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There are many things that occur on our planet that can be difficult to understand; however, there are also a number of things that are just simply baffling. By the laws of physics we know that nothing simply disappears, it lives, it dies and it transforms from one form of energy to another, but nothing just ceases being. Throughout the history of our planet; however, a number of important people as well as “things” have seemingly disappeared. For each of these cases of mysterious disappearance there are many possible answers and most include accidents and eventual death; however, even with these explanations there are many unanswered questions that add to the sense of mystery. If individuals did die where are the remains and why were they never found? Why do mysterious disappearances always occur in specified locations? Why did the disappearance happen in the first place?
- Ambrose Small
- Amelia Earhart
- Andrew Carnegie Whitfield
- Andrew Irvine
- Arthur I, Duke of Brittany
- Barbara Newhall Follett
- Bela Kiss
- Bermuda Triangle
- Bobby Dunbar
- Boston Corbett
- Captain James William Boyd
- D.B. Cooper
- Dorothy Arnold
- Etan Patz
- Franklin’s Lost Expedition
- Glenn Miller
- Henry Hudson
- Jean Spangler
- Jimmy Hoffa
- Joseph Force Crater
- Mary Celeste
- Percy Fawcett
- Raoul Wallenbert
- Richard Calvin Cox
- Szilveszter Matuska
- The Beaumont Children
- Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe
- Victor Grayson
- Virginia Dare
- Walter Collins
- Willie McLean
Ambrose Small was a theater magnate native to Bradford, Ontario. Among his assets, Small owned the Grand Opera House in Toronto, the Grand Opera House in Kingston and the Grand Theater in London, Ontario. Small sold his holdings on December 1, 1919 for a $1.7 million (Canadian) profit and on December 2 he vanished. During the daytime on December 2, Small met with his lawyer, F.W.M. Flock in Small’s Grand Opera House office. The attorney left the office at around 5:30 pm and was the last person to see Small alive. It is believed that Small disappeared from his office that night and strangely enough no one saw him leave his office, walk on the streets outside the theater or spotted him anywhere in the vicinity. Strangest of all about the case is that Small did not take any of his money with him when he disappeared, nor did any kidnapper request ransom for the millionaire. There was absolutely no evidence pointing towards the missing 56 year olds disappearance.
The case of Small’s disappearance was officially closed in 1960 without any evidence as to his whereabouts. A number of theories and stories have arisen as to the whereabouts of Small; however, none have ever panned out. Among the theories as to Small’s ultimate fate: he became a victim of amnesia, he left to start his life anew in another country, he was murdered by gamblers or gangsters, he was abducted by his private secretary, he was killed and he currently haunts the theaters that he once owned.
One of the most famous and recognized incidences of mysterious disappearance is that of Amelia Earhart. Born in 1897, Amelia Earhart became known for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart was the first woman to be awarded the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross as a result of her cross Atlantic flight. Earhart mysteriously went missing in 1937 and on January 5th, 1939 she was declared legally dead. In 1937 Earhart set out to circumnavigate the globe in a Lockheed Model 10 Electra that was funded by Purdue. During her flight Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean. It is believed that Earhart went missing around Howland Island.
The Flight Schedule and Howland Island
During her flight Earhart was scheduled to stop at Howland Island after taking off from Lae in Papua New Guinea on July 2nd. Earhart was accompanied by Fred Noonan, her only crew member. The intended landing at Howland Island was supposed to be navigated through radio navigation; however, somehow the navigation did not go to plan. There are many theories as to what happened to cause the problems in the final approach to the island. The most popular of theories stems from Noonan’s concerns about problems with the accuracy of radio detection finding in navigation, he had written about these problems previously and it is believed that this led to trouble in landing at Howland Island. The particular plane that Earhart was using was equip with a Bendix direction-finding loop antenna which at the time was particularly new technology and some believe that it was this new technology that caused many of the navigational errors because neither Noonan nor Earhart were familiar enough with it to use it to their advantage. Some also believe that part of the navigational trouble was related to the time zones of Earhart and the USCG cutter Itasca which was assisting with navigation. Due to Earhart using Greenwich Civil Time and the Itasca using a naval time zone the two were thirty minutes apart on their communication schedule.
Loss of Radio Transmission
The last radio transmission signal that the Itasca received from Earhart was, according to their records, a strong signal; however, there was evidence that while she could communicate with them, she could not hear their communications. It was 7:42am when Earhart radioed to the Itasca that she was running low on gas, at this time she was flying at 1,000 feet. In an effort to communicate with the Itasca Earhart requested that the Itasca attempt to communicate on a specific frequency; however, the Itasca was unable to communicate on the designated frequency and instead broadcast in Morse code to try to help Earhart navigate herself to land at Howland Island. The Itasca was able to determine that Earhart received the Morse code transmission; however, she was reportedly unable to determine her location. The Itasca attempted to send smoke signals to Earhart to help her orient herself and find the designated landing area on the island, but Earhart did not see the signals and communication was lost.
What Became of Amelia Earhart?
What actually happened to Amelia Earhart and Noonan is unknown which is what makes this one of the most famous cases of mysterious disappearance. Some believe that Earhart made it to land relatively safely because her radio transmissions were still coming for a while after her becoming disoriented. It is believed by these people who had Earhart landed in the ocean her electrical system would have shorted and she would have been unable to communicate at all. The crew of the Itasca believed that perhaps Earhart had been able to land safely and they began a three-day search of Howland Island and the surrounding area. No evidence of Earhart was found in the area but later search efforts focused on the Phoenix Islands located to the south of Howland Island revealed evidence of recent activity. Despite finding evidence of activity; however, there was no response to efforts to gain attention by the aircraft. Some believe that Earhart and Noonan were on the island but out searching for supplies at the time that the rescue party flew over. Earhart, Noonan nor their aircraft was ever found. The total cost of the recovery efforts cost $4 million and went on record as being the most expensive recovery effort to date. Recovery efforts were ceased on July 19, 1937 and Earhart was declared legally dead on January 5, 1939. Some people believe that she and Noonan lived out their lives on the Phoenix Island for as long as they could before dying there.
