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The 25 Strangest Unsolved Crimes From Latin America

Latin America in the midst of a crime spike. . Some of the strangest unsolved crimes have happened here, and continue to baffle residents alongside readers from around the world. Some of thes  crimes are listed here today. Who knows – maybe you or someone you know will be the key to unlocking these cold cases, which are listed in no particular order

25. The Women of Ciudad Juarez

Photo Credit: Unsplash @TayaIv

For the past 25 years, hundreds of women have been murdered in the border town of Juarez, Mexico. The violent deaths tend to have a lot in common – they are often come from poor families and work in maquiladoras, as factory workers, in other sections of the informal economy, or are students. The women tend to look alike as well: slender, dark skin, with shoulder-length black hair. The women are often sexually assaulted and tortured before they are killed.

These horrifying murders have continued since 1993, taking the lives of over 400 women in counting. While drug trafficking has been suspected as a possible cause, it is still unclear who is behind these crimes. Three separate convictions surrounding a handful of the women have gone through Mexican courts, but none have ended the killing spree or lead to a concrete lead on who is killing the Women of Ciudad Juarez.

24. The Vanishing Professor

Credit: Unsplash @golfarisa

For over 40 years, students and co-workers alike have wondered what happened to a professor who disappeared one day at the University of the Andes in the city of Mérida, Venezuela. Eyewitnesses watched the professor wave to students and even stop to chat with a witness before walking across the parking lot and getting into his car. His car, however, never started or left the parking lot. When onlookers walked towards the car, it was empty. The victim has never been found, and according to the original article by journalist Segundo Peña, was never named publicly out of respect for his family. Authorities have reported no leads since the late 1970s when the professor went missing.

23. Missing Mathematician

Credit: Boris. Digital Image. http://boris.weisfeiler.com.

Soviet-born mathematician Boris Weisfeiler has been missing since 1985. A Jewish professor working at Pennsylvania State University in the United States, he had traveled to Chilé at Christmastime of 1984 to hike alone in the Andes.

Chile was under a military dictatorship headed by General Augusto Pinochet, but that wasn’t the only potential threat to Weisfeiler. According to Chilean government reports, Weisfeiler’s path would take him dangerously close to Colonia Dignidad, a quiet colony of German expatriates. The community contained known Nazi sympathizers and war criminals, having been run and founded by Nazi Paul Schäfer.

Boris Weisfeiler has never been found and would be 77 years old if he were alive today.

22. La Pistolera

Credit: Sharon. Digital Image. CrimeFeed. December 13, 2016.

No one knows what happened to Sharon Elizabeth Kinne – known in Mexico simply as La Pistolera.

On March 19, 1960, Kinne’s husband James was found shot in the head with the couple’s two-year-old daughter alive nearby. At the time Kinne told authorities that their daughter had accidentally shot him. She was off the hook until a few months later, when she was suspected of killing 23-year-old Patricia Jones, a local file clerk. Again, she got off, this time traveling to Mexico from the U.S.

In Mexico, Kinne shot and killed Francisco Parades Ordoñez and was convicted in October 1965. Sentenced to 10 years at an Ixtaplapan prison, Kinne escaped from prison during a blackout in 1969. More than 40 years after her escape, Kinne remains at large. She would be 78 years old today if alive and hold the longest outstanding felony warrants in American history.

21. Narco of Narcos

Credit: Rafael. Digital Image. Infobae. November 4, 2017.

Few wanted men can say they financed a highway with their philanthropic ventures, but Rafael Caro Quintero can. Known to many as the “Narco of Narcos,” Quintero is a founder of the now-defunct Guadalajara Cartel. Although Quintero served 28 years in a Mexican prison on multiple murder charges, he was released on August 9, 2013, after a state court concluded he had been tried improperly. American authorities insisted he be re-arrested and pressured a Mexican federal court to issue an arrest warrant again against him only days after his release. Since then, Quintero has been a wanted fugitive in Mexico, the United States, and several other countries.  He has even given interviews to media from undisclosed locations since his release, telling the public he no longer trafficks drugs and wants peace.

