List of people who disappeared mysteriously

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This article is about individual persons who have disappeared. For disappearances associated with ships, see List of missing ships. For disappearances associated with aircraft, see List of aerial disappearances.

This is a list of people who disappeared mysteriously, and of people whose current whereabouts are unknown or whose deaths are not substantiated, as well as a few cases of people whose disappearances were notable and remained unexplained for a long time, but were eventually explained, or the body found. Many people who disappear are eventually declared dead in absentia.

Before 1800

  • 71 BC – Spartacus, leader of a slave rebellion against the Roman Republic. Although he was presumed killed in battle during the Third Servile War, his body was never found and his fate remains unknown.[1]
  • 53 BC – Ambiorix was, together with Catuvolcus, prince of the Eburones, leader of a Belgic tribe of northeastern Gaul (Gallia Belgica), where modern Belgium is located. According to the writer Florus (iii.10.8), Ambiorix and his men managed to cross the Rhine and disappeared without a trace.
  • c. 96 - Apollonius of Tyana (Philosopher) First century teacher who was known throughout the Roman Empire vanished mysteriously while walking down the road at age 100.
  • 108–164 – Legio IX Hispana (Ninth Spanish Legion) was a Roman legion stationed in Britain during the Roman conquest of Britain that disappears from surviving records without explanation in the second century. There are multiple conjectures regarding what happened to it and why no record of its fate has been found. Many references to the legion have been made in subsequent works of fiction.[2]
  • 378 – Roman Emperor Valens was defeated by the Goths at the Battle of Adrianople (modern Edirne, Turkey). The body of Valens was never found.
  • c. 834Muhammad ibn Qasim (al-Alawi) led a rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate but was defeated and detained. He was able to flee but was never heard from again.
  • c. 941 - Muhammad al-Mahdi, the twelfth Imam in the Theology of Twelvers, the largest branch of Shia Islam, is said to have been "occulted" or hidden by Allah until an unknown time.
  • 1021 – Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (36), sixth Fatimid caliph and 16th Ismaili imam, rode his donkey to the Muqattam hills outside Cairo for one of his regular nocturnal meditation outings and failed to return. A search found only the donkey and his bloodstained garments.[3]
  • 1071 – Hereward the Wake was a formerly exiled Anglo-Danish minor noble rebel who led a huge revolt in the marshy region of Ely in England against the rule of William the Conqueror. Eventually betrayed by fearful local monks who led the Norman troops through secret trackways, many rebels were mutilated or executed, but Hereward escaped, never to be heard of again.
  • 1203 – Arthur, Duke of Brittany, an heir to the throne of England. He was supported by French nobility who did not want John of England as overlord. On 31 July 1202, while besieging his grandmother Eleanor of Aquitaine, Arthur was surprised and captured by John's barons and imprisoned at Falaise in Normandy. The following year, Arthur was transferred to Rouen and then vanished mysteriously in April 1203.
  • c. 1291Vandino and Ugolino Vivaldi, Genoese sailors and explorers lost while attempting the first oceanic journey from Europe to Asia.[4]
  • 1412 – Owain Glyndŵr, the last native Welsh person to hold the title Prince of Wales, instigated the Welsh Revolt against the rule of Henry IV of England in 1400. Although initially successful, the uprising was eventually put down, but Glyndŵr disappeared and was never captured, betrayed, or tempted by royal pardons.[5]
  • 1453 - During the final hours of the Siege of Constantinople, the last Byzantine emperor Constantine XI disappeared during the fighting and his body was never recovered.
  • 1483 – The Princes in the Tower, Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, first duke of York (9), sons of King Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville, were placed in the Tower of London (which at that time served as a fortress and a royal palace as well as a prison) by their uncle Richard III of England.[6] Neither was ever seen in public again and their fate remains unknown. The remains of four children have been found which could be the princes, but they have not been subjected to DNA analysis to positively identify them.[7]
  • 1499 – John Cabot, Italian explorer, disappeared along with his five ships during an expedition to find a western route from Europe to Asia.[8]
  • 1501 – Gaspar Corte-Real, Portuguese explorer, disappeared on an expedition to discover the Northwest Passage from Europe to Asia. Two of his ships returned to Lisbon, but the third, with Gaspar on board, was lost and never heard from again.[9]
  • 1502 – Miguel Corte-Real, Portuguese explorer, disappeared while searching for his brother Gaspar. Like his brother, he took three ships, and as with his brother, the ship with Miguel on board was lost and never heard from again.[10]
  • 1526 – Francisco de Hoces, Spanish sailor, was commander of the San Lesmes, one of the seven ships of the Loaísa Expedition under García Jofre de Loaísa. It has been speculated that San Lesmes, last seen in the Pacific in late May, may have reached Easter Island or any of the Polynesian archipelagos, or even New Zealand.[11]
  • 1546 – Francisco de Orellana, Spanish explorer and conquistador, disappeared while exploring the Amazon in November. His fate remains a mystery.
  • 1578 – Sebastian of Portugal, Portuguese King, whose body was never found after the Battle of Alcácer Quibir; many Portuguese came to believe that Sebastian had survived the battle and would return to claim his throne. The belief arose that Sebastian could return at any moment to help Portugal in its darkest hour.
  • c. 1590 – The Roanoke colonists disappeared, becoming known as the Lost Colony. On 18 August 1590, their settlement was found abandoned.[12]
  • 1611 - Henry Hudson, sea explorer and navigator. Whilst searching for the North West Passage, most of the ship's crew mutinied and cast Hudson, his son and seven others adrift. They were never seen again.
  • 1628 – David Thompson, founder of New Hampshire in 1623. He moved his family to an island in Boston Harbor (today called Thompson Island in his honor) in 1626, becoming the first European settlers of Boston, Massachusetts. He disappeared in 1628 and was never heard from again. Some historians theorize he was the victim of foul play. Others suggest he accidentally drowned in Boston Harbor.
  • 1696 – Henry Every (sometimes spelt 'Avery') was an English pirate who vanished after perpetrating one of the most profitable pirate raids in history; despite a worldwide manhunt and an enormous bounty on his head, Every was never heard from again.
  • 1788 – Aimée du Buc de Rivéry, daughter of a wealthy plantation owner on the French island of Martinique. After being sent to a convent school in France, she was returning home in July or August 1788 when the ship she was on vanished at sea. It is thought that the ship was attacked and taken by Barbary pirates. It has been suggested that she was enslaved and eventually sent to Istanbul as a gift to the Ottoman sultan by the Bey of Algiers. It is unconfirmed if she was the same person as Naksh-i-Dil Haseki, consort of the sultan.
  • 1788 – The French expedition of Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse disappeared after a last stop off Botany Bay (near what is now Sydney, Australia). The wrecks of the expedition's two ships were subsequently discovered at Vanikoro, an island in the Santa Cruz group (part of the Solomon Islands), where the survivors may have set up a camp.
  • 1792 – James Harrod, 46, an early explorer of the areas west of the Appalachian Mountains prior to their settlement by European-Americans, never returned from a trip to western Kentucky from Harrodsburg. Theories about his fate range from murder at the hands of his companions or Native Americans in the area, to accidental death or a desire to abandon his wife and family.

