The Most Popular Cold Case, Ranked

Choose the cold case you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on May 13, 2024 06:34
Cold cases have always captured public attention, drawing on our natural curiosity and desire for justice. Over the years, these mysteries, unsolved and often forgotten by the media, linger in the shadows of our society. Providing a space to rank these cases allows for renewed interest and potential insights, which might contribute to breakthroughs in long-stagnant investigations. By participating in the ranking of the most popular cold case, you help highlight those cases that resonate most with the public. This not only aids in focusing attention on specific unsolved mysteries but also fosters a community of users who share your fascination with true crime. Your votes have the power to bring forgotten cases back into the public eye, possibly aiding in their resolution.

What Is the Most Popular Cold Case?

  1. 1
    The Black Dahlia
    Santa Barbara police · Public domain
    The brutal murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947 remains one of the most infamous cold cases in American history. The case has inspired countless books, movies, and TV shows, and the killer has never been identified.
    The Black Dahlia is a notorious unsolved murder case that took place in Los Angeles in 1947. The victim, Elizabeth Short, was a 22-year-old aspiring actress, whose dismembered body was found brutally mutilated in a vacant lot. The case gained significant media attention and became one of the most famous unsolved murders in the history of American crime.
    • Case Type: Murder
    • Date: January 15, 1947
    • Location: Los Angeles, California, United States
    • Victim: Elizabeth Short
    • Age: 22
    The Black Dahlia in other rankings
  2. 2
    The murder of the 6-year-old beauty queen in 1996 still captivates the public's attention. Despite years of investigation and speculation, no one has been charged with the crime.
    The JonBenét Ramsey case is one of the most famous unsolved cold cases in the United States. It revolves around the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, a six-year-old American beauty queen, who was found dead in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado, on December 26, 1996. The case received significant media attention due to the high-profile nature of the Ramsey family and the unsolved circumstances surrounding the crime.
    • Date: December 26, 1996
    • Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States
    • Victim: JonBenét Ramsey (6-year-old)
    • Crime Scene: Basement of the Ramsey family's home
    • Cause of Death: Strangulation and head injury
  3. 3
    The serial killer who terrorized northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s sent taunting letters to the police and newspapers, claiming to have killed dozens of people. The identity of the killer remains unknown.
    The Zodiac Killer is one of the most notorious unsolved serial murder cases in American history. The killer operated in Northern California during the late 1960s and early 1970s, targeting victims in the San Francisco Bay Area. The case became infamous due to the cryptic ciphers, letters, and taunting messages the killer sent to media outlets and law enforcement agencies.
    • Activity Period: Late 1960s to early 1970s
    • Location: Northern California, primarily San Francisco Bay Area
    • Victims: Confirmed 5 kills, claimed more than 30
    • Communication: Sent cryptic ciphers, letters, and taunting messages to media and authorities
    • Ciphers: Z340 cipher remains unsolved
  4. 4
    The unidentified serial killer who murdered at least five women in London's East End in 1888 is one of the most notorious cold cases in history. The case has spawned numerous theories and suspects, but the killer's identity remains a mystery.
    Jack the Ripper is one of the most notorious and mysterious unsolved cases in criminal history. It refers to a series of gruesome murders that occurred in the Whitechapel district of London from August to November 1888. The killer, known as Jack the Ripper, targeted female prostitutes and brutally mutilated their bodies, leaving the police and public in a state of fear and perplexity.
    • Modus Operandi: Jack the Ripper targeted vulnerable female street prostitutes.
    • Number of Victims: Generally accepted as 5, but possibly more.
    • Murder Locations: All murders occurred in the Whitechapel district of London.
    • Method of Killing: Throat slashing followed by abdominal mutilation.
    • Motive: The true motive behind the killings has never been conclusively determined.
    Jack the Ripper in other rankings
  5. 5
    The body of an unidentified boy was found in a cardboard box in Philadelphia in 1957. Despite decades of investigation, the boy's identity and killer remain unknown.
    The Boy in the Box, also known as America's Unknown Child, is one of the most popular cold cases in American history. It refers to the unsolved murder mystery of an unidentified young boy whose body was discovered in a cardboard box in Philadelphia in 1957.
    • Age: Approximately 4 to 6 years old
    • Gender: Male
    • Physical Description: Blond hair, blue eyes, fair complexion
    • Clothing: He was found naked with only a blanket and a blue cap near the crime scene
    • Condition: The body showed signs of severe abuse and malnutrition
  6. 6
    The Axeman of New Orleans
    Not credited · Public domain
    The serial killer who terrorized New Orleans in 1918 and 1919 claimed to spare anyone who played jazz music on the night of his next attack. The killer was never caught.
    The Axeman of New Orleans is an infamous cold case that refers to a series of brutal murders that occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, between 1918 and 1919. The killer, known as the Axeman, targeted victims primarily in their homes, and used an axe or a hatchet to carry out the gruesome acts. The case remains unsolved, and the true identity of the Axeman remains unknown.
    • Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
    • Timeframe: 1918-1919
    • Method of Killing: Axe or hatchet
    • Victim Profile: Primarily targeted victims in their homes
    • Number of Victims: At least six
  7. 7
    In 1945, the Sodder family's home in West Virginia caught fire, and five of their children disappeared. Despite a massive investigation, no trace of the children was ever found.
    The Sodder Children is a highly publicized cold case that revolves around the disappearance of five children from the Sodder family home on Christmas Eve in 1945. The case remains unsolved and is often referred to as one of the most perplexing mysteries in American history.
    • Date: December 24, 1945
    • Location: Fayetteville, West Virginia, United States
    • Children: Five Sodder children - Maurice (14), Martha (12), Louis (9), Jennie (8), and Betty (5)
    • Possible Fire: A fire broke out in the Sodder family home late at night, destroying the house
    • Surviving Family Members: George (father), Jennie (mother), and four of their children escaped the fire
  8. 8
    The Hinterkaifeck Murders
    Andreas Keller · Copyrighted free use
    A family of six was brutally murdered on a farm in Bavaria in 1922. The killer was never identified, and the case remains one of Germany's most famous unsolved crimes.
    The Hinterkaifeck Murders is one of the most perplexing and enigmatic cold cases in history. It refers to the unsolved murder of six individuals on a remote farmstead in Germany. The victims, consisting of the Gruber family and their maid, were brutally killed with a mattock on the night of March 31, 1922. The unusual circumstances surrounding the case have captivated the imaginations of true crime enthusiasts and investigators for nearly a century.
    • Date: March 31, 1922
    • Location: Hinterkaifeck farmstead, Germany
    • Victims: Andreas Gruber, Cäzilia Gruber, their daughter Viktoria Gabriel, her children, Cäzilia and Josef, and the maid Maria Baumgartner
    • Cause of Death: Blunt force trauma from a mattock
    • Unusual Circumstances: No known motive, multiple potential suspects, evidence of someone living in the house after the murders, eerie happenings reported by the family before the incident
  9. 9
    The body of an unidentified woman was found in a remote valley in Norway in 1970. The woman's identity and killer remain a mystery, despite years of investigation.
    The Isdal Woman is one of Norway's most famous cold cases, referring to an unidentified woman who was found dead in Isdalen Valley near Bergen, Norway, in 1970. The circumstances surrounding her death aroused suspicion and intrigue, leading to numerous investigations and speculations over the years.
    • Date of Discovery: November 29, 1970
    • Location: Isdalen Valley, Bergen, Norway
    • Cause of Death: Poisoning, officially categorized as a suicide
    • Burnt Possessions: The woman's belongings, including labels and identifying marks, had been meticulously removed or burnt
    • False Identities: The woman used multiple fake identities while traveling and staying in hotels
  10. 10
    The Villisca Axe Murders
    Luigi Zanasi · CC BY-SA 2.0 ca
    Eight people, including six children, were brutally murdered with an axe in Villisca, Iowa, in 1912. The killer was never identified, and the case remains unsolved.
    The Villisca Axe Murders is a highly infamous cold case that refers to the unsolved murders of eight people, including six children, in Villisca, Iowa, on June 10, 1912. The victims, Josiah B. Moore, his wife Sarah, their four children, and two neighbor children who were spending the night, were all bludgeoned to death with an axe.
    • Date: June 10, 1912
    • Location: Villisca, Iowa, United States
    • Number of Victims: 8
    • Victims: Josiah B. Moore, Sarah Moore, Herman Moore, Katherine Moore, Boyd Moore, Paul Moore, Lena Stillinger, Ina Stillinger
    • Murder Weapon: Axe

