America’s Top 13 Most Controversial Crimes In History

The Murder of JonBenet Ramsey

Passion, greed and insanity... There are many reasons behind the doing of a crime.


JonBenet Patricia Ramsey, a 6-year old child beauty queen from Boulder, Colorado, was found dead in the basement of her family's home on the night of December 25-26, 1996. On the morning of December 25, 1996, her mother, Patsy, found a ransom note demanding $118,000 for her daughter's safe return. Patsy called the police, who did a search through the house, but there are no signs of someone breaking in. After Patsy called the police, JonBenet's body was eventually found in the basement eight hours later. The little girl was found with tied wrists and a taped mouth.

While most crimes are quickly forgotten, some still remain a mystery and some are still talked about even until this day. We sum up the top 13 most intriguing and shocking crimes in American history.

She had a broken skull from a strong force to the head and she was strangled using a garrote around her neck. It is also believed that she was sexually assaulted. Her cause of death was asphyxia due to strangulation of her neck in connection with craniocerebral trauma that she had. Her death was classified as a homicide.

Investigation still continues to catch the assailant

Errors made in the initial investigation such as loss and contamination of evidence, lack of experienced staff at that time of the investigation, shared evidence with the Ramseys and delay of formal interviews with the parents complicated the resolution of the investigation. Initially, the police suspected that a member of the family caused her death, but in 2008, all family members were cleared through DNA testing. In fact, the DNA testing points out an "unknown male" as the suspect.

In February 2009, Boulder police took the case back from the District Attorney (DA) and reopened the investigation. JonBenet was interred at St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia.

The Mysterious "Zodiac Killer"

The Zodiac Killer is one of the most controversial and unknown killers in the 20th century. He is believed to be responsible for the five murders in Northern California in the late 1960's and may have been responsible for more.

After he taunted the police and made letters to local Bay Area press from 1969-1974, further communication from him abruptly stopped. The letters included four cryptograms, and out of the four sent, only one has been definitively solved.

Possible "Zodiac Killer" Suspects have been named

No one has been directly identified as the Zodiac killer but as Buzzfeed suggests, we look at these three primary  suspects who lead the theories based on the murders: Earl Van Best Jr. He has a striking resemblance to the composite sketch released but he is not the largely built man that was described at the three previous killings. Arthur Leigh Allen He was at the same exact location at the place where the third Zodiac attack happened.

He came home that night covered in blood, with a bloody knife in his car. However, Allen does not look like the man in the composite sketch but is considered to be one of the prime suspects. Lawrence “Kane” Kaye Kane lived near the victim’s houses or near the locations of their deaths.

The Shooting of Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Benjamin Martin, a 17-year-old African-American teen from Miami Gardens, Florida, was shot dead by George Zimmerman, a community watch volunteer, on the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman shot an unarmed Martin after a brawl escalated between them. Trayvon was under ten-day school suspension and went along with his father to visit his father’s fiancée in Sanford. On the night of February 26, 2012, Trayvon was out to buy candy and a drink to the convenience store where he passed by a neighborhood which had several robbing incidents that year.

George Zimmerman saw him and reported him to the Sanford police for suspicious behavior. After some time, a brawl escalated between them which ended up  Zimmerman shooting Martin in the chest.

Zimmerman was tried in court

Zimmerman was brought to the police station for questioning and treated his wounds. He was also released after five hours since there is a proof that he acted on self-defense and also Florida prohibits police officers to make an arrest under Stand Your Ground law.

On April 12, 2012, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder with a probable cause stating that Zimmerman assumed Martin was a criminal and confronted him that eventually led Zimmerman shooting Martin in the chest. On July 13, 2013, a jury acquitted George Zimmerman on all charges.

The Disappearance of County Official, Bryon Macron

Bryon Macron, a husband and a father of three, who is also a trustee of Medina County since 2010. He was last seen on the morning of December 16, 2016, at his family's house after he left work. Shortly after reporting for work, the police responded to his office at the township building after a maintenance worker discovered that his office looked like there was an altercation that happened. The police found Macron's office unlocked with the lights on and in chaos.