1800 to 1899

  • 1803 – George Bass (32), a British explorer of Australia, set sail from Sydney for South America and was never heard from again.[13]
  • 1809 – Benjamin Bathurst (25), a British diplomat, disappeared from an inn in Perleberg.
  • 1812 – Theodosia Burr Alston (29), daughter of U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr and sometimes called the most educated American woman of her day, sailed from Georgetown, South Carolina, aboard the Patriot, which was never seen again.
  • 1826 – William Morgan (52), resident of Batavia, New York, disappeared just before his book critical of Freemasonry was published.
  • 1829 – John Lansing, Jr. (75), an American politician, left his Manhattan hotel to mail a letter at a New York City dock and was never seen again.
  • 1836 - Davy Crockett, presumed killed at the Battle of the Alamo although his body was never found.
  • 1843 – Sequoyah (circa 73), the creator of Cherokee syllabary, disappeared during a trip to Mexico to locate isolated tribes of Cherokees who had moved there during the time of Indian Removal in the U.S. His body has never been found, although at least three different burial sites have been reported.
  • 1845 – Franklin's lost expedition, with 129 seamen, made last contact with a whaling ship before entering Victoria Strait in search of the Northwest Passage. Although the remains of some individuals, written messages and the wrecks of the ships HMS Erebus (in 2014) and HMS Terror (in 2016) were later discovered, the majority of the crew, including Franklin himself, were never found with the crew having died from a combination of lead poisoning, starvation, and exposure.
  • 1848 – Khachatur Abovian (38), an Armenian writer and national public figure of the early 19th century, credited as creator of modern Armenian literature, left his house early one morning and was never heard from again.
  • 1848 – Ludwig Leichhardt (34), Prussian explorer and naturalist, disappeared during his third major expedition to explore parts of northern and central Australia. He was last seen on 3 April at McPherson's Station on the Darling Downs, en route from the Condamine River to the Swan River in Western Australia. Although investigated by many, his fate after leaving the settled areas remains a mystery.
  • 1849 – Sándor Petőfi (26), Hungarian poet and liberal revolutionary, was one of the key figures of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Petőfi was last seen in Transylvania during the Battle of Segesvár. Although different theories and rumours abound about his supposed death or deportation to Siberia, neither his body nor genuine records to support the theories were ever found.
  • 1857 – Solomon Northup (48–49?), American author, is most notable for his book Twelve Years a Slave, in which he details his kidnapping and subsequent sale into slavery. Northup did not return to his family from his book-promoting tour. No contemporary evidence documents Northup after 1857. Historians are divided on whether Northup was kidnapped once again and sold back into slavery or simply died of natural causes.
  • 1857 – Nana Sahib (33), an Indian aristocrat. As a leader of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 he disappeared after the East India Company's forces retook his city of Kanpur. Rumours that he had died of an illness or fled to exile in Nepal or another part of India were never proven.
  • 1865 – Captain James William Boyd (43), a Confederate States of America military officer, vanished after his release as a prisoner of war in February 1865, as he failed to show up for a rendezvous with his son to go to Mexico at the end of the American Civil War. Boyd's disappearance is the subject of a conspiracy theory that he was killed after being mistaken for John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.[14]
  • 1872 – Captain Benjamin Briggs (37), his wife Sarah Elizabeth (31), their daughter Sophia Matilda (2), and all seven crew members were missing when the Mary Celeste was found adrift in choppy seas some 400 miles (640 km) east of the Azores. Their unexplained disappearances are at the core of "one of the most durable mysteries in nautical history".[15]
  • 1874 – Charley Ross (4), a resident of Philadelphia, was enticed along with his brother Walter into a horse-drawn carriage while playing in their front yard on 1 July. Walter got out at a fireworks shop, and the carriage drove on without him. The family received ransom notes and worked with police, to no avail.[16][17]
  • 1880s – William Cantelo, inventor of an early machine gun, never returned to his Southampton home after one of his frequent and lengthy sales trips. His sons speculated years later that he may have re-emerged as Hiram Maxim, another machine-gun pioneer, whom he strongly resembled.[18]
  • 1880 – Lamont Young (28 or 29), a government geologist inspecting new gold fields on behalf of the New South Wales Mines Department, together with his assistant, Max Schneider, boat owner Thomas Towers, and two other men, all disappeared after leaving Bermagui, New South Wales, Australia, in a small boat.[19] The nearby location where the abandoned wreck of their boat was discovered was subsequently named Mystery Bay.[20]
  • 1882 - Jesse Evans, an American outlaw, gunman of the Old West, leader of the eponymous Jesse Evans Gang, and veteran of the Lincoln County War, disappeared from the record shortly after his release from prison. He was never seen or heard from again. Despite an unsubstantiated claimant in 1948 (who also claimed that other Lincoln County veterans, including the renowned Billy the Kid were still alive), Evans' fate remains unknown.
  • 1884 – The merchant ship Resolven was found abandoned off the coast of Labrador on 29 August. A lifeboat was missing; it was assumed that all 11 on board had evacuated in the face of nearby icebergs but neither they nor the lifeboat were ever found.
  • 1888 – Boston Corbett (56), the Union Army soldier who fatally shot John Wilkes Booth, later went insane and was incarcerated in a mental asylum in 1887. He escaped from the facility a year later and was never seen again, though some historians suspect he may have perished in the Great Hinckley Fire of 1 September 1894.[21][22]
  • 1890 – Louis Le Prince (48), motion picture pioneer, disappeared after boarding a Paris-bound train at Dijon, France.
  • 1892 – Hermann Fol (46), a Swiss zoologist regarded as the father of modern cell biology, disappeared with several crew members of his yacht shortly after leaving Bénodet, France.
  • 1896 – Albert Jennings Fountain (57), a former Texas state senator and lieutenant governor of that state, disappeared near Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States, along with his son Henry (8) on February 1. Evidence found along their route strongly suggests they were murdered, but no bodies were ever found.


  • 1900 – Three lighthouse keepers working on the Flannan Isles (off the northwestern coast of Scotland) disappeared in a mystery commemorated in the ballad Flannan Isle and the opera The Lighthouse.
  • 1902 – Yda Hillis Addis (45), a translator of ancient Mexican narratives, was never seen again after escaping from an insane asylum in California where her husband had her confined during their divorce.
  • 1908 - Argentine aviator Eduardo Newbery (30) disappeared while attempting to break the night flight record on the aerostat Pampero in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • 1909 – Joshua Slocum (65), Canadian-American sailor and first man to sail single-handedly around the world (1895–1898), disappeared after setting sail from Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard alone, bound for South America, aboard the same 36 ft 9 in (11.20 m) sloop Spray he had used for his circumnavigation.[23]


  • 1910 – Dorothy Arnold (24), Manhattan socialite and perfume heiress, vanished after buying a book in New York City. She intended to walk through Central Park, and was never seen again.[24]
  • 1912 – Bobby Dunbar (4) disappeared during a fishing trip in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. A child found in the custody of William Cantwell Walters of Mississippi some eight months later was ruled to be Bobby Dunbar by a court-appointed arbiter, and Walters was found guilty of kidnapping. The child grew up as Bobby Dunbar, had four children of his own, and died in 1966. In 2004, DNA tests proved that the child found was not related to Bobby Dunbar's brother, Alonzo.[25]
  • 1914 – Ambrose Bierce (71), American writer known for "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and The Devil's Dictionary, was last heard from in a letter of December 1913 bearing a Chihuahua postmark to his secretary and companion, Carrie Christiansen. Although alternative theories are plentiful,[26] he may have perished in war-torn Mexico, possibly at the Battle of Ojinaga on 10 February,[27] or perhaps was executed as a spy in the municipal cemetery of Sierra Mojada, Coahuila, where a gravestone bearing his name was erected in 2004.[28]
  • 1914 – F. Lewis Clark (52), businessman from the U.S. state of Idaho, disappeared while visiting Santa Barbara, California.
  • 1914 – Alejandro Bello Silva (27), a lieutenant in the Chilean Army, disappeared during a qualifying examination flight over central Chile. Although search efforts commenced within hours, no trace was ever found. His disappearance is reflected in a Chilean set phrase, "more lost than Lieutenant Bello", applied to people who stray off course or disappear en route.
  • 1916 – Béla Kiss (39) was a Hungarian serial killer who murdered 24 young women prior to his enrollment in the Austro-Hungarian Army in the First World War. Upon the discovery of his crimes, he was traced to a Serbian military hospital but escaped a few days before investigators arrived. Although there were several reported sightings of the killer (notably in New York in 1932), his true fate remains a mystery.
  • 1917 – In October, the Zebrina, an English sailing barge, ran aground in France. None of the crew were on board and they were never found. At the time, during the First World War, it was assumed they had been taken off by a German U-boat that intended to sink the ship but was itself sunk before it could do so.
  • 1918 – Arthur Cravan (31), French proto-dadaist writer and art critic, disappeared near Salina Cruz, Mexico; he most likely drowned.[citation needed]
  • 1919 – Mansell Richard James (25), a Canadian flying ace, was last seen in western Massachusetts on 2 June, just days after a record-setting flight between Atlantic City and Boston.[29]
  • 1919 – Ambrose Small (56), a Canadian millionaire, disappeared from his office. He was last seen at 5:30 pm on 2 December 1919, at the Grand Opera House in Toronto, Ontario.[30]


