The Geeklist of International Unsolved Mysteries
Ethan Van Vorst
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North Carolina
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We were watching a TV special at work today on the D.B. Cooper case, in which a hijacker of the same name hijacked a jet airliner in 1971 over modern day Oregon and successfully managed to parachute out of the back with $200,000 worth of ransom money. He was never found, and as a result he's become something of a legend, with scores of people like me fascinated with this particular case, among many others.

Thus I was inspired to look up and list a few other unsolved mysteries of this type. Feel free to add your own, up to and including the Bermuda Triangle, Shangri-La, the Yeti, or even small local legends near where you live, if you desire.
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1. Board Game: HIJACK [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Ethan Van Vorst
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I first read about the DB Cooper case about 5 years ago and it has deeply fascinated me ever since. On Thanksgiving of 1971 a lone man in his 40's dressed in a black business suit and a briefcase boarded Northwest Airlines flight 305 in Oregon bound for Washington State, a 30 minute trip. On the way the man, who used the alias "Dan Cooper" passed along a note that he had a bomb to a flight attendant and wanted $200,000 in unmarked bills and 4 parachutes brought to the aircraft when it touched down in Tacoma. He released all hostages there and left only the flight crew and a single stewardess. The aircraft took off from Tacoma bound for Mexico, with a short refueling stop scheduled in Reno, Nevada. Cooper had the crew fly the plane very slowly and ordered them to keep inside the cockpit. Somewhere over Oregon the crew noted that the aircraft's rear personnel ramp had been activated, suggesting Cooper had used one of the parachutes to jump out.

When the aircraft landed in Reno it was confirmed that he was no longer on the plane. He was never heard from again and was assumed dead until 1980 when a young boy looking for firewood on a small beach along the Columbia River discovered $6000 of the ransom money, still bundled together with rubber bands in a small depression on the beach. Only two years earlier, in 1978, a hunter stumbled across the personnel ramp instruction placard from the aircraft in the woods nearby.

This is all of the physical evidence ever recovered, and DB Cooper and his funds have not been seen since. Many speculate that he's still alive and kicking today. The police composite image below remains the only reliable picture of a man who has long since become a bit of a legend.




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2. Board Game: Abandon Ship [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:2765]
Ethan Van Vorst
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North Carolina
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The Mary Celeste was a merchant brigantine, basically a sail powered cargo hauler, who was discovered abandoned in the Atlantic in 1872. She was run by a crew of 7 sailors of various nationalities, as well as the Captain's wife and 2 year old daughter. The cargo was many hundred barrels of alcohol for use in fortifying wine in Italy. She was discovered abandoned, yet still partially under sail by another ship commanded by a friend of the Celeste's Captain who had left the same port only days behind her. A boarding party found the ship to be in good, seaworthy condition with no indication of violence of any kind. The crew's personal effects were all still aboard, and even the Captain's log was on board. However several pieces of navigational equipment were missing, as was the ship's yawl (essentially a lifeboat with a sail), and some paperwork regarding the cargo. The cargo itself was untouched, the ship was secured and all hatches in place.

When the Mary Celeste was brought into port it was discovered that 9 of her barrels of alcohol were empty, and this has led to speculation that alcohol fumes may have forced the captain and crew to abandon ship due to explosive gases. But this is only one theory among many which involve everything from pirates to UFO abduction, although it is generally (and wrongly) associated with the Bermuda Triangle. The ship was ultimately beached near Haiti several years later in an attempt by the owner, bereft of all funds from the unlucky ship, to instigate some insurance fraud, which he did not get away with.

One of the great enduring maritime legends.



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3. Board Game: Roanoke The Star City Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Ethan Van Vorst
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North Carolina
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Famed English monarch Elizabeth I, seeking to establish a permanent colony in the New World, established a charter for Sir Walter Raleigh to set up a new colony there. In 1587 Raleigh men set up shop on Roanoke Island, just inside North Carolina's Outer Banks region (a stone's throw from Kitty Hawk of Wright Bros. fame, for those interested). The colony started out well and was the site of the first English child born in the New World, Elizabeth Dare, but suffered some serious trouble when fights broke out with the local natives. With supplies dwindling, Raleigh's friend John White, departed for England to get more food and supplies for the foundering colony, Unfortunately for him and the colonists this happened to coincide with the outbreak of the Anglo-Spanish War, and despite his best efforts White was unable to get back to the colony for an additional 3 years as all English ships were in use for defense against the Spanish Armada.