They also found blood and his cellphone. After several hours, his car was found in a public parking lot several miles away from his office. again, the police found blood in his SUV.

The search for the missing official comes to an end

On February 22, 2017, a kayaker found a body in the lake outside Medina County and informed the police. It was later identified as the body of the missing township trustee. The local medical examiner has conducted an autopsy and further tests. Unfortunately, the results are not readily available.

Toxicology results will also take two to three weeks. No cause of death was announced by the authorities since the investigation is still ongoing. It remains unclear how Bryon Macron died.

The Disappearance of Disney Wonder Crew, Rebecca Coriam

Rebecca Coriam, a 24-year old British crew of Disney Wonder cruise ship, has disappeared while the ship was sailing along the coast of Mexico. On the morning of March 22, 2011, Rebecca didn't report for work. The crew began paging her on the public address system and searching throughout the ship. Then someone decided to review the security camera footage.

The video was time-stamped at 5:45 and it appears to be that she was upset while speaking with someone on the phone. Somebody approached her and asked her if she was okay, she just nodded and walked away. This was Rebecca's last known sighting.

Mystery still surrounds the disappearance of the 24-year-old

The crew searched the entire ship and the investigations also turned to the waters, believing that she may have gone overboard but there was no trace of her. Rebecca's parents also flew in from England to meet with the Bahamian detective but they were told that he only spent one day investigating and only the crew were questioned.

The police concluded no foul play in this case. Rebecca has been missing for the past 5 years and 11 months.

The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway

Natalee Holloway was a student who disappeared on May 30, 2005, while on a Spring Break trip in Aruba. She was supposed to fly home on May 30th but she did not make it. Her classmates last saw her hanging out in a bar with Joran Van der Sloot, together with Deepak and Satish Kalpoe who were said to be locals.

The three men said that they left her at the hotel and not knowing what happened after. Aruban authorities and volunteers began a search and rescue operation for Natalee. Her body was never found.

Investigation leads to the arrest of multiple suspects

On June 9, 2005, Van der Sloot and the Kalpoes were arrested as the suspects for Holloway's disappearance but was later released. As the Aruban investigators obtained new evidence, the three were rearrested on November 21, 2007, as suspects in manslaughter and harming that lead to Holloway's death. The Kalpoes were released despite the protests of the prosecution. Van der Sloot was released on December 7, 2007, without a charge due to lack of evidence that would make him responsible for Holloway's death. Five years after Holloway's disappearance, a business student was found dead in a hotel room that was registered under Van der Sloot's name.

He admitted the crime and eventually plead guilty to the court. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison. Meanwhile, on January 12, 2012, an Alabama judge declared Natalee Holloway legally dead. Her disappearance created a media frenzy and this case remains unsolved.

The Trial of OJ Simpson

Orenthal James (O.J) Simpson is a former American football star and actor. He married Nicole Brown after his divorce from his previous marriage. They had two children but the marriage only lasted for seven years after Brown cited irreconcilable differences. On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were found stabbed to death at her home in Los Angeles, California. The police found a single bloody glove as one of the evidence. The officers went to Simpson's house to inform him about his wife but Simpson was not there. The detectives found blood in his car and they also found another bloody glove which was a match with the glove they found at the crime scene.

After DNA testing, the blood on the glove was found to be the victims. The evidence found lead to the issuance of warrant of arrest for Simpson. He became the person of interest which eventually led to a slow-speed pursuit operation towards him after he failed to turn himself in. The chase ended at his home and he surrendered to the authorities. He pleaded not guilty for the murder of his ex-wife and her friend.. The entire case was known as the "Trial of The Century" after attracting attention internationally.

The contoversial murder trial begins to unfold

On January 24, 1995, the trial began with the prosecution team asserting that Simpson killed his ex-wife out of jealousy and presented evidences that Simpson physically abused Brown. They also presented possible scenarios that lead to the murders. Meanwhile, the defense team asked Simpson to put on the gloves that were found in court.

