Sandy Drummond Has Scotland Perplexed

Even a TV documentary couldn’t help.

One of the more frustrating cold cases in Scotland’s long history has been deemed so “unsolvable,” that even a television documentary series that highlighted this case, didn’t generate enough new leads to break the case open.

Nearly 15 years after the documentary aired, and more than 25 years since the act took place, the murder of 33-year-old Sandy Drummond is as mysterious as ever.

Drummond, a laborer, was found dead in June 1991, on a farm road just outside his cottage home in the village of Boorhills in Scotland, and investigators have reviewed the case several times over the years with no successful prosecution of a suspect.

There was a claim made by an investigative reporter in the UK a few years ago that he had seen some investigative notes about the case and noted that the police did have a suspect in mind, but by the time they went to him to question and/or arrest him, the person was already dead – also murdered, it turned out. That event changed the direction of the investigation, in that the murder suggested that there may have been accomplices to the murder, or that this suspect was an accomplice of the actual murderer.

Drummond was found strangled, oddly just a few days after he reportedly withdrew all his money from the bank and quit his job. There is no evidence of this being a robbery or mugging gone bad but the timeline was certainly curious.

In 2003, a TV documentary series was created to highlight some of the most prominent unsolved cases in Scotland, and the Drummond case was one that had an entire episode of the series devoted to it. While some leads were generated from airing the details of the case, nothing concrete came of them, and it faded back into obscurity.

But then, about 10 years later, as forensics have evolved at an ever-increasing pace, Fife Police in Scotland began a full review of the case, taking another look at the evidence and facts. With that scrutiny, they were hopeful to use more advanced forensics – such as being able to establish DNA from small skin or blood samples even 20 years old and somewhat decomposed –

The investigative reporter stated that in his research of the facts, the forensics seemed to indicate that Drummond was killed by some “ju-jitsu stranglehold,” claiming the the injuries suffered were consistent with some kind of martial-arts move. These usually do not use hands, which means forensic evidence like hand prints, fingerprints and dirt or blood under the nails would be reasonably ineffective according to the website.

As we are writing about this being an unsolved mystery even 10 years after a review, probably tells you that the Sandy Drummond murder remains high on the list of the most mysterious unsolved crimes currently on the books, one of the bigger mysteries in recent history – now moving ahead of Al Capone’s vault. So maybe the Fife Police should finally send Geraldo Rivera a thank- you card.

Too bad that won’t solve the mystery that is so mysterious, even massive public awareness didn’t solve it.

The Serial Killer Sergei Ryakhovsky

At least nineteen people died at the hands of a skilled serial killer in Moscow between 1988 and 1993. His name was Sergei Ryakhovsky, and he would eventually be caught, tried, and convicted for his crimes. He was slammed with a life sentence for the string of murders, and died of untreated tuberculosis at the age of 42 while he was serving his time. Some would say it wasn’t nearly enough of a punishment for what he did, and others would agree.

He was likely addicted to the adrenaline rush provided by sexual encounters, himself claiming “an irresistible desire for intimacy with a woman.” Age was apparently just a number for Ryakhovsky, as he repeatedly tried to rape elderly women before he was sent to prison for four years after a “hooliganism” conviction. It’s sort of a light charge for attempted rape, as hooliganism is more of a catch-all in Russia and other parts of the world for immoral behavior that most don’t approve of. While technically accurate, hooliganism is not a stiff charge.

Ryakhovsky discovered his love for killing in 1988, when he murdered a gay man on the outskirts of Moscow. He went on a quick killing spree that same year, killing three more gay men. When asked why, he suggested that he wanted to cleanse society of homosexual abominations and prostitutes.

It turned out that it wasn’t so important who they were.

He murdered men, elderly women, and teenagers before he was caught–and they’re just the ones we know about for certain. The murders became progressively more brutal as time went on. Most of his killing was done by stabbing, but he also liked to strangle victims to death with just his bare hands. Sometimes he used a bit of rope. He mutilated many of their bodies, sometimes performing sexual acts on the corpses to gratify himself. Mostly the mutilation involved the genitalia of the victims.

