Unsolved Mysteries of the World


The Mission is Off

Season 6, Ep. 8

Welcome to Unsolved Mysteries of the World Season Six Episode Eight The Mission is Off

Justin Burgwinkel joined the U.S. Army in the summer of 1990 in hopes of making it into the 75th Ranger Regiment – the Army Rangers, an elite force of the Special Operations Command. He scored high on his army tests and immersed himself in language training with a specialty in the Korean language.

While stationed in Fort Ord in Monterey, California, he met Iolanda, a computer science student at Santa Clara University, while on a weekend pass. The two immediately hit it off and started seeing each other quiet often, Justin making the 80 mile drive just to have lunch.

Iolanda started noticing something strange about Justin, however, and she thought he may be leading a double life. Justin would stop in the middle of a conversation or intimate moment and look at his watch and say he had to go and that he needed to meet someone about something. He told her the people were in Monteray, but he said he could not tell her anything more and told her it was a secret.

After three years at Ford Ord, Justin was transferred to Fort Lewis in Washington State. Justin was heartbroken but promised to visit Iolanda when he could and it was nearly two months later that he received his first weekend pass.

Justin drove down to meet with Iolonda but she noticed he was acting even more peculiar than ever. Justin was carrying around a briefcase with him, and told her he could not reveal its contents because it was part of the secret and the meetings he had with the people previous. In one odd encounter, Justin was seen ripping up papers from the briefcase into tiny little pieces.

Iolonda did not question it but then she found Justin sitting on the floor of her living room sobbing uncontrollably. He did not want to talk about what was bugging him, wiped his tears and told her they should go out for dinner.

The next day Iolonda received a strange phone call. It was short and made no sense to her and she assumed it was intended for Justin.

“The Mission is off” - but when Iolanda asked who it was the person on the other end simply said, “Tell him the mission is off.”

The phone call ended. Iolonda relayed the message to Justin but he reacted badly. He raised his arms in the air and shouted “Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!” over and over again. When Iolonda tried to ask him what this was all about he said, “You don't want to know.”

On route back to Fort Lewis he stopped and purchased two handguns and a large quantity of ammunition. He then turned around and went back to Iolonda's apartment and there remained AWOL – or absent without leave – a huge black mark on his Army career. This would most certainly disqualify him for entering the Army Rangers.

Iolonda convinced Justin to call his parents who told him he should in the very least call the base. After ending the call with his parents, Justin called Fort Lewis and told them he would return. Iolanda was very concerned with Justin's behaviour and she pressed him as she had never done so before to get answers from him.

He told her to watch a movie called White Sands and that would explain a lot. He would not say any more about the matter explaining he did not want to get her in trouble. The movie White Sands is a suspense movie centering around international gun smuggling and the CIA.

The next day, Justin did not go back to Fort Lewis but instead walked out of her apartment. He did not say where he was going or what he was doing. It was the last time Iolonda or anyone reported seeing him.

Three months passed by and finally police found Justin's vehicle in an isolated beach front motel's parking lot. The motel did not remember Justin registering for a room. The car was searched but the two handguns and the ammunition was missing. In the trunk was the briefcase Justin carried around, but it was empty. His wallet and dog tags were on the passenger seat. The doors unlocked.

Iolonda remembers a conversation she had with Justin months previous in which he said if she ever found his dog tags and not his body, she should presume he is dead.

Justin was never seen again and his body, if dead, was never recovered.

His family does not know he was part of some international gun smuggling ring and don't know if things turned sour on Justin. Iolanda speculates that maybe he was suffering from some mental breakdown and believed he was part of some Hollywood movie plot.

Further research suggests that Justin Burgwinkle perhaps was passed over for the Army Rangers due to a shoplifting charge he acquired earlier and combined with his AWOL infraction his dreams of becoming a Ranger were squashed. He could not have liked that is entire Army career up to this point reached its pinnacle – he was simply a line cook in the Army. The pressure of knowing your life long dreams are dead perhaps caused Justin to react strangely and some believe he committed suicide and his body has yet been recovered.

Justin Burgwinkel was 21 years old when he went missing in 1993. He is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed approximately 175 pounds around the time he went missing. He has brown hair and brown eyes. If you have any information about the whereabouts of Justin Burgwinkel, contact the Monterey Police Department at 831-646-3830.

We will post photos of Justin Bergwinkel on our Facebook page.

