5 Stupid Coincidences That Actually Solved Crimes

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by Pauli Poisuo

Criminals are often caught thanks to fairly simple clues, such as fingerprints, bloody knives that they’re still holding, or witnesses who are able to point out the culprit’s intricate back tattoo that says: “I AM THE GUY WHO STABBED THAT DUDE”. But sometimes, all it takes is a stupid, completely unpredictable coincidence.


Illegal Animal Wranglers Are Caught Because Of A Random Rihanna Selfie

In Thailand, there’s been a bit of an epidemic of unscrupulous people exploiting wildlife and offering travelers selfies with protected animals that have no business being tourist attractions. The police have been fighting the phenomenon for years, but they describe it as a cat-and-mouse game at best.

Still, sometimes life provides. In 2013, two men specialized in keeping slow lorises, big-eyed Disney squirrels that are protected as heck in Southeast Asia. Their illegal antics had gone unnoticed by the long arm of the law ... until one day, they found themselves caught in the most absurd way possible.

Rihanna. Yes, really.

Good thing it wasn’t a giraffe. Her shoulder would be wrecked.

Rihanna happened to be touring the region, and she (or her assistants) stumbled upon some guys peddling a cute critter for tourist photographs. Ever social media savvy, Rihanna snapped a quick Instagram selfie with the animal ... which, of course, was a slow loris belonging to the crooks described above.

Turns out someone close to the Thai police followed Ri-Ri on Instagram ... because most of the functioning world follows Rihanna on Instagram. A quick double take (and presumably some pretty frantic phone calls) later, the cops were able to track down the two men who were in possession of the protected animal. To be fair, this was hardly the arrest of the century, seeing as the culprits turned out to be 16- and 20- year old kids who were just messing around with two lorises. Still, it probably served as a pretty hefty warning to anyone who hopes to make a buck exploiting endangered wildlife: There’s no telling when the rando tourist you show your “pet” to turns out to be someone who can easily pull hundreds of thousands of eyes on your law-breaking antics on social media.

A Kidnapping Case Is Solved Because Someone Confuses It With Another Kidnapping

In 1990, a Point Roberts, WA man watching America’s Most Wanted saw a segment about a kidnapped girl, and thought that he’d seen her in the neighborhood. He reported this to the authorities, who decided to take a closer look. Of course, as is often the case with tips from the public, the girl that the viewer had talked about had absolutely nothing to do with the kidnapping case featured on the show.

Instead, just by sheer, dumb luck, it was another kidnapping victim: Monica Judith Bonilla.

That’s her in the middle, in an outfit that we desperately want Jason Murphy to wear.

Let’s allow that to really sink in. A dude decides to report a girl that kind of looks like a kidnapping victim from TV. The girl is totally unconnected to that case, but turns out to be a victim of a completely unrelated kidnapping. We’re not sure exactly who pissed off Lady Justice that day, but we’re guessing it was just about everyone. Except, of course, for Monica (who had been told that her mother was dead) and her long-suffering, very-much-alive mom, who were reunited after eight years apart.

Because her mother had remarried during her absence, Monica also scored a 6-year-old baby brother from the deal. She’d been completely oblivious of her kidnapping situation, so she emerged from her ordeal emotionally unscathed, and was actually pretty chuffed about the brand new family she’d acquired. “I’ve got a little brother”, she said of her new, unexpected living situation. “He’s sweet. I was happy before, and I am still happy.”

Though she did also state that she wanted an M.C. Hammer tape for Christmas, so clearly, some deep-set damage had been done.

A Murder Is Solved Because The Victim And The Killer Both Fancied Someone With The Same Initials

In 1925, Ruth Snyder acquired a secret boyfriend named Judd Gray. With that turn of events, she developed an increasing distaste for her husband, Albert. This could have been handled in any number of ways, but because breakups are awkward, man, the lovers settled on the absolute worst solution available to them.

Ruth persuaded Albert to get a hefty life insurance policy, and when things weren’t moving fast enough, she got an unscrupulous insurance agent to forge Albert’s signature for a $48,000 policy (a little under $690,000, adjusted for inflation) that would pay double if Albert would be killed by an unexpected act of violence. Then, Ruth and Judd exposed Albert to an unexpected act of violence. They garroted the poor man and stuffed his face full of chloroform rags, then staged the scene to look like a robbery gone wrong.