Andrew Carnegie Whitfield, nephew of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, was born in 1910 and disappeared on April 17, 1938. Whitfield was working as a business executive at the time of his disappearance after graduating from Princeton University. Whitfield was also an amateur pilot with a small Taylor Cub airplane which he flew periodically, garnering some 200 hours of flying time. On April 17, 1938, Whitfield was last seen taking off in his plane with a plan to land at an airfield in Brentwood, New York. The airfield was less than twenty minutes away; however, Whitfield never arrived. The airfield was just 22 miles away and Whitfield had enough fuel in his plane to make it 150 miles; however, he never showed up at the airfield, nor was his plane ever recovered.
On the day of his disappearance, Whitfield had checked in to a hotel in Long Island under an alias and upon investigation, all of his belongings were still in his room at the time of his disappearance. It was discovered that prior to leaving the room, Whitfield had called home and a telephone operator stated that he had heard him say “Well, I am going to carry out my plan.” Police finally ruled that Whitfield had committed suicide by flying in to the Atlantic Ocean, although no evidence to support this theory was ever discovered.
Arthur I, the Duke of Brittany was born in 1187 and is believed to have died in 1203. Arthur was the Duke of Brittany from 1194 to 1202 and in 1190 he was designated as heir of the throne of England and England’s French territory at the time by Richard I. This plan was put in place to squeeze Arthur I between Richard and Richard’s younger brother, John in the line of succession.
In 1202 Arthur I, from Normandy, France, began a campaign against John of England. During this campaign, John’s mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine was besieged in the Château de Mirebeau. John of England then marched on Mirebeau, surprising Arthur and capturing him. After his capture, Arthur I was imprisoned in the Château de Falaise in Falaise, Normandy. Arthur I was captured and imprisoned on August 1, 1202; however, by April, 1203 he was nowhere to be found. As the story goes, after capturing Arthur, John ordered that two of his servants attack and mutilate Arthur; however, the man charged with guarding Arthur (Hubert de Burgh) would not allow it. Shortly thereafter it is said that Arthur was transferred to Rouen under the orders of William de Braose. Unfortunately, however, no one can say what happened to the Duke after this.
There are a number of stories as to what really happened to the Duke of Brittany, one of which tells that he was murdered by John of England himself and his body was thrown in to the River Seine. It is said that a local fisherman pulled up the body in his net and recognizing it as that of Arthur I, he took it to the priory of Bec for a secret burial.
Andrew Irvine is best known as the English mountaineer who took part in the third British expedition to Mount Everest in 1924. Irvine was born in 1902 and was 22 at the time of the expedition.
Irvine became interested in mountain climbing in 1923 when he took part in the Merton College Arctic Expedition to Spitsburgen. During this expedition Irvine excelled and was recommended to join the upcoming third expedition to Mount Everest. During the expedition the party made two unsuccessful attempts in June to top the summit of Everest. Before ruling failure there was just enough time for one more attempt before the summer monsoon moved in. The parties most experienced climber, George Mallory, would make this attempt with the inexperienced Irvine by his side.
Most believe that Mallory chose Irvine because of his ability to work with their oxygen equipment. The two began their climb on June 6. The following day Mallory and Irvine had established a camp at 26,800 feet from where they would attempt the final leg of their climb. On June 8 the two left the camp and signs indicate that their start was not an easy one. The two were spotted by Noel Odell at 12:50pm on the Second Step of the northeast ridge of Everest. No evidence exists to confirm whether the two ever made it to the summit. What is known is that the two never made it back to their camp and that they had perished somewhere high on Everest. In 1999, Mallory’s body was discovered with evidence of a significant rope injury around his waist. This injury suggests that the climbers had fallen while roped, although Irvine’s body was never recovered. Many hypothesize however, that despite perishing in their efforts, Mallory and Irvine did reach the peak of Everest.
Where is the Lost City if Atlantis?
The lost city of Atlantis was first mentioned by Plato at around 360 BC. There are debates as to whether Plato was actually referring to an island or whether he was referring to something mythical but over time people have come to believe that the island of Atlantis actually did exist at one point before sinking beneath the sea. Most geographers deny the existence of the island of Atlantis citing a lack of proof of its existence but there are those who hypothesize about the potential location of the island. The most commonly location for the long-lost island is in the Mediterranean Sea. Most people, who believe that the island existed at one point, believe that it was located close to other small islands like Cyprus and Crete. While the most popular consensus for the location of the island is somewhere in the Mediterranean sea, there are also those who believe that the island is located in the Atlantic Ocean with numerous research teams finding their own “evidence” of the island around the area of Spain. These researchers believe that the island was affected by a tsunami which caused its eventual sinking beneath the ocean. Other teams of researchers believe that the island of Atlantis is located in Antarctica or the Caribbean or even in India, but to date no actual evidence of the island has been found.
While little evidence exists to attest to the existence of the lost city of Atlantis the legend is still one that captures the attention of plenty of people. While individuals go missing all the time entire islands do not. The very idea of an entire landmass going missing is both baffling and intriguing.
Barbara Newhall Follett, born on March 4, 1914, is known as an American child prodigy novelist having her first novel, The House Without Windows, published when she was just twelve years old. Follett published her second novel two years later when she was fourteen. At the same time as her second novel was published, Follett’s father left her mother for another woman which caused Follett great distress. Just two years later at the age of sixteen, Follett’s family became greatly affected by the beginning of the Great Depression and she was forced to begin working as a secretary in New York.
Barbara Newhall Follett married her husband, Nickerson Rogers, at quite a young age and lived in an apartment with him. At some point in her marriage Follett began to suspect that her husband was cheating and this spiraled her in to a depression. After an argument with Rogers on December 7, 1939, over this potential infidelity Follett walked out of her apartment and was never seen again. Follett was 25 at the time of her disappearance and had just $35 in her pocket. Rogers did not contact police about Follett’s disappearance until two weeks after her disappearance; furthermore he did not file a missing persons report until four months after his initial contact with the police.
Sadly no real effort was ever made to find Follett by anyone. No evidence of her disappearance was ever found either to indicate what had happened to her. Follett’s body was never found and no circumstances surrounding her death were ever explained either.
