Special #1

And now I am finally going to post about an episode.  This is Special #1, which originally aired on January 20, 1987…a little over thirty years ago!  If you are watching along on Amazon, you won’t find this episode there!  This is almost certainly due to CM/FilmRise not wanting to pay royalties to the estate of Perry Mason.

By and large these early specials are a lot like the UM that we came to know and love, but they’re not exactly the same.  For one thing, there are only four segments rather than the usual five.

The opening disclaimer and title are different.  The changes in the disclaimer are probably not noticeable to the casual fan, but when you have the damn thing memorized….

I like the opening animation in these specials, too.  Behold, my new GIF-making skills:

And the biggest difference of all…


I think Burr is actually a pretty good host. He doesn’t have that same presence as Stack, but he is a much better narrator that Malden or Farina.  Given a little time, I think he would have made a fine host had he stayed on.  No, he’s no Bob Stack, but who is?

Another difference is that there are no cards with the segment types at the beginning of each story (Unexplained Death, Missing Persons, etc). The other big difference is that there is no hotline yet!  If you have a tip for the authorities, you’ll just have to contact “your local law enforcement agency.”

This recording of Special 1 is actually a rebroadcast, as evidenced by the fact that one of the stories has an update.

Our first case is a good choice: that of Don Kemp. In many ways his story seems very simple and cut-and-dried, but there are just enough weird twists along the way to keep you guessing. Don apparently abandoned his car in the middle of the road in middle-of-nowhere Wyoming, all of his belongings left strewn across the road.

Authorities searched for Don, but he was not initially located, however evidence that was found suggested he may have deliberately hidden from searchers.  His remains were eventually found not too far from where the car was left…but not until over three years after the vehicle was discovered.

Early nominee for funny name:

But this one makes me giggle too:

Don seemed to have mental/emotional issues, and authorities believe that this led him to leave his vehicle, wander out into the wilderness, hide out from search parties, and perish in a blizzard a couple of days later. Don’s mother, however, believes that he was a victim of foul play.

The freakiest part of this story is the phone calls. A friend of Don’s received messages on her answering machine (an answering machine in 1982? was she rich?  we didn’t get an answering machine until about 1994 and that was a hand-me-down from a relative) that she claims were from Don. The calls were traced to a trailer in Casper where Don’s mother is convinced that he was held against his will by a maniac who made a bunch of calls to phone sex hotlines.  Okaaaay, moving on.

***

 

Up next is the so-called Jai Alai murders. Three murders in three cities that are tied to the sport of Jai Alai. These killings have since been tied to James “Whitey” Bulger, who himself was profiled on UM in 1996.
Bulger’s criminal career, including these murders, is profiled in the movie Black Mass. Johnny Depp stars as Bulger. It’s…okay. The most notable thing about the movie is how unrecognizable they made Johnny Depp look. 😛

A weird thing in this segment: In Burr’s on-screen narration at the beginning of the segment it’s clear that part of what he says has been dubbed over. He says “According to local police,” but he originally said something else.

***

Our next story is a favorite of mine and is one that’s sure to get your blood boiling.  According to the 3rd Anniversary Special this was actually the first segment to be filmed.  Pat Mealbach was adopted as a baby, and presents very compelling evidence that she is actually the daughter (possibly the illegitimate daughter) of automobile magnate John Dodge.  Here is an article written by Pat and her daughter Sharon that will tell you everything you could possibly hope to know about her story.  It is very long but well worth reading.

This story never made it to Lifetime, but Robert Stack interviewed Pat on the 3rd Anniversary show (also never made it to Lifetime for obvious reasons).  In the interview Pat reveals that she has finally been allowed to view her adoption papers and will be doing so shortly.  Stack promises that the UM cameras will be there.  But this was the last update.

This story always captivated me.  When I first got online in the mid-90s, I tried to find more information on this story but found nothing.  I wrote to UM asking if there were any updates, and about six months later they wrote back, saying that Pat’s adoption papers showed that she was not a Dodge.

