The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes
The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes It is not true, as pop star Bonnie Tyler suggests in her hit song “Driving Me Wild,” that everyone loves a mystery. While fictional enigmas exert an enduring appeal, from the Sherlock Holmes adventures penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the best-selling novels of Patricia Cornwell, real-life mysteries are something else entirely.
The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes Pdf
Police officers and prosecutors hate mysteries, preferring their criminal cases tied up into neat, easily explained packages. Defense attorneys generally share that sentiment—unless a phantom suspect helps win an acquittal in court.
Friends and family of crime victims or missing persons crave nothing more than an absence of doubt. Archaeologists, psychologists, medical researchers, “intelligence” agents—all these and more devote their lives to the proposition that no riddle should remain unsolved.
And yet . . .
These plentiful exceptions notwithstanding, there is something in an unsolved mystery that appeals to many of us. Some go so far as to publicly hope that this or that classic case will never be solved, comparing mysterious cases to gaily wrapped presents forever unopened, never losing their appeal for armchair detectives.
When the package is opened, its contents revealed, no amount of excitement or pleasure can ward off the inevitable letdown. We want to see the gift, possess it . . . but perhaps not yet.
In the real world, as it happens, unsolved mysteries are distressingly common. The solution rate for U.S. murders has declined from 90-odd percent in the late 1950s to an average 70 percent (and less, in some regions) a half-century later.
Lesser crimes are even more likely to go unsolved. Fewer than half of all rapes are reported to authorities, much less “cleared” by arrest and conviction. Thousands of thefts go unsolved every year; the number unreported (or unnoticed, for that matter) is unknown.
Authorities cannot agree on the number of children who vanish yearly in America, much less on what has become of them. As for missing adults, barring obvious signs of foul play, no agency even attempts to keep track of the lost.
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