It appeared to be that the gloves were too small to fit in his hands. The defense also argued that Simpson was a victim of police fraud and insisting that the detective, Mark Fuhrman, planted the gloves at the crime scene. After 11 months of trial, on October 3, 1995, the jury acquitted OJ Simpson of the murder charges. Despite his acquittal, Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman's murders remains unsolved.

The Jodi Arias Murder Case

The Jodi Arias Murder Case

Jodi Arias, a photographer from Salinas, California was charged with murdering her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander after his body was found in his bathroom at his house in Mesa, Arizona. His friends found him in the shower with a shot in the head, stabbed 27 to 29 times and a slit throat. The detectives were able to find a lot of evidences in the crime scene including a camera which has been washed in the washing machine. After the photos were recovered, the pictures showed Alexander moments after he was killed and while he was bleeding. Some deleted photos that were recovered also showed sexual poses.

The tests that were obtained from the crime scene was found to be the DNA from Arias and Alexander. There were also strands of hair that belonged to Arias. On July 15, 2008, Arias was arrested at her home but plead not guilty to the case. She also had different versions of her stories regarding Alexander's death. In the end, she admitted killing Alexander on grounds of self defense after he attacked her.

Justice for Travis Alexander has been served

On January 2013, Arias was tried in court. It began when she narrated her tough past from her cruel childhood to her dysfunctional relationship with Alexander, including the abuses that she experienced from her boyfriend. On that fateful day, Arias told the jury that their relationship had its turning point after he became furious after she dropped his camera.

She asserted that she tried to defend herself that ended up killing Alexander. After the highly publicized journey, the jury convicted Jodi Arias with first-degree murder. She was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment without parole and she is no serving the Arizona Department of Corrections.

The Case of The Missing FBI Agent, Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson is a former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent that went missing nine years ago and believed to be kidnapped by Iranian operatives until now. He vanished in March 9. 2007 at Kish Island in Iran where many smugglers and law offenders are frequently spotted. He was reported to have been in an unauthorized operation on a cigarette smuggling case along with three CIA officers.

He was off to meet the contact, Dawud Salahuddin and disappeared the next day. The US Government has categorically denied that Levinson was in Iran for any government assignment. He was also named as the "longest US civilian captive in American history".

Finding Levinson in Iran became difficult

After three weeks after he was captured, Iranian government said that he was held by their security forces and they are doing measures to free him in a couple of days. His family went to Iran and traveled to his hotel in Kish, where they found the hotel check-out manifesto of Levinson. The US government had made efforts in bringing him home and on June 2007, then President George W. Bush said that he is disturbed by the refusal of Iran government to provide details on the whereabouts of Robert Levinson despite U.S government's request and called the leaders to act upon. The CIA also released a reward up to $5 Million for information on the missing Levinson.

The family received a proof of life video dated November 2010 with Levinson who lost significant weight and unruly hair. He repeatedly pleads the US officials to hear and answer the group that held him captive since he wanted return home. In 2013, Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, has expressed that the Iranian Government will cooperate on gathering information on Levinson's whereabouts. It is still unclear if Robert Levinson is alive up to this day.

The Death of Selena Perez

Selena Quintanilla-Perez (popularly known as Selena) was an American singer in the 90's  who is also dubbed as the "Queen of Tejano Music". She was known for her music and fashion statements that made her one of the most influential Mexican-American artists of in the 20th century. She was also married to her guitarist, Chris Perez. Her father and manager hired Yolanda Saldivar to take over  Selena's fanbase in 1991 and Selena's boutiques in 1994. Selena's staff often complained about Saldivar's attitude and management. Her father also received complaints from fans who did not receive anything after paying membership fees. He also found out that Saldivar stole $60,000 from membership fees and the boutiques. On March 31, 1995, Selena arranged a meeting with Saldivar after her family confronted her former employee. They met at a motel room in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Selena and Saldivar has reportedly been arguing after Selena demanded financial statements. Moments later, Saldivar draw out a gun and pointed it to the singer. Selena tried to escape but Saldivar shot her lower shoulder that caused severe blood loss. Selena ran until the lobby and asked for help while Saldivar is still chasing her. Before passing out, Selena was able to point out her assailant and the room they have been. Saldivar also attempted to escape but she was spotted by a police nearby. She surrendered after a nearly 10 hour standoff with the authorities. Selena was pronounced dead due to massive loss of blood and cardiac arrest at 1:05 pm of that fateful day.