He started mutilating victims in other ways toward the end of his run. One elderly man was decapitated and had his leg cut off the next day. An elderly woman was eviscerated with some sort of firework or other pyrotechnic device. His second-to-last victim was only sixteen years old, but Ryakhovsky wasn’t any nicer to children. He hanged the young boy, then disemboweled and decapitated him.

When detectives were examining one of the crime scenes, they came upon a shack. Inside the shack was an unused noose. They decided that the killer must be readying another victim for hanging, and so they lay in wait. When Ryakhovsky stumbled into the shack, they arrested him. When asked why he did not resist, he suggested that he was afraid of their weapons. That’s the mind of a killer for you.

While he initially confessed to the murders and explained in grisly detail, he was eventually diagnosed with a biological malfunction that led to his necrophiliac impulses. Even so, he was deemed competent to stand trial, and went on to do so. He discovered his recent diagnosis at this time, and stopped cooperating with the legal system. He recanted his previous confessions, but at this point it didn’t matter.

He was to die by firing squad after being sentenced to death in 1995, but Russia began the process of ending the death penalty before it was carried out. Instead, this cold-blooded killer received life in prison.

Scotland’s Overtoun Bridge And A Rash Of Dog Suicides

You probably wouldn’t think that man’s best friend was ever feeling so depressed that he might want to take the big plunge, but dog suicide is apparently a thing–whether they intentionally trip and fall or not. In West Dunbartonshire, Scotland lies a quaint little bridge designed by H.E. Milner. It’s popular not because of its beautiful architecture, though. The bridge has, for whatever reason, led to a number of dogs falling to their deaths. The international media, naturally, has taken a keen liking to this bridge and the phenomenon of dog suicide it seemingly perpetuates.

You might come to think that dozens of poor pooches are leaping to their graves every year, but the number is closer to one annually. Still terrible, but things could always be much worse. While that isn’t so high when you compare the number of human jumpers at other famous bridges across the globe, it’s still worth noting when considering a somewhat less depressed animal–like the canine.

After jumping, there is a fifty-foot drop to the waterfalls below. Researchers have since put a lot of thought into discovering why exactly these dogs are so attracted to the grim reaper and have found some interest factual tidbits that may or may not be related. First, dogs almost always jump from the same side of the bridge. Second, they usually do it when the weather is clear (granted, maybe people just tend to be more likely to take their dogs for a walk when it’s nice out–correlation does not necessarily equal causation, but you’ve probably heard that all before). Third, the dogs all have long snouts.

Animal experts aren’t doing much better when trying to find a reasonable explanation. David Sexton decided to focus on the factors of sight, sound, and smell when investigating but decided to go with the latter factor when mice and mink were discovered underneath the bridge. He eventually concluded that the dogs were probably attracted to mink urine, but a resident hunter says no. According to him, there are no mink under the bridge and never have been. How they were discovered when they’ve never been there is a question for later. In any case, it does seem likely that the dogs who have leaped to their deaths from the edge of the bridge likely smelled something they liked. Dogs see with their noses, and when you like what you see, you go for it. Right?

Sadly, strangeness surrounding the Overtoun bridge isn’t limited to dog suicide. In 1994, a man tossed his only two-week-old son off the bridge because, hey, that’s what you do when you think your just-born kid is the devil personified. The son was killed, but when the man tried to commit suicide the same way, he failed, later trying again in a more old-fashioned wrist slashing. He survived.

Eventually, a sign was put up warning dog owners of the potential dangers of the wonderfully aromatic Overtoun bridge. Please, if you visit the famous bridge, do keep your dogs leashed. If you think your children are possessed by Satan, on the other hand, you should probably just take them to church and say a quick prayer.

What Is The Dyatlov Incident?

Nine hikers died on February 2, 1959 in the Ural Mountains–but no one knows why. After a lengthy investigation, researchers on the case concluded only that an “unknown compelling force” led to their deaths. The details of the case only get weirder from there on out, but first and foremost, know this: these weren’t first-timers. The nine hikers were experienced, and they knew what they were doing.

So what did the scene look like when the nine hikers were found?