Well, she definitely doesn’t look terrifying at all.

When the police searched the house, they happened to stumble upon a clue among the victim’s possessions. It was a paper with the initials J.G. It would later transpire that this stood for Albert’s former love, Jessie Guishard, whom he still clearly liked enough to hold onto a secret memento. Ruth had no idea of the paper, which proved to be her downfall. When the cops casually asked her: “Hey, what about this J.G. person, then?” she immediately freaked out, because the only J.G. she could think of was her lover and partner-in-crime. So she asked the investigators precisely what Judd Gray had to do with the case at hand.

At which point, it probably occurred to her that the cops had been entirely unaware of Gray’s existence until that point.

After the police took a long look at the creeped-out wife and tracked down the hitherto unmentioned Mr. Gray, the case was soon solved. Instead of living the rest of their lives in luxury provided by copious insurance blood money, the lovers found themselves with a one-way ticket to the electric chair.

A Man Accidentally Solves One Of The Oldest Missing Child Cases In The Country: His Own

In 1977, Mark Barnes’ infant son disappeared, along with the boy’s mother, Barnes’ girlfriend Charlotte Moriarty. Barnes knew Moriarty was an artistic type who could randomly disappear on a moment’s notice, so at first, he wasn’t overly concerned. However, after three weeks, he decided to contact the police. They never did find the boy, and neither would Barnes, who spent the next 15 years combing through Hawaii for a clue -- any clue. There were none. Barnes wouldn’t find out what happened for 35 years.

Flash forward: Steve Carter knew that he was adopted, and a couple of things about his personal history had been weirding him out a little. He had no real complaints about his life so far, but the fact that his birth certificate stated he was of Hawaiian ancestry seemed strange, what with him being a blonde man with fair skin and blue eyes. So he started idly researching if he could find his real parents, and ended up clicking a missing children website on a complete hunch ... and the literal first thing he saw was a drawing of his own face.

To his horror, Carter found that his real mother had straight up abducted him in what became one of the oldest missing child cases in the country, and the picture on the missing children site was an age-progressed image that got it eerily right. His current adoptive parents weren’t involved at all and were presumably just as surprised as Steve. As an unexpected bonus, Steve also found that his real name is “Marx Panama.”

The picture on the left is age-projected. And we’re kind of creeped out by it.

When Marx Panama’s mother had taken him away from his biological father, she had disappeared so hard that she was soon placed in a psychiatric hospital as a Jane Doe. The officials filed the baby’s information pretty much as the mother gave it, which is why his birth certificate came to contain all sorts of horsecrap about his ancestry. When the mother soon disappeared again, the infant ended up as a ward of the state, under the fake identity the mother had given him, which is why neither Mark Barnes nor the police had been able to find him.

A Sex Criminal Is Caught Because Two Cooks From The Same Cafe Were Featured On The Same TV Show

It happened in 1993 in Rollingwood, Texas and involved a 10-year-old kid. We’re not going to sully anyone’s day with further details. We will tell you, though, that fate was disgusted with the events, so it conspired like blazes to get the guy caught.

Like so many stories, this one started with a completely unrelated murder. A former cook of a Salt Lake City haunt called the Green Parrot Cafe had been killed. The circumstances were impressive enough for the case to end up on an episode of America’s Most Wanted (yeah, that show is really pulling its weight). So the staff and patrons made sure to gather around to watch the segment.

After the bit about the dead chef was over, the staff returned to work and a bunch of the bar’s screens were turned back to sports channels and whatnot. However, a couple of TVs remained with America’s Most Wanted ... which was a stroke of luck, because one of the following segments was about the Rollingwood case. When the suspect’s face filled the screen, the staff noticed that he looked an awful lot like their new cook, who was currently busy at work in the kitchen. Soon, they realized that it wasn’t just a coincidence -- this was absolutely the same guy.



We don’t have a photo of the guy, so here’s a picture of an unimpressed puppy.

The cafe’s manager promptly ordered a worker to call the cops, and then went in the back to stall the cook, who was already finishing his shift and getting ready to leave. Some improvised “paperwork” and a beer bribery managed to keep the guy in the cafe until the cops arrived, much to his everlasting surprise.

As a Salt Lake County police officer put it: “The irony goes real deep here.”

Like this article? Check out “5 Times Police Investigations Turned Surreal” and “5 Heists So Bizarre, They Sound Made Up”.

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