Selena's Killer, Yolanda Saldivar Was Tried in Court

After attempting to flee the motel, Saldivar was spotted by a police office and instructed her to get out of the truck. She did not follow orders and backed up but her truck was blocked by police cars. She drew out a gun and pointed it at her head. After negotiating for over nine hours, she finally surrendered to the authorities.

Saldivar was tried in court and plead guilty to the case. She claimed that she wanted to kill herself and she shot Selena accidentally. On October 23, 1995, the court found Yolanda Saldivar guilty of first-degree murder of Selena Perez and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

The Murder Case of Casey Anthony

Casey Anthony was born March 19, 1986 with parents Cindy and George Anthony. When she was 19, she got pregnant without knowing the father of her child. On August 9, 2005. she gave birth to her daughter, Caylee Anthony. Both Casey and her daughter lived with her parents home in Orlando, Florida. On June 2008, Casey and her mother had a major fight that led her to leave her parent's house, taking Caylee with her. They did not return for 31 days.

From time to time, Cindy called Casey that she wanted to see her granddaughter, but Casey would say she's busy for work and at times, Casey said that Caylee was out with her nanny named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez. It was later found that Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzales exists but she never met any of the Anthony family and their friends. On July 13, 2008, Casey's parents received a letter that her car was in a tow yard. When George Anthony was out to get the car, he noticed a foul smell from the trunk. When opened, it  had a trash bag and no human body was found. Cindy informed the authorities that Caylee was mssing for 31 days.

Discrepancies were found in Casey's statements upon investigation

When Casey was questioned for her child's disappearance, she told the police that Caylee was kidnapped by nanny Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzales. The truth was there was no nanny. She also lied about working in Universal Studios. She was arrested on July 16 at the same year for telling false statements to authorities, child neglect and obstruction of investigation. After a month, she was released after posting for bail. On December 11, 2008, a meter reader found a trash bag with human remains which were later confirmed to be Caylee's. The trial began on July 2011 with the proecution stating that Casey is unconcerned with her child and that she suffocated Caylee with chloroform and a duct tape. Chloroform was found in her car's trunk and there was duct tape on the skull that was recovered on the trash bag.

Meanwhile, the defense asserted that Caylee drowned in the family pool and later her body was disposed by George Anthony so that her daughter will not be blamed. Casey, however, did not testify. On July 5, 2008, Casey Anthony was acquitted of murder, manslaughter and child abuse. On the other hand, Casey was found guilty of four counts of telling false information to the authorities. She was sentenced to a four year imprisonment and $4000 fines. Two of her four charges were later dismissed. She was released on July 11,2011. The acquittal had received violent reactions from the public and was dubbed as "the social media trial of the century".

The Michael Jackson Child Abuse Case
Michael Jackson was an American singer, producer, dancer and philanthropist. He's known as the King of Pop for his contributions in the music scene and pop culture. On May 2002, Jackson allowed a TV crew led by journalist Martin Bashir to film him wherever he goes for a documentary. At February 3, 2003, the documentary was aired. At a particular scene, Bashir interviewed Jackson along with a 13-year old boy, Gavin Arvizo. While Jackson was being interviewed, Arvizo appeared to hold Jackson's hand and leaning his head on Jackson's shoulder. When it was Arvizo's turn, he recalled a night where he slept in Jackson's bed and said Jackson offered his bed and slept on the floor.

After it was aired, Gavin's mother complained that they were not aware that their child was in the film. Santa Barbara County District Attorney conducted an investigation and had a preliminary complaint against Jackson. After the boy and his mother told the authorities that Jackson had behaved inappropriately, Jackson was arrested in November 2003 and was charged with lascivious acts but bailed right after. On December 2003, he was charged with "seven counts of child molestation and with two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to carry out the molestation", all pointing out to the minor. Jackson has denied all the allegations and was convinced that the boy was forced by his greedy parents.

