Mysteries at the Museum (2010) s11e13 Episode Script

Flight Of The Bell

The brilliant mind who gamed the lottery LEVENGOOD: This story is about gambling, ambition, and beating the odds.
An international hut for Nazi spies OHLKE: They intended to destroy the United States.
[ Tires screech ] And a city terrorized by a fire-breathing fiend PENDLE: It was as if a demon was walking the streets of London.
[ Screams ] These are the mysteries at the museum.
Allentown, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1762, just as the seeds of the American Revolution were taking root.
And there's one unique institution here that celebrates this city's link to the nation's history -- the Liberty Bell Museum.
The collection includes medical tools from the 1700s, an 18th-century coffee pot, and a musket from 1862.
But the heart of this institution is this hulking bronze object.
CARROLL: It's 5 feet tall, 12 feet in circumference, and weighs over 2,000 pounds, and it's one of America's most sacred symbols.
WILDMAN: This full-sized replica of the Liberty Bell represents the very essence of independence.
But few realize that its iconic stature was born from an amazing tale of bravery, ingenuity, and espionage.
CARROLL: This is the story of one of America's earliest covert operations.
WILDMAN: September 1777, Pennsylvania.
The Revolutionary War is in its second year.
Fire! And the Americans are on the brink of defeat.
British troops are closing in on Philadelphia, and the colonial capital as almost in their grasp.
CARROLL: There was a real state of emergency that any moment, the British could arrive and Philadelphia was essentially defenseless.
WILDMAN: As the British push forward, they overrun smaller towns and villages, looting them for food, clothing, and perhaps most importantly, metal.
CARROLL: This is a time where metal is extremely scarce and the British could easily melt it down and turn it into cannonballs and bullets and other forms of weaponry.
WILDMAN: If the Redcoats can reach Philadelphia, a huge prize awaits them -- the State House bell.
Seizing the enormous bell would provide them with more than just a material advantage.
It would be a hugely symbolic victory over the upstart Americans.
CARROLL: To have the State House bell captured would be a huge blow to morale throughout the colonies.
WILDMAN: For the revolutionaries, the bell must be kept out of British hands at all costs.
Tasked with the critical mission is the commissioner of military stores, Colonel Benjamin Flower.
CARROLL: Flower was determined to succeed in this essentially covert mission.
WILDMAN: The colonel realizes that the only way to keep the bell safe is to hide it, and he has the perfect place in mind, a patriotic stronghold 60 miles to the north -- Allentown, Pennsylvania.
But getting the massive bronze bell there is easier said than done.
The route from Philadelphia to Allentown is crawling with British spies, and concealing something so big will be almost impossible.
CARROLL: The State House bell is literally enormous.
The question was, how do you get it out of the city? WILDMAN: Then Flower has a moment of inspiration.
Farm wagons carrying vegetables between Philadelphia and the surrounding towns rarely attract the attention of the British.
If he can somehow hide the bell on one of these wagons, it might make it to Allentown without arousing suspicion.
CARROLL: Flower realizes this could be the perfect way to hide the State House bell.
WILDMAN: The colonel and a team of laborers carefully remove the prized bell from its perch in the State House.
Then they load it onto a wagon owned by a local farmer, Frederick Leaser.
CARROLL: They actually put hay and even manure over it to try and disguise it.
WILDMAN: As the British descend on Philadelphia, Leaser sets off with his secret cargo in tow.
But just a few hours into his journey, disaster strikes.
[ Thud ] The wagon's rear wheel buckles under the enormous weight of the massive bell.
Leaser is stranded and his contraband could be discovered at any moment.
CARROLL: He's miles outside of the city.
This was a very serious situation.
WILDMAN: To stand any chance of making it to Allentown, Leaser must first find a wheelwright to repair his wagon.
So, leaving the bell unguarded, he races to the closest town.
It's a desperate move.
The longer the bell is unguarded, the more likely it is the British will find it.
CARROLL: Frederick Leaser is in a panic.
He has to get back on the road.
WILDMAN: In town, he locates the wheelwright, and the two rush back to the wagon.
To Leaser's relief, the bell is still there.