When White was finally able to make it back he discovered the colony abandoned and overrun with weeds. There was no sign of the 100+ population that had been left behind and yet there were no signs of violence either. On a post near the entrance to what was left of the stockade wall was carved the word "Croatoan", the name of the island now known as Hatteras Island, further south down the Outer Banks islands. White wanted desperately to check and see if the colonists were still alive but his crew refused to check due to storm weather developing south of them, and White was forced to leave without ever knowing the fate of his family and friends.

To this day there is no conclusive answer as to what happened to the "Lost Colony", although the prevailing theory is that they moved to Hatteras Island to live with the Croatan tribe as the message on the stockade wall hinted. Others believe the colonists attempted to relocate the entire settlement further inland but were all killed by the Powhatan Confederacy, an alliance of native Indians, who were at war with a tribe which the colonists were allegedly living close to. Others speculate that the Spanish found the colony and destroyed it. No one really knows for sure though and this enduring mystery has kept people's interest piqued ever since.

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4. Board Game: Legend of the Lost Dutchman [Average Rating:6.04 Unranked]
Ethan Van Vorst
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North Carolina
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The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine, a well-known legend from the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, USA, revolves around a series of stories about a long lost gold mine, or gold cache depending upon the story version, the location of which is known only to the local Apache Indians native to the area at the time, or protected by mysterious guardians who kill all those adventure seekers who get too close to the gold.

Most of these stories revolve around death bed confessions from people who purportedly know the secret location of the mine, or crude maps passed down to family members, although it seems that the most common version involves a German immigrant named Waltz who locates the mine but is killed by its Apache guardians, or who rescues someone who knows the location of the mine but is mortally wounded and passes the information on to someone else.

In 1931 65 year old amateur treasure hunter Adolph Ruth decided to go look for the mine. He departed from a friend's ranch nearby and disappeared. Six months later a skull with a bullet hole in it was found in the mountains which was positively identified as being Ruth's. His body was found a mile away, as well as his personal belongings. In his notes Ruth had claimed to have found the mine, which made his death all that more intriguing. Ever since then many treasure hunters have attempted to locate the mines and some have been found dead, many from exposure and others from more mysterious causes.

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5. Board Game: Coral Reef [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Ethan Van Vorst
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North Carolina
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In southern Florida, just north of Homestead one can find a little place called Coral Castle, a series of impressive structures and decorative objects formed of limestone blocks obtained from dead coral reefs. The story goes that Latvian immigrant Edward Leedskalnin built the impressive sculptures and buildings on the premise totally by himself and refused to allow anyone see him construct them. He claimed to use no tools whatsoever, save foor something called a perpetual motion holder. Given that the limestone/coral blocks weigh several tons apiece it is difficult to figure out how Leedskalnin was able to perform such a feat, let alone by himself and without heavy equipment to assist him. The popular story is that a group of teenaged boys peeked over the wall one day and saw Leedskalnin lifting the blocks up with his bare hands, and moving them manually to where he wanted them before letting them settle. While there is no obvious confirmation for this story there's also no way to ascertain how the man was able to put together structures using the materials he had with his bare hands, and he never did tell anyone before he passed away in 1951. Given the lack of any direct information on the means of their construction, and given the fact that the man did the work all by himself by hand, it is an amazing and fantastic story that leaves many mystified.



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6. RPG Item: Ship Shape [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Andrea G
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Minnesota
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This is a pretty great idea!

One of the most haunting mysteries of the Great Lakes is that of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The Fitz was one of the larger cargo ships to traverse the Lakes from 1958-1975 and broke several records in her time.

On the night of November 10, 1975, the ship vanished beneath the waves of Lake Superior during a terrible storm. What makes this case particularly haunting are the radio transmissions between the Fitzgerald and a second ship (the Anderson) that was escorting the badly damaged Fitz to Whitefish Point and "safety". 17 miles from the Point and 15 minutes after her last transmission, the Fitzgerald vanished off of radar.

