6 Cases That Were Solved After Unsolved Mysteries Aired Episodes on Them
If you're in the mood for an unshakable case of the creeps, dig into the original Unsolved Mysteries series. The second volume of Netflix's reboot of the classic show features six intriguing new episodes, but it still has a ways to go to match up to the sheer volume of its predecessor, a prolific entity with nearly 600 episodes in total. From the original show, many, many cases, which touch on everything from true crime to the paranormal, have been resolved. In fact, you can find an entire archive devoted to them.
Unsolved Mysteries unsurprisingly received countless tips from engaged viewers, and, over the years, cases have definitely been solved because of these leads. Ahead, we've compiled a list of some of the cases that viewers helped close.
Georgia Tann's Children
Episode Air Date: Dec. 13, 1989
Starting in the 1920s, Georgia Tann operated a trafficking ring for babies from the Tennessee Children's Home Society. She stole around 5,000 children and sold them to families who could afford to pay her. Tann made about $1 million (about $11 million today) in these horrifying transactions with the help of corrupt police officers, doctors, lawyers, and social workers. She preyed on poor families who couldn't fight her back, kidnapping children from areas such as playgrounds and churches. As investigators were looking into her shady dealings in 1950, she soon passed away.
There's not really a case to be closed here, but the episode did help people learn the truth about their families. After the Unsolved Mysteries episode on Tann aired, over 600 people phoned in, believing that they were victims. At least 50 cases were solved.
Ryan Stallings's Mysterious Death
Episode air date: May 8, 1991
In 1989, Patricia Stallings was wrongfully accused of murdering her infant son Ryan with antifreeze when lab results showed that he had a high level of ethylene glycol in his blood. While in prison, Stallings gave birth to her son David, who was put in foster care while she awaited trial. David was diagnosed with methylmalonic acidemia (MMA), a rare genetic disorder that can mimic antifreeze poisoning. Stallings's lawyer believed Ryan may have had the same condition, but didn't have any evidence. Thus, the judge forbade him from presenting this theory to the jury. In 1991, Stallings was convicted of first-degree murder and assault.
After watching the Unsolved Mysteries episode on Stallings, biochemistry professor William S. Sly decided to do additional tests on Ryan's blood and confirmed that Ryan had died from MMA, not poisoning. In the summer of 1991, Stallings was released, her charges dismissed, and her son David returned to her.
Eleanor Platt Wozniak and John Elias's Long-Lost Child
Episode air date: Feb. 12, 1992
Eleanor Platt Wozniak and John Elias had a baby out of wedlock. While they planned on getting married, Wozniak's father forced her to put her daughter, Rose Marie, up for adoption in 1954 because Elias was Black. Wozniak and Elias eventually reconnected later in life. They went on Unsolved Mysteries hoping that they would get a lead as to where their daughter was.
Rose Marie was now Sally Lou Briggs Riley, age 37. Riley's friend saw the broadcast and shared it with her because he knew Riley was adopted and the names on the program sounded familiar. (Riley's adoptive mother had shared her birth name and her biological mother's name.) Riley reached out to Wozniak and Elias and learned that she really was their daughter.
Episode air date: Feb. 24, 1993
When a man, nicknamed Gabby, moved away, he gave his friend Newell Sessions some of his possessions, including a trunk with a lock. Six years down the line, Sessions opened the trunk and found a skeleton inside. Gabby claimed he bought the trunk from a garage sale and had never opened it. As if the skeleton wasn't creepy enough, it also had a bullet lodged in the skull.
The skeleton was eventually identified as Joseph Mulvaney. After watching a reairing of the episode, Mulvaney's granddaughter, Shelley Statler, got through to investigators in 2017 when she noticed that the sketches on the show resembled her grandfather, whose disappearance had been a part of her family history. As she got older, she became more interested in the case. Statler believed that in 1960, her grandfather had been shot and put in the trunk. The DNA checked out with Statler's mother, and Mulvaney's remains have now been laid to rest by his family. It turned out that Gabby, John David Morris, was her uncle and Mulvaney's stepson. Morris later died by suicide, and it remains unclear how involved he was in Mulvaney's death.
Belinda Lin's Amnesia
Episode air date: Aug. 23, 1995
In February 1995, a woman who called herself Gigi was found wandering in the streets of New Orleans. She spent six weeks at a hospital and four months at a psychiatric clinic, where her condition perplexed doctors. Gigi said that she had amnesia, and her story became the subject of an Unsolved Mysteries episode.
Shortly after the installation, Nancy Lawrence of Newcastle, DE, called in and identified Gigi as Belinda Lin, her former 31-year-old coworker who had been a medical secretary. Dental records confirmed Lin's identity. Her parents learned that Lin had disappeared, but they did not notify any authorities. Lin had been diagnosed with schizophrenia since age 18 and was not taking antipsychotic medication for several years.
Daphne Boyden's Murder and Child Abduction
Episode air date: Nov. 22, 1996
Daphne Boyden, 17, had just given birth to her son Le-Zhan weeks before she was killed and set on fire. Le-Zhan was gone after the tragic incident. Neighbors reported seeing two girls leave with a bundle, but it would be six years until Le-Zhan reunited with his family.
In 2002, the police in Vallejo, CA, received an anonymous tip on the case after a rebroadcast of the episode on Boyden, leading them to investigate 22-year-old Latasha Brown, who had been raising a 6-year-old boy in Vallejo. Shortly after she shot his mother with the help of a friend, Brown had obtained a fake birth certificate for him.