Bela Kiss was 39 at the time of his disappearance in 1916. Kiss was a Hungarian serial killer known to have killed 24 young women before he enrolled in the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War. Kiss attempted to pickle his victims in large metal drums that he kept on his property. Kiss had told authorities that questioned him about the drums on his property, that they were filled with gasoline as he was preparing for rationing during the war. Kiss then went off to war leaving the home under his housekeeper’s watchful eye. Budapest police remembered the stockpile of gasoline that Kiss had and led soldiers to them so that they could make use of the fuel. Unfortunately when they got to the drums, the soldiers noted a strange smell. A detective was brought in to open the drums and the body of a strangled woman was found. A total of 24 bodies were discovered in various barrels. Further investigation and entry in to a room that Kiss’s housekeeper had been forbidden from entering revealed a number of books on poisoning and strangulation. Investigation found that Kiss had been attempting to defraud all of the women leading them to believe that he was seeking marriage. After he sucked the women in, Kiss requested them to send him money but if things got to be too complicated he would murder them.
When it was discovered what Kiss had done, authorities tracked Kiss down to a Serbian military hospital. Kiss was able to escape from the hospital by leaving the dead body of another soldier in his bed before the investigators arrived to question him about his crimes. A number of people reported sighting the murderer including a 1932 sighting in New York; however, he was never found.
The Mystery of the Bermuda Triangle
While Amelia Earhart makes news as one of the most recognized mysterious disappearances in history and the island of Atlantis makes news as one of the most baffling disappearances in history, no discussion of mysterious disappearances would be complete without mention of the Bermuda Triangle. The Bermuda Triangle is also referred to as the Devil’s Triangle and is located in the west of the North Atlantic Ocean. The Bermuda Triangle has been noted in numerous cultures from those who believe that it has extra-terrestrial ties to those who believe that it has ties to the paranormal. Regardless of whether or not you believe that the existence of the Bermuda Triangle has ties to either of these less scientific explanations, there is no denying that there is something about the Bermuda Triangle that is conducive to mysterious disappearances.
Where is the Bermuda Triangle?
The Bermuda Triangle covers the Bahamas, the Caribbean island area, the Straits of Florida and the Atlantic Ocean east of the Azores. While the Bermuda triangle is known for being an area that is commonly responsible for the mysterious disappearance of many ships and planes, it still remains one of the most traveled shipping lanes in the entire world. As ships pass through the area trafficking goods and moving people, not all of those ships go missing but throughout history a large number of ships and planes have gone missing in the Triangle location.
The Disappearance of Flight 19
The first reported incidence of a mysterious disappearance in the Bermuda Triangle was on September 16, 1950. The most recognized incident of mysterious disappearance in the Triangle location is the disappearance of Flight 19. Flight 19 was a group of Navy Avenger bomber planes that were taking part in a training mission who became disoriented as they were traveling through the Bermuda Triangle. Radio transmissions for Flight 19 indicate that upon traveling through the Triangle area indicate that the planes and pilots quickly became disoriented. It is believed that a combination of weather conditions, geographical features and magnetic properties of the area all contributed to the disorientation of the pilots in Flight 19. All of these contributing factors have been cited by numerous pilots and ship captains as they found themselves becoming disoriented in the location of the Bermuda Triangle. Most commonly the magnetic interference of the Triangle has been noted as creating interference with the compasses and other navigational equipment on planes and ships creating confusion and leading to fast disorientation. Often times as these vehicles became disoriented they would run out of gas as they attempted to find their way out of the location and the crew would find themselves stranded and without accurate navigational data to give to a rescue party.
Other Disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle
The crew of Flight 19 is not the only incidence that is noted for disappearing in the Bermuda Triangle, numerous other vehicles have been lost in this area as well including:
- The Ellen Austin which lost two crews after disappearing and reappearing in the Bermuda Triangle – each time without the prized crew that had been placed onboard.
- The USS Cyclops which went missing in March of 1918 with a crew of 309 individuals on board after leaving Barbados.
- Theodosia Burr Alston the daughter of Aaron Burr who disappeared on a journey from South Carolina to New York while onboard the Patriot.
- The Carroll A. Deering, a five-masted schooner that ran aground near Cape Hatteras in North Carolina in 1921.
- The Douglas DC-3 aircraft number NC16002 disappeared during a flight from Puerto Rico to Miami. The entire aircraft as well as every single person of the 32 on board went missing having disappeared completely.
- The SS Marine Sulphur Queen, a T2 tanker that was redesigned to carry sulfur rather than oil not only disappeared within the triangle but it took its 39 person crew with it. While some believe that this tankers disappearance is due to the Triangle, others believe that it was the poor maintenance of this tanker that led to its rapid sinking and disappearance of the crew.
Many of these planes and ships have other explanations for their disappearance such as that found in the explanation of the SS Marine Sulphur and crew, explanations that include poor maintenance, pirate activity or simply poor navigation skills; however, for those who believe in the power of the Bermuda Triangle, no other explanation is needed. Research continues in to the activity that has been noted in the Triangle but to date there has been no confirmable proof to support the potential mysterious activity within the area.
Bobby Dunbar was born in Opelousas, Louisiana in 1908 to Lessie and Percy Dunbar. On August 23, 1912 Bobby Dunbar and his family vacationed to Swayze Lake in St.Landry Parish in Louisiana and it was at this time that Bobby disappeared. Eight months following his disappearance, a boy matching Bobby’s description was seen with a man named William Cantwell Walters. Walters explained that the boy was the child of a woman who worked for his family and that he had been granted custody. Despite this explanation, Walters was arrested and the Dunbar family was called to Mississippi to identify the boy. As the Dunbar’s met with the child there are varying reports as to the degree of recognition between them; however, the Dunbar’s eventually went back to Mississippi with the child in tow.
Soon after the child went to live with the Dunbar’s, a woman came forward confirming the story that she had allowed Walter’s to take custody of her son for just a couple of days. The woman, Julia Anderson was presented with a lineup of five boys, yet she was unable to say with certainty which child was her son. Anderson’s claims were eventually dismissed and with no money to continue a legal battle, Anderson returned to North Carolina. Anderson returned to Mississippi for the kidnapping trial of Walters to confirm his innocence, but despite this he was convicted of kidnapping. The child was then sent back to live his life as Bobby Dunbar.
