No matter how much we persevere or how many hours we spend investigating, there remain some life mysteries that were never meant to be solved—but they make for great television at least. Shows like “Cold Case Files” and “Unsolved Mysteries” gained nationwide approval for telling the stories of countless true crimes that have no ending. While some of these spotlight stories had a scary and slightly paranormal undertone, much of the meat and potatoes of both shows were real, true crime mysteries. To bring the mystery into our own backyards, keep reading below for some of Oregon’s strangest unsolved mysteries.
A triple murder happened near a cabin at Little Lava Lake—if you’re planning a trip there in the near future, you may want to cancel or at least seriously reconsider. In the winter of 1923, Ed Nichols, Roy Wilson and Dewey Morris were butchered near their cabin, wrapped up and dumped in the lake. The brutal crime remained undiscovered until their friends and family made a trip to the cabin in the spring, at which point only a bloodstained hammer remained. Ninety-two years later, these murders are still officially unsolved despite a lead and heavy suspicion on Charles Kimzey, a prison escapee with a lengthy rap sheet who was ultimately saved from prosecution by “insufficient evidence.”
On the night of June 22, 1977, two young women who had been camping at Cline Falls were attacked by an unknown person who ran over their tent with his vehicle and hacked them with an axe, leaving both with lasting trauma to their heads, legs and arms. Boo Isaak rescued survivor Terri Lee Jentz, who later said there was so much blood at the scene that she can still smell it today. After the attack, the assailant disappeared as if he’d never existed and the crime remains unsolved—but Jentz turned her story into a book.
In February 2007, 39-year-old Donald Brown was found dead in his home in Vancouver, WA (not quite Oregon, but close enough) as a result of “homicidal violence.” Eight years after his death, the investigation remains open and ongoing, and a total whisper in the dark. There is an outstanding $1,000 cash reward for any information reported through Crimestoppers that leads to an arrest.
If you have ever seen an unsolved mystery show on the Discovery or History channel—or if you’ve seen “Prison Break,” you’ll know the story of D.B. Cooper. As the story goes, this man called Dan Cooper boarded a plane from Portland in November, 1971. In flight, he gave a bomb threat to a stewardess and rerouted the plane to Seattle, at which point he requested a sum of $200,000 cash and kept the flight crew captive. While in flight over the Lewis River, Cooper jumped from the plane, cash in hand, and was never seen again. Neither was the cash. Despite numerous thorough investigations, the infamous D.B. Cooper and his hijacking stint remain an absolute mystery, though many have their theories.
Ah, Bigfoot. No list of unsolved mysteries in the Pacific Northwest would be complete without the elusive and mysterious Sasquatch. Although there are thousands of sighting stories, many Bigfoot skeptics remain. According to a few eyewitness accounts, Bigfoot is quite the traveler; unwilling to restrict himself to just the forests of the Northwest, he’s been sighted in Colorado and as far east as New York and Florida. Despite going televised with Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot” series, the sasquatch continues to elude all manner of cameramen—and we suspect that he will for a while.
If you are interested in reading years worth of true crime reports relating to unsolved missing persons cases, check out the Oregon section of the Let’s Find Them website, dedicated to solving and closing both new and old (some of them are really, really old) local missing person’s cases. Also, check out the local Facebook pages dedicated to missing persons and unsolved cases for each county.