Friday, September 22, 2017

Great Mysteries of Our Time

INGRID THOFT

We’re all mystery lovers:  We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t!  Most of the mystery readers I meet also enjoy the puzzle of real life mysteries.  It’s not unusual to find kindred spirits at mystery conferences who also love Forty-Eight Hours and Dateline.  

Some mysteries will remain mysteries during my lifetime, and that's okay. But there are some questions to which I would love to get the answers. Here are some of them:

Amelia Earhart
What really happened to Amelia Earhart? Did she crash on an island and live for many years among the native population? Did her plane crash into the Pacific, the mystery of her disappearance far outlasting the length of her natural life? And did you know that she was married to George “G.P.” Putnam of the publishing house? The very house that publishes my books? Amelia was thirty-nine at the time of her disappearance. Can you imagine the things she would have accomplished had she lived?

D.B. Cooper
Living in the pacific northwest, I’ve found that D.B. Cooper has particularly captured the imaginations of local mystery fans.  On November 24, 1971, a man boarded a plane in Portland, OR, and during the flight to Seattle, WA, made a ransom demand.  The flight landed, refueled and took on board the requested $200,000 and four parachutes.  All the passengers with the exception of four members of the flight crew were released.  The flight took off again, and somewhere over the Washington/Oregon border, the hijacker jumped out of the plane with the money.


Fragments of the money were found in 1980, but otherwise, no remains or evidence have been discovered.  D.B. Cooper wasn’t actually the name of the hijacker who purchased his ticket using the alias “Dan Cooper.”  A man named Dan Cooper was cleared early on in the investigation, but a reporter misheard his name and from then on, the hijacker was known as D.B. Cooper.  Did he survive the jump out of the plane?  If so, where did he go?  If not, where’s the rest of the money?

Kryptos


This is a mystery that’s new to me and one that was made by design, literally.  Outside of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, there stands a sculpture by American artist Jim Sanborn.  There are four encrypted messages on the sculpture, three of which have been solved.  The fourth remains a mystery and a source of much speculation in the worldwide community of cryptographers. Kryptos is featured in Dan Brown’s novel “The Lost Symbol.”  This is a mystery that will perhaps be solved; Sanborn has given two clues to the "New York Times" to help puzzle fanatics solve the fourth message.


So what really happened to Jonbenét Ramsey, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman?  Is Jimmy Hoffa really buried under the west end zone in Giants' stadium?  Will Malaysia Airlines flight #370 ever be found?  




What about you? Which mysteries would you love to see solved in your lifetime?


74 comments:

  1. Re. Earhart, it looks very likely she and her companion crashed on Gardner Island (aka. Nikumaroro), an atoll about 450 miles north of American Samoa. They likely perished soon afterward because the atoll has no fresh water. More here: https://youtu.be/CKib_EyM-iY and here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/09/15/amelia-earhart-didnt-die-in-a-plane-crash-this-search-group-says-here-is-its-theory/?utm_term=.e4bbde3db7da

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    1. Is there a mystery you find fascinating, Unknown?

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    2. I think I like them better when we have enough clues to make a reasonable hypothesis or at least follow a trail, i.e. finding evidence of the Roanoke colony farther inland, where survivors likely migrated after illness took out most of the settlers. When there's only a mystery and no other information (and no way for me to do research), it feels deadened, like it's on "hold." (There's a great movie out about the Georgia Guidestones, by the way. Looks like they tracked down the identity of "R. C. Christian," who commissioned the thing: https://youtu.be/xIYKeVpzWe4)

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    3. P.S. I don't know why I'm shown as "unknown" above. Computers...

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    4. Kell, I don't know anything about the Georgia Guidestones! Another mystery for me to explore!

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  2. I suspect we may never know the answers to many of these mysteries. There are several unsolved code mysteries in various places around the world; however, I think the aviation mysteries are particularly intriguing . . . Amelia Earhart, the Malaysian airliner. I’d really like to know . . . .

