It might feel like celebrities have the best of life with uncountable fans and the glamour. But when tragedy strikes, it strikes all. Many celebrities have lost their loved ones to brutal murders and gruesome accidents. Did you know that Sofia Vergara, the famous Modern Family actress, had a brother who was shot and killed and the murder is still unsolved? Thanks to Reddit, we were able to find 10 famous people who lost their loved ones to unsolved murders.
1. Mark Ruffalo’s brother died in 2008 from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot. But police later ruled the death as a homicide.
The case remains unsolved to this day as the prime witness to the murder lost her life when the investigation was underway. On December 1, 2008, Scott Ruffalo, the brother of renowned actor Mark Ruffalo, was found with a gunshot to his head in his Beverly Hills apartment. He breathed his last a week after the incident. Initially, the police believed that he might have shot himself as the bullet was from his gun and he died holding the gun in his left hand. But the autopsy reports later ruled out the death as a homicide. Basically, the entry wound made by the bullet could not have been self-inflicted.
Two people were present in his apartment at the time of the murder. Shaha Mishaal Adham, a client of Scott’s, and her boyfriend Brian Scofield were present. They claimed that he shot himself during a game of Russian Roulette. Adham and Brian were questioned by the police but were later let go and the case came to a halt.
The police couldn’t uncover any new leads in the case. Moreover, the case was completely based on Adham’s account. So when she died in 2012 from a drug overdose, the police hit a blank wall in the case. With the prime witness/suspect gone and with no new evidence, the case remains unsolved to this day.
2. Joe Cole, the son of prominent television actor Dennis Cole, was killed in an armed robbery in 1991.
Joseph Dennis “Joe” Cole was the victim of an armed robbery that took place on December 19, 1991. He was the son of prominent actor Dennis Cole who ruled the television and film world of the 1960s and 1970s. Joe worked as a roadie for Black Flag and Rollins Band.
On the ungrateful night of December 19, 1991, Joe and Henry Rollins, the founder of Black Flag and Rollins Band, were approached by two armed men outside a grocery store. They demanded money and got angry when Cole and Rollins could only offer them $50. The gunmen then ordered the duo to go back to their house and get more cash.
With the robbers holding him at gunpoint, Rollins entered his house that he shared with Cole. But unfortunately, Cole was shot at close range by one of the robbers just outside the house. As commotion unfolded, Rollins was able to escape through the back door and alerted the police. The murder remains unsolved to this day.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Time, Rollins said that he keeps a container filled with soil that was soaked in Cole’s blood. He has dedicated numerous songs to his friend in his albums. He also published a book of Cole’s writings known as Planet Joe.
3. Sofia Vergara’s brother was shot and killed in his hometown in 1996.
Apparently, in 2013 a private detective discovered some new evidence linking the victim to a mob and urged the case to be re-opened. Sofia publicly denounced the detective’s claims. Not many of us know that the well-known Modern Family star, Sofia Vergara, had a brother named Rafael José Vergara. She lost him 19 years ago to a shooting that took place on August 12, 1996. When the police were unable to pinpoint the murderer, Sofia said that it might have been a kidnapping gone wrong. Her brother was once kidnapped in 1994 for which they had paid the ransom. Maybe this was the second attempt, according to Sofia.
In 2013, some new news came into the limelight. A private detective claimed that he discovered evidence linking Rafael to the leader of Colombia’s Norte Del Valle drug cartel, Diego León Montoya Sánchez. Sofia took to Twitter to dismiss the claims of the detective.
4. Celebrated author Lois Duncan lost her teenage daughter to a shooting on the streets in 1989.
She spent 25 years of her life trying to solve her daughter’s murder until her death in 2016. Lois Duncan is a celebrated author who has played an important role in shaping the young-adult novel industry. She lost her daughter, Kaitlyn Arquette, to a street firing on July 16, 1989. Kait was just returning from a dinner at a friend’s house when she was shot twice through her driver’s seat window. After the incident, she was taken to the hospital where she ended up in a coma. On July 17, 1989, Kait was pronounced brain-dead. In the days after the shooting, the police tried to uncover the murder weapon and suspects, but all in vain.
The police brought the boyfriend, Dung Nguyen, for questioning and tested his hands for gun residue. The test came back negative. There also didn’t find any evidence when they searched the apartment shared by Kait and her boyfriend. Five days after the murder, Nguyen tried to commit suicide by stabbing himself on his stomach.
Events were unfolding fast and when the police couldn’t do anything, Lois and Kait’s elder sister, Robin, took the matter into their own hands. They learned from Kait’s friends that Nguyen was not the man that he portrayed he was. He was actually involved in a multi-million dollar insurance fraud scam where they would stage fake car crashes and somehow get the insurance money. Also, Nguyen’s stabbing himself sounded suspicious to Robin as not many people stab themselves on their stomachs to commit suicide. She felt like somehow the murder and the suicide attempt could be related.