The repairman gets to work.
And as soon as the wheel is fixed, Leaser resumes his journey.
Hours later, Leaser reaches Allentown.
There, he heads to the Zion Church and hides his precious cargo under the floorboards, where it remains safely protected for months.
In June 1778, the revolutionaries drive the British out of Philadelphia and the bell is returned to its rightful place at the State House.
When the British finally surrender on October 19, 1781, the bell rings out in celebration of the news.
[ Bell ringing ] As the years pass, the massive bell becomes known by another name.
CARROLL: The State House bell is now known as the Liberty Bell.
WILDMAN: Today, the Zion Church in Allentown where the bell was safely hidden from the clutches of the British, is now the site of the Liberty Bell Museum.
This exact replica of the famous American icon recalls the heroic mission that preserved a ringing symbol of liberty.
Chicago, Illinois.
The Windy City's famous Loop takes its nickname from the elevated trains that circle the central business district.
But in the middle of it all is an institution dedicated to the city's creative side -- the Chicago Cultural Center.
The collection includes the world's largest Tiffany dome, a player piano from the early 1900s, and a model of a Frank Lloyd Wright building made entirely of Lincoln Logs.
But among these whimsical artifacts is a faded object with a dark story to tell.
SAMUELSON: The artifact's about six inches by four inches.
It's the image of a man wearing a full chef's regalia.
And he looks shadowy and mysterious.
WILDMAN: This photograph recalls a crime so insidious, it left people sick to their stomachs.
Ah! SAMUELSON: This is a story about anarchy, intrigue, and a disgruntled chef.
WILDMAN: February 10, 1916, Chicago.
300 of the city's most influential figures are gathered at the prestigious University Club for a dinner banquet.
Among the illustrious attendees are the former mayor of Chicago, the governor of Illinois, and several bank presidents.
SAMUELSON: This is a gathering of the who's who of Chicago.
Everyone who was anyone was there.
WILDMAN: The guests are served their first course, a soup made from chicken bouillon.
But the broth does not go down easy.
People started to look really pale, almost ashen in their face.
People are feeling sick.
WILDMAN: Dozens upon dozens of guests fall to the floor, groaning in agony.
Ah! SAMUELSON: People started retching and vomiting.
The great hall in all its Gothic grandeur resounded with the echoes of people throwing up.
WILDMAN: Medics are called to the gruesome scene to tend to the ailing guests.
Fortunately, all of the partygoers recover quickly.
It seems that the sudden sickness must have been caused by food poisoning.
SAMUELSON: That's really not that unusual.
I mean, it did happen from time to time in restaurants and in the early days of sanitation of the era.
WILDMAN: But just to be sure there's no foul play involved, the authorities have the soup tested.
When the results come back, they leave the city reeling.
The soup had been laced with an enormous amount of arsenic.
SAMUELSON: The poison was so strong, it had the potential to kill everybody in the whole banquet.
This could have been the worst mass murder in the history of Chicago.
WILDMAN: Investigators immediately question the staff of the University Club, and almost every employee they speak to fingers the same suspect -- Assistant Chef Jean Crones.
Crones was known around the club for his anarchist views and his dislike of the government.
Chef Crones was somebody who advocated against authority.
The people that were at the University Club for that banquet were the very people that he hated the most.
WILDMAN: Police rush to Crones' home.
When they arrive, the chef is nowhere to be found.
What they do find is damning.
The chef's home is stacked with piles of anarchist literature and empty bottles of arsenic.
But perhaps most disturbingly of all, the cops also discover an arsenal of weapons.
It seems Crones had been planning another attack.
SAMUELSON: The authorities had to find out where he was.
Everything was vulnerable now.
WILDMAN: So can the police catch the villainous chef before he strikes again? It's 1916 in Chicago.
Police are on the hunt for an anarchist chef named Jean Crones.
He's already poisoned hundreds of guests at a party for city officials, and it looks like he's planning another attack.
So can they catch Crones before he cooks up another plot? Police distribute photos of Jean Crones throughout the city, including this one, now on display at the Chicago Cultural Center, and they are soon inundated with calls.