20. The Rainbow Maniac

Credit: Unsplash @simonwijers

The public still does not know for sure who took the lives of 13 gay men in Paturis Park in Carapicuíba, Brazil. Between February 2007 and March 2009, over a dozen young men between the ages of 20 and 40 were slaughtered in the popular lovers’ park. All but one of the men were shot in the head, with the exception dying of blows to the head. The last victim was shot 12 times.

Though police have had leads and even arrests, no single man has been convicted as the official Rainbow Maniac.

19. Disappearance of Priest

Credit: Carlos. Digital Image. Wikipedia

For nearly five years, residents of Ciudad Victoria have searched for the village priest, Carlos Ornelas Puga, who was kidnapped during evening mass at Los Cinco Señores parish. While witnesses immediately contacted authorities, no measures were taken for more than four days. When Tamaulipas authorities finally sent a convoy of state police officers and an anti-kidnapping team to investigate the case, they too were ambushed by gunmen on the way.  Every year on the anniversary of his kidnapping, locals march in his memory hoping to finally learn why he was taken and if he still alive.

18. The Basketball Player Who Never Returned

Photo Credit: Pinterest @vicentecarlo1

Angelo “Monchito” Cruz was a beloved Puerto Rican basketball player at the top of his career. He played professionally in the Baloncesto Superior Nacional when he was only 18, moving on to play for the Indios de Canóvanas for 13 seasons. He was well-known and retired from professional sports in 1993, working at the Yankee Stadium in New York afterward. In 1998, Cruz traveled back to Puerto Rico to visit friends and family – and never returned.

Over 20 years later, no motive or suspects have been determined, and his family and fans alike wonder where he might be.

17. War Criminal At Large

Photo Credit: Alchetron

Agustín Feced was a Major and Commander of the Argentine National Gendarmerie. He was fearsome and hated by the public after he worked in the Intelligence Service, having been known to take part in kidnappings, torture sessions, and even killings. Feced was accused of 270 crimes against humanity and imprisoned, but inconsistencies suggested he had been freed and was being protected by fellow military and law enforcement in Argentina.

Feced was declared dead by the Military Hospital in 1986, but multiple witnesses and reporters declared him alive and free in Paraguay in 1988. Research by professional journalist Carlos del Frade published in 2002 that Feced had a recorded domicile in Buenos Aires long after his alleged death. Further investigation into the official cemetery records shows someone else is buried in Feced’s plot, further obfuscating whether the war criminal was alive or dead.

Having been born in 1921, it is almost certain he is either dead or near death today, but it is unclear how or why he was released and went unpunished for his crimes against humanity.

16. Mexican Scientist Vanishes

Photo Credit: Twitter @jacobogrinsbergz

Jacobo Grinberg-Zylberbaum was a Mexican scientist and psychologist who had a passion for the unknown. He studied Mexican shamanism, eastern disciplines, meditation, and telepathy through the scientific method, ultimately writing over 50 books on those subjects before disappearing in December 1994.

There is no suspect or motive known for his disappearance, and over 20 years later it is unclear where he went or why.

15. Leftist Poet Lost

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Alaíde Foppa has been missing since 1980, but by now it is very likely she is dead.

The Guatemalan poet married leftist Alfonso Solórzano and was the founder of one of the first feminist publications, Fem, in the country. She was a professor in Mexico and lived in exile during the turbulent years of war in Central America. When her husband was suddenly struck and hit by a car in 1980, she returned to Guatemala to renew her passport and visit family. Rumor had it she was interested in working with human rights activists and guerillas there as well. On her way to buy flowers in Guatemala City, she disappeared along with her driver and was never seen or heard from again.

14. Actress and Filmmaker Missing Since 1974

Photo Credit: Villa Grimaldi, Corporacíon Parque por la Paz

You’d think it was a match made in heaven – a pretty young actress and her boyfriend, a cinematographer. Carmen Bueno and Jorge Müller Silva were only in their 20s when they were detained in Chile. They were both known leftist activists and communists who dreamt of a more compassionate leadership in Latin America. The couple was allegedly tortured and imprisoned by the far-right fascist Chilean party, and while 56 men have been tried and convicted in their disappearance, no one yet knows what became of the couple or where they might have been taken.