First, they did not all succumb to death in the same way. While most died of hypothermia, three died of physical wounds, and those wounds only lead to more questions. One of the dead hikers had cranial damage. Another had no obvious trauma to the skull, but suffered brain damage. A third female hiker seemed to have had her eyes and tongue ripped out. One had a crushed chest. On top of these strange injuries, one must consider the circumstances under which they fled from the relative comfort of their tents. It was snowing heavily at the time, and temperatures were well below zero. Experienced hikers would have known to stay indoors.

Did a yeti attack take place?

It sounds absurd, but some theorize an animal attack may be the most likely explanation. Others believe that the military had a part in the nine deaths. There are other possibilities. A fierce avalanche could explain some circumstances of the scene, while infrasound-induced panic could explain others. No matter what one concludes, the mystery simply cannot be neatly unpacked and wrapped with only the evidence we have right now.

Here’s what we do know.

When they fled the tent, they were either in socks or barefoot. Investigators believe the tent had been cut open from the inside, although when they arrived on the scene the tent was partly on the ground and covered from snowfall. That’s not too surprising since the attack likely happened before February 12, when the group expected to be back, and rescuers only descended on the camp on February 26.

Two bodies were found at the edge of a nearby forest, in only their underwear. Before they succumbed to nature’s wrath, they had managed to keep a small fire going. Three more bodies were discovered in between the camp and the forest, at varying intervals. The other four were not located for months. Nature had dumped four meters of snow over their bodies. They had managed to make it 75 meters farther than the first two who died at the edge of the forest.

Take it for what it’s worth, but a different set of hikers fifty kilometers away saw orange spheres in the skies where the Dyatlov incident took place. These same spheres were reported being seen nearby during February and March of the same year. These weren’t just crazy-people sightings, either. Both the military and meteorology services operating in the region confirmed the strange phenomenon. Whether it has anything to do with the Dyatlov incident is of course a big fat unknown.

What did happen? We don’t know, and probably never will. All current theories seem to have been disproved. While someone might initially say to themselves, “it was obviously drugs,” that wasn’t the case either. Nothing like that was found in the remains of the tent, not even a drop of alcohol. The group even refused to smoke cigarettes while on their hike. This mystery is one for the record books.

Should We Take Another Look At the Rosenberg Espionage Trial?

The conspiracy surrounding the Rosenbergs wasn’t simple. Only a few weeks after the Korean War broke out, arrests were made on the grounds that Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg conspired to commit espionage. That was the charge, but the reality was less murky: the couple was tried, convicted, and eventually executed three years later after allegedly providing the recipe for an atomic bomb to one of America’s greatest rivals, the USSR.

The funny thing about a conspiracy charge is this: no one has to prove beyond any doubt that you did something wrong in court. So how exactly was the couple tried and found guilty when the punishment would be death for treason? Easy. The government found witnesses who would testify to the wrongdoing of the defendants. Who, though, would know of such wrongdoing? Ethel’s brother and his wife, as it turns out. The government charged them both with conspiracy to commit espionage as well, and then allowed the couple to testify against the Rosenbergs in exchange for a softer sentence.

We know now that the U.S. had evidence that Julius ran errands as a courier for the Soviets, and also helped them recruit. Did the Rosenbergs give plans to build the atom bomb, jet propulsion engines, sonar, and radar to the USSR? Many believe they did, while others believe they did not. They were certainly guilty of conspiracy, but to what extent–and why did that matter so little at the time in the court of public opinion?

This case is important because it aids in several important discussions regarding something we’re supposed to believe in as Americans: that is, you’re innocent until proven guilty. The Rosenberg case told us exactly how these types of important, publicized cases should not play out. Although the government had a treasure trove of evidence that was not declassified until the USSR collapsed, almost no direct, tangible evidence linking the couple to any wrongdoing was made public during the trial and subsequent execution, causing a great number of people to defend the integrity of the couple.

Their children, for example, maintained the couple’s innocence until the files were declassified. Even then, they believed that the files pointed a finger more at Julius and less at his wife.

The trial also forced us to reconsider how to best employ the death penalty in any circumstance. Some might contend that Ethel’s role in the apparent espionage, however small or large it may have been, should not have required a lethal response maybe just a few less days at the beach. There are a great number of historians who contend that neither she nor her husband was deserving. There are others who adamantly suppose that the couple would never have been tried at all, had it not been for the rampant paranoia that plagued communities and social orders during the Cold War.

