Houston's Creepiest Unsolved Murder Mysteries

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

There's nothing quite like a good, old-fashioned murder mystery, and when it comes to creepy cold cases, Houston has plenty of 'em to choose from.

From the notorious I-45 "Killing Fields" to the grisly, gut-churning "Ice Box Murders," the Bayou City has been home to some seriously disturbing, and unsolved, murder mysteries.

But even with the vaults full of cold case files, there are five open murder cases, which span decades of Houston history, that we just can't seem to shake from our memories.

These are Houston's five most unsettling -- and unsolved -- murder mysteries. Time to sleep with the lights on, folks.

Lover's Lane Murders The 1990 The Lover's Lane murder case is one of the most notorious unsolved homicides in Houston's history, and for good reason.

On August 23, 1990, 22-year-old Cheryl Henry and her 21-year-old boyfriend, Andy Atkinson, headed out for the night and didn't return. They were found brutally murdered the next day in an undeveloped, wooded area in West Houston that had been dubbed "Lover's Lane" for its reputation as a make-out spot.

The couple was not found in their car, but in the woods nearby. Cheryl had been raped and then killed. Her throat was slashed, and the killer had covered her naked body up with boards.

Andy was found tied to a tree, his throat also slashed. Reports say he was nearly decapitated. At the crime scene, police say they found a golf club lying in a field, along with three golf balls, one lined up after the other. They pointed the way to Cheryl's body.

There were also four partially deflated balloons found tied to the tree above Cheryl's body, and a crisp $20 bill was lying next to her.

According to Gary Atkinson, Andy's father, investigators told him that they believe Andy let the killer tie him to a tree. They also know that Cheryl was killed first, which means Andy was forced to listen to her scream, but was unable to help.

There has been some progress on the case in recent years. The Harris County Sheriff's Department says it has linked the grisly murders to another unsolved rape and burglary that was committed months before the Lover's Lane murders, but the case remains unsolved.

The Killing Fields Another unsolved murder mystery is not technically "a" murder, but a whole hell of a lot of murders and disappearances, all of which are linked back to the same stretch of 45 South.

Since the 1970s, more than 30 young women and girls have disappeared and their bodies found dumped in a desolate 50-mile stretch of 45 South between Houston and Galveston. Some of the bodies have turned up on a 25-acre patch about a mile from I-45 that's been dubbed "The Killing Fields."

Detectives investigating the murders and disappearances have described the remote area as a perfect dumping ground for a serial killer, which has made solving the cases almost impossible.

The quick succession of disappearances and murders has been heavily investigated over the years, but despite exhaustive efforts by the Texas City Police, who have had assistance from the FBI, very few cases have been solved in the area.

The victims range in age from 12 years old to women in their late fifties, but a harrowing number of the girls were young teenagers when they disappeared.

In a letter written to police in 1998, convicted murderer Edward Howard Bell claimed to have murdered 11 girls in Galveston County. Bell had long been a suspect in the cases, but prosecutors did not believe they had enough evidence to bring charges against him.

And in 2009 police in Louisiana arrested Kevin Edison Smith on a drug charge. The arrest helped link his DNA to the rape and strangulation of Krystal Jean Baker, who was 13 years old when she disappeared from a Texas City convenience store in 1996. In April 2012, 16 years after Baker's body was found, Smith was convicted of her murder.

The rest of the murders remain unsolved.

Orchard Apartment Murders The 1979 murder of Alys Elaine Rankin at the Orchard Apartments on Glenmont, located in the Gulfton area of Houston, came as a shock to the city.

On July 27, 1979, 33-year-old Alys's car was being repaired at a local shop and she had arranged for her coworker, Bob Smith, to pick her up for work at an engineering firm. However, when Bob approached Alys's apartment door, it was slightly ajar.

Bob peered in and found Alys naked in bed, her feet tied together, with a pillow covering her upper body.