13. Fear and Loathing in Mazatlán

Hunter S. Thompson and Oscar Acosta (right). Photo Credit: Reddit @Gilesalford

A friend to beloved American author Hunter S. Thompson, Oscar “Zeta” Acosta Fierro is said to have been the inspiration behind Dr.Gonzo’s character in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Acosta was an attorney, novelist, and activist in the Chicano movement known for defending members of the Brown Berets and other residents of East L.A.

In May 1974, Acosta disappeared while traveling in Mazatlán, Mexico. While some speculate the American FBI may have targeted him for his leftist politics in the U.S., others wonder if Acosta suffered a nervous breakdown or even overdosed on his trip. He has been missing for over 40 years.

12. Key Witness Still Missing

Photo Credit: Cedoc

Decades ago, during the Argentian Dirty War, Jorge Julio López worked as a bricklayer in Buenos Aires. His life, however, was from simple, and he was kidnapped and tortured during the National Reorganization Process, between 1976 and 1979.

But that would not be the last time López would go missing.

In 2006, nearly thirty years after the end of the military government, López was a key witness against Michael Etchecolatz, a former senior police officer. Just hours before López was slated to give his final testimony on September 18, 2006, he disappeared. His testimony still helped sentence Etchecolatz to life imprisonment, but he has not been seen or heard of since.

11. Chef to Drug Lord Disappears

Photo Credit: Youtube @siempre r

Chef Federico Tobares was excited to start his new career in Mexico when he began his move there from Argentina in 2009.  Tobares worked at Hotelito Desconocido and Nudoki, a hotel and restaurant both owned by Gerardo González Valencia, a suspected drug lord of Los Cuinis, a branch of the Jaslisco New Generation Cartel. Mexican investigators suspect that Tobares was kidnapped by cartel members after having potentially seen or overheard something suspicious at work. He had been close to his boss and had even been invited one of his private islands to cater a celebration.

Tobares has not been seen since July 5, 2013, when he drove a car for his boss from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara.

10. Human Traffickers take Young Woman

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The last people to see Marita Verón claim they saw her being pushed into a red car by three men in April 2003. Verón, who was only 23 at the time, would become a symbol for the fight against human trafficking in Argentina and throughout Latin America.

In her absence, Verón’s mother Susana Trimarco has spearheaded an organization to rescue kidnapped girls in Argentina and has helped release hundreds of survivors. To this day, Trimarco continues to search for any information on her daughter’s whereabouts.

9. The Legend of Malanga

African Cuban dancers, 1933. Photo Credit: Museo Nacional de Havana, Cuba

One of Cuba’s legendary rumba dancers, known by his stage name Malanga, still doesn’t have a clear cause of death. Malanga, born José Rosario Oviedo, was born to a formerly enslaved mother and practiced Santería. His surreal dancing brought him international attention during the early 20th century, and he was widely regarded as one of the most talented performers of his era. In the summer of 1927, Malanga died in unexplained circumstances. A popular account by a close friend Crescencio Hernández “Chencho” suggests that Malanga was murdered by broken glass hidden in his food at a dancing contest in Ceballos, Cuba. However, with no death certificate and no known grave, the legend of Malanga lives on along with the mystery of his passing.

8. Lead Mask Case

Photo Credit: Reddit @LordOfAnnoyence

In August 1966, a young man flying a kite in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil came upon two bodies. The gruesome find only got weirder from there. Authorities found the bodies wore formal suits, lead eye masks, and waterproof coats. There was no sign of a struggle and no blunt trauma to the victims. Authorities found a water bottle and a packet of wet towels nearby, along with a cryptic note that read: 16:30 be at the specified location. 18:30 ingest capsules, after the effect protect metals await signal mask.

The two men were identified as Manoel Pereira da Cruz and Miguel José Viana, two electronic technicians from a nearby town.

The cause and manner of the mens’ deaths are still unknown.

7. Death of the Dutch Hikers

The Last Photos Taken Of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, Photo Credit: Selfie taken by victims

Lisanne Froon and Kristin Kremers were two Dutch students hiking in Panama when they went missing on April 1, 2014. Though parts of their bodies have been found months later, it is not clear how the hikers died or what killed them. Authorities later found a backpack left behind by the victims, discovering both had made emergency calls that did not go through due to lack of reception. Strange photos were left of their mobile phones, including the back of Kremers’s head with what appears to be blood by her temple.

It is still unknown what caused the women to lose their lives.