In 2004 DNA testing showed that the child, who lived the remainder of his life as Bobby Dunbar, was not in fact Bobby Dunbar at all.
Thomas P. Corbett, who was referred to by those who knew him as “Boston,” was born in 1832 and presumed dead in 1894. Corbett served as a Union Army soldier and is most commonly known for the fact that he shot and killed John Wilkes Booth, assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.
While known as a hero to many, Corbett fought his own demons after killing President Lincoln’s assassin. Corbett had worked as a hatter before the army and after his discharge he went back to life as a hatter; however, the occupation obviously took a toll. Corbett’s behavior became increasingly unpredictable and he was noted for brandishing a revolver against innocents multiple times. In 1887, Corbett was sent to an asylum in Topeka, Kansas but in 1888 he escaped. After his escape Corbett went to stay with an old army friend before leaving and telling his friend he was going to Mexico. Many believe that Corbett never went to Mexico however, and that he built a cabin near to Hinckley in Minnesota where he lived alone. It is believed that Corbett ultimately perished on September 1, 1894 when the Great Hinckley Fire raged. No remains of Corbett were discovered but his name does appear on the list of the missing and dead.
Captain James William Boyd born in 1822 was a Confederate States of America military officer. During the American civil war, Boyd was a captain in the 6th Tennessee Infantry Regiment when in 1863 he was held as a prisoner of war by the Union. While he was being held as a prisoner of war, his wife died. Boyd requested that he be released from imprisonment so that he could return home to care for his seven children and his petition for release was granted. In 1865 Boyd was released however, he soon after disappeared. Boyd’s son had received a letter instructing him to meet his father in Brownsville, Texas so that they could go to Mexico. Boyd never showed up for the meeting however and no further communication was received by Boyd’s son from his father. One conspiracy claims that Boyd had been mistaken for John Wilkes Booth and had been killed on April 26, 1865 near Bowling Green, Virginia at Richard Garrett’s farm. These conspiracy theorists believe that while the US government was aware of the error they could not admit to it because it would uncover the fact that they allowed John Wilkes Booth to escape.
D.B. Cooper is the name of the man who is famed for hijacking a Boeing 727 plane between Oregon and Washington on November 24, 1971. The hijacker demanded a ransom of $200,000 and after he received it he parachuted from the plane. A man hunt was launched to find the man who was known as D.B. Cooper and yet no one was ever discovered. Stranger still, no body was ever discovered either. The FBI still has a case open against the man known as D.B. Cooper and the case remains the only case in American aviation history of air piracy that has not been solved.
The famed aviation pirate became recognized by the name D.B. Cooper when it was revealed that he purchased his airline ticket under the name Dan Cooper, an alias. After the hijacking when news outlets got hold of the story they miscommunicated the name Dan Cooper and he became known as D.B Cooper. There are many who still believe that D.B Cooper survived his parachuting stunt and went on to live well with the money that he extorted from his piracy. There are more people still who continue their hunt for the famed D.B Cooper but most of all slews of people continue to hunt for the treasure of D.B. Cooper. What treasure? Well there are two camps of people who believe that the money Cooper extorted can be found over the area where he parachuted from the plane. There are those who believe he escaped and buried the money to return for it later when he was no longer on the radar. There are also those who believe that D.B. Cooper died during his parachuting stunt and that as a result his money can still be found somewhere around the area where he would have landed. Regardless of which of these theories (if any) that you believe the heart of the matter is that neither D.B Cooper nor his extorted $200,000 have ever been recovered.
In February 1980 some bundles of the ransom cash were discovered by Brian Ingram, an eight-year-old boy who found the money while on a family vacation with his family on the Columbia River. FBI technicians confirmed that the money all arranged in the same order as when given to Cooper as a portion of the ransom.
Dorothy Arnold was 25 years old at the time of her disappearance in 1910. Arnold, a Manhattan socialite and heiress to her father’s, a wealthy perfume importer, fortune disappeared after meeting a friend at a bookstore. Dorothy left her parent’s Manhattan, New York City home on December 12, 1910 to buy a dress for a social occasion. On her way to the shops Dorothy was seen by a number of her friends who mentioned that she looked happy. Dorothy was also seen at Park & Tilford’s store where she purchased a pound of candy and at Brentano’s Bookstore on 26th Street where she met a female friend and purchased a book of epigrams. Arnold had told her girlfriend that she was going to walk home through Central Park but she was not seen after leaving the store.
Dorothy Arnold had something of a “reputation” according to her family after a month before her disappearance she eloped and spent a week with George Griscom, Jr. fearing negative press and the possibility of being embarrassed socially, Arnold’s parents did not contact the police when she first went missing. Instead, they contacted a family friend and hired Pinkerton detectives to look for their daughter. After three weeks of finding no leads, the search for Dorothy was abandoned. It took six weeks before her parents contacted the police to report Dorothy’s disappearance. Dorothy’s father insinuated that he believed Griscom had played a role in Dorothy’s disappearance. After interrogation by Dorothy’s family Griscom was unable to provide any clues to Dorothy’s whereabouts but he did invest thousands of dollars in to searching for Dorothy. Dorothy’s father believed that she had been attacked and murdered in Central Park and that her body had been thrown in to a reservoir.
Despite many theories to her whereabouts and Dorothy’s father investing more than $100,000 in to searching for her, Dorothy was never recovered.
Born on October 9, 1972 six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from Lower Manhattan in New York City on May 25, 1979. Etan was the first missing child to be pictures on a milk carton and began the missing children’s movement. On May 25, Etan left his family apartment in SoHo to walk two blocks to catch the school bus. Etan had never made the walk alone but on May 25th he would walk alone; however, the six-year-old never reached the bus stop. Searches for Etan continued for weeks but few leads were found.
On May 24, 2012 the New York Police Department announced that a man named Pedro Hernandez had implicated himself in the crime, admitting to strangling Etan Patz. Etan had supposedly run in to Hernandez when he stopped in to his bodega to purchase a soda to go with his lunch. Hernandez claimed that he had thrown Patz remains out with the trash. At the time of his confession however, there was no physical evidence that tied Hernandez to the crime. Hernandez’s sister as well as the leader of a Christian group at his Catholic church indicated that Hernandez had previously confessed to the crime in church. On November 14, 2012, Hernandez was indicted by a New York grand jury of second degree murder and first degree kidnapping. On December 12, 2012 Hernandez pleaded not guilty. Hernandez’ defense attorney claims that Hernandez suffers from schizophrenia and borderline retardation indicating that he should be found not guilty of the crime. Etan Patz’ remains were never recovered.