But Bob didn't take off running. Rather, he removed the pillow and found Alys's head had been cut off. According to police, she had also been sexually assaulted.

Police later identified a trail of blood that tracked from the side of Alys's bed, where the killer apparently set down the severed head. The blood droplets continued out the apartment door and trailed down to the parking lot, stopping only at the spot where police believe the head was placed in a car.

Rankin's head has never been found, despite an extensive search.

But the Orchard Apartment murder was hardly a once-off. Exactly two weeks later, the body of Mary Michael Calcutta was found, just two floors above Rankin's apartment. The woman was found in her bathroom, fully clothed, but she had been stabbed, and her throat was cut.

Both murders remain unsolved.

The Kennedy Sisters The murder of the Kennedy sisters in the Heights on East 12th Street remains one of the most puzzling murder cases the city has ever seen.

Yleen and Lillie Kennedy lived together in a small house in the Heights in the early '80s. Yleen ran a small business selling antique clothing, and was known to keep antique jewelry and cash around the house.

On March 5, 1984, the bodies of both women were discovered by their father, who stopped by their house after the women, who were supposed to take their father to the doctor, didn't show.

Lillie, the younger of the two, had been shot to death. But unlike her sister's quick death, detectives believe Yleen suffered greatly before she died.

An autopsy report revealed that Yleen had not only been shot, but was also stabbed, bludgeoned and raped.

According to investigators, some of the witnesses who were interviewed in '84 believed that pieces of jewelry were missing form the home. Detectives believe robbery was the motive for the murder.

Investigators also believe that a man carrying a duffel bag, who was seen by a neighbor around the time of the murders, may have been involved.

According to investigators, the neighbor confronted the unknown man, believing he might be a burglar. However, the man with the duffel bag gave the neighbor a quick story that his wife had just kicked him out of the house, which was deemed believable, and he was allowed to leave.

The mystery man disappeared, and police have found no trace of him for the past 27 years.

The Ice Box Murders Houston's so-called Ice Box Murders of Fred and Edwina Rogers, an elderly couple living in Montrose, may be one of the strangest cases yet.

On June 23, 1965, Edwina's nephew Marvin became concerned about the couple when his phone calls to his aunt went unanswered. Marvin asked police to check in on the couple, who complied.

When police responded, they found the house locked, but forced their way in. Food had been left on the table, which somehow led to the officers checking inside the fridge. What they found -- numerous cuts of "washed, unwrapped meat" was neatly stacked on the shelves -- which the officer thought came from a butchered hog, didn't seem all that out of the ordinary.

But as the officer went to shut the door, he saw the Rogers' heads staring back at him. They had been stashed in the vegetable crisper. That "meat" turned out to be the Rogers' legs and torsos.

Investigators said that a claw hammer had been used to beat Fred to death, and both of his eyes had been gouged out. Police determined that Edwina had been shot in the head, and both had been hacked into pieces in the bathroom. The house was eerily devoid of blood, and appeared to have been thoroughly cleaned.

Stranger still was that their sex organs had been thrown in the sewer outside of the house, and that other missing body parts were never recovered. Also, there was the 43-year-old unemployed hermit son, Charles Frederick Rogers, who apparently lived with his parents in an attic bedroom but whom neighbors didn't recall ever seeing.

The only drops of blood in the house led to the son's attic room, and a bloody keyhole gave more of a hint as to what was to come, but when investigators entered, no Charles. In fact, he just disappeared, and was declared legally dead in 1975, ten years after the murders.

In 1992, the authors of the book The Man On the Grassy Knoll theorized that Charles was a CIA agent who was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

According to their work, Rogers was a CIA agent who likely impersonated Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City and, along with Charles Harrelson, was one of two shooters involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

There's no telling who Charles actually was, considering he communicated with his parents only by writing notes that were slipped under the door and didn't appear to interact with any other actual human beings ever.

And, like everything else on this list, the Ice Box Murders remain unsolved.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.