The Michael Jackson Trial becomes highly publicized
On January 2005, Jackson was tried in court and plead not guilty to all the charges. Among the evidences presented were the testimonies of Gavin and his brother, Star about different instances of Jackson masturbating and teaching them how to do it. The prosecution also showed evidences that pornography was shown to children in his ranch, Neverland. Arvizo children told the jury that Jackson indeed introduced them to pornography by watching it in Gavin's computer. The Arvizo children also told the jury that they were also given alcohol.

The defense, on the hand, had presented the case starting with the settlement of Arvizo family with JC Penney after allegedly sexually abusing her and physically abusing her two sons. The defense calls out the mother, Janet as a swindler who tries to teach her children to fabricate stories just to get money. It was also claimed that Janet rehearsed her children with lies on sexual abuse regarding Jackson so that they could get a multi-million claim. Janet's history of mental illness and psychiatric records were also brought up in court. On June 3, 2005, the jury found Michael Jackson  not guilty with all the charges.

The Death of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was pronounced dead at 2:26PM on June 25, 2009 at the age of 50. In his mansion at Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, his personal doctor, Conrad Murray, found him having a weak pulse and not breathing in his room. Murray performed CPR to revive the singer. After having difficulties reviving, Murray called for 911 for help.

The paramedics arrived at the scene and performed another series of resuscitation. Jackson was transferred to a hospital and another resuscitation was performed for more than an hour. A few minutes later, he was pronounced dead. Jackson was last seen the night before his death, after having rehearsals for his scheduled concerts.

Personal doctor was under scrutiny after Jackson's death

Jackson's body underwent two autopsies and it was found out that he died from the combination of several drugs in his body, such as propofol and lorazepam. The investigators proclaimed that his death had no indications of foul play and ruled out to be homicide. Conrad Murray, on the other hand, admitted giving Jackson 25mg of intravenous propofol to aid his insomnia and other drugs involved. He also said that he would only give him after the singer insisted.

In medical practice, however, propofol is not intended to be a sleeping aid. He was charged of involuntary manslaughter but he plead not guilty to the case. On November 7, 2011, Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and was later sentenced to 4 years in prison. He was released on 2013 for good behavior and prison overcrowding.

The Death of Hip-hop Icon, Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur (born as Leshane Parish Crooks) was an American rapper, poet and  music producer. He rose to fame after producing albums that talked about political and social issues that related well with the people. He also wrote about songs about living a difficult life. He was also known for being involved in clashes between East Coast rappers versus West Coast rappers rivalry. On the night of September 7, 2006, Shakur watched a boxing game at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada with record producer, Suge Knight. After it ended, Shakur and his entourage saw Orlando Anderson, an alleged Crips gang member who previously had an encounter with Shakur's group earlier that year, along with fellow gang members. After knowing his presence, Shakur, Knight and Shakur's group teamed up and assaulted Anderson. The altercation was caught in the hotel's surveillance cameras and the hotel security broke the fight. After the altercation, Shakur and Knight was on their way to Club 662 with his entourage in convoy. As Shakur and Knight's sedan stopped in a red light, a white Cadillac stopped on the right side of  Shakur's sedan.

The said Cadillac, with unknown passengers, shot Shakur while he was standing on the sunroof. He was shot twice in the chest and once in the arm and thigh. The police brought him to the University Medical Center of South Nevada. While on the hospital, music producer Gobi was told that the record company, Death Row has received threats from the assailants. Gobi informed Las Vegas Police but the police said they lack staffs. No assailants came to the hospital but he was still heavily guarded. He was heavily sedated and was put under induced coma since he attempted to get out of bed. On September 13, 2006, just six days after the shooting, Shakur suffered from internal bleeding and doctors could not stop the hemmorhaging. Shakur was pronounced dead at 4:03 pm due to "respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary arrest in connection with multiple gunshot wounds". His body was cremated the next day.

Who Killed Tupac Shakur?