Today, the death penalty is still controversial–here in the U.S. anyway. The Rosenberg trial begs the question: is the death penalty ever really necessary? Is it truly a humane response to criminal activity if there is even a sliver of doubt concerning a person’s guilt or innocence? These are questions we will undoubtedly continue to ask ourselves in the foreseeable future. Maybe we should continue to analyze the Rosenberg espionage trial for that reason alone.

No Longer A Fresh-Bruin Case

If this had happened during the days of Robert Stack and Unsolved Mysteries, we might have a resolution this particular case. After all, the UCLA campus is a large campus with lots of people, and it’s in one of the largest cities in the world other than New York, so there are potentially hundreds or thousands of witnesses to any one person’s activities.

And yet, 18 years later, a disappearance case has gone completely cold and the victim is presumed dead, even without a body.

Bruinland has been able to keep quiet the case of one of its freshman students, who disappeared from his dorm room in the early-morning hours of a day in December 1999 following a dorm party. And yes, we mean disappeared in that his wallet, keys, and shoes were left behind in his dorm room, untouched.

After a night of partying and playing some video games (this was the late 1990s, so it was not the video games we’re used to) with a friend, Michael Negrete gave a couple high-fives, entered his dorm room at about 4 a. m. and was not seen or heard from again.

It was as if he walked right into a Sliders wormhole and didn’t have the remote to get back from the alternate universe.

Negrete was on a music scholarship, a good student and had no history of anything like depression, drugs or gambling. All reports were that he was well-adjusted and friendly. His roommate made the missing person report that morning, and a police dog was able to track Negrete’s scent to a bus station a few miles away – which was curious since he had no keys to drive a car and had no shoes to be able to walk very far. The trail went cold there.

There was a report of a white male in his mid-30s who was in Negrete’s dormitory the night of the party, who was reportedly wearing a shiny gray jacket. There should have been a general curiosity about a man in his 30s in a college dorm during a party wearing a jacket that could easily have been from the 1970s. However, police investigators were never able to find him, despite a piece of surveillance video that seemed to capture him, and a composite sketch by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office that was distributed.

What is even more mysterious is that in the last 17 years, there has been no activity on any bank accounts and there has not been contact from Michael to his family or friends. And yet, so far nobody has turned up. And there has been no physical evidence, zero witnesses, no DNA, nothing on security cameras, and he disappeared from a dorm room in a dorm building with hundreds of college students.

It’s hard to imagine college students all being drunk and/or asleep at the same time. Someone had to have heard, seen, smelled or know something. And yet we are here almost two decades later with just as many questions as before as to the whereabouts of Michael Negrete.

The Blair Bewitching Project?

Blair Adams was an … um, interesting guy. If only we knew much more about him.

There are some rather unusual, freaky, unexplainable crimes that have been committed over the years, and Blair Adams’ case is one that is about as mysterious as they come – especially the way he died and the fact that the case has gone cold.

Was Blair Adams paranoid? Or did the person he thought was following him, find him and did exactly what he thought would happen? Or was this some rather random, bad-karma situation in the old Confederacy?

The real mystery was Blair Adams’ death, though the events leading up to it were quite mysterious in themselves – we have nothing to go on since the primary witness to his behavior is him – and he’s not with us anymore.

Adams was found in a parking lot a half-mile from a hotel in which was supposedly staying – though he hadn’t checked in yet – in Knoxville, Tenn.  The autopsy revealed that he died because of a punch to the gut so powerful that it ruptured his internal organs.

Adams, a Canadian, got to Knoxville through a drive from Seattle – though he bought a plane ticket to Washington D.C. while in Seattle. He got into Seattle through the Canadian border, though it was his second attempt, as he was turned away the first time when he arrived at the border crossing with a briefcase full of money and no other bags and whatever possessions he could stuff in his pockets.

He had cleaned out his bank accounts and his safe-deposit box in Canada prior to this journey, claiming that he needed to leave Canada because he thought someone was trying to kill him. After being turned away the first time, he went back home.

The next day, he quit his job and asked a friend to smuggle him into America, but only after he had bought a plane ticket to Germany but changed his mind. When his friend decided that being caught as a human smuggler was not her idea of fun, she refused to help him. Out of desperation, Adams got a rental car and was successful in crossing the U.S. border a second time, and then he committed to moving on from Seattle.