More Episodes


The Haunted Old Idaho State Penitentiary Part Three

Season 6, Ep. 15
Welcome to Unsolved Mysteries of the World Season 6 Episode 15, The Old Idaho Penitentiary Part IIIIn the 1940s and 1950s the Idaho Penitentiary again was suffering from overcrowding and a new cell house was constructed. Cell Block #5 held the worst of the worst with maximum security cells, a death row, its very own indoor gallows and drop house.This housing unit is rumoured to be the most haunted of all the buildings on the property, even though, only one official hanging took place within. It was also that last State sanctioned execution in Idaho taking the life of Prisoner # 9509 Raymond Allen Snowden in the most unethical way.On the evening of September 23rd, 1956 Cora Lucille Dean drove to the Hi-Ho Club in Garden City, where she intended to have a few drinks and play the slot machines. Here she met a young man named Raymond Snowden who she found no only attractive, but fun to be around. When the two had a few drinks, Snowden wanted to take things a bit further and pressured Cora. When his advances were denied he threatened Cora in a frightening manner asking her to choose between rape and death. Cora obviously taken aback chose neither and that made Snowden angry who produced a pocket knife and stabbed Cora 29 times.The body, which was found the next morning by a paper boy, was viciously and sadistically cut and mutilated. An autopsy surgeon testified the voice box had been cut, and that this would have prevented the victim from making any intelligible outcry. There were other wounds inflicted while she was still alive — one in her neck, one in her abdomen, two in the face, and two on the back of the neck. The second neck wound severed the spinal cord and caused death. There were other wounds all over her body, and her clothing had been cut away. The nipple of the right breast was missing. There was no evidence of a sexual attack on the victim; however, some of the lacerations were around the breasts and vagina of the deceased.Snowden took the dead woman's wallet hailed a passing motorist and rode back to Boise. There he went to a bowling alley and changed clothes. He dropped his knife into a sewer at a Cigar Shop and threw the wallet away. Then he went to his hotel and cleaned up again. He put the clothes he had worn that evening into a trash barrel outside the hotel.Police narrowed in on Snowden almost immediately as eye-witnesses pointed out that Snowden had left with Cora that evening from the Hi-Ho Club. Police also, remember Snowden from a previous encounter as to which he boasted he was going to sever the spinal cord of his then girlfriend because she was irritating him.They found the weapon, the same one they remember him previously threatening with, still covered in blood in a sewer grate near Hannifin's Cigar Shop. Another eye-witness placed Snowden there and that was enough for an arrest to be made.During the trial it was brought to the attention of the media that Snowden had boasted of two other murders, but they were never confirmed. A detective magazine at the time dubbed Snowden, "Idaho's Jack the Ripper" in view of the viciousness of the crime.Snowden was found guilty and sentenced to death. He took up residence in Death Row with his door in view of the indoor gallows to which he would make his way to on October 18th, 1957.At 12:05 he was brought into the gallows room and met with the Chaplain. The noose was placed around his neck and the witnesses in the viewing room got their first look at Snowden. The door sprung just 45 seconds later. Down went Snowden and the crowd gasped. It seems the Warden and those responsible for carrying out the deed did not measure Snowden's height or weight, and s such the counter-weight was not calculated correctly. Snowden fell, but he did not break his neck instantly. Instead, in the catch room, he struggled and swung about for 15 minutes until he finally died. Some say it was an oversight, while others believed the authorities did this on purpose to make Snowden's death one of suffering.Snowden's hanging was the last of a total of ten men to occur at the prison and his body was buried in an unmarked grave on prison property. Some believe that Snowden haunts his Cell, Cell Block #5 and the hanging room. But Snowden may not be the only soul still doing time at the Pen. There are a total of 129 recorded deaths within the walls.Due to overcrowding and the treatment of prisoners serious riots occurred in 1952 and again in 1971. The 1973 riots proved to be the end of the Old Idaho Penitentiary as riots burned down several buildings and damaged others beyond repair. The 416 resident inmates were moved to the new Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise and the Old Idaho Penitentiary was closed on December 3, 1973, never to see another living soul imprisoned behind its stone walls.If you are interested in the Old Idaho State Penitentiary you can visit them daily where tours are conducted by volunteer staff. Special events around Halloween turn the prison into one goulish haunted attraction. More recently, the Pen has been giving Paranormal Investigation Tours.Special thanks to all those volunteering to keep such a historic gem alive. Thank you to the Idaho State Historical Society for their excellent resources and dedication. We will attach a bonus episode that was produced by the staff of the Idaho State Pen with funding from the Idaho State Historical Society.It focuses in on the prison's only double hanging. If you like what you hear, head over to their youtube page to see additional videos.We will leave you now with the words and memories of prisoners and staff from the Old Idaho State Penitentiary.Until Next Time.....Be good.