  • 1920 – Victor Grayson (39), British socialist politician, received a phone call and told his friends that he had to go to the Queen's Hotel in Leicester Square and would be back shortly. He was allegedly last seen entering a house owned by Maundy Gregory.
  • 1921 – The captain and ten crewmen of the Carroll A. Deering, a schooner found run aground off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on January 31, were never found. A mutiny is suspected, but without any idea of the crew's later whereabouts nothing can be proven.
  • 1921 – Charles Whittlesey (37), American soldier and Medal of Honor recipient who led the "Lost Battalion" in World War I. He was last seen on the evening of 26 November 1921, on a passenger ship bound from New York City to Havana, and is presumed to have committed suicide by jumping overboard.
  • 1924 – Andrew Irvine (22), English mountaineer who took part in British Mount Everest Expedition 1924. He and his climbing partner George Mallory disappeared somewhere high on the mountain's northeast ridge. Mallory's body was found in 1999; Irvine's hasn't been found.
  • 1925 – Percy Fawcett (58), British archaeologist and explorer, together with his eldest son, Jack, and friend Raleigh Rimell, was last seen travelling into the jungle of Mato Grosso in Brazil to search for a hidden city called the Lost City of Z. Several unconfirmed sightings and many conflicting reports and theories explaining their disappearance followed, but despite the loss of over 100 lives in more than a dozen follow-up expeditions and the recovery of some of Fawcett's belongings, their fate remains a mystery.[31]
  • 1925 – Frederick McDonald, Australian politician, set off from Martin Place, Sydney, for a meeting with Jack Lang two blocks away but failed to arrive. He was possibly murdered by his political rival Thomas Ley. In 1947, Ley was convicted at the Old Bailey of the "Chalkpit Murder", that of a barman in England, and sentenced to hang but was then declared insane and sent to Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital, where he died of a cerebral hemorrhage two months later.[32]
  • 1927 – French aviator Charles Nungesser (35) and his navigator, François Coli (45), disappeared while attempting a flight from Paris to New York. They are presumed to have crashed into the Atlantic, or possibly in Newfoundland or Maine, but no wreckage that could be confirmed to be from their biplane, The White Bird, was ever found.
  • 1927 – Włodzimierz Zagórski (45), Polish Army general, was last seen in Vilnius entering a train heading to Warsaw for a meeting with marshal Piłsudski, but he never arrived.
  • 1928 – Glen and Bessie Hyde (29 and 22), American newlyweds, disappeared while attempting to raft the Colorado River rapids of the Grand Canyon.
  • 1928 – Roald Amundsen, Norwegian Arctic explorer and the first man to reach the South Pole, disappeared on a search-and-rescue mission for Umberto Nobile and other survivors of the crashed airship Italia, in the Arctic.
  • 1928 – The Danish sailtraining vessel København ("Copenhagen") vanished en route from Buenos Aires to Australia sometime between December 1928 and January 1929 with the loss of 14 crew and 45 cadets, some of whom were as young as 16 years old.
  • 1929 – African American lawyer and political activist J. Steward Davis (49) was last seen leaving his Baltimore home for work on the morning of April 15. Later investigation showed that he had instead taken a train to New York, spent the night at a YMCA in Harlem and checked out the next morning. No other evidence of his whereabouts after that was ever found.


  • 1930 – Catherine Moroney, a struggling 17-year-old mother of two, gave her two-year-old daughter Mary Agnes to a stranger calling herself "Julia Otis" in exchange for $2 on May 15, on the understanding that the woman would take care of the girl in California for a short time and then return her to the Moroneys' Chicago home when things were better. She never did, and the ensuing investigation attracted national media attention. The girl was never located, and the case remains the oldest unsolved missing-persons case in the city. A California woman's belief that she was Mary Agnes has subsequently been disproven by DNA testing.[33]
  • 1930 – Joseph Force Crater (41), an associate justice of the New York Supreme Court, was last seen on 6 August after eating a meal at a restaurant. Judge Crater was never seen or heard from again. (His mistress, Sally Lou Ritz (22), was falsely said to have disappeared a few weeks later, but was interviewed by police as late as July 1937.[34]) Crater's disappearance, which prompted one of the most sensational manhunts of the 20th century,[35] was the subject of widespread media attention and a grand jury investigation. Crater was declared legally dead in 1939 and his missing persons file was officially closed in 1979; however, cold case squad detectives have investigated new leads as recently as 2005.[36] To "pull a Crater" became slang for a person vanishing.[37]
  • 1932 – Author Jack Black (c. 61) disappeared during the year. His friends believed he committed suicide by drowning himself in New York Harbor, as per statements he had made that he would do so if life became more than he could bear.
  • 1933 – French Dadaist writer Julien Torma (30), never returned from a February 17 trip into the Austrian Tyrol. His disappearance has been used as an argument that he never really existed to begin with.
  • 1933 – C. B. Johnston (c. 38), American college athlete and coach, sent a postcard to his wife from Zanesville, Ohio saying he was on his way to Chicago to publish a book after being fired as head football coach of what is now Appalachian State University. No one heard from him after that.[38]
  • 1934 – Wallace Fard Muhammad (43), founder of the Nation of Islam, left Detroit and was never heard from again.[39]
  • 1934 – Everett Ruess (20), a young American artist, disappeared while travelling through the deserts of Utah.
  • 1935 – Charles Kingsford Smith (38), Australian pioneer aviator, and co-pilot Tommy Pethybridge disappeared during an overnight flight from Allahabad, India, to Singapore while attempting to break the England–Australia speed record. Eighteen months later, Burmese fishermen found an undercarriage leg and wheel (with its tire still inflated) on the shoreline of Aye Island in the Andaman Sea, 3 km (2 mi) off the southeast coastline of Burma, which Lockheed confirmed to be from their Lockheed Altair, the Lady Southern Cross. Botanists who examined the weeds clinging to it estimated that the aircraft itself lies not far from the island at a depth of approximately 15 fathoms (90 ft; 27 m).[40] A filmmaker claimed to have located Lady Southern Cross on the seabed in February 2009.[41]
  • 1937 – Amelia Earhart (39), famous American aviator; she was the first woman to try a circumnavigational flight of the globe. During the attempt she and her navigator, Fred Noonan (44), disappeared over the central Pacific in the vicinity of Howland Island, 2 July.
  • 1937 – Sigizmund Levanevsky (35), famous Soviet aviator, together with his crew of five and their Bolkhovitinov DB-A aircraft, disappeared in the vicinity of the North Pole after reporting loss of power from one of their four Mikulin AM-34 engines while attempting to prove a transpolar route between Asia and North America commercially viable.[42]
  • 1937 – Juliet Stuart Poyntz (50), was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and a founding member of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA). After resigning from active work with the Party, she disappeared in 1937, never to be seen again. She is believed by several sources to have been abducted and murdered by a Soviet NKVD assassination squad.
  • 1937 – Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe (24 & 28) escaped from Alcatraz prison in the U.S. state of California and disappeared. Authorities presumed that they drowned, but no bodies were ever recovered.
  • 1938 – Ettore Majorana (31), Italian physicist, disappeared during a boat trip from Naples to Palermo.
  • 1938 – Andrew Carnegie Whitfield (28), nephew of U.S. steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, disappeared during a solo morning flight in a small Taylor Cub light aircraft from Roosevelt Field, New York, on Long Island to an airfield at Brentwood, approximately 22 miles away.
  • 1938 – Willie McLean (34), an American soccer player who played in the 1934 World Cup, dropped out of sight after returning to Chicago from a series of games in Mexico. His family received occasional Mother's Day cards for several years afterwards, purportedly from McLean. However, an advertisement placed by their insurance company in 1944 asking for information on his whereabouts yielded no results.
  • 1939 – Barbara Newhall Follett (25) was an American child prodigy novelist. Her first novel, The House Without Windows, was published in 1927 when she was twelve years old. Her next novel, The Voyage of the Norman D., received critical acclaim when she was fourteen. In 1939, aged 25, she became depressed with her marriage and walked out of her apartment with just thirty dollars. She was never seen again.[43]
  • 1939 – Lloyd L. Gaines (28) was the central figure in Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, an early success for the U.S. civil rights movement. One evening, he left his Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity house in Chicago, having told the housekeeper he was going to buy some stamps, and was never seen or heard from again. Some accounts suggest he was living in New York or Mexico City in the late 1940s.[44]
  • 1939 – Richard Halliburton, missing at sea since March 1939 after trying to sail Sea Dragon (a gaudily decorated, 75-foot Chinese junk) across the Pacific Ocean. In 1945, some wreckage identified as a rudder and believed to belong to the Sea Dragon washed ashore in San Diego, California.
  • 1939 – Rita Gorgonowa (38), defendant in a widely publicized 1931 Polish murder trial where she had been convicted of murdering a child under her care while employed as a governess, was released from prison on 3 September after an amnesty due to the German invasion that started World War II in Europe two days earlier. Her subsequent whereabouts are unknown. Her children claim she survived the war; she was reported to have either remained in Poland under an assumed name or emigrated to South America and lived out her life there.