But to quote Pat’s article:

The birth certificate was under glass, and was in very bad condition. It had visible eraser marks all over it. The date of my birth erased, and another day, and year entered in its place. It was a mess. You could actually see other letters below what had been written over. (please look at the document, even a photo of the document shows the underwriting). The name of the mother listed the name as “Emma Jane Nelson”, but you could see with the naked eye other letters under the name. It listed the name of a Doctor, that was at the birth, this name also had been visibly altered. My given name was filled in as “Remilda May Bornalive”.

You can view the actual document on the page.  Isn’t it amazing what money can buy?  Even more head-explodingly, Pat submitted to DNA testing, but she was never allowed to receive the results of the test!  Pat died in 2009, so sadly we will probably never know the truth.

***

Our final segment is about bank robbers Terry Lee Conner and Joseph Dougherty.  This story is scary…two robbers invade the home of the bank president and hold the whole family hostage overnight, then escort the family to the bank in the morning to rob it.  The whole bit with the robbers leaving the family alone in the living room with the loaded gun to test whether they would go for the gun sounds like something out of a movie.

And what do you know, this story was adapted into a movie: the 2001 Bruce Willis/Billy Bob Thornton/Cate Blanchett movie Bandits.  What little I’ve seen is pretty bad.  I don’t have cable, and this is one of those movies that pops up occasionally on those free subchannels that play crappy movies all day long.

LOL moment: the little piece of paper stuck on top of the Pepsi logo on the bank’s soda machine. It looks like a post-it note. 😛

This recording comes complete with an UPDATE! that Connor has been captured…and another UPDATE! that Daugherty was found two weeks later. From here Burr segues into a quick profile of the other eight fugitives on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, some of whom UM would profile later on (Webb, Gerena, Koury).

After this, Burr gives a very nice closing monologue, followed by closing credits.  The credits music here is what I call the “update” music because in later seasons it always played when they updated cases:

Interesting tidbit: the first special is not a Cosgrove Meurer Production but rather a A Dave Bell Associates Production.  This is old!

So there is our first episode!  This should NOT have taken me almost four months to post, but I am incredibly lazy and have too many hobbies. The screencaps are what take the most time. Hopefully it won’t take four more months to tackle Special 2.

KILLER BEES


I just thought I’d take a minute to wax nostalgic about In Search Of, the 70s show hosted by Leonard Nimoy, aka the only show that comes close in nostalgia/rewatch value to UM for me. The original name of this blog was going to be “in search of unsolved mysteries” so I could talk about both shows and not stray off topic, but meh. 😛

If you are a UM fan and have never watched ISO, you are missing out.  The show ran from 1977 to 1982 and covered all sorts of topics.  Some of them are interesting or historical, while others are total garbage.  However, every crackpot theory, no matter how weird, is treated with the same amount of possible legitimacy and respect as everything else.

ISO aired in reruns throughout the 90s on A&E and the History channel, which is where I watched it, and I found it fascinating and a little scary.  Watching it now as an adult with a well-seasoned bullshit filter makes the viewing experience that much more fun.  Some of the 40-year-old predictions of the future are highly entertaining as well.  My favorite episode, the one about killer bees, is a good example of this.

Where UM looks somewhat dated in regard to hair, clothing, cars etc, ISO looks and feels extremely dated, and that adds to the kitsch for me. We love to poke at Nimoy’s pornstache and hideous wardrobe.  The show’s master tapes have apparently not been well-cared-for over the years and no remastering was done for the DVD release, making the overall quality somewhat akin to the old 70s filmstrips I grew up watching at school in the 90s.

But the music?  I unironically love the lovely synthy music.  I think it’s the only category where ISO outdoes UM.  Someone else liked it, too, enough to produce a “soundtrack” of disco remixes from the show.

There are certain episodes/moments that are not easy to watch and would never fly on TV today.  The faith healing episode, for instance, is one of several that features footage of animals being wounded for the purposes of scientific testing that to me seems downright cruel.  I usually skip this one when watching.

The subject matter isn’t exactly the same, but there were several instances where UM and ISO covered the same stories.  Some notable examples include Anastasia (the Anastasia episode is great as it features interviews with Anna Anderson and her husband, who were extremely eccentric), Amelia Earhardt, DB Cooper, Fredeick Valentich, POW Charles Shelton, and the John Wilkes Booth conspiracy theory.  They also covered phenomena such as the Nazca lines, Ogopogo, King Tut’s curse, Bigfoot, and more.