The Anderson and rescuers searched for the Fitzgerald both during and after the storm, but there was no sign of her -- she was simply gone. It would be 5 years before the wreckage was found, and, to this day, no one knows what sank her.

Her last transmission to the Anderson at 7:10pm: "We are holding our own."

There's a haunting ballad attached to the sinking called the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald written by Gordon Lightfoot.
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7. RPG Item: Final Flight [Average Rating:5.27 Overall Rank:7457]
Andrea G
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Here's another Bermuda Triangle story: Flight 19.

On December 5, 1945, a group of five American bombers flew towards the Triangle for some routine training maneuvers.

Some of the radio transmissions between the pilots were overheard stating that their equipment was malfunctioning and that the group had become lost without the use of their compasses. Radio operators on the ground attempted to triangulate the flight's position and to guide them home, but it remains unclear whether their attempts were received by the flight. The flight appears to have zigzagged across the Atlantic Ocean while searching for land.

Meanwhile, the poor weather and setting sun made a search for the missing flight difficult at best. One of the search planes vanished as well, and it was concluded that the plane exploded in mid-air.

The remains of Flight 19 have yet to be found.
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8. Board Game: Time Agent [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:3896]
Craig Newey
United Kingdom
British, but currently in Vancouver, Canada
British Columbia
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The story of John Titor has always intrigued me... whilst it's unlikely to be true, it is incredibly fascinating, and despite not being the most well known story, it is possibly one of the greatest hoaxes of the digital age, with discussions continuing to this day.


Here's a brief summary of John Titor's story:

On the 2nd November 2000, a person calling themselves "Timetravel_0" (and in later posts "John Titor") started posting on a public forum, claiming that he was a soldier and time traveler from the year 2036.

He initially started threads discussing time travel in general... eventually he began to post pictures of his "time machine" and its manual, giving some fairly in depth descriptions of its workings and functions.

As time went on, his posts became very widely read amongst the forum users and subsequently many questions followed; why is he here? how does time travel work? what does he think of our time?
He regularly replied to posts and frequented several other forums.

He made several statements and predictions to "prove" his legitimacy... some of which have come to pass. Whilst some have not proven correct, he himself explained that our worlds may not follow the same timeline and as such, some events that occurred in his timeline may not occur in ours.

On the 21st March 2001, John Titor announce that he would be leaving our time and returning to 2036. After that, he was never heard from again. Speculation and investigation into who John Titor was and why he was online continues to this day.


Here's a link with more info and images of the time machine

Edit: added link.
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9. Board Game: Who's Missing? [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Jimmy Hoffa - a union leader who became involved with organized crime - disappeared in 1975. Believed to have been murdered, but his body has never turned up.



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10. Board Game: Devil's Dice [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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"To be honorable and just is our only defense against men without honor or justice." -Diogenes of Sinope
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What year did Ambrose Bierce die? He was last heard from ~Dec. 26, 1913, in or at least near Mexico (which was in revolutionary turmoil), age 71. No one knows what happened to him. Did he survive until 1914?

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11. Board Game: Disaster on K2 [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:8337]
Kyle
United States
San Diego
California
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The Dyatlov Pass incident has facinated me for a while. A group of skiers out in the middle of Russian nowhere never returned. When they were found, their tent appeared to have been torn up from within, and members of the group apparently ran or hiked away in socks or barefeet. Their bodies were discovered various distances away from camp, with one victim missing a tongue and several blunt-force trauma injuries. A high level of radiation was found on some of the victims' clothes, and a witness said their dead bodies appeared to be unusually dark and tan.

Probably just an avalanche... OR WAS IT?!? Find out this week on... UNSOLVED MYSTERIES.



http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/dyatlov-pass-incident-stran...
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12. RPG Item: Time Capsules [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
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The Lead Masks Case

In August of 1966, near Rio de Janeiro, bodies of two deceased male were discovered. Each was dressed in his best suit, a waterproof coat and had a lead mask on his eyes. Not far from the bodies there were an empty bottle of water and two wet towels. Also, a notebook containing following note:
Quote:
16:30 be at the agreed place.
18:30 swallow capsules, after effect, protect metals, wait for mask signal"


The cause of the deaths is still unknown.
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13. Board Game: Mayday [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Calavera Despierta
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Here's a delightfully weird one that should appeal to gamers - and it originates here in Tucson, Arizona.