SAMUELSON: Reports flooded in from across the country of alleged Crone sightings.
WILDMAN: But none of the leads prove successful.
SAMUELSON: Jean Crones disappeared.
He was totally gone.
WILDMAN: Thankfully, another attack never materializes, and the fate of Jean Crones becomes one of Chicago's greatest unsolved mysteries.
But 75 years after the criminal chef disappeared, new evidence comes to light that blows the story wide-open.
In 1991, researchers trying to solve the riddle are searching through city archives when they come across an intriguing report.
It's about another anarchist extremist who was operating in Chicago at the time of the University Club poisoning.
SAMUELSON: He was an Italian anarchist by the name of Nestor Dondoglio.
WILDMAN: Dondoglio was part of a group that bombed police stations, courthouses, and even the homes of elected officials.
But in 1916, for reasons unknown, Dondoglio left Chicago.
The fact that he split at the same time as Jean Crones leads researchers to a stunning theory.
Perhaps the man people knew as Jean Crones was actually Nestor Dondoglio.
The theory proposes that Dondoglio remained in hiding until his death in 1932.
But despite this potential link to the University Club poisoning, whether he and Jean Crones were one and the same remains a topic of debate to this very day.
Is the story of Jean Crones closed? Do people know who he really was, what he was about? No.
WILDMAN: Meanwhile, this photograph in the collection of the Chicago Cultural Center is a chilling reminder of an anarchist chef and his secret recipe for terror.
A 19th-century record player, a vintage jukebox from 1978, and a collection of novelty pins are just some of the pop cultural memorabilia on display at the Bowling Green State University Libraries in Ohio.
But alongside these cheery exhibits is a periodical with a sinister tale to tell.
PENDLE: It's about five inches long and four inches wide.
It has a colorful illustration on the front showing a scene of three men sword fighting.
One man is fighting off a villain.
Another is creeping up behind him.
Is it a devil? Is it a man? We can't tell.
WILDMAN: This magazine depicts the devilish creature behind an enduring mystery that gripped a world capital with fear.
PENDLE: This is the story of a city held hostage by a maniacal monster on the loose.
WILDMAN: February 21, 1838, London, England.
A young woman named Jane Alsop bursts through the door of the Lambeth Street Police Station, and she has a horrifying story to tell.
PENDLE: She's white.
She's terrified.
She's seen something she can't believe.
WILDMAN: The woman explains that the night before, she heard the bell ring at her front gate.
She assumed it was a neighbor in need of assistance.
But when she opened the door, what greeted her wasn't a familiar face but a vicious fiend.
PENDLE: It was a diabolical creature with flame-red eyes and spewing blue and white flame out of his mouth.
Jane must have been terrified.
WILDMAN: Jane screamed and tried to flee.
But it was too late.
PENDLE: The fiend was upon her, clawing at her not with fingers but with kind of metal talons, ripping out clumps of hair.
[ Screaming ] WILDMAN: Jane says that the hideous creature scratched her arms and neck and then bounded off into the night.
As Jane finishes her harrowing tale, the officers are skeptical.
PENDLE: They must have thought that Jane had been delusional, hallucinating, dreaming even.
WILDMAN: But that's not the last the authorities will hear of this flame-breathing fiend.
In the two weeks that follow, scores of Londoners claim they have been assaulted by a strange and hideous creature.
PENDLE: Somebody or something is attacking and terrorizing the people of London.
WILDMAN: Each incident is eerily similar and ends exactly the same way -- with the beast bounding away from the scene.
PENDLE: The creature takes giant bounds and leaps over walls or even over rooftops to escape.
WILDMAN: As the frightening accounts hit the press, reporters give the maniacal monster a fitting moniker.
PENDLE: The media call him Spring-heeled Jack.
WILDMAN: Panic sweeps across London.
PENDLE: Spring-heeled Jack seemed as if a demon, a real-life supernatural being, that was walking the streets of London.
WILDMAN: So who or what is Spring-heeled Jack? It's 1838 in England.
The city of London is gripped by fear.
According to reports, a fire-breathing maniac is on the loose and has committed a spree of violent attacks.