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  3. There's a comic book series called Elsewhere that uses Amelia Earhart AND D.B. Cooper as main characters so I guess it is the writers idea of explaining their disappearances. Or at least having some fun with it anyway.

    I'd love to see the Jon Benet Ramsey case definitely solved. Also, Jack the Ripper. And the Kennedy assassination so we can stop those conspiracy theories once and for all.

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    1. We will never stop conspiracy theories, Jay, because there are always going to be people in the world who would rather make stuff up than accept the facts. Hence all the post-1977 Elvis sightings.

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    2. What was the conspiracy theory, Gigi? That Elvis didn't die and wanted to do what?!

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  4. I've heard from "sources which shall remain anonymous" that the FBI are quite sure what happened to JonBenet Ramsey, but there's no evidence to prove it. Maybe one of these days it will all come out.

    I knew about Kryptos, but not about the D.B. Cooper story. Now I'm intrigued!

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    1. I think I read a long time about that FBI profiler John Douglas was sure someone in the Ramsey family killed Jonbenet but there wasn't enough evidence to prove it.

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    2. I've heard the same thing, Cathy. Family secrets really can be vile!

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  5. All those intrigue me except Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. I have no doubt what happened to them. How about Jack the Ripper? Was he really the grandson of Queen Victoria?
    PS I'm home. Thank you Hank for my copy of The Wrong Girl. What a surprise to find in the mail.

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    1. Oh, my pleasure! Crossing fingers you love it -- let me know, OK?

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    2. Ann, my favorite fictional explanation for Jack the Ripper was the episode of the show Babylon 5 called "Comes The Inquisitor".

      Didn't Patricia Cornwell say or publish a book that purportedly solved who Jack The Ripper was?

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  6. We don't know what happened to Caylee Anthony either --officially.

    Stonehenge? Easter Island statues?off to look up Kryptos...

    And Amelia Airhart… It makes me so sad.

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    1. Earhart Earhart spellcheck changed it when I pushed publish!

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    2. What a tribute to her if spell check had changed to "Airheart"! Hank, thank you for the variations that your spell checker and your dictation software bring to your posts. They always make me smile.

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    3. I like Airhart better! I imagine most of us suspect what happened with Kaylee Anthony and Nicole and Ron, but wouldn't it be nice to know for sure? It will never happen, but it would be so satisfying to have some particular people admit to their roles in certain crimes.

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    4. I just remembered another fictional explanation for Amelia Earhart. An episode of Star Trek Voyager saw the crew finding Earhart on the far side of the galaxy. She was played by Sharon Lawrence. The episode was called "The 47s". Sometimes the fictional explanations are better than whatever reality might be.

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    5. Love that, Jay. Im happy to believe it.

      Yes, I love Airheart ,too! And yes, Elisabeth, my dictation software has a (pretty funny) mind of her own.

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  7. I would love to know the answers to JonBenet's killing and D.B. Cooper's disappearance. And, who is the Zodiac Killer? (Not Ted Cruz, I know.) When the Unabomber was active, I was obsessed. At least that one was solved. So many intriguing mysteries.

    The one that haunts me is the disappearance of local girl when I was in college in the 1980s. She was 18, worked at a department store, and she disappeared in the middle of the day. Her car was found halfway between the store and her apartment. There were vigils and girls were warned not to walk alone on campus at night, but the case went nowhere. After a few months, her mother did a TV interview and said she believed her daughter was a victim of "white slavery." It was the first I'd ever heard of human trafficking. Her name was Eleanor Parker. I can close my eyes and see her face from the missing persons posters clear as day. I can't imagine what her mother felt.



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    1. I had to look this up, Ramona, but there was an actress, much earlier, named Eleanor Parker. She was known as the "Woman of 1,000 faces".

      No connection, because of the timeline, but what an odd coincidence.

