With the rising popularity of true crime documentaries, it’s easy to forget that many of us are taking joy, or at the very least wide-eyed curiosity, in the real-life story of someone’s often gruesome and brutal murder. The circumstances are even worse when the case goes unsolved.
Sadly, especially when it comes to the murder of our Black brothers and sisters, many homicides go unsolved for so long that they eventually become cold cases. An ongoing debate surrounding the 2013 death of Kendrick Johnson, a 17-year-old Georgia high school student found dead in a rolled-up gymnasium mattress, has drawn up the feeling once again by those who don’t agree with it being ruled as a “weird accident.”
Over the years — scratch that, decades! — our people have regularly been subjected to murder, assault, sodomy, and much worse with no action being done to seek justice. From intentional faulty police work and witnesses that sometimes don’t cooperate to the misfortune of experiencing racism even in death, the fates of many murdered Black people have made for a hefty amount of unsolved crime stories.
With hopes of one day solving every one of these cold cases, we look back at some of the most shocking unsolved murders of Black people that never got their rightfully deserved justice. Some you may be familiar with, while others are possibly new to your eyes and ears. Either way, join us in making sure these lost souls are never forgotten.
Keep scrolling and read along with discretion as we reflect on 10 spine-tingling unsolved Black murder cases that we pray get solved in the foreseeable future:
1. THE MURDER OF HARRY T. & HARRIETTE MOORE (1951)
Believed to be the first civil rights martyrs, The Moores’ tragic fate will forever be remembered as a sordid mark in American history of the hatred shown to our people for simply being Black.
2. 16TH STREET BAPTIST CHURCH BOMBING (1963)
Although the death of one girl received a conviction, the beautiful Black girls as a whole killed in this race-fueled attack have never received the true justice they deserve.
3. THE FREEWAY PHANTOM MURDERS (1971 – 1972)
We mourn these young D.C. area girls who experienced the unthinkable, and sadly have gone decades with no conviction or solid suspect in their case. Always remembered, angels.
4. THE DECAPITATION OF “LITTLE JANE DOE” (1983)
A gruesome story that we warn you is very graphic in detail, a part of the world will forever be soiled for what happened to this still-unidentified young victim.
5. THE MURDER OF 2PAC SHAKUR (1996)
The world lost a true talent following the still-unsolved murder of West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur, known famously by his moniker 2Pac. Although the decades-spanning investigation has produced a handful of suspects, we still have no concrete knowledge of who actually pulled the trigger in that infamous drive-by shooting.
6. THE MURDER OF BIGGIE SMALLS (1997)
In reaction to the death of fellow late rap icon 2Pac just six months prior, The Notorious B.I.G. was also killed in an eerily-similar drive-by shooting that, also in hard-to-believe irony, also has remained unsolved. To lose two of the most promising emcees in Hip-Hop less than a year apart due to rap beef is still a soul-crushing reality.
7. THE SHOOTING DEATH OF DJ UNCLE AL (2001)
With his death occurring on September 10, 2001, the tragedy had the misfortune of being overshadowed by the events of 9/11 in addition to remaining unsolved to this day. Charges were dropped on the main suspect in 2007, but we’re still holding out hope for a break in the case.
8. THE DEATH OF KENNEKA JENKINS (2017)
The mystery surrounding Kenneka Jenkins’ death by hypothermia in a hotel walk-in freezer went viral back in 2017, and even five years later still raises suspicions. We just hate that a 19-year-old with her whole future ahead of her had to die in such eyebrow-raising circumstances.
9. THE “UNDETERMINED” DEATH OF BEN KEITA (2017)
We suggest visiting and signing his official Change.Org petition to understand why the death of 18-year-old Ben Keita is so questionable. Based on the details, this case deserves another look for sure.
10. THE DISAPPEARANCE & DEATH OF JELANI DAY (2021)
Many felt compelled to compare the lack of investigation into Jelani’s case following the weeks after his disappearance to that of 22-year-old white influencer Gabby Petito’s globally-viral missing person case at the same time. While the details of her murderer were way more cut-and-dried, very few believe Jelani’s death being ruled as drowning with no foul play.