The press have dubbed him Spring-heeled Jack.
But who or what he is remains a mystery.
So, will this devilish fiend be unmasked? Just as quickly as they began, the reports of attacks by Spring-heeled Jack suddenly stop.
PENDLE: It was as if the fiend had disappointed into thin air.
WILDMAN: The story of Spring-heeled Jack goes down as one of London's most enduring unsolved mysteries, and the tale of the despicable fiend is retold for generations in books, comics, and magazines.
PENDLE: Spring-heeled Jack, he's seen as a kind of quintessential Victorian bogeyman.
WILDMAN: But who or what was this terrifying monster? Some say that Spring-heeled Jack was nothing more than a myth spawned by reporters hungry for a good story that would sell papers.
Others claim it could simply have been some kind of escaped animal, such as a bear.
But the most compelling theory is perhaps the most disturbing.
At the time of the attacks, the city's upper crust was obsessed with trickery, mischief, and pranks.
PENDLE: Pranks were something young aristocrats would do on a drunken night out.
WILDMAN: And some historians have pointed to one man who seemed determined to outdo his peers, a mischievous member of London's elite named Henry Beresford.
Known as the Mad Marquis, Beresford was infamous for his drunken escapades and violent stunts.
PENDLE: Henry Beresford had a kind of wicked, very kind of unlawful sense of humor.
One time, he tried to pay two railway companies to crash their trains into one another so he could watch the explosion.
[ Train horn blows ] This was a man whose eccentricity verged on the unwell.
WILDMAN: And as for the monster's fire breathing, Beresford could have relied on a well-known carnival trick to produce the incendiary effect.
PENDLE: By mixing sulfur and various alcoholic spirits in a test tube, you could kind of create a flame coming out of your mouth.
Henry Beresford was an absolute dead ringer for Spring-heeled Jack.
WILDMAN: Despite this tantalizing theory, the truth behind Spring-heeled Jack may never be known.
PENDLE: Spring-heeled Jack is a Gothic, a macabre, a weird story, and it could only have come from the Victorian era of London town.
WILDMAN: Today, this illustrated booklet depicting Spring-heeled Jack's reign of terror remains on display at the Bowling Green University Libraries.
It recalls the fire-breathing fiend that gripped an entire city with fear.
An umbrella that shoots poison darts, a camera concealed in a coat button, and a disc used to decipher secret messages are just some of the gadgets on display at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.
But among these complex tools of the spy trade is a deceptively simple object.
OHLKE: It's about 15 inches long.
It has two thin metal prongs on one end and a wooden handle on the other.
WILDMAN: This peculiar device helped unveil a terrible plot that threatened to bring America to its knees.
OHLKE: This is a story of espionage, innovation, and deception.
WILDMAN: It's March 1940, World War II.
Hitler's forces control vast swaths of Western Europe.
A German victory seems inevitable.
But there is one country that is capable of defeating the Nazis -- the United States of America.
But the Nazis have put a plan in motion that they think will stop the U.
from entering the war.
One of their top-secret agents is on his way to New York -- 38-year-old Kurt Frederick Ludwig.
He's been tasked with gathering intelligence that could help the Germans launch a preemptive strike against the United States.
If such a strike were successful, it could cause enough damage to guarantee victory for Hitler's Third Reich.
OHLKE: They intended to destroy the United States.
WILDMAN: Once in New York, Ludwig recruits eight men to join his spy ring.
Together, they conduct a series of covert operations, collecting vast amounts of information on American troop movements, weapons, and military bases.
The Germans are on the prowl and want to know all about how much manpower, how much artillery, how much shipping power did the U.
have? WILDMAN: Ludwig sends intelligence back to Germany via encrypted letters written with invisible ink, and by 1941, Ludwig's network is running like a well-oiled machine.
It appears to be just a matter of time before he gives the Nazis everything they need to launch a devastating strike against the United States.
But what the spy doesn't yet know is that his evil plan is about to come unstuck.
[ Tires screech ] It's 1941, New York City.
German secret agent Kurt Frederick Ludwig is carrying out a sinister mission.
He's gathering information on American military bases to help the Nazis mount a preemptive strike.