But, seriously, if you’ve never seen this show and you like UM, give it a try.  The whole series is easily found on YouTube, and you can buy the whole series in a boxed set of buggy, relatively inexpensive DVDs.

 

Another Update

Hooray, another solved case!  This was one of the handful of Does UM covered.  She is known in various places online as Andrea Doe, Huntington Beach Jane Doe, or on the UM Wiki as 1990 Jane Doe.  Here is her composite sketch as featured on UM:

The poor girl was struck and killed while trying to cross a busy highway and has been unidentified for almost 30 years.  Notably the UM segment mentioned among her belongings a hotel key (hotel unknown) and a ring made of human hair.

This case has been discussed extensively on Websleuths and Reddit.  It is believed that the doe gave her name as Andrea.  Folks have come forward who believe they knew her but never learned or can’t recall her real name or past.  Carl K. from Websleuths created a new composite:

Anyway, news broke yesterday that Andrea has been identified, but no other information has been released at this time.  Hopefully we get to learn a little more about this girl.  There was some speculation that she was from a runaway from a well-to-do family (thus the extensive dental work but clothes from Goodwill), but for now it’s impossible to say.  It seems likely that she was never reported missing.

It is worth mentioning that Andrea’s case was profiled in the same segment as that of Dana Point Jane Doe, who was identified in 2015 as Holly Glynn.  The third case featured in this segment, the mysterious Sumter County Does, is the only one still unsolved of the three.

I wish UM had covered more doe cases.  They have become one of my favorite types of cases to read about and research.

Update: Authorities have since identified her as Andrea Kuiper, originally from Fairfax, Virginia.  As you can see, the composites didn’t do her much justice.

Update Time!

I am so lazy. 🙁 I have neglected this blog for almost three months! Nobody even reads this blog, yet I still feel badly about it. 😛

Anyway, some news:

The first four seasons of UM have been released on Amazon Prime.  The segments are still edited and/or rearranged.  Many have not shown up yet at all.  Folks on the UM board have detailed lists of which segments are and are not included in this release.

For those of us who do not have Prime, the FilmRise app has the first three seasons available for free viewing (with commercials).  I have watched a bunch of these episodes and have come to the conclusion that while this is really cool to have for free and some rare segments do pop up here and there, nothing replaces my bootlegs. 😛

Cosgrove and Meurer did an AMA on r/UnresolvedMysteries and it was the lame, puff-piece type of affair we have come to expect from CMP.  Meh.  By far the most interesting tidbit to come to light:

Someone sent their mother’s lung to us in the mail.  He believed his mother had been murdered, and he wanted us to send the lung out for testing.

Also interesting: the fact that one of the fugitives profiled on the show was present for the filming of his UM segment, but they don’t say who this was.  No one on the crew had seen the man’s photograph yet.

They also mention (not by name) that the Gulf Breeze UFO story was a hoax and that they were duped, LOL.

And now for updates to UM cases!

Amazingly, a person of interest has been named in the murder of Jennifer Odom, whose story was profiled in the psychic Nancy Myer segment.  Plus another woman has come forward stating that this guy attempted to abduct her around the same time that Jennifer was killed.

News broke yesterday that cult leader, child abuser, slave driver, fashion designer, and all-around creep Tony Alamo died in prison.  My boyfriend read the news headline aloud to me, then asked, “where have I heard that name before?” I started describing and quoting his UM segment (“you sorry weasel!”) and it all came back to him.  I am pretty sure this segment won’t make it to the new Prime version and that is such a shame.  It’s a classic.

Dude hasn’t aged well, has he?

