When NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries” debuted it was a perfect storm of boding music, intriguing stories and crime noir. The cases presented had no conclusions and the viewer was often left with a hollow feeling as the ending credits solemn music played after a final eulogy of sorts from host Robert Stack.
His last words lingered sorrowfully in our ears, reminding everyone that perhaps only one of us, the viewer, could provide the missing piece to crack a case. Thankfully, over the years many fans of the show did just that, along with law enforcement’s mighty hand as well. This article is intended to tell a few of the best satisfactory endings to otherwise tragic tales.
My only regret is that the Unsolved Mysteries producers are strict in enforcing copyrights and do a masterful job of keeping episodes off of video sharing websites, taking away the chance for the masses to see their narratives told in the most gratifying manner. I shall do my best to spin their tales through the written word as best as I can.
(photo courtesy of NBC Universal television)
Forgot all the mug shots, police sketches, and CGI paranormal beings…this family portrait is probably the most frightening image ever shown on Unsolved Mysteries! Okay, I say that in jest as the story that coincides with the photo is horrific.
High school guidance counselor Mary Depue had a volatile relationship with her husband Dennis. After years of unhappiness, Mary finally filed for divorce. Dennis was enraged and his wife took the blunt of his fury. He attacked her in front of their children and ultimately tossed her down a flight of stairs. He then dragged his obviously injured wife past their children and shoved her in a van, declaring to them he was going to take Mary and seek medical assistance. That was the farthest thing from what Dennis intended to do.
He was next seen flying down a county road in the van, passing an older couple out for a drive. A little while later, that same couple passed an old school house and saw the same van parked in the lot – it’s driver was seen walking in the back yard of the school, carrying what appeared to be a bloody sheet.
A few minutes later the same van once again came roaring behind the couple, only this time the driver tailgated the pair for several miles before they became nervous and turned down a side road. The van stopped and pulled over, and that allowed the couple to bravely turn around and double back towards their pursuer in order to acquire his license plate number. When they drove by him, they could see he was changing his license plate and they also noticed the van’s passenger door was open, and to their horror, they could see it was covered in blood.
The couple now knew something sinister was amiss and they returned back to the school yard to investigate. Once there, the pair quickly found a partially disclosed blanket, soaked in blood. The duo then scurried off to contact the police.
Mary’s body was found behind an abandoned church. She had been killed via a gunshot to the back of the head. The culprit was obvious and Dennis was on the run. Unsolved Mysteries aired the case 11 months later.
Millions of eyes took in the visage of evil incarnate. One set of those eyes belonged to the perpetrator himself, Dennis Depue – now living in Dallas under the assumed name of Hank Queen. He quickly told his new girlfriend a cover story and went back on the run. Others who knew “Hank” had already contacted the police however and law enforcement was able to track him as he veered into Mississippi.
Depue had no intention of going down easy. The pursuing officers shot out one of his tires, and that failed to stop his van. Another tire was shot out, and Dennis kept on attempting the escape. He ultimately rammed into two police vehicles before firing three or four shots at police officers who made haste towards his stalled van.
Another tell tale shot was heard coming from inside the vehicle, this one found its mark – a self-inflicted bullet into Depue’s mouth that exited the back of his head. An unsatisfactory ending for those who desire hard justice and one that hardly mends the emotional wounds already perpetrated onto the Depue children.
The Unsolved Mysteries re-enactment of this case was done so chillingly well that the makers of the horror movie “Jeepers Creepers” took the idea directly from the show and implemented it into their own story.
In the late 1960’s singer and music promoter Tony Alamo dramatically changed career paths and begin to preach with his wife Susan to the dissidents of society. They quickly turned their small ministry into an empire.
Tony and Sue convinced hundreds of people to join their congregation and eventually a religious “compound” was built to house the devoted. While Alamo saved their souls, he sought a return for his efforts in the form of acts of labor, which saw the financial rewards go to the ministry while the devout earned little to nothing but a promise to open their hearts and minds for a journey to heaven. With roughly 200-300 people working for free under the guiding light of Alamo, he pocketed millions via running a trucking company, a clothes manufacturing operation and even by producing record albums.