If he's successful, it could spell disaster for America and her allies.
But little does this saboteur know, his evil plan is about to come unstuck.
On March 18th, Ludwig and one of his agents are transporting a cache of secret documents across the city when something goes terribly wrong.
[ Tires screech ] Ludwig's companion is struck by a taxi and killed.
A crowd immediately gathers at the crash site.
Ludwig, fearing an investigation into the collision could blow his cover, acts fast.
He grabs the papers and runs away before officials arrive on the scene.
OHLKE: Ludwig takes off and leaves his friend there in the street.
WILDMAN: As far as Ludwig knows, he's averted a major crisis.
But he is unaware that the crash has set off a chain reaction that reverberates far from New York City.
OHLKE: Someone was keeping an eye on what's happening from 700 miles away.
WILDMAN: Bermuda, 1941.
This tiny outcrop in the Atlantic is the secret headquarters of a British surveillance operation with a very specific task -- to monitor mail sent between the United States and Germany.
OHLKE: They're looking for secret messages, looking for codes, doing all sorts of wonderful clandestine things.
WILDMAN: The all-female staff is known as the censorettes.
Every day, the censorettes surreptitiously open mail with letter-extraction devices, like this one at the International Spy Museum.
This was used to extract a letter from an envelope without unsealing the envelope.
WILDMAN: Two prongs are inserted under the flap of the envelope and then slid over the fold of the letter.
When the device is turned, the pages inside wrap around the prongs, allowing the letter to be removed through the fold undamaged.
To get the letter back in, the process is reversed.
One day, a censorette opens a strange letter that arouses her suspicions.
It's signed simply by Joe K.
OHLKE: The language was awkward.
It didn't seem like something written by a native English speaker.
There were words that seemed to be substitutions for German words.
WILDMAN: The letter is sent for further analysis.
Lo and behind, secret writing emerged.
WILDMAN: The decrypted letter describes a mysterious New York City traffic fatality.
When the British share their findings with the FBI, the American agents are stunned.
They happened to be investigating a mysterious car crash in New York City in which a man was observed suspiciously fleeing the scene.
Finally, it all clicks.
OHLKE: It does not take long for the FBI to match up Joe K.
with the man who had run away from the scene of the car accident, Kurt Frederick Ludwig.
WILDMAN: On August 23rd, federal agents track down Ludwig and arrest the sinister spy.
What is this? You're under arrest.
OHLKE: When they arrest Ludwig, they find bottles of the secret ink that was written on the Joe K.
He was caught red-handed.
WILDMAN: In 1943, Ludwig and eight other members of his spy ring are tried on charges of espionage and found guilty.
OHLKE: For the FBI, this is a wonderful triumph.
They have gotten a dangerous Nazi spy and his spy ring off the streets.
WILDMAN: Today, this replica of the letter-extraction device used by the censorettes is on display at the International Spy Museum.
It recalls the secret plot to destroy America that was revealed just by opening the mail.
Tucked along the banks of the James River is the storied city of Richmond, Virginia.
It was here in 1775 that Founding Father Patrick Henry delivered his famous rallying cry, "Give me liberty or give me death.
" And preserving the state's rich heritage is the Virginia Historical Society.
The collection includes a Native American canoe from the early 1600s, an iron breastplate worn by Virginia's earliest colonists, and gold stars from the uniform of Confederate General Robert E.
But set apart from these centuries-old relics is a modern piece of machinery.
LEVENGOOD: It's about 12 inches high and about 15 inches wide, weighs about 20 pounds with some colorful buttons on a keyboard, and it looks a little bit like computer equipment from the 1980s.
WILDMAN: This lottery register is linked to one of the most audacious get-rich-quick schemes the country has ever seen.
LEVENGOOD: This story is about gambling, ambition, and beating the odds.
WILDMAN: 1992, Virginia.
Entrepreneur Stefan Mandel has a unique business plan that he hopes will rake in millions of dollars.
But his plan doesn't involve manufacturing or retail, and he's not dabbling in the stock market.
Mandel's big idea is to outsmart the Virginia State Lottery.
Mandel was determined to game the system.
