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Top 10 Cold Cases That Were Finally Solved

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco

Script written by George Pacheco

Better late than never. From Jessica Lyn Keen’s murder, to Minnie and Edward Maurin’s wrongful death, to the Susan Schwarz secrets, these cold cases went unsolved… until now. WatchMojo counts down 10 cold cases that were finally solved.

Special thanks to our users Marlon Jacques, Strider Xanthos, Diana Bail, and Kurtsymon Cruz for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Cold+Cases+That+Were+Finally+Solved.


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Script written by George Pacheco

Top 10 Cold Cases That Were Finally Solved

Better late than never. Welcome to, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Cold Cases That Were Finally Solved.

For this list, we'll be ranking the most long-standing or infamous cold cases which, years later, were finally solved by authorities. We'll be omitting serial killers and terrorists from this list, and also going to hold off on including recent research into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, as her case still isn't 100% confirmed to be solved.

#10: Jessica Lyn Keen (1991)

Jessica Lyn Keen was a promising young student and cheerleader whose life was cut short in the spring of 1991. At first, investigators suspected Keen's then-boyfriend, a young man who Keen's mother believed was a negative influence on her daughter's life. Seventeen years later, an accused sexual predator named Marvin Smith was arrested by officials, thanks to DNA evidence linking him to Keen's rape and murder. Smith had been out on bail when he abducted Jessica, assaulted her and eventually beat her to death with a tombstone when she attempted to escape through a cemetery.

#9: Minnie and Edward Maurin (1985)

Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace and goodwill towards our neighbors, but this tragically wasn't the case for Minnie and Ed Maurin, whose bodies were discovered back on Christmas Eve, 1985. The couple had been shot and then moved to a secluded area in the woods. Initially, police had their suspicions placed firmly on a pair of brothers, Rick and John Riffe, who they surmised had abducted the Maurin's from their home at gunpoint, drove to the local bank and made them withdraw money. John Riffe died before he could be brought to justice, but authorities eventually arrested Rick Riffe in 2012, over thirty years after the initial crime.

#8: Diane Maxwell (1969)

Advances in forensic technology have done wonders for solving crimes previously thought to have gone cold. One such case was that of Diane Maxwell, a telephone operator who was taken from her workplace parking lot, raped, strangled and stabbed to death by an unknown assailant. This occurred back in 1969, yet it wasn't until 2003, years after the case was reopened, that a latent print technician for the FBI was able to match fingerprints taken from Maxwell's vehicle. The prints matched those of James Ray Davis, a convicted felon who had just left prison nine days prior to Diane's murder. Davis confessed, and was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes.

Gerald Mason had become an average family man when he was convicted in 2003 for the 1957 murder of two California police officers. Mason was actually leaving the scene of another crime back when he was stopped for running a red light by Officers Richard Phillips and Milton Curtis. Mason had attacked a pair of couples at a local Lover's Lane, robbing them and raping one of the teenage girls. In a panic, he then shot both officers to death, out of fear that his earlier crime would be discovered. Fingerprint evidence, and a scar on Mason's back from a bullet fired by Phillips, eventually put him away for two consecutive life sentences.

#6: Roy McCaleb (1985)

Carolyn Krizan-Wilson was a convicted bigamist who stuck to the same story for almost thirty years: that a crazed, barefoot man broke into the home she shared with her husband Roy McCaleb, and shot him to death. This was in 1985, but it wasn't until 2013 that Wilson, now suffering from the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, confessed to the killing. Wilson, who had been married a total of seven times, only received six months for the murder, but for McCaleb's remaining family, there was at least a semblance of closure for their lost loved one.

#5: Susan Schwarz (1979)

Our next cold case was actually solved by a set of playing cards, all emblazoned with the facts and figures behind some of the most long-standing, unsolved murders. These "Cold Case Cards" led to a trip which closed the 1979 murder of Susan Schwarz, who was shot while taking a shower in her home. Gregory Johnson was arrested in 2011 for Schwarz's murder, with the motive being that he felt Schwarz, a friend of Johnson's abused wife, was interfering in his marriage. Johnson's wife, perhaps out of fear, kept his secret; but it eventually caught up to him, and he received a sentence of 24 years in prison.

#4: John List’s Family (1971)

The popular television program "America's Most Wanted" has been responsible for bringing many criminals to justice over the years. One of these men was John List, a notorious New Jersey murderer who slaughtered his wife, mother and children in their home, and lived on the lam from 1971 to 1989. It was the recreation of the murders on "America's Most Wanted" that played a vital role in eventually bringing List, who had moved to Virginia and since remarried, to justice. He received five consecutive life sentences for first degree murder, and died of complications from pneumonia while in prison.

#3: Dalbert Aposhian (1933)

It took over seventy years for the “murder” of seven-year-old Dalbert Aposhian to be solved. The young boy's body was found floating in the San Diego Bay back in 1933, with multiple body parts missing. The media at the time attributed the crime to a "sex maniac," an opinion echoed by a local forensic pathologist. Police were inclined to believe testimony from one of Aposhian's friends, who claimed that he accidentally drowned. The San Diego Cold Case Squad made an official ruling in 2005, saying that Aposhian's wounds were caused by oceanic crustaceans and fish, and were not premeditated. It was, after all, a horrible and tragic accident.

#2: Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Georgina DeJesus (2002-2004)

The most recent cold case on our list originally occurred back in the early 2000s, when Ariel Castro kidnapped three young women and held them prisoner in his Ohio home for over a decade. During this time, all three women were viciously beaten, tortured and sexually assaulted by Castro, until, finally, Amanda Berry was able to make contact with the outside world. Castro was arraigned on nearly a thousand separate counts, including rape, kidnapping, felonious assault and more. He received a life sentence, but hung himself in prison only a month into serving his time.

#1: Etan Patz (1979)

Etan Patz was six years old in 1979, when he disappeared while walking to his school bus in Manhattan’s Soho. Patz was declared legally dead in 2001, after all leads into his disappearance failed to land an indictment. The case was reopened in 2010, but Etan's family would have to wait until spring 2012 to hear that Pedro Hernandez, who had worked at a local bodega in Etan's neighborhood, confessed to the crime. Hernandez stated that he strangled the child and tossed his body in the garbage. This confession was backed up by certain members of Hernandez's family, and he was sentenced to life in prison on April 18th, 2017.

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