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Crime News Cold Cases

5 'Unsolved Mysteries' Episodes That Helped Close Cold Cases

Learn more about five of the most interesting "Unsolved Mysteries" episodes, which helped authorities solve cold cases involving murder or missing people.

By Cydney Contreras
5 Infamous Cold Cases of Murder

"Unsolved Mysteries" is bringing renewed attention to even more puzzling cases.

The show returns to Netflix with three new episodes on Oct. 18, followed by another three on Oct. 25. The last of the nine episodes will drop on Nov. 1. The coming episodes will highlight multiple disappearances and unsolved deaths, as well as alien abductions.

Notably, the cases discussed in "Death in a Vegas Motel" and "Body in the Bay" were brought to the attention of "Unsolved Mysteries" producers by friends and family of the victims. "Unsolved Mysteries" has helped close more than 1,000 cases since its inception, which is part of the reason why loved ones ask the show to investigate their stories. 

"We’re just hoping there’s those viewers who have been sitting on a tip or an instinct who can come forward on these cases to see if we can get them solved,” show creator and executive producer Terry Dunn Meurer recently told Oxygen.com. “That’s the mission of the series and that’s what we hope will happen.”

RELATED: ‘This Was No Accident’: Alonzo Brooks’ Mysterious 2004 Death Ruled A Homicide, A Year After ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Featured Case

To learn about five episodes that helped solve crimes, keep reading...

The Death Of Ryan Stalling 

In season three of “Unsolved Mysteries,” witnesses spoke about the death of infant Ryan Stallings, whose mother, Patricia, brought him to the hospital after the 2-week-old began showing symptoms of an illness. Tests conducted by doctors found that there were high levels of ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze, in his bloodstream.  

Following the findings, hospital officials alerted Child Protective Services (CPS), fearing that the infant had been poisoned. Their suspicions intensified when, according to Northwestern’s Blum Legal Clinic, Patricia visited Ryan in the hospital a few weeks into his stay. During the visit, which was supervised, Ryan’s condition worsened, and he died the next day. 

Shortly after Ryan’s death, Patricia gave birth to another baby boy, whom she and her husband, David, named David Jr. He was removed from Patricia’s custody — and yet, he, too, fell ill. What’s more, his blood test results showed that he had high levels of ethylene glycol in his system, according to the St. Louis Dispatch, after which the child was diagnosed with methylamalonic academia (MMA).  

Patricia was convicted of Ryan’s murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Patricia maintained her innocence throughout, and when “Unsolved Mysteries” highlighted the case, a St. Louis University professor took a second look at Ryan’s blood tests. He discovered that Ryan also had MMA, resulting in Patricia’s exoneration.

Unsolved Mysteries season 3 image

Fugitives Jerry Strickland And Melissa “Missy” Munday 

Jerry Strickland and Melissa “Missy” Munday were brought to justice thanks to an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries.”  

The pair, who first met when Missy was just 15 years old, had run away from their hometown in Maryland and settled down in Michigan, where they met Elmer DeBoer, an oil company courier. Strickland and Munday had a son by then and were struggling financially, so, in 1987, they decided to rob DeBoer of the cash he picked up from the gas stations in town, according to authorities. On May 11, 1987, they shot DeBoer twice in the head and made off with $10,000 cash. 

Following the robbery and murder, Strickland and Munday relocated to Washington state and were still living there when “Unsolved Mysteries” aired a February 1988 episode highlighting DeBoer’s death. Multiple locals noticed the couple’s likeness to the fugitives and subsequently reported them to the police, who said they received 15 to 20 calls about the pair. 

While Strickland and Munday initially went into hiding, they later surrendered to authorities, and Munday agreed to testify against Strickland in exchange for the kidnapping and murder charges being dropped. Strickland was ultimately found guilty of kidnapping, murder, and robbery, according to the Associated Press.  

Munday returned to Maryland with her two sons. 

The Disappearance Of Craig Williamson 

Christine Reinhard appeared on the sixth season of “Unsolved Mysteries” in the hopes of locating her missing husband, Craig Williamson. According to Christine, her husband had left for a business trip to Florida with the intention of buying fish in August 1993, but he never returned. 

Following his disappearance, police recovered Williamson’s wallet at an El Paso, Texas market. Two weeks after that, investigators learned that Williamson had rented a car in Colorado Springs, Colo., which had been driven across the Mexican border to Juarez.  

Two years went by before Reinhard received a phone call from a man claiming to be Williamson, who was living in Key West, Florida.  

He had been working as a diver for Bob Ming, who told Buffalo News in 1995, “I thought he was a very good employee, but toward the end he had a bit of trouble with his head... He said he had been beat up and was lost in the desert for two weeks." 

Investigators said they weren’t sure they believed Williamson’s account, citing the fisherman’s debt as a possible motive for disappearing. However, Sheriff's Capt. Lou Smit told Buffalo News, “There's no crime here. People can just disappear and cause a lot of work for a lot of people if they want to." 

Fugitive Margo Freshwater 

In 2002, “Unsolved Mysteries” highlighted the disappearance of fugitive Margo Freshwater, who escaped from a Tennessee State Prison after being convicted for first-degree murder in 1970. 

At the time, a teenaged Margo had been dating lawyer Glenn Nash, who was being investigated by his local bar association for misconduct. The pair embarked on a crime spree together, allegedly murdering Hillman Robbins Sr. in 1966. While Nash was declared incompetent and unable to stand trial, according to The Memphis Flyer, Margo was convicted of murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison.  

Following her escape, she took on the name Tonya Hudkins, married, and had four children. Police eventually caught up to her in 2002, arresting her in front of her husband and kids, who were shocked to learn her true identity.

“This is a tough situation. But what happened doesn’t make any difference. She is still our mother,” Tim Hudkins told the Memphis Flyer in 2002. 

Freshwater was eventually released from prison at the age of 63 in 2011, having entered a “best interest” guilty plea, allowing her to maintain her innocence in the death of Robbins.  

“It's a new and wonderful day,” Freshwater said upon her release, according to the Columbus Dispatch

Fugitive Geraldine Michael 

This stranger than fiction story about Geraldine “Liz” Carmichael was highlighted in a 1989 episode of “Unsolved Mysteries.” After the episode aired in April, a viewer submitted a tip suggesting that Carmichael, born Jerry Dean Michael in 1927, was living in Texas under the alias Katheryn Elizabeth Johnson.  

Carmichael was first pursued by police in 1961, when she fled following her arrest on counterfeiting charges in Los Angeles, California. She went on to fake a serious car accident, leading authorities to believe Jerry Dean Michael was dead.  

She then got a job working at Twentieth Century Motor Car Company, where she claimed to have invented the eco-friendly car The Dale. But police began investigating Carmichael in 1974, after the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles noticed that the company had claimed to be manufacturing and selling the eco-friendly vehicle without proper permits, according to the New York Times. She then moved operations to Texas, but it was too late. Investigators in California discovered that Carmichael had sold vehicles before they were even manufactured. 

Carmichael defended herself in trial and was convicted on charges of grand theft, fraud, and corporate security violations. However, before she could be sentenced in 1980, she disappeared. When police searched her Dallas, Texas home, they uncovered evidence indicating that she had previously lived as Jerry Dean Michael, who was wanted in California for counterfeiting.  

Almost a decade later, the “Unsolved Mysteries” episode led police to Carmichael’s new home in — wait for it — Dale, Texas, and she was arrested. She ultimately served 18 months in a male prison, despite her identifying as a woman. 

Carmichael’s life story was chronicled in the HBO documentary “The Lady and the Dale,” which debuted almost 15 years after she died of cancer. 

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