WILDMAN: Mandel's idea is this.
In any lottery, a person who buys every single number combination guarantees himself a win.
LEVENGOOD: Mandel realized there were 7.
1 million possible number combinations.
WILDMAN: If the jackpot was large enough, he'd turn a tidy profit.
And when no one wins the lottery from one drawing to the next, the jackpot grows and grows, a process the gaming industry calls a rollover.
The wily Mandel calculates that in order for it to be worth buying every single number, the jackpot needs to exceed $25 million.
LEVENGOOD: It is simply a waiting game until the right drawing comes along.
WILDMAN: It sounds easy.
Wait for the pot to grow to more than $25 million, And then spend $7.
1 million to buy every single combination.
But there's a catch.
The state lottery holds drawings every three days.
That leaves just 72 hours in which to purchase 7.
1 million lottery tickets.
No single person could buy that many tickets in such a short amount of time.
To handle the volume, Mandel farms out the job to a ragtag team of employees.
He instructs them to get ready for the jackpot to reach the magic number.
When it does, they'll divide up the number combinations and buy massive amounts of lottery tickets at convenience stores and supermarkets across Virginia.
Mandel was nothing if not well-organized.
WILDMAN: Finally, on February 15th, the lottery tops $25 million.
For Mandel and his team, it's go time.
It's a enormous logistical feat coordinating all these people all over the state.
WILDMAN: At first, everything seems to be going well.
LEVENGOOD: This was a highly sophisticated and very, very streamlined operation.
But then, just hours before the drawing, the plan hits a major hiccup.
One of the store chains can't process this many tickets.
WILDMAN: A popular chain of supermarkets is so overwhelmed by the number of tickets they have to print before the drawing that it looks like Mandel's team is going to fall short of the 7.
1 million they need, and there's nothing Mandel can do about it.
With just hours to go, it seems as if Mandel's team is out of luck.
LEVENGOOD: This was months and months of work, thousands of man-hours generating these numbers, and this was all potentially going to go for nothing.
This could be absolutely disastrous.
It's 1992 in Virginia.
Mathematician Stefan Mandel is trying to pull off a wild scheme to make himself millions.
On the week of a multirollover jackpot in the state lottery, he's going to buy a ticket for every single number combination.
But there's a problem.
Just hours before the drawing, a chain of supermarkets is struggling to print the tickets fast enough.
So has this lotto king's luck just run out? As the clock ticks down, Mandel's team desperately tries to buy up the remaining number combinations.
It was completely frantic, absolutely frazzled.
WILDMAN: But when the drawing arrives, Mandel's group has only purchased about 5 million of the 7.
1 million possible ticket combinations.
Despite trying to eliminate luck from the game, Mandel and his men are now subject to the whims of chance.
They knew how much money was at stake.
I can only imagine that they were absolutely shocked and horrified.
WILDMAN: Mandel and his team tune in to the live Virginia State Lottery drawing.
One by one, the numbers are picked.
And when the final ball drops, they quickly check their list.
And luckily for them, they have the winning combination.
This is the one.
$27 million! LEVENGOOD: The reaction in the room was absolute euphoria.
WILDMAN: The jackpot covers the cost of the tickets and earns Mandel's operation a healthy payday.
But Mandel's remarkable scheme doesn't escape the notice of state lottery officials.
Virginia eventually passes a law that prevents people from purchasing tickets in bulk to ensure that a similar stunt never happens again.
Today, a lottery terminal like the one Mandel's team used is in the collection of the Virginia Historical Society.
It recalls the complicated plot that took luck out of a high-stakes game of chance.
Greenwich, England.
Situated on the River Thames, this London borough is known as the birthplace of the British Royal Navy.
And preserving its seafaring past is the National Maritime Museum.
Its collection includes the uniform worn by Britain's most famous naval commander, Admiral Lord Nelson, a series of 18th century carved wooden figureheads, and a stained glass window commemorating sailors killed in the First World War.
But among these items of sailing pride is an artifact that recalls the most infamous naval rebellion of all time.
RIGBY: The object is 7 1/2 inches high by 6 1/2 inches wide.