The mother-daughter duo then uncovered some more facts that were completely ignored by the police. For example, they learned from Kait’s landlord that Kait was so terrified of her boyfriend and his friends that she requested for a change in locks. Also, one of her friends received a phone call for Nguyen on the night of the murder with him screaming “Kait dead!” The interesting part was that Nguyen made the call several hours before the police notified him of the murder. When Kait’s friend tried to bring this information to the police, the detective just ignored everything. They also found a handwritten note by Kait in which the original was completely different than the one the police had on record as evidence.
This led Lois to believe that there might have been police cover-ups and incompetence. Few arrests have been made by the police but because of lack of evidence or loopholes in testimony, the police had to let go of all the suspects. Lois carried out her own investigation for 25 years after the death of her daughter. Sadly, she passed away in 2016.
5. Former NFL quarterback Charlie Batch’s sister was shot dead in a street gang crossfire in 1996. Till today, no one has been convicted of the crime.
Charlie Batch, the former NFL quarterback had to go through a personal tragedy when he was quite young. In 1996, Charlie received a call from his mother that would change his life in a second. His sister, Danyl, was shot and killed while she was walking through an alley between West and Amity streets. She was with her boyfriend, John “Fitty” Payne.
Payne’s later told the police that he saw two men wearing hoods. He didn’t see their faces but recognized one of the voices as Rico Carter’s. He yelled the term “Fitty Loke,” a term used by street gangs and showered them with gunfire. Danyl was shot in the head.
Police believe that Danyl must have been caught between rival gangs. Most probably, the boyfriend must have been the target as, within 20 days of the crime, seven males in their late teens and 20s were also killed. A police informant was witness to the crime and his testimony contradicted Payne’s statement. There was another witness as believed by the police but they were unable to produce him to testify against Carter. So they had to let go of Carter and the crime remains unsolved to this day.
6. In 1983, American rapper 50 Cent lost his mother when he was only eight-years-old to a mysterious fire. According to the rapper, “Someone put something in her drink and turned the gas on.”
Curtis James Jackson III, widely known as 50 Cent, is one of the most renowned rappers in the world. We have heard a lot about the hardships that 50 Cent has gone through. From selling drugs at the age of 12 and being shot nine times just before the release of his first album, 50 Cent has endured a lot. But nothing can compare to the pain of losing his mother when he was just eight years old.
50 Cent’s mother, Sabrina Jackson, was only 15 when she had him. She worked as a drug dealer to support herself and her son. When 50 Cent was eight, a mysterious fire at his home led to the brutal death of his mother. He recalls the murder saying “Someone put something in her drink and turned the gas on. After that, every time something went wrong I’d think, ‘If my mother was here it wouldn’t be like that.’” Police believe that the murder could have taken place as the result of a drug war. The case is yet to be solved.(1,2)
7. Valerie Percy, daughter of prominent US senator Chuck Percy, was beaten and stabbed to death in 1966. 52 years later, the murder is still unsolved and remains one of Illinois’ best-known and most mysterious unsolved killings.
Chuck Percy was a business and politician who was elected to the United States Senate as a Republican from Illinois in 1966. He was also a presidential hopeful for the Republican party from 1968 to 1988.
He had two daughters who were twins. On the unfateful morning of September 18, 1966, Chuck Percy’s daughter was murdered at their Kenilworth residence. Valerie Jean Percy had just come home for her father’s election campaign. On the morning of the murder, Loraine Percy, Valerie’s step-mother, heard a moaning sound coming from Valerie’s room. When she went to check, she was surprised to find a man crouched over Valerie’s blood-soaked bed and examining her body with a flashlight. Upon seeing Loraine, the man flashed the light towards her. Loraine ran back to her bedroom to wake her husband and sounded the burglar alarm. By that time, the killer fled the premises. There were no witnesses to the crime or while the murderer was fleeing.
When the police started their investigation, they were puzzled as to what the motive might have been. Neither valuables were taken nor was Valerie sexually assaulted. She had been hit on her head and then stabbed. Police talked to hundreds of people but yet were unable to solve the crime. One focus of their investigation was a burglary gang of three members who were in jail. One of the members was boasting about killing Valerie but by the time the police could get to him, he was already dead.
Over the years many people have come forward to confess killing Valerie but the police have dismissed their claims as there were not on the same page as other confidential information regarding the crime. The murder is still unsolved, 52 years later.
Chuck Percy breathed his last one day prior to the 45th death anniversary of his daughter.
8. Renowned crime fiction writer James Ellroy lost his mother to rape and strangulation when he was just 10 years old. 36 years later, Ellroy took up the unsolved murder and is conducting his own investigation.
