A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

12 Most Bizarre Unsolved Mysteries of the Year

2018 had more than its fair share of bizarre and disturbing events—but these may be the most mysterious of all.

1 / 12
Old wheelchair ,Close-up Empty wheelchair in front of the Outpatient Department of Hospital,Close-up Empty wheelchair concept,a black and silver wheel chair on white background.
Aekkachai Boontawong/Shutterstock

A mysterious polio-like illness that strikes children

A strange paralyzing illness is on the rise this year in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have been at least 252 cases reported from at least 46 states. It starts with mild cold-like symptoms, but it progresses to weakness and, eventually, paralysis. The CDC is referring to the illness as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), but no one’s sure what causes it or how to prevent or treat it—yet. Find out about these weird diseases you never knew existed.

2 / 12
Archaeological excavation with old antique skull still half buried in the ground.

The bones in the basement

On October 30, a skeleton was discovered more than six feet beneath the basement of a house in Lake Grove, on Long Island, New York. The homeowner, Michael Carroll, believes the bones, which show blunt force trauma to the skull, belong to his father, George, who was in his twenties when he disappeared in the early 1960s. The exact date of George’s disappearance isn’t known, which only adds to the mystery; so does the fact that George’s wife, Dorothy, never reported her husband missing and led her children to believe George had abandoned the family.

3 / 12
Arctic Icebergs Greenland in the arctic sea. You can easily see that iceberg is over the water surface, and below the water surface. Sometimes unbelievable that 90% of an iceberg is under water

The Dutchman who disappeared in the Arctic

On August 20, a leading Dutch cybersecurity expert, Arjen Kamphuis, checked out of his hotel in Norway, telling friends he was flying back to Amsterdam. He was never seen again. In September, his ID card was pulled from nearby Arctic waters. Yet Kamphuis’s phones had been turned on more than 1,000 miles away in a small northern Norwegian town on August 30. Because Kamphius was an outspoken advocate for online privacy, some speculate he was assassinated. Others believe he’s become a spy.

4 / 12
A monk seal rests and digests ocean bounty on a beach in Kauai, Hawaii.
Dan Schreiber/Shutterstock

Seals with eels up their nostrils

Recently, scientists have been observing Hawaiian monk seals with live eels hanging out of their noses, according to Live Science. Not only do the seals not look happy, conservationists are alarmed because this species of seal is among the most endangered on the planet. Charles Littnan, a monk seal conservation biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, posits it could have something to do with the seals’ feeding habits. The good news is that so far every seal found with an eel in its nostril has survived. These are the 14 most baffling mysteries of the universe.

5 / 12
Closeup of man hand sitting and using smartphone in the evening
Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

The disappearance of Meng Hongwei

Meng Hongwei, the head of Interpol (the international network of police forces from 190 countries) and Vice Minister of Public Security in China, disappeared in September after sending his wife an alarming text message that included a knife emoji and instructions to wait for his call. At least that’s what his wife says. Chinese officials claim they heard from him in October when he supposedly resigned his post amid corruption allegations. Meng’s wife, herself, who is now in the custody of Chinese authorities, believes her husband is being politically persecuted by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

6 / 12
Seatbelt, Safety belt

What happened in the Hart family’s SUV?

In March, an SUV driven by Jennifer Hartley, which was also carrying her wife and their six adopted children, plunged off a cliff in California. The entire family perished, and no one knows what happened or why—only that the crash appeared intentional. The SUV had come to a complete stop before accelerating over the cliff. No one was wearing a seatbelt, and Jennifer was mildly intoxicated. The Harts appeared to be a happy family. A deeper delve into allegations of abuse and neglect is ongoing.

7 / 12
Seismograph records an earthquake on the sheet of measuring paper. Seismological device for measuring earthquakes. Seismograph machine needle drawing a red line on graph paper measuring activity.

Why the earth didn’t move under our feet

On November 11, low-intensity seismic waves were detected around the world, from Africa to Chile to New Zealand to Canada to Hawaii, according to National Geographic. No one knows what caused the waves, which were the type that would normally be observed at the tail end of a significant earthquake. The theories so far: Was it a meteor strike? A submarine volcano eruption? An ancient sea monster rising from the deep? The investigation continues. Here are more of the biggest unsolved mysteries about Planet Earth.

8 / 12
Elegant open briefcase filled with dollar packs on a wooden desktop in the dark, top view

Death of a billionaire and his wife

Barry and Honey Sherman, a Canadian billionaire businessman and his wife, were found dead in the basement of their 12,000-square-foot home. They were at the side of their indoor pool, and both had been apparently strangled by the men’s leather belts looped around their necks. The case was investigated for most of 2018 as a murder-suicide, but that has since been ruled out. Some are claiming the Toronto police bungled the investigation; all Toronto officials will say is that the deaths are “suspicious.”

9 / 12
meteor shower 2013 Sierra Nevada Mountains California USA

The hoofbeats of the fourth horseman?

In April, video footage from around the world captured strange, “apocalyptic sounds” (some sounded almost like trumpets) coming from the sky. Snopes.com confirms that the sounds were heard—and have been heard from as early as 2012—but the origin is unknown. Although they likely have an “earthly origin,” they could have come from an astronomic event such as a meteor passing by, or they could all have originated from a glitch on the someone’s smartphone. Check out the strangest unsolved mysteries from every U.S. state.

10 / 12
Emergency and urgency, 911 dialed on smartphone screen. Shallow depth of field.
denk creative/Shutterstock

Where is Jayme Closs?

Wisconsin teenager Jayme Closs has been missing since October. What makes the case unusual is that she disappeared within minutes of her parents having been shot to death. Law enforcement came to the Closs home following what CNN calls a “cryptic 911 call.” No weapon was found, and no motive has been discerned. Although investigators have received more than 800 tips, they have no plausible leads in the murders or Jayme’s disappearance. They currently believe Jayme is in danger, but that she is still alive. Read up on 6 missing person mysteries that were miraculously solved.

11 / 12
12 Most Bizarre Unsolved Mysteries of the Year
Herwin Bahar/Shutterstock

What actually happened to Jamal Khashoggi?

On October 2, journalist and Saudi Arabian dissident Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain documents related to his upcoming wedding. He was never seen again. Saudi officials have since admitted Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, but the circumstances remain unclear. At various times, it’s been claimed as an accident, a kidnapping gone wrong, or a premeditated assassination. Saudi officials claim it was the result of a rogue operation by individuals who exceeded their authority. The latest lead is a series of recently discovered WhatsApp messages that may shed light on what happened.

12 / 12
Silhouette of paramotor flying at orange sunset

Is this man D.B. Cooper?

This mystery actually begins on Thanksgiving Eve in 1971. A man calling himself Dan Cooper—the “D.B.” was an error made by a news outlet—successfully hijacked a commercial airplane and then parachuted into the night. He’s never been caught, and the FBI investigation was closed in 2016, but that hasn’t stopped independent investigators like Thomas Colbert. In June, he and his team named Vietnam veteran Robert Rackstraw—a person of interest in the original case—as Cooper based on coded messages sent to the media in the months after the hijacking. The FBI does not appear to be taking Colbert’s findings seriously. Next, here are 16 more of the strangest unsolved mysteries of all time.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.