They finally got the answers they were looking for
For 14 years, Unsolved Mysteries brought horrific crimes, unexplained disappearances, and strange happenings right into the homes of everyday American people. The show told the tales of hundreds of people using theatrical reenactments, interviews with the victims and investigators, and information from the authorities that worked closely with the show to try and get tips from viewers who might have information.
Unsolved Mysteries actually did help to close the book on several cold cases since it was watched by so many people throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Here are the real-life cases that have been solved with the help of average television viewers.
The Stockton Arsonist
On August 15, 1989, Joseph Villa’s car overheated. He left it on the side of the road and walked to a service station. On the way, he found a jacket on the ground with a VHS tape in the pocket. He watched it when he got home.
The tape showed a house engulfed in flames, and the cameraman was saying odd things. Joseph turned the tape over to the cops who believed the cameraman was an arsonist.
The cops went back to where the jacket was found, and it was still there. They also found items used in occult rituals. The cops didn’t have any leads about what house was set on fire for years following the discovery of the tape.
Within minutes of the broadcast of the story on Unsolved Mysteries, several viewers called in saying they knew that house, and they knew who probably set it on fire. It was in Redwood, Calif., 80 miles from where the tape was found. The house was under construction and unoccupied at the time. The responding firefighters were able to confirm that it was the same fire because they also took video of it when they came out.
The police had arrested two teens for setting the blaze. The older of the two teens admitted to making the video and was committed to a state mental hospital.
A man woke up in a forested along the California coast in May 1992. He had no memory of how he got there or who he even was. He only had a duffel bag with him that contained some clothing and a library card from the Boston Public Library. It had the name Pierre April.
He hitchhiked to San Diego where someone led him to a homeless shelter. There he met Dr. Julie Becker who knew that something was very wrong with him.
Pierre was diagnosed with trauma-induced amnesia, and the doctors helped him regain a few of his memories over the next months. He knew about advanced math, physics, and could play the guitar.
Unsolved Mysteries hired a police sketch artist to draw people that Pierre was remembering. One was of a woman named Carol.
On the night of this story’s broadcast, one of Pierre’s former employers named Carol recognized him and contacted the show. Pierre got in touch with Carol, and she informed him that his sisters and parents lived in Canada. Pierre was able to contact his dad the next day after they hadn’t spoken in five months.
Pierre still couldn’t remember his father very well, so they sent him family photos and his birth certificate. While his memories are still blurry, he’s confident that he knows who he is again.
Marilyn Depue went missing in 1990, and her husband Dennis was the prime suspect. Marilyn had just filed for divorce from him because of their volatile relationship. Furious about the divorce, Dennis attacked her in front of their three children and threw her down a set of stairs. He told the kids he was taking her to a hospital, but he had no intentions of helping his wife.
Dennis was spotted speeding down a country road by an older couple. A few miles down they road, they saw his car parked by an abandoned school house. It looked as though he was carrying a body in a bloody sheet around the building. As they kept driving miles down the road, the car roared up behind them trying to intimidate them.
Dennis’ car pulled over, and they drove on. However, they decided to turn back to get his license plate number. They saw him changing it when they caught up to him, and his driver’s side door was covered in blood.
They proceeded back towards the school house because they wanted to investigate what he had done there. They found a blood-soaked blanket and called the police. Marilyn was killed by a gun shot to the back of the head, and Dennis vanished.
Dennis himself (now known as Hank Queen) and his girlfriend saw the show which aired almost a year after the murder. He went back on the run, but his friends who saw the show had already called the cops. Dennis got into a shootout with police in Mississippi, and he turned his gun on himself.
Dennis’s story was the basis for the film Jeepers Creepers.