His congregation lived on the church grounds, some crammed upwards of twenty people per room, others without indoor plumbing. Meanwhile Tony and Sue lived in royal splendor, telling the faithful that if they continue to do God’s will then the riches will befall them as well.
This website offers a further glimpse into the living conditions inside the compound:
“The living conditions were disgusting. We slept body to body in sleeping bags on the floor. When I was there, I never saw a real bed. At the time I left though, I was sleeping on a cot. We loved it when the weather warmed up, so we could sleep outside where it wasn’t so crowded. The bathroom conditions were worse. The toilets were always full because we were told that if we flushed them, the leaching field wouldn’t hold it all. So about every two or three days they were flushed. There also wasn’t no more than three toilets per 50, 60 men [sic]. I do not know how it was for the women or the children. Showers were very seldom. We either never had time or the water was always cold. I took a shower about once a week.”
Things turned grim for the Alamo’s in 1980 when Susan was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her death two years later seemed to send Alamo down a demented pathway.
He kept his wife’s casket in his dining room and ordered his followers to maintain a 24-hour a day vigil over her body. They were to pray for her resurrection. This act carried on for two years until a crypt was built on the compound grounds to house her remains. Tony’s belief that we are in the end times meant that Jesus would bring her back to him prior to the final judgment of mankind.
Tony because verbally abusive to his members and eventually this turned into physical abuse as he attempted to beat demons out of the sickly members of his flock. Sadly, this included an 8-year-old girl suffering from epileptic seizures, who endured ever increasing levels of beatings to remove the devil from her.
While this insanity was unfolding, Tony was maintaining his singing and clothes designing side business. His bedazzled denim jackets sold for as much as $5,000 a piece. Since he had little to no labor costs thanks to the zealots at his encampment going without pay, Tony was able to accumulate roughly 60 million dollars in his fortune. He later claimed all the money went back into the church.
Tony began to spend more and more time away from his church grounds – keeping control of the place via the phone. Finally in 1985, a former member of the flock went to the Department of Labor, and the government then stepped in with a lawsuit that saw the ministry ordered to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars. The feds also removed the Alamo ministries’ tax-exempt status.
All the negative press led to his clothing line losing its allure and sales plummeted. Many in the flock grew wary of the conditions provided and fled. Then in 1989 two former members charged Alamo with child abuse and Tony disappeared. The charges led to a settlement in the millions and the Alamo compound was seized in order to pay off the debt. Alamo expressed his outrage from afar and promised that he would have a federal judge brought before him and Tony would be the one to serve as the judge and jury over this unjust heathen.
Alamo spent two years on the run, this culminated in Tony having his wife’s coffin taken from its crypt and whisked away on a truck. At the end of the broadcast, Robert Stack informed us that Tony was still on the lam and upon capture he would be charged with child abuse, threatening a federal judge with kidnapping, as well as tax evasion.
This case aired on May 15th, 1991 and the Unsolved Mystery viewers quickly succeeded in bringing Alamo to justice. Their tips led to Tony’s arrest on July 5th of that very same year. His trial for threatening a federal judge led to him earning a “not guilty” verdict. However, the tax evasion charges led to Alamo being handed a 6-year sentence. In 1995, the charges of child abuse against him were dropped.
Then new charges were brought up a full 13 years later when 5 underage girls accused Alamo of taking them away from their families and sexually assaulting them. Alamo, of course, denied the charges but the courts sided with the victims and Alamo was sentenced to 175 years in prison for “10 counts of interstate transportation of minors for illegal sexual purposes, rape, sexual assault, and contributing to the delinquency of minors.” His accusers were awarded 2.5 million dollars from Alamo. As of this writing, he remains in jail.
Sickeningly, his ministry remains open and in addition to still advocating abuse, they also attempt to accuse the victims of being in the wrong. The ministry also maintains a stance against Catholics, the Pope and the U.S. government. They accuse them of being behind evils such as 9/11, JFK’s assassination and Pearl Harbor. The flock still awaits Armageddon.
I hope you enjoyed this look back into these cases. I shall bring forth more editions of this series in the near future.