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    2. Karen, yes, she had the same name as the actress but no relation.

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    3. So many cases of missing college students! There have been several here in the past 40+ years. Heartbreaking. One body was found locally but still no one knows what happened. Ted Bundy was ruled out!

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    4. I recently heard an interview with James R. Fitzgerald, an FBI guy who was part of the Unabomber case. He talked about how they identified Kaczynski through his writing style, the words he used, etc. Fascinating stuff for a person who loves words.

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    5. Gigi, there was a mini-series on the Discovery channel that focused on Fitzgerald's role in the Unabomber case. Language as a forensics tool had never been used before, and it was really touch-and-go to get a search warrant based on his writings. Good series, if you are interested.

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    6. I watched the series and thought it was terrific, Ramona. It was fascinating to learn about the manhunt and the birth of forensic linguistics. I highly recommend the series!

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  8. I remember when the D. B, Cooper incident happened. My dad, a huge mystery fan, was intrigued.(So was this mystery loving daughter!) I never imagined it would still be unsolved all these years later.

    I would like to know the fate of all of our military who were MIA in Vietnam.

    DebRo

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  9. I'm with Ann Mason - I think what happened to Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman is pretty well known.

    But the rest of the mysteries mentioned by you and others? Yeah, I'd like to know. Kennedy - what's up with that? Although if the mysteries are solved, it's gonna deprive a lot of people of a lot of fun. =)

    Mary/Liz

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    1. I think most of us know what happen to Nicole and Ron; I just want a certain someone to admit it! And not in a fictional telling in his own book!

      And you're right, Mary, what would armchair detectives do without unsolved mysteries?

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  10. The biggest mystery of the ages is how we've come to the sorry pass of having two deranged men with massive power bumping chests and playing with all our lives.

    The rest kind of pales in comparison, I'm afraid.

    Human beings are endlessly creative, aren't we? Often to our own detriment.

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    1. I've been virtually news-free for the past week. It was soothing. Sheesh, two idiots trying to destroy the world.

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  11. I'm an avid mystery fan of D.B. Cooper. I've followed the story off and on since the day it happened. The only real good that came out of the hunt for Cooper was finding a missing, murdered teenager and Native American remains for families to have closure. To me, it was one case carefully scrutinized, all i's dotted and t's crossed. I always envisioned him standing in the shadows, having a BLT and cup of coffee in a diner on Route 66, far away from where he jumped or sitting behind him in a movie theater snacking on popcorn. Not all cases are solved and this particular case, everyone can sleep at night. No harm came to anyone. Not that I support criminal activity, but I cheered for the bad guy when the FBI closed the case a few years back. The man known as D.B. Cooper got away. They would have found something, a remnant of torn material. They only found a small packet of money. Fascinating story.

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    1. I forgot to answer your question, Ingrid. I can't think of any mystery which nags me. I'm satisfied with Kennedy. Ramsey, without pure evidence will remain unsolved. I'm convinced a family member committed the murder. I'm not jumping on the OJ conspiracy. I love the romance of Amelia reaching her goal before her death. The oceans are vast and deep. I don't believe in alien zappings.

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    2. Pam, I love your point that except for briefly terrorizing the flight crew, no one was really harmed in the D.B. Cooper hijacking. You have to wonder, wasn't there an easier way to get money? ;)

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  12. I'd like to know the truth about JFK, if only to put all the wild theories to rest. Aren't there files that haven't been released to the public? I hope I live long enough to see those! (I was born the year JFK died.)

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  13. The story of the Mary Celeste, the ship found with all crew and passengers disappeared. Did they ever figure that one out for sure? I know there are theories and it's probably too late now for any sort of "proof". But I'd like to know. And the Bermuda Triangle disappearances. Hmm.

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    1. I'm not familiar with the Mary Celeste. Another rabbit hole to go down, Judi!