Franklin’s lost expedition refers to a British whaling ship headed to explore the Arctic. The exploration group was led by Captain Sir John Franklin and the ship left England in 1845. The voyage was the fourth such Arctic voyage for the Captain who was 59 years old at the time. The captain intended to cross the last section of the Northwest Passage that he had not previously crossed. Early in the journey a few of the seamen died but the biggest disaster came when the two ships in the party became icebound near King William Island in the Victoria Strait. The ships would never be seen again. According to the records of other sailors and explorers who followed the expedition the men would all perish in the wintery conditions. It is believed that Franklin himself would die on June 11, 1847 after the crew of the ship wintered on King William Island. The remaining crew had planned to walk across the Canadian mainland to the Back River but through the journey what crew remained all perished. Multiple expeditions were launched following the men’s disappearance and a number of artifacts and even some skeletal remains would be retrieved. Despite these various expeditions however, the remains of all of the crew would never be recovered.
Glenn Miller is most recognized as an American bandleader and jazz musician. Miller was headed to Paris on December, 15, 1944 from England when the aircraft he was in disappeared. The single engine Noorduyn Norseman aircraft disappeared somewhere over the English Channel. At the time of his disappearance, Miller was a US Military officer and as it was still wartime when he vanished he is considered to be missing in action. The plane, on which Miller was a passenger was listed as USAAF serial 44-70285 and was also carrying crew and other passengers. No remains of any of the crew members or plane wreckage have ever been recovered.
There are multiple theories as to what happened to cause the disappearance. One of these theories states that the plane may have been hit by a bomb sent by the RAF in an abortive raid on Siegen, Germany. With 100,000 incendiaries jettisoned researchers believe that this is the most likely scenario. If this is the case then Miller would have been killed in action by friendly fire. Another theory was sparked by a self published book by Clarence B. Wolfe, a gunner with Battery D, 134th AAA Battalion. Wolfe claimed that his battery was responsible for shooting down Wolfe’s plane. The third and final story that explains Miller’s disappearance was released by German journalist Udo Ulfkotte. Ulfkotte claimed that he had uncovered information citing that Miller had indeed landed safely in Paris on the 14th however, the following day he died of a heart attack while in the company of a French prostitute. The story goes on to say that the American military covered up the incident to save face. This is, however, quite unlikely, as evidence would have been found as to the crew and other passengers who were also on the aircraft at the time of its disappearance.
Henry Hudson is best known as an English explorer and navigator who was born between the 1560’s and the 1570’s. Hudson was in search of the Northwest Passage for English merchants by traveling above the Arctic Circle. It was on his last voyage that Henry Hudson disappeared. While few know just what happened to Henry Hudson it is known that he was never seen again after his crew mutinied as they passed through north Canada. Researchers believe that Hudson died in 1611 and some say that he was murdered by his crew. What was it that led the crew to this ending of the Hudson story? According to historic tales that were handed down, the crew of Hudson’s final journey were angry over Hudson’s decision to continue exploring even after enduring a particularly harsh winter.
No evidence exists as to the exact happenings of Hudson’s death however. Court documents attest to the fact that mutinous crew members cut loose Hudson and a few other loyal crew members, leaving them adrift in a small lifeboat. The rebellious crew was never convicted of murdering Hudson and a number of officials believed their story. Some evidence points to a more violent end for Hudson however, when the mutinous crew docked in London and blood stains were found aboard the ship. Without a body however, no one can say for certain what happened to Henry Hudson.
Jean Elizabeth Spangler was born September 2, 1923 and made her name as an American dancer, model and actress in early television and Hollywood films. Spangler was born in Seattle, Washington and at the time of her disappearance she lived with her mother, daughter, brother and sister-in-law in Los Angeles. Spangler’s daughter was just five years old at the time of Jean’s disappearance. Jean Spangler had recently won custody of her daughter from her former husband Dexter Benner. Benner and Spangler had been divorced in 1946 and Spangler had won custody of their daughter in 1948.
On October 7, 1949, Spangler left home at 5pm to meet her former husband. Leaving her daughter with her sister-in-law, Spangler said that she was meeting Benner to talk about his late child support payments before going to work on a movie. Spangler would not make it to the movie set; the last person to see her was a clerk in a local store who said that she appeared as though she was waiting for someone. After that sighting however, Spangler would not be seen again. Spangler’s sister-in-law filed a missing person’s report the day after she had left the apartment.
Jean Spangler’s ex-husband was questioned about his ex-wife’s disappearance but he claimed that he had not seen her for a number of weeks before she disappeared. Benner’s alibi was his new wife who claimed that they had been together at the time of Spangler’s disappearance. Two days after questioning Spangler’s ex-husband, police recovered Jean’s purse near to the Fern Dell entrance of Griffith Park in Los Angeles. The straps of the purse looked like it had been forcefully taken. The entire park area was searched for clues to Jean’s disappearance; however, none were found. Robbery was ruled out as a motive when police discovered that Jean had not been carrying any money; however, a letter was recovered from her purse that held some clues to her life before her disappearance. The letter, addressed to Kirk, indicated that Jean had been pregnant at the time of her disappearance and was contemplating an abortion. This explanation was confirmed by a number of her friends but at the time abortion was illegal and few people were forthcoming about who the “Doc” she mentioned in her letter could be. Many people believe that Jean had gone to a former medical student who went by the name “Doc” for an illegal abortion which had gone wrong and resulted in her death. No man by the name of “Doc” was ever found. Spangler’s disappearance remains a mystery and her missing person’s case is still open.
