In our current age of social media, people willingly reveal all facets of their lives. It almost seems odd if you don’t know something about someone. So, whenever we hear of a person who went the extra mile to hide something or simply lived through an unexplained event, we cannot help but crave answers.
Through fact or fiction, cinema has been fantastic at tackling these real-life mysteries and filling in the blanks with clever storytelling to provide some sort of closure. In that spirit, let’s take a look at 10 mysterious people whose stories would make incredible movies.
10 Ray Gricar
Imagine that a district attorney mysteriously goes missing under shady circumstances right after making a final phone call to his live-in girlfriend to specifically let her know of his whereabouts. The next day, his car and cell phone are found abandoned in the parking lot of an antiques mall in a nearby town.
A few months later, his laptop and hard drive are found in a river. The girlfriend discovers that his last activity on their home computer consisted of searches on how to destroy hard drives. No leads, no clues, the man is just gone. Does that sound like a movie you would watch?
On April 15, 2005, Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar suddenly vanished exactly as described. Fifteen years later, nobody seems to be able to explain what happened to him.
Some say he staged his disappearance to start a new life. Others say he committed suicide, a theory vigorously denied by Gricar’s former live-in girlfriend. Gricar was declared legally dead in July 2011, but the case is still unsolved. We will probably never know what truly happened to Ray Gricar.
9 Lori Erica Ruff
Imagine that a 42-year-old woman named Lori Erica Ruff commits suicide by shooting herself in her in-laws’ driveway on Christmas Eve 2010 after months of strange behavior that led her husband to leave her. After her funeral, her husband opens a lockbox in their old family home and is faced with a shocking revelation: Before she was Lori Erica Ruff, his wife was apparently named Becky Sue Turner.
Naturally, the police immediately begin to look into her past. They discover that Becky Turner (whose birth certificate was held by Lori) had died in a house fire at age two. So, who was this woman? And where did she come from?
Although the case of Lori Erica Ruff’s true identity was eventually solved six years after her suicide, her past is still shrouded in mystery. To this day, most of her life before she assumed the identity of Becky Turner in 1988 is composed of giant question marks. We actually know very little about this mysterious woman.
8 The Westfield Watcher
Imagine that a married couple acquires their dream house in Westfield, New Jersey. The house needs a bit of work, but they plan on moving in with their three young children after the renovations. Seems perfect, right?
Well, things quickly take a dark turn. A few days before the move, the husband finds a strange letter in the mail. First, the letter welcomes the family to the neighborhood. Then it warns them that the house is being watched, that it has been surveilled for generations, and that the family has no idea what lies within the walls of their new home.
The letter is signed by “The Watcher,” and it is only the beginning of an incredibly creepy story.
The Westfield Watcher terrorized the owners of the house starting in 2014. He sent a number of letters that threatened men, women, and mostly children, referring to them as “young blood.” The Watcher also described the ominous fates which might befall anyone living in the house.
Chaos and dread plagued the neighborhood. Investigations, accusations, and even lawsuits flew around in a continuous effort to find The Watcher. The owners of the house never moved in and finally sold it at a loss in 2019.
To this day, The Watcher’s identity has never been discovered. That said, this story is a detective flick begging to be made.
In 2016, the horror film The Watcher followed a similar story line. A mysterious person called “The Raven” also wrote letters to terrorize the fictional owners of a new house. Then, in late 2018, Netflix acquired film adaptation rights to a New York Magazine article about the real story.
7 Bobby Dunbar
Imagine that it’s 1912. Four-year-old Bobby Dunbar suddenly goes missing while on a family trip to Swayze Lake in Louisiana. Panic ensues, and a search begins to find the child. Nothing comes of it. However, eight months later, Bobby is miraculously discovered in Mississippi under the care of one William Walters.
The boy returns home, and life continues. But here comes the twist: No one is certain that the boy is actually Bobby Dunbar. Yet the parents keep him and claim with confidence that their son has returned.
A lot of strange details surround the case of Bobby Dunbar. Conflicting reports from newspapers make the facts foggy, rendering it impossible to know for sure how the events went down.
Thanks to the son of the rescued “Bobby Dunbar,” it was proven through DNA tests in 2004 that the rescued boy was not really Bobby Dunbar. Instead, he was Bruce Anderson, the son of a strange woman who had claimed the boy was hers after he was taken from William Walters.
This raises the question: If the rescued “Bobby Dunbar” was really Bruce Anderson, what happened to the real Bobby Dunbar?
6 The Eight-Day Bride
Imagine that a young Canadian couple gets married and decides to go on a honeymoon . . . with the husband’s best friend. Unusual, admittedly. Although the first part of the trip goes well, things turn very strange when they head to a cottage for the next few days.
On the eighth day of the honeymoon, the best friend comes back from a sunbathing escapade to find the cottage burning and the husband with a bad head injury. Later that night, the wife is found dead 240 kilometers (150 mi) away from the cottage. Floating in 3.5 centimeters (9 in) of river water, her body mysteriously shows no burns or signs of violence.
Doesn’t this sound like the beginning of a juicy episode of CSI?
