With all due respect to those who prefer the stories about alien abductions and haunted apartments, Unsolved Mysteries is at its best when it makes us feel like we’re on the cusp of cracking a case. Back in the ’80s, it was incredibly satisfying when Robert Stack closed an episode by announcing that a viewer tip had helped find a child or catch a killer or otherwise right a wrong. When that happened, we not only got narrative closure, but also got to feel like watching TV was a righteous act. It also made subsequent mysteries feel even more tantalizing, because the solutions seemed just out of reach. If we could help catch those criminals, then why not these as well?
That allure is alive in the current Netflix revival, whose third season is now streaming. And while none of the current mysteries have been solved (yet), there are several that feel like they could be wrapped up any day now. These are the cases that stick in the brain, teasing us with the promise of impending justice.
Here are our best guesses for the five most solvable mysteries from the Unsolved Mysteries revival. Watch them with a notepad handy, in case any clues jump out.
This is the rare episode that identifies the killer almost immediately. The mystery isn’t whether a woman named Tamera “Tammy” Renee Williams killed and then dismembered her boyfriend David Carter. She almost certainly did, and then she put pieces of his body in various bags and scattered them down Interstate 75. The mystery is where Tammy is now, but how could she stay hidden forever? The episode should get armchair sleuths hunting for her.
White House aide John “Jack” Wheeler was extremely well-connected and by all accounts respected, and then he was murdered and left in a Delaware landfill. As the episode explores, he had ties to powerful people and corporations, and as some thorough additional reporting has uncovered, he had some ongoing feuds, as well as a history of erratic behavior. Given his prominence, it seems impossible that his killing was random, which means there has to be an evidence trail out there somewhere. This one is captivating because it conjures images of shadowy cover-ups and government secrets.
Left alone for approximately 13 minutes, Patrice Endres vanished from her salon in Georgia, and there are many clues about why. With methodical clarity, this episode delivers suspects, motives, and in one chilling moment, a damning piece of physical evidence. The suggestion is that the person who hurt Patrice is all but captured, and while there’s undeniably a bias to the way a particular interviewee is depicted, it still feels possible that we’re watching a criminal talk to us. The sobering idea of a monster in our midst is hard to shake.
Almost 50 years ago, convicted child murderer Lester Eubanks escaped from custody while he was on a “temporary honor furlough” to go Christmas shopping. He’s been on the lam ever since. That means he’s either dead himself or that someone, somewhere in the last five decades has seen him. One gets the sense that if enough people just watch this episode, someone will recognize him.
Though a coroner originally stated he was unable to determine Alonzo Brooks’ cause of death, it has since been declared a homicide. What’s more, evidence suggests he was the victim of a hate crime after leaving a party in small-town Kansas. Shortly after the episode aired in 2020, the show tweeted that the FBI had a new lead in its investigation of Brooks’ murder. Strangely, the episode itself has not been updated with this information, but with any luck, someone watching will still be able to help.
The first three episodes of Unsolved Mysteries Season 3 are now streaming on Netflix. Additional episodes will be released on Thursdays.
Mark Blankenship has been writing about arts and culture for twenty years, with bylines in The New York Times, Variety, Vulture, Fortune, and many others. You can hear him on the pop music podcast Mark and Sarah Talk About Songs.