Top 10 Fake Clues Left by Murderers



Top 10 Fake Clues Left by Murderers

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: William Regot
These crafty murderers toyed with police in horrifying ways. For this list, we'll be looking at red herrings used by killers to throw investigators off their trail. Our countdown includes the Zodiac Killer, Ted Kaczynski, the Manson Family, and more!

Top 10 Fake Clues Left by Murderers

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Fake Clues Left by Murderers.

For this list, we’ll be looking at red herrings used by killers to throw investigators off their trail.

Which one did you think was the most cunning? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Mr Cruel's Crime Scene Graffiti

One of the most notorious criminals in Australia, “Mr Cruel” was thought to be behind the kidnapping of 13-year-old Karmein Chan in 1991. After Chan was abducted from her home, the car in her front yard was spray painted with messages such as “Asian Drug Deal” and “Payback.” These messages seemed to imply gang-related retaliation. Investigators suspected that the spray paint was an intentional decoy, but they did spend time looking into nonexistent gang related activities. Tragically, the victim’s body was found a year later, and “Mr. Cruel” was never brought to justice.

#9: A Puppy & Lipstick on the Windshield

The January 2000 disappearance of 18-year-old Zeb Quinn is notable for the evidence left in his car after he went missing. A pair of lips were drawn in lipstick on the back windshield, and there was a live puppy locked inside. The evidence comes off as completely random, but undeniably memorable. In 2017, Robert Owens, who had been one of Quinn’s coworkers, was charged with his murder. However, as of writing, the case has not yet gone to trial. In case you’re wondering about the puppy, it was eventually adopted by one of the investigators.

#8: Cigarette Butts & Gum

Known as the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway was convicted of killing at least 49 women in the Seattle area in the 1980s and 1990s. This makes him among the most prolific killers in American history, but because he took careful steps to avoid suspicion, he got away with his crimes for years. One of those steps was planting cigarette butts and chewing gum from other people near the bodies of his victims. He sometimes even left notes written by others. In the early 2000s, Ridgway confessed to his murders to avoid the death penalty and received multiple sentences for his heinous crimes.

#7: A Ladder & a Letter

When he abducted six-year-old Suzanne Degnan, the Lipstick Killer left a number of fake clues to misdirect investigators. He stuck a ladder outside of Degnan’s window to make it look like the abduction was the work of two people. Then, he sent a letter to Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly claiming that the abduction was related to a meatpacking dispute with her father. In 1946, William Heirens was arrested for the crime and sentenced to life in prison. His “confession”, however, was given after authorities tortured and drugged him. A group of law students and professors at Northwestern University sought clemency for him in 2002, but it was denied. Heirens maintained his innocence until dying in prison a decade later.

#6: A Staged Car Accident

A beloved teacher and coach who lived near Lincoln, Nebraska, Sandy Schnabel was found dead underneath her burning minivan. Sandy’s husband, Mark, claimed the fire was the result of an accident that took place on their property, but as investigators looked more closely, that story started to fall apart. It was staged. After talking to the three children, they found that Sandy had been a victim of domestic abuse. They found evidence of Sandy’s blood in the home, among other places. Mark pleaded guilty to second degree murder and received a life sentence with possibility of parole.

#5: A Name Written in Blood

When Tim Permenter killed his girlfriend Karen Pannell in 2003, he decided to throw her ex-boyfriend under the bus. With Karen’s blood, Tim wrote the name “Roc” on the wall in her room, referring to Roc Herbich – as if Karen had written the name to identify her killer. Further shifting blame to Roc, Tim cited relationship problems Karen had with her ex-boyfriend when interviewed. Roc, however, was spending time with his current girlfriend at the time of the murder, so that plan didn’t work. In 2007, Tim was convicted and received life without parole.

#4: Ransom Note

In 2012, Israel Keyes abducted 18-year-old Samantha Koenig at her workplace, assaulted her and killed her the next day. Days later, he took a picture with her body, but manipulated it in such a way as to make her seem as if she were still alive. This was to make Koenig’s family think that Samantha was kidnapped so Keyes could get a ransom. The family paid the $30,000 ransom, which Keyes used to travel and throw off investigators in the process. Keyes was later caught by police, but took his own life in jail before he could go on trial.

#3: Bathroom Hair

A highly intelligent eccentric with a mathematics degree from Harvard, Ted Kaczynski, who was later identified as the “Unabomber,” was able to avoid capture for almost two decades. For one of his bombs, Kacynski put in hair he found from a bus station bathroom in Missoula, Montana. It was planted to trick the FBI into thinking they had stumbled onto some DNA evidence that would identify the unabomber. While the tactic certainly adds to the morbid fascination that people have with the unabomber, the implications are terrifying. Imagine… one trip to the bathroom and someone could try to frame you for murder using the DNA you left behind.

#2: Messages in Blood

In the summer of 1969, the now infamous Manson Family embarked on a bloody murder spree. It began with the cult’s murder of Gary Hinman, allegedly over a drug deal. In order to deflect blame, they drew a Black Panther symbol and wrote “Political Piggie” in blood on a wall. When cult member Bobby Beausoleil was arrested anyway, the cult killed actress Sharon Tate and her four guests, as well as a supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary. Manson hoped that bloody messages left at the crimes would tie the murders back to Hinman’s, undermining suspicion of Beausoleil, and triggering an apocalyptic race war he dubbed “Helter Skelter". By the end of the year however, police had seen through the misdirection and arrested the true perpetrators.

#1: Zodiac Cipher

One of the ways the Zodiac Killer toyed with the public was by sending ciphers that were expected to be decoded. It took 51 years for one of the ciphers, which had 340 characters, to be cracked, thanks to three experts and the use of a supercomputer. As if all that hard work weren’t bad enough, there was hardly any payoff. The message was mainly about how the Zodiac Killer planned to enslave his victims in the afterlife. Of the four ciphers the Zodiac Killer sent out, two of them remain unsolved. Here’s to hoping that one of those two can finally reveal the identity of the serial killer.