It has a glass cover to it and a wooden frame.
Inside it is a strand of human hair.
WILDMAN: This delicate braid is linked to an astonishing tale of betrayal, violence, and treachery.
RIGBY: This is a story about one of the greatest maritime mutinies in history.
WILDMAN: May 1789, London, England.
It's a normal day at the headquarters of the British Navy when an officer suddenly bursts into the building.
His name is William Bligh, the commander of the HMS Bounty.
And he has an extraordinary story to tell.
Bligh explains that the HMS Bounty had been sailing in the South Pacific when his crew staged a violent mutiny.
RIGBY: Bligh was forced on deck, hands tied with a cutlass to his throat.
WILDMAN: The mutineers threw Bligh and a group of officers into a small boat and took off on the Bounty in the direction of Tahiti.
To Bligh, this was a complete and utter surprise.
WILDMAN: Abandoned in the middle of the ocean, Bligh and his sailors somehow managed to navigate their way back to safety.
The mutiny on the HMS Bounty leaves the Royal Navy fuming.
A mutiny like this, where the ship was lost, was serious and very unusual.
WILDMAN: The navy resolves to get the Bounty back and bring the mutineers to justice.
RIGBY: They wanted to make an example of the men.
WILDMAN: The British dispatch one of their finest warships to Tahiti.
But when it arrives, islanders tell the ship's crew they're too late.
According to the Tahitians, the fugitives fled on the HMS Bounty months earlier, bound for parts unknown.
They could have sailed in any direction.
The Pacific was huge.
WILDMAN: Over the next two decades, the fate of the Bounty and its mutinous crew goes down as the greatest maritime mystery the world has ever known.
20 years after the mutiny, no one heard of the Bounty.
No one saw it.
People had just assumed that they were dead.
WILDMAN: But just when all hope of finding the vanished ship seems lost, a chance encounter reveals its incredible fate.
So what became of the HMS Bounty? It's the 1800s.
A British naval mission to hunt down the mutineers onboard the HMS Bounty has ended in failure.
The fate of the traitors and of the ship itself remain a mystery.
So what's the truth behind this mysterious mutiny? An American whaling ship is making its way through remote waters in the South Pacific when the captain spots an unexpected stretch of land that doesn't appear on any map.
Here was an island that no one had ever heard of.
WILDMAN: And as the ship draws closer, the island appears to be inhabited.
RIGBY: There were clearly people living on it.
And they got closer still and saw a boat which came out to them.
And the people on the boat spoke English.
WILDMAN: The mysterious islanders take the captain to the leader of their community.
His name is John Adams, and he has an incredible tale to tell.
RIGBY: Adams was, in fact, the last survivor of the nine mutineers who had taken the Bounty all those years earlier.
WILDMAN: Adams enthralls his guests with his astonishing story of survival.
He explains that he and the other men mutinied because they had grown tired of life at sea and wanted to live out their days in paradise.
And after casting off Captain Bligh, they sailed to Tahiti.
There, many of the crew fell in love with Tahitian women.
But fearing they would be caught by the British, they took the women and fled to a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific.
RIGBY: It was remoteness that they were looking for.
They wanted to hide from the navy.
WILDMAN: Once there, the fugitives burned the Bounty to destroy all evidence of their crime.
They formed a settlement, with many of the men having children with their new Tahitian wives.
As the years went by, one by one, the original crew members passed away, eventually leaving only John Adams to live out his days among the descendants of the mutineers.
News of the discovery of the mutineers' colony soon reaches the British admiralty.
But surprisingly, they choose to grant the lone surviving seaman clemency.
The Royal Navy was busy fighting a war with France at the time, so John Adams was pardoned.
WILDMAN: Over the years, the mutineers' fledgling society grows and grows.
The settlement they founded on this remote island, known as Pitcairn, is still there today.
And at the National Maritime Museum of England, this braid of mutineer John Adams' hair is on display.
It recalls the hunt for an infamous ship and the rebellious sailors who left it all behind.
From a criminal cook to a lotto king, a Nazi spy ring to a Liberty Bell I'm Don Wildman, and these are the mysteries at the museum.