  • The later whereabouts of James Litterick (41), first Communist elected to the Manitoba provincial parliament, are unknown following his release from police custody (he had been at large since the Communist Party was banned in 1940). One report has him working at a Toronto garment factory the following year.
  • On August 16, U.S. Navy blimp L-8 drifted inland from its route doing antisubmarine patrol off the coast of California near San Francisco several hours after its crew, Lt. Ernest Cody and Ens. Charles Adams, radioed in that they were going to take a closer look at an oil slick. When the ship eventually crashed in Daly City, neither man was aboard. A massive search failed to find any trace of them; they were both declared dead a year later.[45]


  • Glenn Miller (40), the popular American jazz musician and bandleader, was en route from England to France on 15 December 1944, to play for troops in recently liberated Paris when the single-engined Noorduyn Norseman aircraft in which he was a passenger disappeared over the English Channel. The plane and those on board have never been located. As a U.S. military officer who vanished in wartime, Miller continues to be listed officially as missing in action.
  • Rocco Perri (56), was an organized crime figure in Ontario, Canada, in the early 20th century. Last seen in Hamilton.
  • Szilveszter Matuska, Hungarian mass-murderer known as "The Train Killer", escaped from jail in 1944 and was never recaptured.
  • Herschel Grynszpan (22), Jewish exile from Germany whose 1938 assassination of diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris was the trigger for Kristallnacht. For various reasons, largely legal delays, a planned trial was never held in either France or (after 1940) Germany, while Grynszpan was held in various prisons and concentration camps. Adolf Eichmann testified at his 1961 trial in Jerusalem that he had interrogated Grynszpan in Magdeburg in either late 1943 or early 1944; after that there is no record of his whereabouts or ultimate fate. The West German government had him declared legally dead in 1960.[46]
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (44), French author and aviator, last seen when flying a reconnaissance mission out of Corsica in preparation for the Allied invasion of Southern France. The remains of his aircraft, found at sea off Marseille, were identified in 2004.
  • Sheila Fox (6), English schoolgirl, who became known after her disappearance as "The Girl in the Green Mac". Last seen in the company of an unknown man.


  • Heinrich Müller (45), Nazi Gestapo chief, last confirmed sighting in the Führerbunker on the evening of 1 May 1945 where he had stated his intention to avoid being taken into custody by the Soviet forces advancing on Berlin. His CIA file and related documents state that while the record is "...inconclusive on Müller's ultimate fate... [he] most likely died in Berlin in early May 1945."[47] Other theories have suggested that he either escaped to South America like many other fugitive Nazis and lived out his life there (the Israelis continued to investigate his whereabouts into the 1960s) or was protected by U.S. or Soviet intelligence under a new identity. He is the most senior Nazi official whose fate is unknown.
  • Raoul Wallenberg (32), Swedish diplomat credited with saving the lives of at least 20,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, was arrested on espionage charges in Budapest following the arrival of the Soviet army. His fate remains a mystery despite hundreds of purported sightings in Soviet prisons, some as recent as the 1980s. In 2001, after 10 years of research, a Swedish-Russian panel concluded that Wallenberg probably died or was executed in Soviet custody on 17 July 1947, but to date no hard evidence has been found to confirm this.[48] In 2010, evidence from Russian archives surfaced suggesting he was alive after the presumed execution date.[49]
  • Constanze Manziarly (25), cook and dietitian to Adolf Hitler, disappeared while escaping Berlin following the Soviet invasion and fall of Nazi Germany. She was believed to have been shot by Soviet soldiers in an U-Bahn subway tunnel.[50]
  • Alfred Partikel (57), German painter of East Prussian origin, vanished while picking mushrooms in the woods near the artist's colony of Ahrenshoop, Darß, Western Pomerania. His remains have never been found.
  • Supriyadi (22) was an Indonesian national hero. On 6 October 1945, in a government decree issued by the newly independent Indonesia, Supriyadi was named Minister for Public Security in the first cabinet. However, he failed to appear and was replaced on 20 October by ad interim minister Muhammad Soeljoadikusuma. To this day his fate remains unknown.[51][52]
  • Genrikh Lyushkov (45), high-level Soviet defector and former Far East NKVD chief. A participant in the Great Purge, he fled to avoid what he believed would be arrest and execution into the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. After his defection, he became a military consultant and analyst for the Imperial Japanese Army. He disappeared during the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and was reported as being last seen in a crowded train station in Dairen (Dalian). Several theories exist about his fate, but he is presumed to have died in 1945, killed by either Soviet or Japanese forces.[53]
  • Five of the nine Sodder children (aged 5 through 14) who lived in their parents' home outside Fayetteville, West Virginia, were presumed to have died in a Christmas Eve fire that destroyed the house. However, no remains were found in the ashes the morning after; some small fragments found on subsequent investigations turned out to have been planted. Later reported sightings of some of the children and suspicions that the fire had been arson rather than an accident led the family to believe that the children were still alive, to the point that they kept a billboard offering a reward for information on their fate up at the house site until the late 1980s.[54]



  • In the aftermath of the 1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes, 4-year-old Joan Gay Croft and her sister Jerri were among refugees taking shelter in a basement hallway of the Woodward hospital. As officials sent the injured to different hospitals in the area, two men took Joan away, saying they were taking her to Oklahoma City. She was never seen again. Over the years, several women have come forth saying they suspect they might be Joan. None of their claims have been verified.[57][58]



  • Jean Spangler (26), American dancer, model and bit-part actress, disappeared in October 1949 from Los Angeles, California. Last seen by her sister-in-law before going to meet her ex-husband. Two days later her purse was found near the entrance gate to Griffith Park in Los Angeles.





  • Sean Flynn (28)—son of Errol Flynn and Lili Damita—and his colleague Dana Stone (32) disappeared in Cambodia April 6 while working as freelance photojournalists for Time magazine.[73][74] Neither man's remains were ever found,[75] and it is generally assumed that they were killed by Khmer Rouge guerillas.[76] After a decade-long search financed by his mother, Flynn was officially declared dead in 1984.[77] In 2010 a British team uncovered the remains of a Western hostage in the Cambodian jungle, but DNA comparisons with samples from the Flynn family were negative.[78][79]
  • Robin Graham (18), ran out of gas on the Hollywood Freeway. She was last seen by California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers, who directed her to a callbox and later saw her speaking with a man beside her car. The circumstances of her disappearance resulted in CHP policies being changed to ensure the safety of stranded female motorists.[80]


  • The unidentified skyjacker known to the public as D. B. Cooper collected a ransom of US$200,000 and then parachuted from the rear stairs of a Boeing 727 at a height of 10,000 feet (3,000 m) over the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, somewhere between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, 24 November. He was never seen again, although small amounts of his ransom money were recovered several years later [81]
  • Lynne Schulze, 18, a student at Middlebury College in Vermont, was last seen by one of her college friends on 10 December when she abruptly turned back on the way to a literature exam, claiming she had left her favorite pen in her dorm room, where her wallet, checkbook and other belongings were later found. A later report said that she was seen a short time later outside a health food store co-owned and operated at that time by Robert Durst and his wife Kathleen, who herself also disappeared, a decade later. She had also been seen buying prunes from the same store earlier in the day. The case was reopened in 1992; in 2015, following Durst's arrest on charges of murdering his friend Susan Berman, Middlebury police confirmed that they wanted to speak to Durst about the case, but his lawyer has declined to let them do so.[82]


  • Ray Robinson (40), a black civil rights activist, traveled to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to participate in the protests of the Wounded Knee Incident in South Dakota and was never seen again. In 2014 the FBI said it had concluded from witnesses that he was killed in 1973 in an internal conflict and buried there. He has been declared legally dead; his body has never been located.[83]


  • Lord Lucan (39), Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, commonly known as Lord Lucan, was a British peer suspected of murder who disappeared in 1974. On the evening of 7 November 1974, the children's nanny, Sandra Rivett, was bludgeoned to death in the basement of the Lucan family home. Lady Lucan was also attacked; she later identified Lucan as her assailant. Despite a police investigation and huge press interest, Lucan has not been found and is presumed dead; a death certificate was issued in 2016.[84][85]