He drove to Tennessee – not sure why exactly, other than it wasn’t a straight-line trip, which means he was behaving as if he was being followed – and entered a gas station in Knoxville. There, witnesses said he told the attendant that he couldn’t start his car. Turned out that he had the wrong keys, but the car was able to be driven to that gas station. He hitchhiked to a hotel and paid for a room but never went to it. He immediately left the hotel upon paying the money, and then his dead body was found hours later in that parking lot a half-mile away – with his pants removed.

As far as we know, that is all we know about Adams’ death, and this was more than 20 years ago. Was he mentally disturbed and wound up with a self-fulfilling prophecy? It seems we may never know

The Trial of Galileo Galilei

Galileo was born in 1564 and lived to the ripe old age of 77, when he died in 1642. That’s pretty good, under the circumstances. Today he is famous for having hypothesized many of the scientific principles and realities that we take for granted–such as the super silly notion that the planets revolve around the sun instead of around the earth (the former concept is known as heliocentrism, and the incorrect latter concept known as geocentrism). Although he was eventually proven partially correct, the scientific minds of the time period were compelled in a large part by religion. Heliocentrism contradicted Scripture. If you contradict God, then you’re considered a heretic, and so to trial he went.

Galileo quickly discovered much in astronomy that led to controversy. During the time period, there weren’t many who could force people to question their place in the cosmos, but Galileo was such a man. He discovered mountainous terrain on the moon and satellites revolving around Jupiter. He discovered sunspots and the phases of Venus. He discovered nebulae, even though he couldn’t begin to conceive what they were. Although his newly-founded views of the universe were frowned upon, he persisted.

The Roman Catholic Church had already lended its support to scientists and astronomers such as Aristotle and Ptolemy, and so the rift had begun. Although Jesuits first disagreed with Galileo’s findings, they eventually concluded the same after observing the phenomena for themselves. Many of those who refused to accept Galileo’s contributions to the field of astronomy purportedly never even bothered to look through a telescope in order to see for themselves. Then again, we experience a lot of the same type of skeptics today in even more important areas of science.

Certain high-ranking members of the Catholic church were called upon to offer their opinions on the Galileo problem. One decided that heliocentrism needn’t remain an issue as long as it was considered only in theory or hypothesis, and not in reality. When Galileo would not relent to those who disputed his findings, he was asked to provide conclusions based on physics and mathematics. He initially refused, but eventually provided a number of such conclusions. The church refused to listen to his reasoning.

An inquisition was formed on February 19, 1616 in order to discuss the reality of a heliocentric view of the universe. When this viewpoint was determined to be theologically absurd, he was ordered to essentially cease and desist, or else stronger measures would be forced upon him.

After a long period of back and forth between supporters and opponents, he was eventually ordered to stand trial in 1633. He was found guilty of heresy on June 22 of the same year. At first he was sentenced to imprisonment, but this was changed to house arrest. He died at home in Italy. As a result of the proceedings, many of his publications were banned for a time.

Galileo’s observation of heliocentrism suggested the sun was the center of the universe, which we now know to be untrue. It’s simply the center of one solar system in a single galaxy within the massive observable universe we know about today.

The Trial of Joan of Arc

We grow up learning about the Middle Ages–or more specifically how little we know about the years from about 500 to 1500 A.D. Toward the end of this fairly interesting time period was a figure known as Joan of Arc, a young French heroine who participated in the Hundred Years’ War and has gone down in history as a saint. She grew up a peasant and, according to her, she heard visions from the Archangel Michael and a couple of saints, all of whom urged her to lend aid to Charles VII.

She fought against the English rule over France, and eventually, the French Charles VII was indeed crowned king. Unfortunately, Joan of Arc was caught by English allies in 1430 and burned at the stake just over a year later. Do you know the reason?

Before she was executed by the English, however, there was a short trial. We have very detailed records–even during this somewhat “dark” time period–because notaries were directed to take copious notes during the trial. These notes were published some years later and copied repeatedly. Now they are a part of history. And have come in handy for several defense attorney and lawyers everywhere. 