The Mayday Mystery.

For over twenty years, someone has been placing large advertisements in the Arizona Daily Wildcat - the student run newspaper for the University of Arizona. The contents of these ads are strange - filled with a number of foreign languages, mathematical and historical references, even geographic latitude and longitude points. It's not clear if it's all an elaborate and expensive hoax (since ad space is not cheap and they've been printing ads for quite a long time!), or part of some sort of Umberto Eco style cryptographic game between professors at the university.

Here are some sample images of ads posted throughout the years:

May 1, 2013:


May 1, 2003:


May 1, 1993:


The guy who first put the mystery up on the web was a journalism student at the UofA so had access to archives where he could scan the images. He has since, apparently, been contact by the organization on several occasions and continues to receive regular emails - as if whatever group of weirdos are behind it are now using his website and his willingness to post whatever they send him as a way to continue their strange game.

I find this sort of stuff delightful, though other people I've shown it to are really creeped out by it. If I had the time and the energy, I would pursue all of this. These days, it seems like I have less and less time rather than more.
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14. Board Game: Oak Island [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Mike Macdonald
United States
Neenah
Wisconsin
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I always liked the story of the Oak Island Money Pit. Since 1795, people have been digging a hole in the island off the coast of Nova Scotia. At first they found platforms every 10 feet. Then at around 90 feet they found a stone with weird markings. Even deeper was a cask containing a piece of parchment. Whatever the pit is or contains, it's pretty clever.

So what's really buried in the pit? The list of theories is also incredible. Pirate treasure, naval treasure, William Shakespeare's true identity (a possible unsolved mystery in itself), alien artifacts, Knights Templar or Freemason treasure, the holy grail, or it could just be a really cool natural phenomena.

http://www.oakislandmoneypit.com/
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15. Board Game: Insecta [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:6963] [Average Rating:6.23 Unranked]
☆ ✧ ☆ ✧ ☆
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
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On January 5th 2012 this image appeared on the random board of 4chan. The image contained a number of images embedded within it containing clues. Once solved those clues led to another website for further clues. A recurring image is of a cicada and the puzzles have come to be known as cicada 3301.



The clues required obscure knowledge, from Medieval Welsh literature to Victorian occult numerology. Eventually the clues led to GPS points around the world and to a final website in the darkweb which shut down once a certain number of people reached it with the message "We want the leaders not the followers."

Clues again appeared in 2013 and once again they led to a site on the darkweb which again was shut down.

Whoever had access to the final site has not talked about it. It is not known who or what organization runs cicada 3301. There is much speculation about the CIA or NSA but these are just guesses.

Clues have appeared this year, but so far they have all turned out to be fakes.
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16. Board Game: Time Travelers [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Wolf
Switzerland
KY
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The Antikythera Mechanism is a complex little machine over 2000 years old. It was found in a shipwreck in Greece over a hundred years ago and still no one can explain what it did or who built it.

Most scientists seem to believe it was used for navigation by giving astronomical positions. Of course, it is widely believed that no one at the time knew about the laws of astronomy. And for these uses it seems to have way too many settings.


edit: link
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17. Board Game: Game of World Flyers [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Scott Smith
United States
Duncan
South Carolina
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As famous as the mystery surrounding Amelia Earhart is in popular culture, I'm surprised no one has added this one yet.



Theories about her disappearance have covered everything from:

The Sinister: she was on a secret spy mission for the U.S. government and was shot down by the Japanese, captured and died in prison camp.

The Fantastic: the obligatory Abducted By Aliens.

The Romantic: Amelia and navigator Fred Noonan secretly ran away together, assumed new identities, married, and Lived Happily After After.

And The Mundane: She flew off course (possibly because Noonan may have been an alcoholic) and could not find her designated landing site on Howland Island before she ran out of fuel and crashed somewhere in the Pacific.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Earhart

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