  • Jimmy Hoffa (62), U.S. trade union leader, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, disappeared from the parking lot of a restaurant, where it is believed he was to meet with two Mafia leaders—Anthony Giacalone and Anthony Provenzano.[86]
  • The Lyon sisters, Katherine Mary (10) and Sheila Mary (12), disappeared while walking home from a nearby mall in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.. In 2014 Lloyd Lee Welch, already serving time in a Delaware prison for molesting a child in that state, became a person of interest after cold-case investigators in Montgomery County, Maryland, followed up on an interview he gave to a detective at the time of the disappearance. In that interview, he claimed falsely to have witnessed the girls' abduction. He also strongly resembled a police sketch of a man who had been staring at them in the mall; the sketch was based on a description by a friend of the girls, who had confronted the man about his behavior. In 2015 Welch was formally indicted in Bedford County, Virginia, where police said he had taken the girls and burned their bodies.[87]
  • Jim Sullivan (34), American singer-songwriter, left Los Angeles on March 4, 1975, to drive to Nashville alone. His abandoned car was found at a remote ranch in New Mexico, and he was reportedly last seen walking away from it. The car contained Sullivan's money, papers, guitar, clothes, and a box of his unsold records.[88][89]
  • Mona Blades (18), New Zealander, disappeared on 31 May 1975 while hitchhiking in the North Island. Believed murdered, but no remains have ever been discovered.[90]



  • Donald Mackay (43), Australian anti-drugs campaigner, was possibly murdered after providing information to police which resulted in what was then the biggest drugs bust in Australian history.[93][94]



  • Jim Robinson (54), a former professional boxer notable for his bout with Muhammad Ali in 1961, was last heard from this year, living in the Overtown district of Miami.[99]
  • The five men aboard the Sarah Joe, a 17-foot (5.2 m) Boston whaler, were presumed lost along with the craft after a heavy storm February 11 off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Maui. Nine years later, a biologist on a survey mission on Bokak Atoll in the Marshall Islands found fragments of the boat, and a grave that turned out to be that of Scott Moorman, one of the five. The other four have never been found.[100]
  • Etan Patz (6), disappeared while on his way to school in lower Manhattan on May 25. By 2001, he was considered legally dead. He was the first missing child featured on a milk carton.[101] In May 2012, authorities re-opened the case.[102] Pedro Hernandez, 51, was charged with second-degree murder in Patz's death, based largely on a signed confession he gave after he spoke voluntarily to detectives for hours, according to police. However, Patz's body, which Hernandez said he put in the trash, has not been recovered.
  • Ian Mackintosh, creator and writer of The Sandbaggers British television series, was flying with two others over the Gulf of Alaska in a light aircraft in July 1979. The plane sent out a distress signal, which was picked up by the United States Coast Guard. The plane's last-known position was searched, but no wreckage of the plane was ever found, and its passengers have not been heard from since.[103]



  • Azaria Chamberlain, nine-week-old Australian baby girl. Her remains have never been found. Azaria's mother Lindy Chamberlain insisted that a dingo took her baby from her camping tent near Uluru. In a trial sensationalised by the media, Lindy was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life. Her sentence was overturned six years later when Azaria's jacket was found in a dingo lair. Azaria's disappearance was the subject of four inquests, the last of which, in 2012, concurred that a dingo had taken and killed her.[104] Azaria's disappearance and the subsequent police investigation were the basis for the 1988 motion picture Evil Angels (released as A Cry in the Dark outside of Australia and New Zealand[105]).



  • On 31 January 1982, Kathleen McCormack Durst (29), a medical student, left the Connecticut house of a friend to return to the South Salem, New York, residence she shared with her husband, Robert Durst, the wealthy heir to a New York City real estate fortune. The marriage had been deteriorating for some time due to his increasingly violent behavior and her friends had been urging her to leave it; when she left she warned them to call the police if anything happened. Durst says when she returned, he drove her to a nearby train station so she could return to the couple's Manhattan apartment and she called him from there after she arrived; a doorman says he saw her at the building the following day but could not confirm the sighting. Four days later, Durst reported her absence to police. She has not been seen since and was declared legally dead in 2001. Police strongly suspect Durst of murdering her (and, 18 years later, Susan Berman) due to inconsistencies in his story.[106]
  • Johnny Gosch (12) was reported missing to West Des Moines Police Department[107] by his parents after he disappeared while delivering newspapers. At that time, there was a customary three-day waiting period before police responded to missing persons reports. Gosch was never heard from again, but his case prompted new laws for Iowa and other states, resulting in missing persons reports involving children being given immediate attention.[108]
  • Ahmad Motevaselian was an Iranian military attache and one of the four Iranian diplomats (Seyed Mohsen Mousavi, Kazem Akhavan, and Taghi Rastegar Moghadam) that disappeared in Lebanon in 1982. On 5 July 1982, when the vehicle carrying the diplomats was passing through a checkpoint post on its way to Beirut, it was intercepted by Phalange Party members. Three decades after the incident, the fate of the missing diplomats remains a mystery, and the search for Motevaselian and the other Iranian diplomats continues.[109][110][111]




  • Suzy Lamplugh (25), British estate agent, disappeared from Fulham, west London on 28 July. In 1994, she was declared dead, presumed murdered. Despite further police investigations in 1998 and 2000, no trace of her has ever been found.[citation needed]
  • Philip Cairns (13), Irish schoolboy, disappeared in October 1986 on his way back to school in Dublin after going home for lunch. His schoolbag was found abandoned in a previously searched lane near his house a few days later, but there has been no trace of Philip, and no arrests have ever been made in connection with the case.[citation needed]
  • Agustín Feced, 65, an Argentinian police official believed responsible for many tortures and extrajudicial executions during the country's Dirty War, was stated to have died in prison on July 21 while facing charges related to those activities. However, the records of his death and burial are incomplete and sometimes contradictory. Several sources doubt he was even imprisoned at the time, and others claim to have seen him alive over the next ten years.[citation needed]
  • Jeremy Bright (14), disappeared on August 14 while attending the county fair in Myrtle Point, Oregon with his sister. The following day his mother found his wallet, watch and keys in his stepfather's house nearby, where he had been staying. Foul play has been suspected, and police had a potential suspect who died in prison in 2007. While his family believes he is dead, and held a memorial service for him in 2011, they have not petitioned a court to make that declaration legal.[citation needed]


  • Federico Caffè (73), Italian economist, suddenly disappeared on the dawn of 15 April, shortly after quitting university teaching. He was declared dead on 30 October 1998. The mystery of his disappearance has not been solved.



  • Michael Dunahee (4) disappeared from a school playground in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on March 24. His parents were nearby, but no witnesses to his presumed abduction have ever been identified, and there have been no subsequent confirmed sightings of him.[118]
  • Ben Needham, a 21-month-old boy, disappeared from the island of Kos in Greece on 24 July while his grandparents were renovating a farmhouse. Despite numerous sighting reports over the years, he has never been found. Family members have said they believe that the child was kidnapped, with the intention of selling him for adoption or to child traffickers. No credible evidence in support of this hypothesis has been advanced; others familiar with the case consider an accident more likely.[119][120]


  • The Springfield Three, Sherrill Levitt (47), her daughter Suzie Streeter (19), and Suzie's friend Stacy McCall (18), disappeared from Levitt's home in Springfield, Missouri. Suzie and Stacy had graduated from Kickapoo High School the day before, and had arrived at Levitt's home at around 2:00 am after a graduation party. It is being investigated as an apparent triple disappearance.[121]


  • Annie McCarrick (26) was an Irish-American woman who disappeared after a night out to Johnny Foxes' pub, Glencullen, south County Dublin.[122]


  • Michael Anthony Hughes (6) was kidnapped from his school in Choctaw, Oklahoma, by his stepfather Franklin Delano Floyd.[123] Authorities have received conflicting reports from Floyd whether Hughes was murdered or is still alive and safe in the custody of an undisclosed caregiver. Hughes' mother died several years prior to his abduction. In addition to being his wife, she was raised by Floyd from an early age and was herself a kidnap victim.[123]



  • Kristin Smart (19), a student at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, CA, disappeared after leaving a late-night party May 25. As a result of the errors made from the start of the investigation and disappearance, Cal Poly received criticism from many; including students, alumni, and even some of their own staff. They were criticised for not treating Smart's disappearance as a potential crime from the start, and for the loss of possibly pertinent evidence (forensic and otherwise), which was destroyed when the university allowed the students' rooms to be cleaned before police and detectives had finished their investigation and search for evidence.