Jimmy Hoffa, the U.S. trade union leader and president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters was believed to have been meeting two Mafia leaders in a restaurant parking lot at the time of his disappearance. Hoffa disappeared at some time after 2:45 pm on July 30, 1975. Both of the Mafia leaders that Hoffa believed he was meeting were known to him. Jimmy Hoffa’s car was found at the restaurant parking lot; however, Hoffa’s body was never recovered. The two Mafia men that Hoffa had claimed he was meeting were found to have been elsewhere at the time of Hoffa’s disappearance. Seven years following his disappearance, Jimmy Hoffa was declared legally dead, but nothing concrete was ever discovered that indicated his fate.
Many theories arose from Hoffa’s disappearance, many of which centered on Hoffa’s scheduled testimony before a United States Senate Committee. The Church Committee which was chaired by Senator Frank Church of Idaho had been probing intelligence activities during 1975 and various organized crime figures had been indicated in the problems being investigated. The most “reputable” of these theories coming from an FBI prepared report entitled the “Hoffex Memo.” This memo indicted that Hoffa had been murdered by order of organized crime leaders who feared that Hoffa’s attempt to regain power within the Teamsters posed a threat to their control of the union’s pension fund. The disappearance and the actual story behind the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa however, remains a mystery.
Joseph Force Crater was an associate justice of the New York Supreme Court and was last seen on August 6, 1930 after eating at Billy Haas’ Chophouse at 332 West 45th Street. He had eaten dinner with Sally Lou Ritz and William Klein and just after 9pm the dinner ended. Sally and William were the last people to see Crater as he walked down the street away from the restaurant.
There are various theories about what happened to Joseph Force Crater, one of which is that he was murdered, another claims that he had run off with a woman. More suspiciously, some claim that Crater had been involved in corrupt practices that were about to be revealed and he had fled in order to protect himself.
Crater’s wife at the time, Stella Mance Wheeler was staying at their summer cabin in Belgrade, Maine where Crater had also been until receiving a mysterious phone call. Crater had told his wife he needed to return to the city to “straighten those fellows out.” This likely was an excuse however, since upon arriving in the city, Crater made a trip to Atlantic City with his mistress at the time, Sally Lou Ritz. Crater then returned to Main on August 1st, only to leave again on August 6th where he would reportedly destroy a number of documents in his courthouse chambers, cash two large checks via his law clerk and take two locked briefcases back to his apartment. Later that night after buying a ticket to see a comedy entitled “Dancing Partner” at the Belasco Theatre, he would have his last meal with his mistress Sally Lou Ritz and his lawyer friend William Klein.
Ten days after he was scheduled to return home to his wife, she began to contact friends asking whether they had seen him. It wasn’t until August 25th, when he failed to appear for the opening of the courts, that his peers at the court became alarmed. The search for Crater began and on September 3 the police were brought in to the search efforts. Little evidence was found relating to his disappearance but the two briefcases that Crater had taken to his apartment were missing and that his safe deposit box had been emptied. The missing money would later be recovered by Crater’s wide tucked in a dresser drawer along with a note from Crater himself. The official missing person’s file of Joseph Force Crater was closed in 1979 with no inkling as to the whereabouts of Crater.
On August 19, 2005 police received letters from Stella Ferrucci-Good which indicated that the judge was buried at the current site of the New York Aquarium. Stella had apparently come across this information when her husband had been talking over drinks with one of the men indicated in the note as the killer of Crater. The notes indicated NYPD officers Charles Burns and his brother, Frank in Crater’s murder. No body was recovered at this location casting much doubt on this account.
The Mary Celeste was an American brigantine merchant ship that is the center of one of the biggest maritime mysteries of all time. The 282 gross ton brigantine had a history of claiming the lives of her captains as three captains were known to have died on board. The original ship was named The Amazon when built by Nova Scotia but after she ran aground and was salvaged she was sold to Richard Haines in New York and renamed the Mary Celeste. The new ship, the Mary Celeste was owned by four partners: Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs, James H. Winchester, Daniel T. Sampson and Sylvester Goodwin. The majority of the ships shares belonged to James H. Winchester however. It was the intention of the new owners to sail the Mary Celeste across the Atlantic Ocean to make a profit by trading with ports on the Adriatic Sea.
On November 5th, 1872 the Mary Celeste docked in the East River in New York City to take aboard over 1,700 barrels of commercial alcohol that was destined for fortifying Italian wines. In addition to the cargo, the Mary Celeste also carried a seven man crew, the captain, the captain’s wife and the captain’s two year old daughter. The crew and captain both were known to be extremely trustworthy and experienced when it came to sailing and yet the crew of ten was not destined to return from their voyage. On December 4, 1872 almost one month after setting sail from the port in New York City the Mary Celeste was spotted by another ship west of Portugal. The ship looked oddly situated and was moving unnaturally in the water and so the helmsman of the Dei Gratia who first sighted the Mary Celeste ordered his ship to move closer. The Mary Celeste was boarded and while it was discovered that she had taken on water she was still completely seaworthy, yet not one single crew member was aboard the boat. The papers of the ship was missing, the compass destroyed, the sextant and marine chronometer missing, the ship’s clock was not working and the sails showed evidence of damage. Oddly while the entire crew of the ship was missing there was plenty of fresh water and viable food aboard, all of the crew’s luggage was untouched and all of the barrels of alcohol remained (although nine were found to be empty.)No one was ever to discover what became of the crew of the Mary Celeste.
Percy Harrison Fawcett was born on August 18, 1867 and served as a British artillery officer as well as working as an archaeologist and a South American explorer. In 1925 on an expedition with his son to find the lost city of El Dorado, Fawcett along with his eldest son disappeared.
On April 20, 1925, Fawcett and his eldest son Jack and friend Raleigh Rimmell set out on an exploration of previously unexplored territory on the Amazon River. Fawcett wrote a letter home to his wife from Dead Horse Camp on the River, to tell her of his intentions to explore with just Jack and Rimmell by his side. This letter did not give any indication that he was nervous or threatened by the upcoming exploration; in fact he seemed rather optimistic. This was the last communication received from Fawcett before his disappearance.
