‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Review Volume 3: As Creepy and Confusing As Ever

'Unsolved Mysteries' Review Volume 3: As Creepy and Confusing As Ever

Back in the 1980s and early ’90s, I tuned in every week to see new cases of murder, kidnappings, UFOs, ghost stories, and every other kind of tale that was told on Unsolved Mysteries. As soon as I heard that theme music and Robert Stack’s distinctive voice, I was ready to get freaked out by a new mysterious occurrence that would leave me scratching my head, trying to figure it out. Now an adult and true-crime addict, I was beyond thrilled when the series returned to Netflix in 2020. The third volume of Unsolved Mysteries starts streaming on October 18, and this set of nine baffling tales feels the most like the series I grew up with.

True, there’s no Robert Stack (except for a very cool faint shot of his profile in the opening credits), or any host, actually, but it doesn’t need one. The producers and directors of Unsolved Mysteries let the people at the center of the cases tell their stories, and that makes it all the more effective.

This series is a must for any true-crime addict, and the mysteries in this volume are some of the best and most memorable presented on the show so far. This volume takes a look at cases of murder (or suicide?), dismemberment, UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot, kidnappings of children by a parent, and so much more. No matter what kind of mystery you prefer, you’ll find an episode this season to whet your true-crime appetite.

The very first episode of Unsolved Mysteries Volume 3 lets you know that this season will have no easy answers. “Mystery at Mile Marker 45” at first seems like an open-and-shut case. Tiffany Valiante, a young athletic woman ready for her first year of college, is struck by a train four miles from her home. Clearly, as the New Jersey Transit Authority ruled, it was a suicide, because why the hell else would an 18-year-old be on the train tracks in the middle of nowhere after 11 p.m.? The case is on Unsolved Mysteries, you figure, because her family understandably doesn’t want to believe that she would take her own life. But wait, there’s more.

It turns out that she wasn’t wearing shoes or her shorts at the time she was hit by the train. Her mother (not investigators) would later find her shoes by the side of the road, miles from the train tracks and miles from her home. Her feet showed no signs that she had walked barefoot to the train tracks — not a lot of mud or dirt, no splinters, no bruises — and her shoes looked as if she’d just stepped out of them. What’s more, the shorts were never found despite exhaustive searches of the area. It does make you wonder, is there more to this than a late-night suicide? And that’s just for starters. The more you learn about this case, the more you wonder if her parents are right and there is foul play involved.

Episode 7, “Body in the Bay,” is another death that was initially ruled a suicide. Its circumstances are even more baffling. Patrick Mullins vanishes one evening after taking his boat out on the river by his home. His boat is found days later, unmanned and out of gas in the Gulf of Mexico, many miles from his home dock. Adding to the mystery, his body is later found in a completely different location, with a shotgun wound to the head, and rope wrapped around his body and tied to an anchor. What’s even more perplexing is that the boat had no blood whatsoever in it, so how exactly did Patrick shoot himself in the head in his boat? Not to mention that a gun was never found, and it would have been incredibly awkward to shoot oneself at close range with a shotgun.

These are the kinds of cases Unsolved Mysteries is so good at retelling. You can’t help your mind from going in a million directions, trying to figure it out, and you’re desperate for answers. Sadly, those may never come.

One of the major things that bring back memories of the original Unsolved Mysteries with Volume 3 is the focus on the paranormal and unexplained. Three episodes this season — “Something in the Sky,” “Paranormal Rangers,” and “The Ghost in Apartment 14” — feature stories of the unexplained, from UFOs to a haunting to Bigfoot and Navajo Skinwalkers.

“Something in the Sky” tells the story of a March 1993 sighting of UFOs in Michigan, reported by more than 300 people. It’s easy to discount claims of having witnessed a UFO, but the sheer number of people who saw this particular one is kind of astounding. If it wasn’t aliens, what they saw was definitely an unidentified flying object, which, after all, is the very definition of a UFO.

“Paranormal Rangers” probably freaked me out the most of all the episodes in Volume 3. Going in, I didn’t expect to believe reports of a Bigfoot-like creature on the Navajo Reservation, but the evidence that was shown left me wondering if a 9-foot-tall hairy creature really could be roaming the deserts of the Navajo. There have been more than 30 sightings, which, granted, isn’t as many as witnessed the UFO in Michigan, but it’s also a more sparsely populated area. If you think it sounds silly, I dare you to watch “Paranormal Rangers” and then tell me it’s silly. Plus, fans of The X-Files will likely find the “Paranormal Rangers” episode particularly engrossing, as these two Navajo Rangers were assigned to cover unexplained events on the reservation.

“The Ghost in Apartment 14” starts out as the story of a haunting, but somewhere in the middle, it becomes an unsolved murder mystery as well. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, this story will captivate you — and probably make you squirm a little, honestly. Who knows? Someday, the ghost may actually help solve the mystery.