6. Who Killed Alberto Nisman?

Protestors marching in memory of Alberto Nisman. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

On Monday, January 19, 2015, authorities discovered the body of Argentinian lawyer Alberto Nisman in his home. He was found shot in the head on his apartment floor in Buenos Aires. The Argentinian government concluded that Nisman was murdered. Nisman’s work as a lawyer who specialized in international terrorism may have been a motive, though it is unclear who would have done so. On February 18, 2015, an estimated 400,000 people marched in silence in Buenos Aires in torrential rains to mourn Nisman’s death and demand the killer be found.

5. Moctezuma II

Oil painting portrait of Moctezuma II by Antonio Rodriguez. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Ever since 1492, the American continent has not been the same. The story of Moctezuma II highlights the battles that started even during the early periods of Spanish contact. bThe Aztec emperor oversaw the empire grow to its greatest size, but descriptions of his death vary depending on who the source is. Unsurprisingly, Spanish accounts claimed Moctezuma was killed by his own people and do not place the blame on themselves. According to Aztec accounts, however, the Emperor was killed by the Spanish during the early stages of their conquest of what would later be Mexico. Hernán Cortés and his men fought the natives brutally, and are largely suspected of having killed Moctezuma. To this day, it is unclear how exactly he died, and all we know is that he was likely killed in 1520.

4. Mummy Juanita

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Not all of Latin America’s unsolved crimes occurred after European contact, and the mummy of an Incan girl who lived in the 1400s proves just that. Her remains were found on Mount Ampato in southern Peru by a pair of climbers and anthropologists in 1995. Mummified and frozen, Juanita shed new questions into the life of Incan society. It is believed she was killed as an offering to Incan gods sometime between 1450 and 1480 when she was between 12 and 15 years old. It is clear she was finished off by blunt trauma to the head, and that she was otherwise healthy and had eaten vegetables six to eight hours before her death.

It is suspected she came from a noble Cuzco family due to her brightly colored wrappings and alpaca shawl fastened with silver. Though Juanita is one of the best-preserved mummies from the Incan empire, we may never know exactly why she died or who killed her.

3.  The Assassination of Señor Óscar Romero

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

One of Latin America’s most beloved priests, Óscar Romero’s murder is said to have sparked mass support for the leftists and protestors during the Salvadoran Civil War. Romero was the Archbishop of El Salvador and was leading Mass when he was fatally shot in the heart in 1980. The country erupted in mourning, but that was not to be the end of his followers’ suffering. During his funeral in Plaza Barrios in San Salvador, a bomb exploded and shots were fired into the crowd. The ensuing panic killed more people. Despite over 30 deaths at the time, mourners continued to line up to pay their respects as Romero was buried.

Though no one has officially ever been convicted for Romero’s death or the subsequent bombing, it is widely believed that the assassins were members of the Salvadoran government’s death squads. Romero has since been canonized by the Catholic Church.

2. Cerro Maravilla Murders

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

One of the deadliest political actions in recent Puerto Rico’s history, locals call these murders the worst political cover-up in the history of the island. On July 25, 1978, two pro-independence activists were murdered by Puerto Rican police. The killings started a number of protests and political events that eventually lead to the arrest and conviction of the 10 officers but also lead many islanders to believe high-ranking local government officials were also involved and conspiring to cover up the incident.

To this day, the fight for Puerto Rican independence cites the Cerro Maravilla Murders as one of many reasons to seek self-determination as a country.

1. Las Cruces Bowling Alley Massacre

Photo of the crime scene. Photo Credit: Las Cruces Police Department

On the morning of February 10, 1990, workers a the Las Cruces Bowling Alley were preparing to open up when two men came in through an unlocked door and demanded money from the business’s safe at gunpoint. After taking the cash, the men shot each victim several times. Meanwhile, the alley’s mechanic wandered in with his two daughters to the gruesome scene. The mechanic and his daughters were shot and killed before the attackers lit the business’s office on fire. Miraculously the owner’s daughter survived and was conscious enough to call for help, saving the life of her mother and the alley’s cook, Ida Holguin. The owner, Stephanie C. Senac, would die in 1999 due to complications from her injuries.

To this day the family does not know who committed the massacre which left seven people shot and four dead.

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