Nobody has ever been able to fully explain what happened to Christina Mocon on May 20, 1947. How did the fire start? Who hit her husband, Jack, on the head? Why did her behavior suddenly change? Why did Ronald, Jack’s best friend, join them on the honeymoon? How did Christina appear 240 kilometers (150 mi) away from the cottage? And, most of all, how did she die?
The details of the case are so vague that even Jack and Ronald’s statements were eventually ruled out. We will never truly know what went down. But let’s be honest: We would all watch that movie . . . right?
5 Timmothy Pitzen
Imagine that a six-year-old boy gets picked up by his mom at an Aurora, Illinois, school only 30 minutes after starting class in the morning. They leave the building together—and vanish. Three days later, the boy’s mother is found alone in a hotel room. She is dead from an apparent suicide.
The only thing she left behind is an eerie suicide note: “Timmothy is okay. He is with people who will care for him. You will never find him.” There is no indication to whom the note is addressed or what it means.
Timmothy Pitzen was never found. He has been missing since the day he left the school with his mother, Amy, in May 2011. Many theories about what happened to Amy were suggested, but no conclusive answers have been found. Why did she kill herself? Who was she hiding Timmothy from? Where is Timmothy? And who is taking care of him?
4 The Pollock Twins
Imagine that two sisters, 11-year-old Joanna and six-year-old Jacqueline, tragically die in a car accident in May 1957. This disaster plunges their parents into dark times. But the girls’ mother, Florence, miraculously gets pregnant early the following year and gives birth to twin girls, Gillian and Jennifer.
Everything seems perfect until a few years later when Florence and her husband quickly start to notice strange things. Out of nowhere, the girls begin to ask for toys that once belonged to their late sisters. The twins had never seen these toys and didn’t even know they existed.
Gillian and Jennifer also begin to remember places they have never visited but their deceased sisters knew. And, to put icing on the cake, the twins start to act nervous (even scared) around moving cars.
It didn’t take long for John and Florence Pollock to consider that their twin girls could be their first daughters reincarnated. After a few years, the strange occurrences stopped happening. The twins went on to live perfectly ordinary lives.
Even today, however, their story is a source of fascination for people around the world. Countless books have been written about them. A movie about the Pollock twins would be a thrilling ride, and we hope it happens sooner rather than later.
3 The Man From Taured
Imagine that a seemingly ordinary, middle-aged man arrives at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on what he claims is a typical business trip. Nothing strange at first glance. Then things get weird.
When questioned by airport personnel, the man casually mentions that he is from Taured, a country between France and Spain. His passport, visa stamps, and other personal identification confirm this information.
Customs officials quickly determine that the country of Taured does not exist and never has. Neither does the company where the man claims to work. Furthermore, the hotel where he claims to have a reservation and the Tokyo company where he was supposed to do business have never heard of him.
This story took place in July 1954. The mysterious man was eventually detained and placed in a hotel room under surveillance by immigration officials. His personal belongings were kept in the airport’s security facility. By the next morning, the man and his items had vanished, and he was never heard from again.
To this day, nobody knows who he was. In recent years, a book and a film were made about the mysterious traveler and his adventure that day in 1954. But it is hard to deny that the possibilities for a blockbuster feature film are endless.
2 The Isdal Woman
Imagine that the remains of a woman are discovered in Norway by a hiker and his daughters. The body of the unidentified woman is mostly burned, and strangely enough, her personal belongings are placed right next to her. The labels of her clothes have been removed.
Later, the autopsy reveals 50–70 sleeping pills in her body and soot in her lungs, meaning that she was burned alive. The police eventually get their hands on a suitcase that belonged to the woman.
They discover that she had multiple identities and eight different passports. She also had a number of wigs, a pair of nonprescription glasses, and a list of handwritten codes that turned out to be dates and abbreviations for her destinations. Intrigued yet?
The Isdal Woman was never identified after her body was discovered in November 1970. Although the case is still open as of this writing, it seems like more questions are being raised as time goes on. What happened to her? Was she murdered? Did she commit suicide? Who was she? Was she a spy? And why does it seem like the police were pushed to cover up the case?
In detail, this story might be too much for a single movie. However, Variety reported in June 2019 that a TV series based on the Isdal Woman is currently in development and set to start shooting in fall 2020.
1 Elisa Lam
Imagine that a naked corpse is found in the water tank of a hotel in Los Angeles. It is quickly identified as Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old student from Vancouver who was reported missing a couple of weeks earlier.
The last images of Elisa are in a bizarre video from a surveillance camera in the hotel’s elevator. She appears to be hiding from something and utterly terrified. Unsuccessfully, she tries to close the elevator’s doors before she finally gives up and leaves. Nobody knows how she ended up in the water tank.
Would you watch that movie?
The Cecil Hotel, where Elisa was found on February 19, 2013, is notorious for its abundance of creepy shenanigans. But the case of Elisa Lam is by far the strangest. The viral video of her last moments in the elevator is haunting, mostly because we never get to see from whom or what she is hiding,
Although a documentary about Elisa Lam is currently being crowdfunded, the possibility of a feature-length thriller depicting the events leading up to that day in the elevator is quite exciting.
About The Author: Lucas writes about music and cinema.