The world is filled with strange stories of people who have sometimes disappear. Sometimes with a motive of their own volition, at other times by the hands of someone else. There exists though an in-between category where a person has disappeared, and their whereabouts are completely unknown.
What makes this subject truly fascinating is that in the 21st century with all the marvels of technology we have at our disposal there are still stories of people wandering off never to be heard from again. Some of these people it seems left lives that had not turned out the way they'd anticipated while others made a wrong turn, or went for breakfast and suddenly can not be located.
Ray Gricar was a district attorney in Pennsylvania who one day in 2005 phoned his girlfriend to say he was taking a drive in the country and that he would be back soon. He never came back. His car was found outside an antique store. His laptop was retrieved from a river nearby. He was working on what would become known as the Penn State sex abuse scandal, so obviously, there was speculation that his involvement stacking evidence on that had to do with his disappearance. But also, the big twist was that his home computer had a web search history for things such as "how to wreck a hard drive" and "water damage to a notebook computer."
Brian Shaffer was a 27-year-old medical student from Ohio State University who went out for drinks at the Ugly Tuna Saloona one evening in 2006 and was never seen again. Though he was upset about his mother's recent death, he was doing well in school and planning a vacation with his girlfriend. The night he disappeared, there was security camera footage of him entering the bar. He was seen drinking heavily, talking to his girlfriend on his cellphone, and speaking with two young women. And then he vanished. And oddly, there was no footage on the security cameras of him ever leaving the bar.
Azaria Chamberlain was only nine weeks old in 1980 when she mysteriously disappeared from her parent's tent in the Australian wilderness. This case remains one of the most infamous murder cases in Australian history and is the origin of the pop culture phrase "a dingo ate my baby." Because that is what Azaria's mother, Lindy Chamberlain, adamantly declared she believed happened. And because that does sound far fetched, she ended up being sentenced to life in prison for the disappearance of her daughter, until by chance a piece of Azaria's clothing was found in a dingo's lair near their campsite. Lindy was released from prison, and the charges against her husband and her were overturned and dropped. But did the dingo take the baby?
Jean Spangler was an up and coming Hollywood starlet in 1949 when she vanished. Two days after she disappeared, her broken purse was found in the entrance to Griffith Park containing an unfinished note reading "Kirk, Can't wait any longer, Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away." It came out that Spangler believed she was three months pregnant when she disappeared but no Dr. Scott in the area knew her. There were many theories including that she died during a botched abortion and her purse was ditched to suggest something else. She had some known ties to the mafia, and a noted mobster Dave Ogul disappeared only two days after her, but no concrete connections could be confirmed. The oddest part of this case is that a couple of days into the investigation, super star actor Kirk Douglas phoned the police to declare he was not the Kirk in the note and that he didn't know her even though they had just worked on a then-unreleased film together. Interestingly though Kirk was cleared of involvement, and her case remains unsolved.
Dorothy Arnold was a New York City socialite from a wealthy family who went out to purchase a gown one day in 1910 and never returned. She left her home, purchased some chocolate, got a book at Brentano's Bookstore on Fifth Ave, ran into a good friend, and then was never seen again. When she did not return home for dinner, her family begin asking her friends. Though oddly, when a friend of Dorothy's called for her that evening, her mother said that Dorothy was in bed with a headache. Also odd, was that her family didn't call the police at first, but instead only contacted a family friend lawyer. It was after six weeks had gone by that her family finally contacted the police. There seemed to be no reason for her disappearance. She was secretly engaged to a man her parents disapproved of, but he had not seen or heard from her. And while she was distraught over her family also not supporting her desire to become a writer and some recent rejections by publishers, she showed no signs of being suicidal. Dorothy's disappearance was never explained.
Frank Lee Morris was one of three prisoners who were part of the only successful escape from Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary before he disappeared in 1962. Morris, along with Clarence and John Anglin placed papier-mache likenesses of their heads in their beds, broke out of the main building via an unused utility corridor and then departed the prison island into the freezing San Francisco Bay on an improvised inflatable raft. What happened to Morris and his cohorts after they had reached the Bay was never determined and much speculated. Morris was a lifetime criminal with charges including narcotics possession and armed robbery. But he was also a genius according to IQ tests and had successfully broken out of another prison in Louisiana before this escape. The FBI closed its file on the case in 1979 saying that the prisoners most likely drowned in the cold waters before reaching land. But Morris' cousin and his daughter claimed to have seen him shortly after the escape. Seriously though, if you escaped from prison, wouldn't you want to make sure you stayed low key and missing too?