Missing your favorite cold case?


Ranking factors for popular cold case

  1. Media Coverage
    The extent of media coverage a cold case has received can significantly impact its popularity. Widespread news reports, documentaries, and articles can draw public attention and keep the case in the spotlight.
  2. Notoriety of the Victim(s) or Suspect(s)
    Cases involving famous or high-profile individuals are more likely to gain public attention. Similarly, particularly heinous crimes or notorious suspects can also lead to increased interest in a cold case.
  3. Unsolved Mysteries and Puzzling Evidence
    Cases with baffling evidence, multiple theories, or unanswered questions are more likely to capture public imagination and keep people interested in the case.
  4. Online Communities and Social Media
    Online forums and communities devoted to true crime can significantly impact the popularity of a cold case. Cases with a dedicated internet following are more likely to remain in the public consciousness.
  5. Length of Time Unsolved
    The longer a case remains unsolved, the more it can pique public interest. Longstanding cold cases may gain notoriety simply due to the persistent mystery surrounding them.
  6. Potential for Resolution
    Cases with a possibility of being solved, due to advancements in forensic technology or new investigative leads, may be ranked higher in popularity as they continue to garner public interest and speculation.
  7. Geographic Scope
    A cold case's popularity can also be influenced by the region in which it occurred. Cases that received extensive local or regional attention may be ranked higher in popularity within that area.
  8. Cultural Impact
    Some cold cases have significant cultural or historical implications, which can contribute to their popularity. For example, cases tied to infamous serial killers, unsolved disappearances, or notorious kidnappings often garner widespread interest due to their broader societal impact.
  9. Personal Connections
    Cases that involve a large number of people, either as victims or witnesses, can also gain popularity as more individuals are personally impacted by and invested in the case.
  10. Inclusion in Books, Films, or Television Series
    Cold cases featured in books, movies, or TV shows can often gain increased attention and popularity. These adaptations can introduce a wider audience to the case and create renewed interest in its resolution.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular cold case. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or case is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 176 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each case once every 24 hours. The rank of each case is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular cold case

Cold cases are those unsolved crimes that continue to baffle investigators and haunt families for years, even decades. They often involve serious crimes such as murders, disappearances, and kidnappings. While some cold cases garner more attention than others, the fact remains that they are all equally tragic and require justice to be served. With the rise of true crime podcasts, documentaries, and TV shows, the public's interest in cold cases has grown significantly. The most popular cold cases often have a combination of factors that make them particularly intriguing, such as the involvement of high-profile individuals, mysterious clues, and unusual circumstances. Despite the passage of time, many still hope that one day these cases will be solved and the families of the victims can finally find closure.

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