One of the crimes that continues to fascinate us for some strange reason is unsolved murders. Someone has gotten away with taking a life. They have not only outwitted the police, but have also left an open wound and endless grief for a family that can never find closure. Unsolved murders that are particularly gruesome seem to increase our level of fascination dramatically.
Where multiple victims were involved, or the brutality used was extreme, and especially when children were the victim, these unsolved murders often sadly become the stuff that legends are made of. We can’t help but wonder about the how and why. One specific unsolved murder involved six children and two adults, and is older than a century. Brutally butchered with an axe and found in a locked house in Iowa, these victims cannot rest in peace. In spite of this, the crime still fascinates, horrifies and yet resonates with us, all at the same time.
Wikipedia even has a list of unsolved deaths and the list goes on and on and on … A search for “unsolved murders” on Google brings up mountains of articles with title such as ‘8 most chilling ..’, ’20 unsolved murders that will send shivers down your spine’ and so on. This shows clearly that the subject has an audience and if you think about it, it fits in with our modern society. In an age of reality TV where we consume the minutest detail of stranger’s lives, it seems like a logical extension that we would want to know the inside story of cases where real life went wrong.
Why are we obsessed with true crime? Expert opinions on the subject vary widely. One theory is that people attempt to insulate themselves from an evil and horrible reality by looking at the events under the guise of entertainment. As the events happened to someone else, the reality becomes less threatening.
An alternative view is that there are three underlying reasons:
- People are reassured that they are safe as the event happened to someone else.
- Unsolved murders are puzzles that people would like to solve.
- Solving the puzzle stimulates the brain, as it is a challenge, even more so since nobody else has managed to solve it before.
A desire for justice and truth could also be a driving force, especially when a crime remains unsolved for years and goes cold. People will keep searching until the responsible person out there is caught. No matter how long it takes.
Whatever the exact reasons for our fascination, it provides lots of material and a willing audience for authors, TV programs and movies.