Stack is back B)

Soooo the long-awaited Season 1 of the original Stack UM is up for viewing on Amazon.  I still don’t have prime so I ain’t watchin, but it’s there!  If you are a mega internet super nerd, be aware of two things:

  1.  Some of the episodes are chopped up, meaning that segments have been moved around and/or removed.  Some of the removed segments make sense as they were never reaired for various reasons on Lifetime (legal troubles, the Gulf Breeze hoax mess, and so on), but some seem arbitrary.  Maybe they’ll show up later on?
  2. Some of the segments have been edited.  Namely, I guess anything involving references to the hotline?  I haven’t watched yet so I can’t say how obvious the cuts are.  But if you are one who is bothered by edited/rearranged episodes (hell, we watched em on Lifetime for years) the good folks on the UM Board are compiling an episode guide for the streaming episodes.

But, yeah, nerd stuff aside, the Stack episodes are on their way back!  Yay!

I made this and it made me laugh for ten straight minutes.  It’s 3 AM.

Meanwhile, I am working on the post for Special #1 and should have it up by the end of the week!!!

Um…yay?

This just in: You can now download/stream PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED Farina segments from Amazon. They show up as “Season 5.”

Like…who asked for this? 😛 And why have the powers that be hung onto these episodes/segments/whatever for so long? I mean, this version of the show is almost 10 years old and Dennis Farina has been dead for almost three years. The Farina UM is on at least a couple times a day on Escape and I think it’s still on Lifetime (their 8 AM death slot), so why not add these “lost” episodes to the rest to provide a little more variety?

I know Dennis Farina gets shit on a lot because his version of the show isn’t very good, but he seems like he was actually a pretty cool dude. Behold:

Though, after watching this, maybe whoever wrote Farina’s copy for UM should have slipped some f-words in here and there to make his narration a little less wooden. 😛

Also:

This was apparently one of his last roles. Back when Family Guy was semi-watchable. I guess. Anyway, this aired on TV long after he died. My boyfriend told me about it the next day. He still quotes it sometimes. One to go out on for sure, right?

oh snap

Nobody reads this blog (I haven’t even started writing yet…well, I started writing about Special #1 but accidentally deleted it),  but here’s some big news in Unsolved Mysteryland: UM is now available streaming on Amazon!  Right now it’s just the Farina episodes, but we’re being told that Stack episodes are coming next year and the cases are going to be updated.

I can attest that CM is updating the Farina shows that are airing on Escape. Farina says, “there have been recent developments in this case” or something to that effect, and a voiceover provides the update. I would imagine the new updates would be presented in a similar manner.

Supposedly we’re going to be getting everything UM under the sun, but I will believe this when I see it.  I already have a decent collection of recordings and will probably use this just to supplement my collection with what I’m missing and episodes with watermarks. 😛  All I really, really want is Special #4 and Final Appeal, but I also am missing most (all?) of the CBS stuff (no big loss) and the Lifetime segments (some of these are good).

Really, I’m hoping that this will not be exclusive to Amazon because I must be the only person left in the world that doesn’t have Prime.  FilmRise, the company licensing the show, also has streaming rights to shows like Forensic Files, FBI Files, and New Detectives.  All three of these shows are available for free on YouTube.  They’re also on Netflix.  I’m hoping UM will be as widely available as the shows, but we’ll see what happens!

Welcome

Hi!

This blog is a project I have been planning for several months now and am just starting to work on.

I have been watching Unsolved Mysteries since the late 80s and consider myself a pretty big fan.  A few months ago I broke down and bought the big 150-episode bootleg set that you can buy online.  I am having fun watching these immaculate-quality NBC recordings and thought I’d make a blog about it. 😛

Untitled

I also have most of the Crystaldawn discs that have made the rounds online, most of the First Look DVD sets, and some home recordings.

Anyway, my aim here is not really to discuss the cases in depth, as there are lots of places online where you can do that now.  I want to talk more about the show itself: the bad acting, the creepy reenactments, the freaky composite sketches, interesting facts, etc.  I want to talk about the rare segments that never made it to Lifetime and haven’t been seen in 25 years.  I reserve the right to post beefcake photos of Robert Stack.

hey bb
hey bb

I’m going to do my best to go in chronological order with the episodes, but this may prove difficult as I know at least a few of the dates the seller assigned to episodes are wrong.  It’ll all work out, though.

Thanks for visiting, and I hope this blog doesn’t suck. 😛