An article titled "Who Killed Tupac Shakur?" was published in LA times stating that the shooting was done by Southside Crips Gang to avenge on the assault that was done by Shakur on its member. It was said that Orlando Anderson, the beaten Crip member, fired the shots. The said article also named The Notorious B.I.G , an East Coast rapper and Shakur's rival at that time.

However, B.I.G denied all the allegations linking him to the murder and said that he was recording while the incident happened. Despite the convoy of Shakur's entourage, the authorities said that nobody has seen the assailant and the shooting. The murder of Tupac Shakur remains unsolved up to this day.

The Death of Notorious B.I.G

The Notorious B.I.G /Biggie/ Biggie Smalls was Christopher George Latore Wallace in real life and was born on May 21, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York. He is an American rapper that grew popular when he released Ready to Die that hit the Billboard charts. During the release, the rap scene was dominated by West Coast rappers and the album made the momentum shift back to the East Coast rappers. Wallace later became involved with the feud between the East Coast vs. West Coast hip hop scene with his former friend, Tupac Shakur. As Shakur was shot with an unknown gunman, an article called "Who Killed Tupac Shakur?" pointed out Wallace as the one who paid for the gun that the assailant, Orlando Anderson. Wallace and his family denied the report and asserted that Wallace was recording at that time. On February 1997, Wallace went to Los Angeles, California to fulfill series of promotions and engagements.

On March 8, 1997, he attended a party that was also attended by many guests including celebrities and gang members. He was asked to leave the party on 12:30 AM of the next day due to overcrowding. Wallace and his entourage was off to return to his hotel with two vehicles in tow. At 12:45 AM, Wallace car stopped by the red light a few yards away from the venue. A black Chevy Impala pulled up beside his vehicle with a driver that was described as a black male in a blue suit and tie. The driver shot Wallace shot four times. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center but was later pronounced dead at 1:15 AM. According to the autopsy was released 15 years after his death, the fourth bullet that entered through his hip that went through his vital organs killed the rapper.

Wallace's Assailant Remains To Be Unidentified

The investigation started with the reports that link Tupac Shakur's death 6 months prior Wallace's death since both murders happened thru drive by shootings. In 1997, authors at LA Times suggested that a Crisp gang member initiated the murder for personal financial reasons. Labyrinth, a 2002 book authored by Randall Sullivan, stated that Suge Knight, a music producer and gang member was behind the shooting. Knight allegedly conspired with an LAPD officer to stage the death as a result of war between the coastal rap feud.

In the book by Cathy Scott named The Murder of Biggie Smalls, it was stated that the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G was caused by the East Coast vs. West Coast rap rivalry that would make music companies earn more since the rappers would be more valuable if they died, rather than if they are alive. Last December 2012, the LAPD has released his autopsy records in public to create new leads in the case. The murder case of Wallace still remains a mystery.

The Death of  Elvis Presley

The Death of  Elvis Presley

Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi but later moved in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a singer, actor, and was popularly known as The King of Rock and Roll. He became popular after he released his first single, Heartbreak Hotel on 1956 and became a nationwide hit. He was also known for rotating his pelvis while dancing on stage. Presley performed on TV shows like Ed Sullivan Show and Steve Allen Show that gained praises and cheers from the audience. He also starred in movies like King Creole. From his growing earnings, he was able to buy a mansion for his family and it was called Graceland. His career was on hold after entering the military where he met his wife, Priscilla Beaulieu. After the hiatus and their marriage, Presley had a comeback project called Elvis in which he will perform in front of a live audience.

He also did tours as part of his comeback. He became distant with his wife and ended up in a divorce. They had a child together whose name was Lisa Marie. After the divorce was final, his health condition deteriorated. He often became hospitalized and was on semicomatose due to addiction to pethidine. There were also accounts of seeing him slurring and it was visible that he was drugged and that something was wrong with his health. Despite his bad health, he still pushed through with his concerts. In early 1977, Presley started to miss shows since he cannot get out of bed. While on tour, fans became disappointed since Presley cannot speak properly anymore.

The King of Rock and Roll Passes Away