Louis Le Prince was a French inventor on his way to get patents for his inventions that created the world's first moving pictures on film when he vanished in 1890. His disappearance remains one of the strangest of all times. He boarded a train headed to Paris, checked his luggage into a compartment, entered his cabin, and then was never seen again. There were no signs of foul play or anything suspicious. The windows were tightly closed so it would have been unlikely he jumped off the train. And what was even more bizarre was that his luggage that was in another compartment vanished too. Because Le Prince didn't get those patents, Thomas Edison took credit for the invention of motion pictures.
Barbara Bolick went on hike in the Bitterroot Mountains with her friend Jim Ramaker in 2007 and appeared to vanish into thin air. They were heading to a scenic overlook. Bolick was about 25 feet behind her companion. Ramaker stopped to admire the view, and when he turned back, Bolick was nowhere to be seen. Authorities searched the area but found no trace of her. Obviously, Ramaker, her hiking companion made a perfect suspect, but he was very cooperative, and there was no evidence supporting that he would have done anything to Bolick. And what kind of alibi would "she just vanished" be if you were actually guilty of making your friend disappear on a mountain top? So Bolick's cause for disappearance remains a mystery.
Maura Murray was a 21-year-old nursing student in Massachusetts in 2004 when she disappeared following some bizarre behavior and incidents. First Murray lied to her professors telling them there had been a death in her family and that she would be absent for the next week. Then she got into her car and crashed it into a snowbank. A witness pulled over and asked if she needed help. Murray responded no, but the passerby called the police anyway. When the police arrived, the car was there, but Murray was gone. There were no visible footprints in the snow or sign of a struggle. The next day, Murray's fiancee got a voicemail of a woman sobbing, that was presumed to be Murray, but other than that, no one ever heard from her again. Murray's case gained a lot of traction and internet interest as it was one of the first major disappearance mysteries of the social media age. There is even a fascinating Reddit forum filled with couch detective's leads still being updated.
Asha Degree was nine years old living with her family in North Carolina when she mysteriously disappeared in 2000. Her family last saw her asleep in her bed, but for some reason in the middle of the night, the young girl packed a backpack and left the house. It was a windy night with a bad rain storm, but Asha was seen by several motorists passing by as she walked along Highway 18. Seeing a child walking alone along a major road through a storm in the middle of the night is an odd sight. But when one of the motorists turned around and pulled over to approach her something even stranger happened, Asha ran into the woods never to be seen again. An intensive search was held starting that morning, but all that was found were some candy wrappers, a pencil, and her hair ribbon. Over a year later her fully packed backpack was found on a construction site nearby. Authorities speculated she might have run away, but there seemed to be no reason for her to do so, and they focused on the case as an abduction. But her disappearance remains a mystery worthy of a TV show plot like "Stranger Things."
Rebecca Coriam was working on a Disney Cruise liner when she disappeared in 2011. Disney produced footage of the ship's security cameras showing Coriam in the lobby talking on the lobby phone early in the morning. She then walks off frame of the camera and was never seen again. Disney claimed they knew for sure that she fell out of the crew swimming pool and was washed overboard. But they did not have security camera footage of this, and the 7ft tall barrier from the pool to the ocean seemed to make this theory unlikely. They claimed to have found Coriam's flip flops by this pool, but her family said they were not hers as they were the wrong size and style. The family also said that Disney was not cooperative or forthcoming in answering their questions or helping with an investigation, including denying access to the security camera footage from the entire ship. This makes Coriam's disappearance at sea a difficult case that remains open, unsolved, and shadowed with mystery.
Zebb Quinn was an 18-year-old employee at Walmart in North Carolina who went missing under strange circumstances in 2000. Following his shift one day, he and his friend Robert Owens went to look at a used car he was looking to buy. On the way, Quinn got a page, seemed distraught, and told Owens he had to leave. As he left, he accidentally hit Owens' car before driving off. The following morning Quinn was reported missing by his mother. As the evidence and events surrounding his disappearance came to light, things just got more strange. The page he had received was traced to his Aunt's house. But his Aunt wasn't home at that time. She was at dinner with Quinn's new girlfriend, Misty, Misty's mother, and the ex-boyfriend of Misty, Wesley, who Quinn had told his family had been abusive to Misty. Quinn's Aunt also reported that her house was broken into while she was at dinner, but nothing was stolen, only some pictures rearranged and the page to Quinn made from her phone. A couple of days after he went missing, someone claiming to be Quinn called the Walmart he worked at to say he was sick and not coming to work. His manager could tell it was not Quinn's voice and his friend Owens later admitted it was he who had made this call, explaining that Quinn, who no one had seen in days, had called him asking him to call his work. A couple of week's after his disappearance, Quinn's car was found near his mother's workplace with a pair of lips drawn on the back window with lipstick and live puppy in the car. And what about that helpful friend Owens? Well in 2015, he was charged with the murder of Food Network contestant Cristie Schoen and her husband whose remains were found in the stove on Owens' property. Eek. But the mystery of Zebb Quinn remains bizarre and unsolved.