  • Grant Hadwin (48), an anti-logging activist, went missing February 13 while traveling by kayak across the Hecate Strait to Graham Island, near British Columbia. The wreckage of the kayak was discovered in June, but no trace of Hadwin himself has been found.[134]
  • Guy Hever (20), an Israeli soldier, reported for guard duty at a bunker near his artillery base in the Golan Heights on the morning of August 17. He was absent when his relief arrived later in the day and has not been seen since; as he was on active duty when he disappeared he is considered missing in action. Theories about the case range from a possible accidental death or suicide in the nearby hills (he had reportedly been having some difficulty getting along with others in his unit) to a kidnapping by groups based in nearby Syria. One claimed to be doing so in 2007, but its statement has not been considered credible.[135]




  • Zebb Quinn (18), disappeared January 2 in Asheville, North Carolina, after receiving a page from his aunt's phone number. She denies paging him, but told police that her home was broken into during that time frame. Nothing was stolen from her home, but items were moved around. His car resurfaced two weeks after his disappearance when it was mysteriously parked in front of his mother's workplace with a live puppy inside and a large set of lips drawn on the window. In 2015 Asheville detectives unearthed fabric, leather materials and "unknown hard fragments" that were buried under a layer of concrete on the property of Robert Jason Owens. Owens was the last person known to have seen Quinn and had given several conflicting stories to detectives in his case. The search of his property that uncovered this new evidence was conducted after he was arrested for an unrelated triple murder.[138]
  • Leah Roberts (23), abruptly left her home in Durham, North Carolina, on March 9. Her sister later found a note suggesting she was going on a cross-country road trip to northern Washington; a review of her banking and credit records confirmed this. Her car was found wrecked and abandoned nine days later off the Mount Baker Highway in Whatcom County; evidence found in it suggested she had arrived there several days earlier, and she had last been seen in a restaurant at a local shopping mall on March 13. Other than one report that she was seen walking disoriented around a gas station in Everett shortly after her car was discovered, she has not been seen or heard from since.[139]
  • Jerry Michael Williams (31), a successful property appraiser from Tallahassee, Florida, was last seen leaving his house to go duck hunting at nearby Lake Seminole early in the morning of December 16. It was assumed he had drowned accidentally after his car and abandoned boat were found at the lake later in the weekend; however a lengthy search failed to find his body, the only time a drowning victim's body has never been found in the lake. Investigators initially concluded his remains had been eaten by alligators in the lake; Williams was declared legally dead six months later. In 2004, a reopening of the case prompted by pressure from Williams' mother discredited the alligator theory and found other suspicious aspects of the case suggesting the accident at the lake might have been staged and evidence planted; it was later investigated as a possible insurance fraud. Police have persons of interest but have not named them.[140]


  • Jason Jolkowski (19), a resident of Omaha, Nebraska, disappeared on 13 June, after failing to show up at a local high school where he'd arranged to catch a ride to work with a friend. A neighbor reported seeing Jolkowski carrying trash cans into his garage. This, the last confirmed sighting of Jolkowski, took place approximately 30 minutes prior to the arranged meeting at the high school.[141] His parents subsequently founded Project Jason, a nonprofit organization that assists families of missing persons.
  • Sneha Anne Philip (31) was an Indian-American physician last seen on 10 September 2001, on surveillance camera footage from a store near her Lower Manhattan apartment. Due to the proximity of the World Trade Center and her medical training, her family believes she perished trying to help victims of the next day's terrorist attack. A court has agreed and she is officially considered to have died that way. The ruling was not unanimous, and no proof of her death has ever been found.[142]


  • Ben Charles Padilla (50), a licensed aircraft mechanic, flight engineer, and pilot of small airplanes, was on board Boeing 727-223 designation N844AA when it was stolen from Luanda, Angola, on 25 May and has not been heard from since.[143]
  • Felipe Santos (24) was last seen being arrested for driving without a license after a traffic accident early on 1 October outside Naples, Florida, by Collier County sheriff's deputy Steve Calkins. Jail records show he was never booked. Calkins claimed to have changed his mind and left Santos at a nearby Circle K convenience store. Three months later, another man, Terrance Williams, disappeared after being arrested by the same police officer.[144]
  • On October 9, an Iraqi employee of U.S. defense contractor Ultra Services received a call for assistance from Kirk von Ackermann (37), of Moss Beach, California, another employee who said he needed help fixing a flat tire on his car. When the employee arrived at the location given, between Kirkuk and Tikrit, 45 minutes later, von Ackermann was gone. There were no signs of a struggle and $40,000 in cash was found in the car along with von Ackermann's laptop and satellite phone, suggesting he was not the victim of a robbery attempt; nor were his employer or family ever contacted with ransom demands. Nevertheless, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command later concluded he had been killed in a botched kidnapping; they still consider the case open and his body has never been found.[145]


  • Terrance Williams (27) Last seen being arrested on 12 January in Naples, Florida, by Collier County sheriff's deputy Steve Calkins. Terrance had also been driving without a license. Williams was never booked and Calkins claims to have changed his mind and left him at a nearby Circle K convenience store. Felipe Santos disappeared three months earlier under similar circumstances after being arrested by the same officer[144]
  • Maura Murray (21) of Hanson, Massachusetts, a nursing student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was last seen 9 February at the scene of a minor one-vehicle accident in which her car was immobilised after having crashed into a roadside snowbank on New Hampshire Route 112. Earlier on the day of her disappearance, she had lied to professors about a death in her family, saying she would be absent from class for a week.[146][147] A schoolbus driver who happened upon Murray's crash site stopped to ask if she needed help; Murray declined. Upon returning home shortly thereafter, the driver called police anyway, but by the time responders arrived 10 minutes later, Murray had vanished. Her keys, bank and credit cards have never been located, despite extensive searches of her abandoned car and the neighboring wooded areas.[148]
  • Somchai Neelapaijit (52), a Thai Muslim lawyer and human rights activist representing South Thailand insurgency terrorism suspects, was last seen in Bangkok on 12 March. It may be a case of forced disappearance.[149][150]
  • Brianna Maitland (17) vanished March 19 after leaving her job as a dishwasher at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery, Vermont. Her car was discovered the next day near an abandoned house, about a mile away.[151] Maitland's belongings were found inside the vehicle, including a recent paycheck and her wallet. Authorities believe foul play to be involved in Maitland's case, and many theories are under consideration, including one that Maitland may have been smuggled across the nearby Canada–US border.[152]
  • Iraena Asher (25), a New Zealand model, allegedly suffering from bipolar disorder, disappeared in controversial circumstances at Piha, west of Auckland, on 11 October 2004.[153]


  • Donald James Cavanaugh (63), was last seen March 1 leaving a Ukiah. California, homeless shelter to retrieve some of his belongings from a nearby ranch he had worked at until recently, the same ranch related to another former worker's disappearance the next year[154]
  • Natalee Holloway (18), an American student from Alabama, was last seen leaving a nightclub in Aruba with three men, including Joran van der Sloot.[136] She was declared dead in 2012.
  • Ray Gricar (59) was district attorney of Centre County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. On 15 April, he called his girlfriend, in whose house he resided, from his car, giving his location east of Centre Hall. His car was found the next day but he was never heard from again. His family had him declared legally dead in 2011.[155] In September 2013, a reputed former Hell's Angels member told authorities that Gricar was killed by the gang as retaliation. In April 2014, it was reported that the Pennsylvania State police would be assuming lead investigatory role in the case.[156]
  • Tara Grinstead (30), a high school history teacher from Ocilla, Georgia, United States, went missing on 22 October. Investigators identified no suspects. In a bizarre twist, 27-year-old Andrew Haley posted anonymous videos wherein he claimed to be a serial killer responsible for the murders of 16 women. One of the victims detailed by Haley in the videos matched the case of Grinstead, but police investigation ultimately revealed the videos to be part of an elaborate hoax by Haley.[157] A latex glove found outside Grinstead's home revealed DNA, but to date, no match has been found.[158]


  • Jessie Foster (21), a Canadian woman, disappeared in the Las Vegas Valley in Nevada in the United States.[159]
  • Brian Shaffer (27), an Ohio State University medical student, was last seen on security camera footage apparently re-entering an off-campus bar shortly before its closing time early on the morning of April 1. There was no other way open to the public that he could have left the bar.[160] Columbus police reportedly believed as of 2008 that he was still alive; they continue to investigate.
  • David Virgil Neily, 69, of Albion, California, was last seen April 14 leaving his home to retrieve his cars from the same ranch in nearby Westport that Donald James Cavanaugh had worked at and disappeared doing a similar errand the year before. Neily's son had warned him not to go; neighbors report having heard shots at the ranch early the next morning. Neily's dog was found, and his wallet and glasses were on the seat of a car a ranch employee had initially claimed Neily had left in.[154]
  • Sherlyn Cadapan (27) and Karen Empeño (20), a community organizer and graduate student respectively, were abducted by gunmen in a remote area of the Philippines on 26 June 2006. They have not been seen since.[161]


