Who killed JonBenet Ramsey? What happened to the Zodiac killer? Is the Bermuda Triangle real? Where is flight MH370? But most importantly – why start an unsolved mysteries blog?
My name is Lauren, I am a senior at George Washington University, and I love mysteries.
My fascination with mysteries and crime began when I learned how to read. Although I had my choice of Little Golden Books and other popular toddler-targeted literature, the book I settled on as I began my educational journey was The ABC Mystery by Doug Cushman. I followed a cunning whodunit sentence by sentence, learning how to read along the way. By the time I had fine-tuned my reading skills and memorized the book, my three year-old brain was hooked – not on phonics, but on mysteries.
When I graduated to reading “chapter books”, I eagerly subscribed to the Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen mystery series, often devouring entire books in one morning as soon as they arrived in the mail. Mysteries soon came to consume my entire experience with pop culture; my first real computer game was “Detective Barbie”, I owned more Mary Kate & Ashley Mystery VHS tapes than could fit on one shelf, and I often played detective with my neighborhood friends. As I aged, this fascination has led to more advanced mystery computer games, dark crime TV shows like Forensic Files, and investigative podcasts (currently obsessed with Up and Vanished). Mysteries continue to be my primary lens of culture consumption, and I’ve always wondered how I would fare as a detective.
Why a blog?
For a social media class at my university, we are required to keep a blog for the semester on any topic of our choosing. There were several reasons why I chose to use this opportunity to tackle unsolved mysteries:
- As part of my current job, I am not allowed to publicly post my views on current or political events. Focusing on an entirely unrelated and relatively apolitical topic, unsolved crimes, helps me avoid any missteps.
- Mysteries are something I am passionate about and interested in, so researching and writing about them feels less like homework and more like a hobby.
- In a time when the news media seems to be saturated by political and controversial discussions, I’ve found mysteries and crime media to be an escape. While mysteries still involve critical thinking and theorizing, they are still a topic that feels contained – something you could set aside, pull yourself away from, or detach your emotions from if necessary.
- Most of the time, solving mysteries is based on facts and evidence-based reasoning. In what some are calling the “post-truth era”, a remembrance of and reverence for the power of facts is not just important – it is necessary.
- I don’t want to be another political ranter screaming into the already-crowded room. Instead, I want this blog to be a unique space where I can make my voice heard, perhaps in a genre that has the space for more writers.
How will it work?
Starting next week, I will dive into one unsolved mystery in each weekly post. There is no set criteria for the cases I choose. Of course, the case must be considered unsolved, or the resolution must be notably contended. The cases may range from famed, Nancy Grace-inspected phenomenons, to smaller, generally unheard of or historical mysteries. While what I choose will be ultimately up to what I find interesting on the day of writing, there must generally be some information and/or evidence about the case available online. If you are reading this and have a case you’d like to suggest, you can do so here.
After I select a case, I will give myself exactly one hour to research and gather evidence online. Once the hour is up, I will write a post about the case. These posts will first explain the case at hand, then present what I believe to be the three or four most important pieces of evidence in the case, with links to the information I find. Finally, I will conclude each post with a theory of what I believed happened in the case based on the evidence reviewed.
Moral of the Story
Of course, these “investigations” will in no way match the sleuthing of actual detectives or those with more time to devote to individual cases, and my theories about what happened should be taken with a grain of salt. However, I do hope that the posts not only encourage conversation around these and other cases, but that they also spur critical thinking and reaffirm the desire for truth in those who read them.
At the foundation of any investigation, criminal or otherwise, is a commitment to the pursuit of truth. In an era when some find merit in “alternative” facts and fabricated news stories are rampant, this commitment is more important than ever.
As I conduct my small-scale “investigations”, I encourage readers to consider their own relationship to truth and always think critically about whatever evidence life presents. Whether criminal, political, or just part of every day – I want this blog to be a reminder that the pursuit of what is true may take digging, but is both worthy of the effort, and enlightening in practice. Because, in the end, only the truth shall set us free.