It is fair to say that renowned crime fiction writer James Ellroy’s life has been shaped by the death of his mother. He was only 10-years-old when his mother was raped and murdered in 1958. As his mother was an alcoholic and bad-tempered woman, Ellroy mentions that he was actually relieved to see his mother gone. He was unable to come to terms with the emotions that were building up inside him after the murder. So he put them into another famous unsolved murder case of Elizabeth Short, who was brutally murdered in 1947. Ellroy used Short as a surrogate to come to terms with his emotions.
Majority of Ellroy’s books are based on the murder of his mother. In an interview with the Daily Mail, he said, “I have always written about the murder of my mother. It’s always driven me. But I’m at a point now where I’m ready to talk about something else entirely in fiction. My mother and I are not a crime story – we’re a love story. The story of my life has always been about women. I’ve written one more autobiography, called The Hilliker Curse after my mother’s maiden name. I think that’s it. That’s me and autobiography finished.”
In 1994, Ellroy himself took up the files related to his mother’s murder and set out to solve the crime. Still today, he has been working on the unsolved murder. You can read a full account of his why and how he constituted the courage to reopen his mother’s murder here.
9. Karyn Kupcinet, the daughter of television personality Irv Kupcinet, was found dead at her apartment. There are many theories behind this unsolved murder with the most famous theory allegedly linking the murder to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Just the evening prior to the murder, Karyn had dinner at the house of Mark Goddard, the future cast member of Lost in Space, and his wife. The couple later reported to the police that during dinner Karyn was not in the right state of mind. She didn’t eat her food and cried when asked if she was okay. She also told them that somebody has left a baby at her doorstep. Karyn went home at around 8.30 pm after the dinner and promised to call the couple once she reached.
Apparently, after she reached home she was joined by Edward Stephen Rubin, a freelance writer, and Robert Hathaway, the actor. They told detectives later that they all watched The Danny Kaye Show together and departed her apartment around 11:15 pm. According to the men, Karyn had gone to her bedroom to sleep when they left.
On November 30, 1963, the Goddards went to her apartment as she failed to call them that night after reaching home. They found her naked body on the couch. Although at first, it seemed like she had died from a drug overdose, the coroner later ruled it out as a death by strangulation. Also, the police could not find any evidence related to the abandoned baby story that Karyn had told the Goddards and her boyfriend Andrew Prine.
The authorities framed out various theories to explain the murder. As always, the boyfriend was the first suspect. The relationship was not going well at that time and this could have been the motive. Moreover, the last two men to see her alive, Rubin and Hathaway, were both friends of Prine. In 1988, Irv Kupcinet, father of Karyn, released a memoir that said that he was sure Prine had nothing to do with the murder.
The second and the most famous, theory behind Karyn’s murder linked her to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This link was first mentioned by researcher Penn Jones, Jr. in 1967. Apparently, 20 minutes before the shooting of the President, an unknown woman had called the local operator and warned about the shooting. Penn Jones claimed that woman was Karyn. He also claimed that she gained knowledge about the assassination from her father who had received news in advance from Jack Ruby, the man who killed John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Oswald. Jones further went ahead to speculate that Karyn has been killed by the Italian-American Mafia in order to silence Irv Kupcinet regarding anything he knew about the assassination. Of course, Irv Kupcinet dismissed these claims and still today, the murder remains unsolved.
10. Hans Habe’s daughter was violently murdered in 1968. Even though unsolved, it is suspected that her murder might be related to the Manson Family, a commune responsible for multiple murders.
On the New Year’s Day of 1969, Marina Elizabeth Habe’s dead body was discovered at the bottom of a ravine. She was just 17 when she was murdered and discarded like garbage down the ravine. She was the daughter of the famous Hungarian and American writer and newspaper publisher Hans Habe and actress Eloise Hardt.
The day prior to the murder, Marina had gone on a date with a family friend John Hornburg. Her mother last saw her when he left for her date and heard her with a man at around 3.30 a.m. in the morning. The next morning she went missing and it was only after two days that her body was found. There were multiple stab wounds to the neck and chest.
The police originally believed that her murder might have been a random kidnapping carried out by biker and dope-dealer nicknamed “Spanky.” But there was not much evidence to corroborate the belief. Investigative journalist Maury Terry had also pointed out that Marina’s death may have been linked to the Manson Family. The Manson Family is a community that was established by Charles Manson. Their main objective of the members of the community was to carry out murders under the guidance of Charles. The Manson Family is well-known for the murder of actress Sharon Tate. The link between Marina’s murder and the Manson Family came up because her body was discovered in the area where the Manson Family was active at that time.
The case is still unsolved due to lack of evidence. But considering the type and style of stab wounds inflicted on her body, the police strongly believe that someone from the Manson Family was responsible.