Although the show had “unsolved” in its title, Unsolved Mysteries actually solved plenty of cases over the years.
More than 260, actually.
Unsolved Mysteries Was the First Show to Rely on Viewers’ Help
The show started in 1987, and ran for decades until its end in 2010. It revolutionized how audiences interact with TV, giving viewers the chance to help solve real-life cases that were featured on the show.
It was one of the longest-running programs in the history of TV. After all that time on-air, I can still hear host Robert Stack’s iconic voice when I think about the show.
Now, there’s a brand new Netflix reboot.
Of course, there’s no Robert Stack on the reboot — he unfortunately passed some years back.
There’s no hotline to call with tips, either. Instead, viewers are encouraged to head to the Unsolved Mysteries website where they can submit any tips for the cases featured.
Unsolved Mysteries Helped Solve the Unsolvable
In any case, the new reboot certainly brought back a flood of nostalgia for many. And it got me thinking — how many cases did that show actually help solve?
According to the Unsolved Mysteries website, “Of the more than 1,300 mysteries profiled in over 230 episodes, half the cases featuring wanted fugitives have been solved, more than 100 families have been reunited with lost loved ones, and seven individuals who were wrongly convicted of crimes have been exonerated and released.”
So, let’s look at a few of the memorable cases from Unsolved Mysteries, that the show actually had a hand in solving.
In 1993, Unsolved Mysteries reported of a man who died of a heart attack at a Connecticut hospital. The mystery here? Hospital staff discovered that all of the man’s identifying information, who called himself Tom Hughes, was fraudulent.
As it turns out, the man had been jumping from hospital to hospital across the country, seeking treatment for false ailments and then sneaking out and leaving bills unpaid. They believe he was planning on suing facilities for mishandling his fake injuries, after they discovered he had made sixteen phone calls to various attorneys before he died.
Viewers identified the man as Thomas White, who apparently suffered from Munchausen Syndrome.
Craig Williamson of Wisconsin went missing while on a business trip in Colorado, but his wife was convinced he had to be alive still. His case was featured on Unsolved Mysteries in 1994.
As it turns out, Craig Williamson had been living in Key West, Florida. He claimed to have lost his memory after being beaten, and was working at a marina. Authorities still aren’t convinced of his amnesia, and believe he staged his disappearance.
Harpers Ferry Remains
Human remains were found inside a trunk, which was outside an entrance to Harpers Ferry National Historic Park in Virginia. Although authorities could establish that they belonged to an elderly white man who’d been strangled, they had no leads.
Two years after the episode aired in 2001, the man was identified as Jack Watkins. His girlfriend, Janet Siegel was charged with his death. They met after Watkins’ wife had passed. Siegel was using Watkins as a source of income, and continued to cash his Social Security and retirement checks long after his disappearance.