  • Jim Gray (63), database pioneer, Microsoft Research scientist, and Turing Award winner, left San Francisco Bay on January 28 in his 12 m (39 ft) sailboat Tenacious to scatter his mother's ashes at the Farallon Islands, a wildlife refuge 43 km (27 mi) away, and was reported missing when he failed to return later the same day. No Mayday call was heard, his distress radiobeacon was not activated, and, despite one of the most ambitious search and rescue missions of all time, no trace of Gray or his yacht has ever been found.[162] In 2012 he was declared legally dead.[163]
  • Andrew McAuley (38) was an Australian adventurer best known for mountaineering and sea kayaking in remote parts of the world. He is presumed to have died following his disappearance at sea while attempting to kayak 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) across the Tasman Sea in February 2007; a recovered memory stick on the kayak records him attempting to make a distress call.[164]
  • Kaz II, a 9.8 m (32 ft) catamaran, was found adrift 20 April near Australia's Great Barrier Reef with its three-man crew, owner Derek Batten (56) and brothers Peter (69) and James Tunstead (63), missing. The yacht's sails were up and its engine running, and the global positioning system showed the yacht had been drifting since around the time of their last known radio contact, about 11 hours after they departed Shute Harbour for Townsville, Queensland, five days earlier.[165]
  • Lisa Stebic (37), was last seen by her husband at their Plainfield, Illinois, home on April 30, while she was awaiting a ride to the local track where she worked out; he was working in the back. As the two were going through a divorce at the time, police believe foul play was involved and consider him a suspect.[166]
  • Madeleine McCann (3) disappeared after being left asleep in the unlocked ground-floor bedroom of her family's rented holiday apartment in the Algarve (Portugal) while her parents dined with friends at a local restaurant on 26 September. There have been no confirmed sightings of her since then.[167] Despite myriad theories about what happened to the toddler, no substantial evidence leading to any one individual has surfaced. In 2014 it was reported Scotland Yard was reportedly looking at 38 people of interest, as well as researching the backgrounds of 530 known sex offenders, including 59 regarded as high interest.[168]
  • Stacy Ann Peterson (23), left her Bolingbrook, Illinois, home at 11 a.m. October 28 to help a friend paint a house, but has never been seen again. Her husband, Drew, later convicted of murdering his previous wife as a result of evidence gathered during the investigation into Stacy's disappearance, has been suspected of killing her as well.[169]


  • Amy Fitzpatrick (15), an Irish teenager, was last seen in Mijas Costa in Málaga, Spain. She had been babysitting with a friend on New Year's Eve. Fitzpatrick left at about 10:10pm that night and never arrived home, only a short distance away. She has not been seen or heard from since. Investigators are working on her case, which some evidence suggests was a kidnapping.[170]
  • The burnt and abandoned wreck of the Tai Ching 21, a Taiwanese fishing boat, was found drifting on 9 November near Kiribati. It was assumed that when the fire proved beyond their ability to control, the 29-member crew had evacuated using the lifeboat and three rafts that were missing; however no distress call was received and an extensive search of the surrounding seas did not locate any of the crew or their boat.[171]


  • Jure Šterk (72) regularly communicated with radio amateurs while sailing around the world, but all communications ceased around 1 January 2009, as reported by an Australian ham radio operator.[172] His sailboat Lunatic was spotted on 26 January by a merchant vessel, the Aida, and it appeared abandoned. It was found adrift and abandoned on 30 April 2009, by the crew of science vessel RV Roger Revelle.[173]
  • Claudia Lawrence (35) was last seen on 18 March 2009, near Heworth in York, England, returning from her job as a chef. While some evidence pointed to Cyprus, police have increasingly come to believe she is dead.[174]
  • Susan Powell (28) disappeared from her home in Utah in the United States under suspicious circumstances in December 2009. Her husband, Josh, was the main person of interest. In 2013, he killed the couple's two young sons and himself, leading police to close the case of his wife's disappearance.[175]
  • Craig Arnold (41), American poet, disappeared after a hike on the Japanese island Kuchinoerabu-jima. He is presumed to have died in a fall from a high cliff, but the body has never been found.[176]



  • Kyron Horman (7), an American schoolboy, did not return from his school in northwestern Portland, Oregon on June 4. Multiple searches since that day have uncovered no evidence of his fate.[177]
  • Ben McDaniel (30), of Collierville, Tennessee, a recreational scuba diver, was last seen 58 feet (18 m) underwater being allowed into a cave he was not certified to enter at Vortex Spring near Ponce de Leon, Florida on the evening of August 18; his failure to return was not noted for another two days. Extensive searches found only two decompression tanks that were placed wrongly and filled with the wrong gases; no body nor evidence that there was one has ever been found in the spring. While it is still possible his body is in an unexplored area of the cave, other theories include foul play, possibly related to the suspicious 2011 death of Vortex Spring's owner, and a possible staged disappearance in the wake of McDaniel's recent marital and financial failures.[178][179]
  • Paolo Renda (76), a member of the Rizzuto crime family in Montreal, told his family he would be picking up steaks for dinner on his way back from a May 20 funeral; he never arrived. He was presumed kidnapped after his car was found with the windows down and keys in the ignition along his route. The family believes he was killed in retaliation for his role in a 1970s murder, however their 2013 attempt to have him declared legally dead was denied on the grounds of insufficient evidence.[180]
  • Forrest Schab (26), a Canadian rapper better known by his stage name DY, was reported missing in Mexico on November 18. He had not been seen since leaving Canada in the middle of August.[181]


  • Alessia and Livia Schepp (6) from St. Sulpice, a suburb of Lausanne, Switzerland, were twin sisters picked up for the weekend from their mother's home by their father, Mathias Kaspar Schepp, on 28 January. Their father was found dead a few days later, having apparently committed suicide. A suicide note he left suggests he killed them.[182]
  • Bethany Decker (21), a student at George Mason University in Virginia, was last heard from on January 29, when she called the restaurant she worked at to confirm her schedule for the next week. Her husband and a boyfriend both claim to have seen her that day as well. Three weeks later, after Facebook messages from her to friends that seemed to them to have been written by someone else, she was reported missing. Investigators found no evidence of activity on her part other than the suspicious Facebook messages since the day she was last seen. The boyfriend is considered a person of interest in the case; he has since been arrested on an attempted-murder charge in North Carolina after a domestic incident with a later girlfriend who claims he made statements suggesting he had some involvement in Decker's disappearance.[183]
  • Rebecca Coriam (24), a crewmember aboard the cruise ship Disney Wonder, was last seen on 22 March, when a security camera in the crew lounge recorded her having an upsetting telephone conversation. Some reports suggest she went overboard, but there is other evidence that she may have been alive in the following May.[184]
  • Lauren Spierer (20), a student at Indiana University, disappeared in Bloomington, Indiana, on 3 June, after a night of partying at a local bar. Spierer left a gathering at a housing complex alone in the early morning hours while highly intoxicated. Her disappearance generated national press coverage. In 2014, Spierer's parents filed a lawsuit against two individuals with whom Spierer had socialized on the evening before her disappearance. A federal judge dismissed the suit.[185]
  • Lisa Irwin (10 months) was reported missing from her home in Kansas City, Missouri, on the morning of October 4. Police believe she may have been abducted.[186]
  • Daniel Lind Lagerlöf (42), a Swedish director and screenwriter, disappeared at Tjurpannans Nature Reserve outside Tanumshede in Sweden during preparations for the filming of Camilla Läckberg's Fjällbackamorden – Strandriddaren. The search for him was suspended after two days without result.[187]
  • Ayla Reynolds (1) was not in her bed on the morning of December 17. She had last been seen the night before in her father's Waterville, Maine, home, by his sister or girlfriend, both of whom were also in residence. The search for the 20-month-old was the largest missing-persons investigation in the state's history. Police have evidence from the house suggesting foul play and believe her to be dead; however the body has not been found and no arrests have been made.[188]


  • Guma Aguiar (35), Brazilian-born American industrialist and part-owner of Israel's Beitar Jerusalem football club, was last seen leaving his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on 19 June. The next day his fishing boat, the T.T. Zion, was found with lights on and engines running, having gone aground on a local beach. His wallet and cell phone were on board. Two weeks of searches failed to find any trace of him.[189] He was declared legally dead in 2015.
  • Sombath Somphone (60), Laotian community activist who disappeared on Saturday 15 December around 6 pm at a Vientiane police post after having been stopped while driving behind his wife's car. CCTV footage showed a motorcyclist getting off his bike and driving Somphone's car away, and a white truck approaching and subsequently driving off with Somphone.[190]
  • Emma Fillipoff (26), disappeared on 28 November 2012 from in front of The Empress Hotel, in Victoria, B.C., Canada, after a 45-minute conversation with Victoria Police.[191]