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  14. One unsolved mystery is why I keep eating all this crap that I know isn't good for me. But I think a more interesting question is whether we're alone in the universe.

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    1. Oh Jim, I keep wondering if we are also.

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  15. We're not alone in the universe, okay? We can't be. It's just too big. You can quote me.
    The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist tops the list for me. Surely by now those paintings would have turned up.

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    1. Totally forgot about that one, Hallie. It's so eerie when you see the empty frames in the museum.

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    2. Good one, Hallie. I've been hard pressed to think on one that haunts me, so I'll vote with you!

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  16. The Black Dahlia has intrigued me since I was a teenager. Several movies made and speculated about who the killer was. Also I was fascinated with Winnie Ruth Judd, although the crime was solved it is still a story I revisit from time to time wondering why she did it.

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    1. Winnie Ruth Judd is a new one to me, Pauline. Why people do what they do will always be a mystery, I suppose.

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    2. The Los Angeles police are certain they know the identity of the Black Dahlia killer though they never had enough evidence to go to trial.
      Over the years, as the Black Dahlia investigation continued, detectives identified several suspects in the Elizabeth Short murder case. In 1950, investigating detectives electronically “bugged” a well-known doctor’s residence; in recorded conversations, the doctor implicated himself in the deaths of both his secretary and Elizabeth Short. Detectives were on the verge of arresting the doctor when he fled to Asia.
      His son, a retired Los Angeles detective, is certain his father committed the Elizabeth Short murder and believes he was also responsible for the Chicago Lipstick Murders, the Philippines Jigsaw Murder, and, possibly, the Zodiac killings.

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    3. That's a lot of murders. It's interesting that the son would believe in his father's guilt. Usually, family members are the last to get on board.

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    4. Ingrid, the son was a good homicide detective . . . when he began going through his father’s things after the doctor passed away, he found items he’d never seen, things that suggested his father was involved in the Black Dahlia murder.

      Although he was willing to consider his father as a suspect, he wanted to find the truth. Other detectives looked at the case archives and investigated the son’s claim. During their investigation, they discovered, in the district attorney’s vault, a file that laid out the case for the doctor being the prime suspect in the murder. They’d had no idea this long-buried file, put together in 1950, even existed.
      The evidence gathered in their investigation supported the son’s conclusion that his father had murdered Elizabeth Short.

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    5. I remember when that book came out, Joan. I meant to read it but never got around to it.

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    6. I didn't read the book, but I imagine it's pretty interesting . . . .

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  17. What happened when Agatha Christie vanished way back when? And what really happened in Roswell, NM? Did Claus Von Bulow try to kill his wife Sunny? Who was Jack the Ripper? Did Lizzie Borden really chop up her parents? Who was the Cleveland Torso Murderer, aka the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run in the 1930s? Inquiring minds want to know!

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    1. Claus Von Bulow! I recently rewatched "Reversal of Fortune," and I'm happy to say that it held up. Such a fascinating story. And was Agatha Christie's disappearance just a publicity stunt cooked up by her publisher? ;)

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    2. For a fictional but entertaining explanation about Agatha Christie's vanishing, check out the Doctor Who episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp".

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    3. You're making lots of great recommendations today, Jay! Thanks!

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    4. I've seen it Jay! Love the Doctor.

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    5. Reversal of Fortune--so brilliant. I covered Claus Von Bulow's retrial..remind me about it when I see you, Ingrid!

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  18. I think we know what happen to Nichole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. We also got a published confession, in fact.

    The others? I'd love to have the answers to those as well.

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  19. Judge Crater - I gotta wonder what happened to him. He was a legend in my family. I have no idea why. DB Cooper has always fascinated me.

