People have always had a thing for unsolved mysteries, which is why beloved character actor Robert Stack had a job in the ’90s and we’re inundated with cable docu-drama series sporting variations on the theme to this day. We like to play armchair detectives, formulating our own theories as to the guilty parties and assuring ourselves that if we were working the case, we’d have long ago dragged the perpetrators into the cold light of justice.
Of course, this is a bunch of malarkey. Real detectives spend considerably less time than most of us sitting in armchairs and considerably more pounding the pavement, interviewing witnesses, and gathering clues — yet somehow, a goodly number of vicious crimes stubbornly refuse to roll over and let themselves be solved. Even in cases in which the victims are high-profile celebrities, getting to the bottom of a murder case is way more difficult than it looks on TV. If you have any doubt, take a look at these baffling unsolved murders. The perpetrators have never been brought to justice, despite the fact that their creepy circumstances kept detectives up at night — and they just might give you a touch of the heebie-jeebies as well.
No man could defeat him
When most people hear the words “Bruce Lee,” their brains automatically translate the words as “unstoppable badass who moves at the speed of sound despite being made out of iron.” Lee wasn’t a master of martial arts; he was martial arts. He created Jeet Kune Do, a formless art that was just as much philosophy as it was fighting style, while lying immobile in a hospital bed after an injury. He beat the crap out of Chuck Norris onscreen, and once kicked karate master Bob Wall so hard that he flew backward into an extra and broke that guy’s arm. It seemed like nothing could ever take him down — but something did, even if we still don’t know what it was over four decades later.
Lee died at the age of 32 in the apartment of a friend, and the official cause of death was cerebral edema — a swelling of the brain. Theories immediately began to fly, from heatstroke (because he’d had the sweat glands in his armpits removed) to an allergic reaction to a painkiller to, well, ninjas. But no satisfactory explanation was ever found, unless Lee indeed found it himself. As depicted in the 1993 biopic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Lee was convinced that a demon stalked the male members of his family — including his son Brandon, who would die in a tragic on-set accident in 1993.
The legend who wasn’t
Paul C. is a legend among fans of golden age rap music, but if the world were a just place, you could remove any qualifiers and simply dub him a Legend with a capital L. Perhaps his most significant accomplishment: He was the first to employ the E-mu SP-1200, a sampling sequencer that has acquired legendary status on its own for its ability to impart rap beats with a natural, acoustic sound. He schooled a score of prominent producers in its use and built up his name through his production and engineering work on such classics as Queen Latifah’s “Ladies First,” Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend,” and the majority of Eric B. and Rakim’s third album Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em. In a documentary, associate CJ Moore described him as “a man who was going to input some of the baddest sh*t that was ever heard on this planet, because he was that serious” — but it wasn’t to be.
In 1989, Paul was shot to death in his home by an unknown assailant, and the fact that he really had no known enemies and was in perfect spirits the day before shocked and dumbfounded his friends and associates. After the murder was featured on America’s Most Wanted, a tip led to the arrest of one Derrick Blair, who was never charged due to lack of evidence. Paul’s death cast a pall over the burgeoning rap scene, and to this day, friends grieve for the superproducer he would’ve become.