  • Evi Nemeth (73), an American computer engineer often described as the matriarch of system administration, disappeared along with several others aboard the yacht Niña between New Zealand and Australia on 4 June; no trace of them has ever been found.[192]
  • Allison (19) and Marie-José Benitez (53), French mother and adult daughter who disappeared from Perpignan on 14 July. Francisco Benitez, the husband of Marie-José and father of Allison, told police that they had travelled to Toulouse and switched their mobile phones off after a family argument, but there is no evidence that they ever left Perpignan. Francisco Benitez committed suicide three weeks later after becoming the prime suspect. It was discovered that he led a double life involving numerous affairs, and that a mistress of his disappeared in similar mysterious circumstances in 2004 and has never been found.[193]
  • Robert Hoagland (50), was reportedly last seen mowing the lawn of his Newtown, Connecticut, home on the morning of July 28; earlier that day he was seen on video buying a road map and fuel for his wife's car at a local gas station. His disappearance was noted after he failed to pick up his wife when she returned from a trip abroad the next day. There have been few leads in the case; police believe that he may either have fallen victim to foul play related to his son's drug use or left to start a new life.[194]


  • Lynn Messer (52) was not in bed next to her husband when he awoke on the morning of July 8 at their farm in Bloomsdale, Missouri. All her personal effects, including a walking boot she had been wearing to protect her broken toe, were in the house. Extensive searches of the surrounding countryside have not turned up any trace of her.[195]
  • William Tyrrell (3) vanished on 12 September while playing with his sister in the front yard of their grandmother's house in Kendall, New South Wales, Australia. Although police still regard it as an active case, no trace of the boy has been found.[196]
  • Rico Harris (37), a former high school basketball star and Harlem Globetrotter, was last heard from when he called his girlfriend at their home in Seattle on the morning of October 10, to tell her he was going into the mountains to rest. At the time he was north of Sacramento, California, at the midpoint of his drive back to Seattle from a visit to his family outside Los Angeles. Four days later his abandoned car was found at a Yolo County park along Cache Creek; video footage and photos on his cell phone suggested he had arrived there later on the day of his last phone call. Several sightings were reported in the area over the next week, and footprints near the location of his car that were large enough to belong to the 6-foot-9-inch (206 cm) Harris appeared four days later, but an intensive search of the area found no trace of him otherwise.[197]


  • Asha Kreimer (26), an Australian national living with her boyfriend in California, left her family's table at a Flumeville restaurant during breakfast on the morning of September 21, 2015 to go to the bathroom. A friend who went there shortly afterwards did not see her; no one has seen her since. She had just been released from a four-day stay in a local mental hospital.[198]

Solved cases

This is a list of people who disappeared mysteriously but were subsequently located.

  • Agatha Christie, the British crime writer, famously disappeared in 1926. She was located 10 days later in a Yorkshire health spa, and always refused to give an explanation.[199]
  • Walter Collins (9) disappeared from his Los Angeles home in 1928.[200] He was later determined to have been murdered by Gordon Stewart Northcott in what was known as the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders. His disappearance and the attempt by the Los Angeles police department to convince his mother that a different boy was her son formed the basis of the 2008 film Changeling.
  • Bill Barilko (24) disappeared in August 1951 while returning from a fishing trip with his dentist, Henry Hudson, on a flight aboard Hudson's Fairchild 24 floatplane back from Seal River, Quebec. The Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player remained missing until 11 years later, when the wreckage of the plane was found in the trees north of Cochrane, Ontario, about 56 miles (90 km) off the original course.
  • Lawrence Joseph Bader, a cookware salesman from Akron, Ohio, disappeared on a fishing trip on Lake Erie. Eight years later he was found alive in Omaha, Nebraska, as a local TV personality, "Fritz" Johnson. He died from a brain tumor a year later leaving six children from two wives. It's been debated (but never confirmed) as to whether he was an amnesiac, had multiple personalities, or was an outright hoaxer.
  • Jacques Vergès, a French-Vietnamese lawyer, left his wife Djamila Bouhired and cut off all ties. He was last seen on 24 February 1970, until he reappeared in 1978, without ever explaining his whereabouts during that period.
  • Jacob Wetterling (11) was abducted in 1989 by a masked gunman while cycling home in the dark with his brother Trevor (10) and friend Aaron (11) after going to rent a video from a convenience store a 10-minute ride away from his home in St. Joseph, Minnesota.[201] His remains were found on September 1, 2016, when the man believed to have abducted and murdered him, already serving time on other charges, led police to the remains.[202]
  • Jayne Furlong, (17), sex worker, was a New Zealander who disappeared from a street in Auckland in 1993. Her remains were found at a beach in 2012 after being exposed by erosion of a sandbank. She had been abducted and murdered.[203]
  • Margie Profet, a biologist, ceased contact with her family in 2002 and had last been seen in 2005. In May 2012 she was told by a friend about her "disappearance" and contacted her family. She had been living in an isolated location, suffering from a physical ailment that caused her severe pain, and had not realized she was considered "missing".[204][205]
  • Daniel Morcombe (13) disappeared from the roadside near his Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, home in 2003. His remains were found in 2011; Brett Peter Cowan was convicted of murder in the case.
  • The four members of the McStay family abruptly disappeared from their Fallbrook, California home under suspicious circumstances on 4 February 2010.[206][207] After much speculation on their whereabouts, their bodies were found by a biker in the desert near Victorville, California on 13 November 2013. On 7 November 2014, police arrested Charles "Chase" Merritt, Joseph McStay's business partner, and charged him with the murders.[208]
  • Holly Bobo (20) disappeared from her home in Parsons, Tennessee, in 2011. Her skull was found in September 2014.
  • Erica Parsons (13), was last seen in North Carolina by persons outside her family in November 2011.[209] In 2016, her remains were found in a shallow grave near her adoptive grandmother's house in an adjacent portion of South Carolina.
  • Gavin Smith (57), an executive with 20th Century Fox, was last seen leaving a friend's house in Oak Park, California, on 1 May 2012.[210] In 2014 he was declared legally dead from the night of his disappearance.[211] His body was found in a shallow grave later that year by hikers in a rural area near Angeles National Forest.[212] In early 2015 police arrested John Lenzie Creech, the husband of one of Smith's extramarital acquaintances, and charged him with Smith's murder.[213] Creech, who is currently serving an eight-year sentence on an unrelated drug dealing conviction, admitted killing Smith, but claimed he did so in self-defense.[214]
  • Lucy Ann Johnson disappeared in 1961 but was not reported missing until 1965. She was found alive with a new family in 2013.[215]
  • Petra Pazsitka disappeared in 1984 in Germany sparking searches and manhunts. Her disappearance made national headlines, and was featured on a television crime program. A convicted rapist and murderer confessed to her killing before retracting his confession. She was declared dead in 1989. In 2015 she was found alive living under a false name after faking her disappearance. She had been living in Germany for 31 years without official documents.[216]
  • David Bird (55), a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, left his Millington, New Jersey, home for a short walk on January 11, 2014, and never returned. His body was found in a nearby river 14 months later, and the cause of death was determined to have been drowning.
  • Atsumi Yoshikubo (45), a Japanese psychiatrist, was last seen on the morning of October 22, 2014, walking along the Ingraham Trail (NT 4) in a wooded area on the northern outskirts of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. Her disappearance was not noted until three days later, when she had failed to check out of her hotel and the staff found her luggage, all packed, in her room. An intense search both by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and concerned local residents over the next few days was called off after a week when the RCMP announced that their investigation had led them to conclude that she came to Yellowknife with the intent to disappear into the wilderness (although she had bought a return ticket to Japan and souvenirs).[217] Ten months later a hunter discovered some of her personal effects along with human remains in the bush off the highway; in April 2016, those remains were positively identified as Yoshikubo's.[218]
  • DJ Derek (74), pioneering British disc jockey, was last seen leaving a pub in the St Pauls neighbourhood of his native Bristol on 11 July 2015; his body was found in March 2016 near The Mall, Cribbs Causeway.[219][220] Avon and Somerset Police spokesmen said that investigators were "satisfied that there's nothing to suggest [the death] was suspicious."[221]
  • Helen Bailey (51), a British writer of children's and teenage fiction, was reported missing after allegedly taking her dog for a walk in Royston, Hertfordshire, England, in April 2016. No trace of her was found initially but in July 2016 her remains were found and her partner was charged with her murder.[222]
  • Christer Ericsson (74), a Swedish businessman and billionaire disappeared after a fishing trip at Marstrand in June 2016, only his boat was found. His body was found in late August 2016.[223]

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External links

Media related to Disappeared people at Wikimedia Commons