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  20. All the ones you mentioned, Ingrid are fascinating and ones I'd like answers to. Although I feel like we do have the answer to Nicole Simpson's and Ron Goldman's murders, I, like you, Ingrid, would like O.J. to admit it. I have been intrigued by the Lizzie Borden case for years, so that's a big one I'd like to have some certainty on. Jack the Ripper? Wouldn't the identity of that serial killer be great to know. And poor little Jon Benet Ramsey. Who ended her sweet life? And, of course, who doesn't want to know if there was more to JFK's death than Lee Harvey Oswald? I'd like to hear Joran van der Sloot confess to the murder of Natalee Holloway, if he's guilty, which seems he is.

    One death that has always interested me and about which I'd like to know more is Marilyn Monroe's death. So many conspiracy theories surround this icon's death, ones involving the the Kennedy brothers, especially Bobby, and the brother-in-law, Peter Lawford. I think it's so sad that Marilyn never found that true love that she searched for and that she didn't have children, which she apparently wanted. She seems like such a tragic figure.

    There is a hometown murder I have been curious about for close to 50 years. A friend of my father lost his wife to murder. At home that day were their two daughters, around 18 and 20 years of age, and the wife's mother. The mother/grandmother was supposedly bed-ridden and the gun was supposedly on a shelf in the bedroom closet. The mother of the woman confessed and was charged with the murder, but was taken to a mental facility. My dad's friend stood by his mother-in-law, and the daughters, including one that had been in high school during the shooting, were upset that he did. There was a falling out between the father and daughters over it. Now, how did the woman who was supposedly bedridden get the gun and shoot her daughter? I've always thought that there was much more to this story than met the eye, and I've played around with writing a story about it.

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  21. That sounds like a really interesting case, Kathy. Was she really bedridden? Did one of the girls come home and do it? And isn't it interesting to see the sides people take when it comes to their loved ones?

    I know the broad strokes of Marilyn's death, and I agree that it just seems like such a sad story. I wonder how she would have fared in today's world of the 24 news cycle and social media?

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    1. That's what I heard, that she was bedridden, but I'm sure there were many things being said that were kernels of truth and not the whole truth. I always thought that the oldest girl did it, and the grandmother took the blame. However, I don't know why the girls would then turn against their grandmother. So, it might just be as simple as the grandmother having dementia and shooting the mother/her daughter because she didn't realize who she was.

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  22. The death of Natalie Wood. Something there for sure.

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    1. I agree that her death seems curious. But maybe Occam's Razor, and she really did just stumble off the boat and drown?

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    2. Oh, yes. How could I forget Natalie Wood, Judi? I really would like to know if her husband ignored her calls for help, along with Christopher Walken, or if they were too drunk to even know she was calling for help, or if, as you say, Ingrid, she did just drown without any nefarious circumstances.

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  23. TWA Flight 800. I, and thousands more do not believe the official story.

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  24. These are great, Ingrid! I do love a good mystery and the real ones are particularly vexing because it feels as if they should be solved. Amelia Earhart, in particular, has always bothered me. I was doing research the other day and found a list of 10 that I'd never heard before. I know it's wrong to say they inspire but...well, you're a mystery writer so I know you get it. More unsolved: https://listverse.com/2014/03/28/10-completely-mysterious-deaths-well-probably-never-solve/

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  25. I've read a lot of celebrity autobiographies, and everyone seems to love Robert Wagner and agree that he loved Natalie Wood. Getting drunk isn't a great thing and doing it on a boat is not a good idea.

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  26. 100 years later, I think Canadians still like to wonder about the mysterious drowning death of artist Tom Thomson in Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park.

    He went out onto the lake one day in his canoe, a normal occurance. Later the same day, someone saw his overturned canoe floating in the lake, but no Tom. His body surfaced 8 days later. He was an expert outdoorsman, it was a calm day, so why and how did he drown?

    To add to it, there's the mystery of his two graves, and which one is he really buried in?

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  27. I just read about Tom Thomson on the list that Jenn provided. His death is quite a puzzle, but I didn't realize there was also a mystery related to his grave. I'll have to go look that up!

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