Joan’s life was examined as thoroughly as possible so the English could deride her character, but their efforts were mostly in vain. Her virginity was examined (and found to be intact). Her home, upbringing, and social status were all investigated relentlessly. Those conducting the preliminary inquiries found nothing that would be helpful at trial, and so these efforts were essentially wasted.

During an interrogation that took place before the first trial date, her method of dressing was immediately frowned upon. She dressed as a soldier, with her clothing tied together in a single piece. She explained to those who interrogated her that it was to prevent rape. During the first court appearance, she said that she could make no guarantee of the truth of her answers because she had no idea on which subjects she would be questioned. she was asked to recite certain prayers, but she responded by demanding to be heard in confession in exchange for the recitation.

During the proceedings, she was repeatedly accused of heresy and asked to renounce all the visions she experienced which led her to fight against the English in order to crown Charles VII. She was also asked to give up her soldier’s clothing, even though she knew the consequences. Although she decided to sign an abjuration at first, she “recanted” only days later, and again wore the clothing which she had sworn to give up. Then again, she was given no choice. The guards provided her with only the clothing she had already been wearing, even after she argued that she should be given something else to wear because she had signed the abjuration.

This forced “relapse” into heresy provided the English court all the justification it required to have her executed on May 30, 1431.

Although Joan of Arc died at the hands of the English at the young age of nineteen, she was pronounced innocent by Pope Callixtus III shortly thereafter in 1456. He said she was a martyr. Napoleon Bonaparte later declared her a national symbol of France in 1803.

What Were The Nuremberg Trials And Why Were They Significant?

In Germany, the Nazi party held an annual rally in Nuremberg before the beginning of World War II. Many of the laws proposed and instituted during these rallies targeted Jews as a part of fundamental Nazi ideology, and they helped pave the way for the Holocaust to slowly unfold over the next decade. Many of the “Nuremberg Laws”–as they would come to be known–prevented anyone with Jewish blood from obtaining citizenship in the Reich, and made sexual relations between Jews and “pure-blooded” Germans a criminal offense. Over time, those of Jewish background all but lost most of the rights we hold universal and self-evident today.

It is only fitting then, that the trials which would crush Nazi war criminals under the fist of justice would take place in Nuremberg. They were carried out from the end of the war in 1945 until 1949 and were aptly named the Nuremberg Trials. The defendants of this trial were mostly former higher-ups in the Nazi party, including military officers, doctors, lawyers, industrialists, etc.

These trials were not only significant in their scope, but also because they were a cornerstone for the international laws that would eventually be drafted in order to prevent a recurrence of the atrocities of the Holocaust, most of which have persisted until today. They helped humanity recognize how these atrocities can occur, and who can legally be held accountable. In addition, it was only because of the Nuremberg Trials that an eventual international court was finally established in order to deal with proposed injustices as they occur throughout the world.

For many, these changes did not happen fast enough to make a difference.

It was not until December of 1942 that Allied leaders acknowledged the slaughter of the Jewish peoples who had resided throughout Europe at the time of Germany’s invasion–long, long after they already knew. It was at this time that they made public their intent to prosecute those responsible for the proposed crimes against humanity.

Perhaps a surprise to no one, Joseph Stalin suggested that up to 100,000 German officers be executed. Even Winston Churchill tossed about the idea of summarily executing certain members of the Nazi party. American leaders rejected these ideas outright, although probably not for the reasons we might invoke today. Instead, they believed the best way to avoid scrutiny of the executions in the future was to try those whose guilt was already certain. That way, evidence could be collected and cataloged for future generations who might otherwise judge those who put the men to death as equally guilty.

Although there was a precedent for trying military officers and political leaders for war crimes on a much smaller scale in regional conflicts that occur in one country or another, there were certainly no precedents available for trying such a great number of people accused of international crimes against humanity. The London Charter of the International Military Tribunal (IMT) helped draft the laws which would then govern the Nuremberg Trials. This charter helped categorize crimes based on what occurred. If you violated a peace treaty, you could be charged with a crime against peace. If you violated already-established customs or laws that typically govern war, you could be charged with a war crime. If you were guilty of murder, you could be charged with a crime against humanity.

These first steps were those that inspired the Geneva Conventions that we still use to govern international law today–and hopefully will into the future.