A number of people believe that Fawcett and his companions had been captured and killed by local Indian tribes. Others maintain however, that it is possible that at least Jack and Rimmell died from natural causes since the last time that they were seem they were both ill and unable to walk. A few of Fawcett’s belongings were located with local Indian tribe’s years after his disappearance; however, these items proved nothing in terms of his disappearance. Rather, the items discovered had not been with Fawcett at the time of his disappearance. During the many years following Fawcett’s disappearance, a number of rescue missions were launched in an attempt to find Fawcett; however, none of them yielded any evidence as to what became of him. Stories and accusations were common as researchers attempted to recover what had happened to Fawcett but these proved to be unfounded and the mystery of the expedition’s disappearance continues.
Raoul Wallenberg was born on August 4, 1912 and was best known for his position as a Swedish diplomat and humanitarian as well as his work as a businessman and architect. Wallenberg played a role in successfully rescuing between tens of thousands to one hundred thousand Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during World War II. At the time Wallenberg served as Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest and issued protective passports to Jews and sheltered many in protected Swedish territory buildings saving them from Nazi Germans. On January 17, 1945 however, during the Siege of Budapest, Wallenberg was detained by soviets, suspected of espionage. It was this detainment that led to Wallenberg’s disappearance. Some believe that Wallenberg died while being held prisoner in Lubyanka in Moscow, Russia but no one actually knows what became of the WWII hero. According to the Soviet government however, Wallenberg died of heart failure in his cell on July 17, 1947. There have been many questions asked about Wallenberg’s disappearance and purported death but no definitive answers have ever been given. Despite his presumed death, Wallenberg continues to be honored for his humanitarianism and he on July 26, 2012 he was even awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to honor his achievements and heroic actions during the Holocaust.
Richard Calvin Cox was born on July 25, 1928 in Mansfield, Ohio. Cox graduated from high school a year after the end of World War II and the following year he would serve in the Sixth Constabulary Regiment of the US Army. Cox was in the intelligence section of the Headquarters Company and served close to the border between West and East Germany. After his service tour, Cox went on to apply to West Point and in 1947 he was accepted.
On Saturday January 7 in 1950 Cox classmate, Peter Hains, answered a call for Cox who was not in barracks at the time. Cox described the caller who called himself “George” as insulting and gruff. George told Hains that he had served in Germany with Cox and wanted to meet up for something to eat. George said that Hains should instruct Cox to go down to the hotel where he was staying. Cox received the message and signed out with a message that he would be eating with George inside Grant Hall in the visitor’s area. The two would meet and have a drink and nothing much was thought of it. George would return for a second meeting on January 8. Classmates, curious about George would ask about who he was and Cox explained he was a former Ranger who bragged about killing Germans during the war and even saying that he cut off their genitals after he killed them.
George would return to visit Cox for a third and final time at approximately 6pm on Saturday January 14, 1950. The two were noted as leaving the grounds of the academy but nothing was ever seen of them again. Cox was filed as a missing person and in 1957 he was declared legally dead. Cox is the first and only person to be reported missing from West Point without being recovered alive or dead.
Szilveszter Matuska disappeared in 1944 after he escaped from jail. The Hungarian mass murderer was known as the “Train Killer” and was known for making four attempts at derailing passenger trains in Hungary, Germany and Austria in 1930 and 1931. Two of the four attempts of the murderer were successful. The first of his two successful train derailings was the derailment of the Berlin-Basel express train. On August 8, 1931 Matuska derailed the train just south of Berlin and left many people injured but fortunately none dead. At the time, due to the finding of a defaced Nazi newspaper at the scene, many believed that the derailment was a political statement and a 100,000 reichsmark bounty was put out for capture of the perpetrator. The second train that Matuska was responsible for derailing was the Vienna Express. Matuska derailed the train just as it was crossing the Biatorbagy Bridge near Budapest on September 13, 1931. This time 120 people were injured and 22 people were killed. Matuska had blown up the bridge causing the engine and a number of coaches of the train also to fall in to the ravine below the bridge. Although found at the scene of his crime, Matuska played the part of a surviving passenger and was released. One month later he would be recaptured and upon his capture he confessed to the crimes.
For his crimes, Matuska received a conviction in Austria for his two unsuccessful attempts and then he was extradited to Hungary under the condition that he not be executed. In Hungary he was found guilty of murder and while he was sentenced to death as per their agreement with Austria, Hungary converted this to a life imprisonment sentence. In Vax, in 1944, Matuska escaped from jail and has not been seen since.
The Beaumont children were three children who went missing from a beach close to Adelaide in Southern Australia. The children, Jane Nartare aged 9, Arnna Kathleen aged 7 and Grant Ellis aged 4, were visiting Glenelg beach resort close to their home. Jane, aged 9 was charged with the care of her siblings when then left home at 10am and they were to return at noon. When the children hadn’t returned home by 3pm however, their mother became worried and called the police. After investigations began, police found a number of witnesses that had seen the children playing with a tall blond man in his mid-thirties. At around 12:15pm the children were seen leaving the beach with the man. Around this same time a shop attendant noted that Jane had purchased pasties and a meat pie from her, she believed the meat pie to be for someone else as the children had never purchased one before but had often purchased pastries. Additionally, Mrs. Beaumont noted that while Jane had paid for her purchase with a one pound note, she had not given them a one pound note; rather she had given them just enough coins for their bus fare and food. The last confirmed sighting of the children was at around 3pm when a mailman who knew the children well, saw the three of them walking along the road back to their home. The mailman said the children seemed happy, yet police were puzzled that the children had been described as calm and happily strolling back to their house when they were more than three hours late home.
A number of sightings of the children were reported for the twelve months or so following their disappearance. One eyewitness claimed that she had seen a man with two girls and a boy go in to a neighboring house that she believed to be vacant. Later she had seen the little boy walking alone until he was pursued by the man and caught. The following day she reported that the man and the children were gone and the property was again vacant. The children have never been found and their case resulted in one of the biggest police investigations in the criminal history of Australia. Since the children’s disappearance their parents have since divorced and the way that children are treated by parents in Australia has been forever changed.
Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe are noted as being two convicted bank robbers from Oklahoma who were serving their sentences in Alcatraz prison. Alcatraz was notable for being famously difficult to escape, mostly because even if an inmate were to escape they would be unable to leave the island because of the incredibly cold, dangerous and choppy waters that surround it. Both Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe were acknowledged for prior escape attempts from the prison but the mystery comes in when the two took part in their second escape attempt. Although Alcatraz went down in history as being an “escape-proof” prison there is story that the two were able to successfully complete their escape attempt. Ted Cole and Ralph Roe were never heard from again after their escape attempt but one thing was known for certain – the two had escaped the inescapable prison and there were no bodies to be found in the surrounding waters. There are a few who believe that the two were able to construct enough escape materials from prison supplies to escape safely to shore in California, but more believe that the men died and were consumed in the water by sharks.