Harold Holt was the 17th Prime Minister of Australia when he went missing in 1967. Holt, who was a very experienced swimmer and diver, was at Cheviot Beach relaxing and swimming with friends and family when he just vanished into thin air, or maybe the depths of the ocean. Despite a huge rescue operation, no sign of him was ever found. Given his political position, foul play was suspected, but no evidence to support this was ever unearthed. So Holt was presumed dead, and a new Prime Minister was sworn in.
Joseph Force Crater was a New York State Supreme Court Justice who vanished amid political scandal in 1930. Now, unlike many of the missing on this list, Crater's case is filled with suspects and circumstances that could have led to his disappearance, and yet his case has never been solved. In the summer of 1930, Crater left his wife at their vacation home in Maine to return to NYC. He went to his courthouse chambers to go through his files and destroying several. He then cashed two checks and took two locked briefcases to his apartment. He then purchased one ticket to a Broadway show and met up with his showgirl mistress Sally Lou Ritzi, or "Ritzi" as she was known, and a lawyer friend of his. They stayed at the restaurant past the time the curtain for the show he had the ticket for went up, and then parted ways. Crater was never seen again. Initially, his lawyer friend and mistress said that Crater got into a cab alone upon leaving the restaurant, but then they suspiciously both later changed their story saying that they were the ones to get into the cab while Crater left walking down the street. Crater's involvement in the New York City nightlife led to his involvement with mob ties and several women, who, in the aftermath of his disappearance and the case following, either left town abruptly or were murdered. Crater's disappearance led to an investigation into city government corruption, and one of his girlfriends offered to testify but was murdered before she could. Following her death, a policeman she accused of framing her resigned, her daughter committed suicide, and among other things going on, the mayor of NYC resigned.
Connie Converse disappeared in 1974. Unlike many of the other missing people on this list, Converse seemed to want to disappear and left hard evidence of that. Before her vanishing, she wrote letters to her friends and family stating that she wanted to start a new life somewhere else. Converse had been a singer-songwriter in the New York City folk music scene of the 1950s. But prior to her disappearance, she was working as an editor. Though she was fired from that job two years before she packed up her VW Bug with all belongings and drove off into the sunset never to heard from again.
Trevaline Evans disappeared in Wales, United Kingdom in 1990. Evans left a note reading "back in two minutes" on the door of her antique shop and then vanished forever. Her purse left in the shop and car parked just a few feet away. Her husband, Richard, was away renovating their holiday bungalow at the time of her disappearance, but that didn't stop him from being a top suspect who was even arrested in 2001 when the case was re-examined. But he was released without charge. What happened to Evans remains a mystery.
Susan Walsh disappeared in 1996 right after she left her apartment to make a telephone call at a pay phone across the street. Walsh was a freelance journalist and writer who also worked as a stripper to pay the bills. When Walsh mysteriously vanished, rumors circulated that her disappearance had to do with her recent investigations for her articles with the Village Voice. Making this case seem even more captivating was that those articles were on a strip club ring in which members of the Russian mafia were allegedly forcing young girls into the sex industry and an expose on the underground vampire community in New York City. So while investigators had lots of suspects from the Russian mafia to New Yorker vampires, there were never enough concrete leads or clues to help bring an end to this writer's story.
Jim Sullivan was a singer-songwriter and guitarist who had released two albums before he mysteriously disappeared in 1975. Sullivan left his home in Los Angeles to drive to Nashville alone in his VW Beetle. One day into his journey, he was pulled over by highway patrol to be cautioned about his driving. He then checked into a hotel in Santa Rosa, New Mexico but he left his key in the room and went to a nearby store to buy some vodka. The next day, he was seen 26 miles from the hotel at a ranch wondering about. He was last reported to be seen walking away from his car at an abandoned ranch. His car contained Sullivan's money, papers, guitar, clothes, and a box of his unsold records. He was never seen again, and the unsolved case has many theories including that he was murdered or that he became disoriented and got lost. But one of a fascinating theories is that, in light of the title of his first album, U.F.O., he was abducted by aliens.
Charlie took to the written word like a fish takes to water. That is to say; they found themselves immersed in literature from before they were born. They've been known to tell their friends how they can still remember the passages their parents read to them when they were in utero - Emily Dickinson, Jane Austen, and a bit of Hunter S. Thompson thrown in to balance it out. Charlie keeps their feet wet, whether they're whipping up pithy one-liners to tease your brain or busy working on their second novel (the first one is available on Amazon under a pen name they refuse to disclose). You’re sure to get a kick out of giggle-worthy explanations and outrageous hints, and still come away feeling like you’ve just expanded your knowledge base.
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