their Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie was eventually acquitted of the crime, despite popular opinion that she was guilty. Today, you can stay overnight at the Lizzie Borden House, where staff and guests frequently report unusual, unexplained activity. This Unsolved Mysteries episode explores the many phenomena reported. One employee recounts cleaning a guest room, only to turn around and see the clear indentation of a human body on the bed. Ok, it might be time to book an AirBnB.
Season 11, Episode 9
Myrtles Plantation, in rural Louisiana, is one of the most haunted places in the United States. This episode of Unsolved Mysteries chronicles the many spirits that still call Myrtles Plantation home, including Chloe, a slave who was murdered by a lynch mob after she poisoned several members of her owner’s family. While the Unsolved Mysteries crew was filming at Myrtles Plantation, they experienced unexplained technical difficulties. Their cameras, cell phones, and other equipment constantly malfunctioned inside the house.
General Wayne Inn
Season 1, Episode 7
The General Wayne Inn is believed to be the oldest inn in America. Open since 1704, it only makes sense that a few ghosts would have taken up residence inside its walls. At least three separate ghosts have been reported, most notably a soldier who appears on the stairwell, calling out patrons' names and looking terrified. In its first season, Unsolved Mysteries brought a parapsychologist to the inn to investigate.
Season 6, Episode 15
One of the most haunted cemeteries in the United States, Chicago’s Resurrection Cemetery is home to Resurrection Mary, a ghost looking for a ride home. The first known sighting of Mary occurred in 1939: A cab driver reported picking a young blonde woman up and taking her to a local dance. When he offered her a ride home, she instead asked to be dropped off near the cemetery. As she stepped out of the car, she promptly vanished. The next day, the driver went to the house where she said she lived. There, he found her mother who informed him that her daughter had died five years ago. Resurrection Mary is, to this day, Chicago’s most infamous ghost. Her spirit has been linked to two young women buried in the cemetery: Mary Bregovy and Anna “Marija” Norkus, both of whom died in car accidents in the early 20th century.
Season 1, Episode 14
Despite the fact that Jim and Kay Tatum built their own house in Atlanta, Georgia, they found it haunted by some pretty intimidating spirits. Just five days after moving in, Kay awoke to a man walking past her bedroom door. “At first I thought it was my husband,” she said, “but I went into the bedroom and there he was in the bed.” Thinking maybe it had been an intruder, Jim and Kay moved on with their lives. But two months later, Kay heard the sound of a drill outside her room. Assuming Jim was teasing her about ghosts, she was terrified to find the drill unplugged and Jim nowhere near it. Like most of the paranormal episodes of Unsolved Mysteries, this case remains unsolved.
Promotional still of Robert Stack via Cosgrove / Meurer Productions