Victor Grayson was an English socialist and a member of parliament born on September 5, 1881. Grayson served in parliament from 1907 to 1910, he went missing in 1920. Grayson was not above causing a stir in politics and before his death he was threatening to reveal the man behind political corruption involving the Prime Minister at the time, David Lloyd George. It wasn’t long after his claim that he would reveal this figure behind the corruption that Grayson disappeared.
On September 28, 1920 Grayson was drinking with his friends when he received a telephone call asking him to go to the Queen’s Hotel in Leicester Square. Grayson excused himself from his friends company and told them he would return shortly – he never returned. A witness, painter George Flemwell, was said to have seen Grayson going in to a home on the Thames river bank. Flemwell did not think anything of the sighting at the time, nor for months afterwards because it was not until then that Grayson was reported missing. When the sighting of Grayson did come to light however, it was discovered that the home that he had entered was that of the man suspected of being behind the political corruption scheme, Maundy Gregory. This evidence alone leads many to believe that Grayson was murdered by Gregory in order to prevent him from revealing the truth about the political corruption scheme. Despite this believe however, no evidence to Grayson’s disappearance or possible murder was ever discovered.
The Disappearance of America’s First Daughter
Virginia Dare is another incidence of an individual who has gone missing through the history of the United States, but unlike Amelia Earhart there is no evidence as to what actually happened to this woman. In 1587 John White left the colony that he had established in the state of Virginia to return back to England to fetch supplies as well as other individuals to bring back to the Americas to help build on to the colonies. Virginia Dare, was the first child to be born in the America’s to the settlers of the Virginia colony but when John White returned to Virginia with all that he needed he found that the entire colony was gone. All of the individuals including Virginia Dare were missing completely and all that could be seen was the engraving of the word “Croatan” on a nearby tree. John searched nearby and could not find the remnants of the colonists that he had left upon his departure to England. While the colonists were never found later researchers believe that a local Native American tribe may have taken the colonists. There was a tribe of Native Americans in the area named the Croatan tribe; however, there was no evidence that these individuals had been taken other than their missing status and the word “Croatan” carved on to the tree.
Walter James Collins, Jr. was son of Christine and Walter James Collins, Sr. Born on September 23, 1918; Walter Jr. disappeared from his home on March 10, 1928. At the time of his disappearance Walter Jr. was nine years old. Walter Jr. was believed to have been abducted by enemies of his father, a onetime inmate of Folsom Prison convicted of eight armed robberies. Five months following Walter Jr.’s disappearance, a boy who claimed to be Walter Jr. was found in DeKalb, Illinois. Christine Collins arranged to have him brought from Illinois to her home in Los Angeles however; when the boy arrived Christine claimed that he was not her son. Despite this fact, the police officer in charge of the case told Christine to take the boy home anyway and “try him out”. Christine took the boy home but three weeks later returned to the police Captain and told him that the boy was definitely not her son. Deemed as being difficult, Christine was then committed to a psychiatric ward. During her time in the ward, the police Captain questioned the boy who then admitted to being a runaway and not Walter Jr. Ten days after her imprisonment, Christine was released from the psychiatric ward and filed a law suit against the police Captain. Christine was awarded $10,800 from the lawsuit but it is unknown as to whether she was ever able to collect the money.
At one point it was believed that Walter, Jr. was a victim of serial killer Gordon Stewart Northcott. While Walter Jr.’s complete remains were never found, a murder investigation recovered three graves with partial body remains. Among these remains partial body parts were believed to be those of Walter, Jr. and were used to convict Gordon Northcott’s mother, Sarah Louise Northcott in participating in her son’s murderous actions. Sara Louise was sentenced for murder and Walter Jr. was proclaimed to be dead. Christine Collins would never accept that her son was dead however and would continue to hold out hope that he was still alive.
Willie McLean, known by many as “Wee Willie” was born on January 27, 1904 and was best known as an American soccer player and member of the US National team in the 1934 FIFA World Cup. At the time of his disappearance, McLean was just 34 years old.
McLean was born in Scotland and immigrated to the United States at nineteen years old where he became a prominent figure in soccer. In 1936 however, McLean collapsed during a league game and was taken to a sanitarium where he spent nine months before moving back to his U.S home in Chicago. Although well-known at the time, McLean attempted to keep a low profile after moving back to Chicago. In the summer of 1938 though, McLean disappeared and was never seen again. For a number of years after his disappearance, McLean’s mother received Mother’s day cards from a number of different towns on the Mississippi River. By 1944, no sightings of McLean had been made and in November, Aetna Life Insurance put an advertisement in the Midwest Soccer News in an attempt to local him. No leads were ever generated from this ad and Willie McLean was never seen again.
Why Are We So Intrigued with Mysterious Disappearances?
It may seem sick to think about being so intrigued by mysterious disappearances but there is something about the complete disappearance of anything, land masses, individuals or complete aircrafts or ships. We are taught to believe that there is no death of energy and so particularly when it comes to the disappearance of people we tend to be amazed and obsessed that someone could just disappear from the face of our planet. As for an entire island disappearing – there is no question why that is so fascinating, there may not be any death of energy involved but something as large as a landmass simply should not disappear without a trace. Lastly when it comes to a plane or a ship, vehicles simply do not disappear, while these things may not express energy in the same means that we do as human beings they are large machines that simply do not disintegrate.
Many of these mysterious disappearances do not have explanations that make sense to us as logical human beings and for that reason we are obsessed with these events and trying to discover a reason that does make sense. Until such a time that we find a reason that explains the ins and outs of each of these disappearances we will continue to be obsessed because we are not programmed to simply accept things for what they are. We are raised to question things that do not gel with our concepts of what makes sense and to keep searching until we can make those things make sense. Unfortunately for us, many of these mysterious events may never make sense and we will be left to continue searching for answers that may never be.
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