Most people are at least vaguely aware of The Zodiac (and if you aren’t, there’s a decent movie about it). The serial killer hunted in California in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. His victim count varies, depending on which source you use. Most importantly though, he was never caught. Even using modern day technology and DNA testing, all they’ve managed to do is eliminate suspects, not find one. He isn’t alone, over 25 serial killer cases in the US have never been solved. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you think about it using some of the stuff we’ve learned in the last decade, it’s actually terrifying.
In the past, when a serial killer stopped, it was believed that they died or went to prison. B(ind)T(orture)K(ill), aka Dennis Radar, shattered that picturesque ending for us as he was found to be alive, well, attending church and being a parent as well as a monster who murdered entire families. It is possible that he is an anomaly. It’s also possible that he isn’t. Gary Ridgway was living a normal life and killing prostitutes, at one point, he stopped and even assisted the investigation and search for the Green River Killer.
A few unsolved serial killers to keep you awake at night:
The Boston Strangler #2: While DeSalvo was involved with some of the Strangler cases of the 1960’s, he wasn’t responsible for all of them. This means that Boston Strangler #2 got away. Much like the Zodiac, he would most likely be in his 70’s or 80’s by now, but he got away with some pretty heinous rape/murders.
Colonial Parkway Killer: This guy had a thing for killing in pairs during the 1980’s. He’s suspected of killing at least 8 people (two were never found, the others were all found in groups of two). One of the victims managed to get a handful of hair, but the case remains unsolved (and has some conspiracy theories surrounding it).
The Doodler: Despite the almost cute name, this killer is anything but. In a little over a year, he managed to stab 14 gay men to death in San Francisco during the mid-1970’s. His nickname came from the fact that he sketched his victims. At least one person survived the encounter, but refused to cooperate with police (his status as a gay man during the 1970’s might have had a lot to do with his unwillingness to come forward and help the investigation).
Original Night Stalker/The East Area Rapist: This killer has two names and predates Richard Ramirez who brought the Night Stalker name to infamy. He is suspected of 50+ rapes in Sacramento and some of the DNA from those rape cases has been linked to 10 murders (with others suspected). He’s been dormant since 1986.
Long Island Serial Killer/Gilgo Beach Killer: The victims didn’t start showing up until 2010, however, the bodies had been there for a while and evidence has proven that this killer has been at work for nearly 20 years. During that time, he’s killed 8 women, 1 man, and 1 baby, but those are the bodies they’ve found. Four were found in 2010, another six were discovered in 2011, searches continue periodically for other remains as they believe he may be responsible for at least 17 murders in the area (most of them prostitutes).
Finally, The Jeff Davis 8: The Jeff Davis 8 might be one of the most complex, convoluted, and frustrating cases since The Zodiac. The name refers to the 8 victims, all women involved with drugs or prostitution in Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana between 2005 and 2009. If ever there was a case that warranted a conspiracy theory, this is it. There’s evidence of police ineptitude and mishandling of evidence. At one time, special investigators took over the case. It has been the subject of a couple of true crime shows and documentaries. There’s speculation that it’s actually not a serial killer, in the strictest definition of the word, but a group of killers or gang trying to maintain holds on their drug territories.
I did not mention the most famous unsolved serial killer case of all time because I am currently focusing on US serial killers and while some suspect Jack the Ripper came to the US, there’s no real proof (although there is a murder in New York City during the 1890’s that is very Ripper-esque).