Michigan has no shortage of strange and tragic cases that confused investigators and ultimately led them to a dead end.
These crimes gripped their local media outlets and shocked the people of their respective communities.
Here are a few unsolved incidents that continue to be discussed among online sleuths and probed by police.
Missing schoolteacher Paige Renkoski
The story of Paige Renkoski, an Okemos teacher who was born in Lansing, is a baffling cold case. Her body has never been located, but her vehicle was found the day she disappeared.
She was last seen on May 24, 1990. She drove to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport to drop off her mother, and then went to Canton to visit a friend, reports the Livingston Daily.
Renkoski was spotted by passing drivers on the shoulder of I-96, near Fowlerville. Witnesses said she was talking to two men who were standing next to a maroon minivan. According to those who saw her, she seemed upset.
Hours after this sighting, her vehicle was found still idling, with her shoes and purse still inside. When officers first located her vehicle, they did not consider it a crime scene as the car was unlocked and undamaged.
Police have ruled it a homicide, and cold case investigators at the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department are still investigating, reports NBC News.
Murder of Mary Alice Ellicott
Mary Alice Ellicott was reported missing to the Saline Police Department on Oct. 14, 1981, by a friend who was concerned after not seeing her for quite some time.
She was last seen leaving the Polar Bear Bar in Saline Township, now known as the Thompson Bar and Grill, at about 6 or 7 p.m. a few days before being reported missing.
Ellicott’s body would be discovered in a grassy field on Oct. 24, a just a mile and a half away from the bar, reports MLive. The case was soon declared a homicide.
The case drew new attention thanks to a 2020 course at the Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice that involves investigating cold cases.
It was officially reopened by Michigan State Police in 2021, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The disappearance of Diane Osinski
The disappearance of Michigan State University student Diane Osinski baffled the Lansing community back in the summer of 1972 and remains a mystery to this day.
Just 19 years old, Osinski was reported missing by her roommate on July 31, 1972. There was no sign of her until the following year.
On May 9, 1973, a group of friends hunting for mushrooms made a ghastly discovery: the skeletal remains of Osinski.
Her body was in a thick wooded area within the Rose Lake conservation area in Bath Township, not far from MSU’s campus, reported the Holland Sentinel.
While state police continue to seek tips for the case, no charges have ever been brought and detectives don’t have much to work with.
Oakland County Child Killings
Despite a massive investigation – one of the largest in U.S. history at the time, according to the Detroit News – the question of who killed four children between 1976 and 1977 was never resolved.
Michigan was horrified when the bodies of Mark Stebbins, 12, Jill Robinson, 12, Kristine Mihelich, 10, and Timothy King, 11, were discovered abandoned in derelict public locations such as parking lots and ditches between Feb. 15, 1976, and March 16, 1977.
Though police were unable to solve the case, the influx of tips did help lead to the discovery of a clandestine child pornography ring that was operated on North Fox Island in Lake Michigan, reported the Detroit News.
Police do have some vital DNA evidence on file, providing some hope for the cold case’s prospect of being solved by a possible future big break.