Travelling to foreign countries and tourist attractions is often seen as a luxury and many look forward to time spent away from home, exploring parts of the world they have yet to venture to. However, travelling can be scary as well. You are in an unfamiliar place, sometimes you don’t know the language of the locals and can have a hard time getting around, ordering food, or even knowing which bathroom to walk into. Nowadays such worries are seen as nothing but annoyances, as we live in a more dangerous world than it was 20 years ago. Identities are easily stolen, purses snatched, pockets picked and sometimes lives are taken. With the recent and frequent terrorist attacks, society is now on edge more than ever when it comes to safety of travelling alone in foreign countries or even travelling within one’s own country. The 15 cases on this list show some shocking and some mysterious instances of travellers that went missing or were killed while on vacation or travelling away from home. These unfortunate instances show that sometimes erring on the side of caution can very well save one’s life and sometimes people are just unlucky enough to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
15. Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon
Dutch tourists Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, aged 21 and 22 respectively, went missing in Panama in April of 2014. The two friends visited Panama to do social work with some of the local children and went hiking through a dense forest near the Costa Rican border. The ordeal Kremers and Froon went through shortly before their deaths appeared to be something straight out of a horror movie. Investigators found their belongings in the forest, among which was a cellphone with numerous attempted calls to 911 emergency. There were also numerous photos taken on the phone between 1:00 and 4:00am at a rate of one photo every two minutes; the two women likely used the camera’s flash function to see in the nearly pitch black forest. Almost two weeks after the two had gone missing, bone fragments were found in the forest and DNA testing confirmed them to be of Kremers and Froon. There is still definitive explanation of what happened to the dutch tourists, but most believe they had fallen off one of the numerous steep cliffs in the area and to this day their complete remains have never been found.
14. Amber Tucarro
The missing persons case of Amber Tuccaro, which later became a homicide investigation, is one of the most frightening cases of abduction ever caught on audio recording. Tucarro was travelling from her home in Fort McMurray, AB, Canada to Edmonton, AB, with her friend and 14 month old son when she went missing on August 18th, 2012. Tucarro and her friend planned to stay the night in Nisku, AB, just outside of Edmonton to save money and visit the city the following day. Tuccaro decided to hitchhike to Edmonton alone the night they arrived in Nisku, leaving her son and friend to follow behind her the next day. Tuccaro was picked up by an unknown man and was never seen again until her body was found nearly two weeks later. While she thought she was being driven into the city, Tuccaro called her brother who was at the Edmonton Remand Centre correctional facility, where all phone calls were recorded. After Tuccaro’s body was found, RCMP investigators released about one minute of the phone call hoping someone would recognize the man’s voice and hopefully lead them to an arrest. In the phone call, Tuccaro appears to be aware that the man was not taking her to Edmonton and she sounds frightened as she asks the man where he’s taking her. The recording released was apparently just 1 minute of a 15 minute call. To this day, no arrests have been made for the murder of Amber Tuccaro, and the killer who appears to be dumping bodies near Leduc County, AB, still remains at large.
13. Lars Mittank
Lars Mittank of Germany, aged 28, was on vacation in Bulgaria when he got into an altercation on the beach and was struck in the head. He was taken to a hospital afterwards to be treated for a ruptured eardrum and given a prescription for antibiotics. Doctor’s orders restricted Mittank from flying for the next few days, so he told his friends that had travelled with him to go on home without him while he stayed in Bulgaria until his condition improved. Mittank called his mother from his hotel room in a panic, claiming he was being followed by four men and told his mother to cancel his credit card. He also spoke erratically about the prescription he was given, questioning what the drugs were really doing to him. Mittank was last seen on surveillance footage walking through the airport. Moments later, he is seen running in the opposite direction, having dropped his luggage; he bolted out of the airport and across the parking lot and appeared to run into a nearby forest. No one knows what happened to Mittank and has still not been found to this day.
12. British Tourist Missing While On A Hike In Canadian Mountains
22 year old tourist Tom Billings, of Great Britain, went missing in the North Shore Mountains of Vancouver, British Columbia, on November 25th of 2013. Billings had planned an 8 week tour of North America, but his plans were cut short by a fatal accident that occurred while attempting a dangerous hiking route. Billings told two hikers of the route he planned to take which was seen as a risky and difficult path in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. Billings was not reported missing until seven days later and the alert was only raised when he failed to meet his travel plans. The body of the Vancouver native was not found until nearly three years later in April of 2016, when a passing hiker stumbled upon Billings’ remains in the Cypress ski area. Foul play has not been suspected and he is believed to have died from natural causes.
11. Body Parts Of Russian Couple Wash Up On Fiji Beach
Russian couple Yuri Shipulin and Nataliya Gerasimova, went missing from their home in Fiji on June 16th of 2016. The couple was said to have been very happy with their new life, having moved to Fiji in 2011. Both Shipulin and Gerasimova were described by other locals as kind and caring people and as each other’s soulmates. Many friends and volunteers went searching for the couple to no avail. About a month later in July of 2015, the severed head of Shipulin and severed feet of both Shipulin and Gerasimova, washed up on the shores of the beach and were discovered by tourists walking the coastline. Murder cases are said to be very rare in Fiji, and can damage the reputation of the internationally renowned tourist hotspot, and investigators urged people not to speculate on the grisly findings as not to cause unnecessary fear. However no culprits have been apprehended in relation to the double homicide and the remainders of the couple’s bodies have yet to be found.
10. The Death Of Elisa Lam
On January 26th, 2013, University of British Columbia student Elisa Lam of Vancouver, checked into the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles and went missing for 18 days before her body was found under bizarre circumstances. Lam planned to travel what she called a “west Coast Tour” through the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Diego and San Francisco. Her trip seemed to be going well based on photos Lam posted on social media, until she arrived at the Cecil Hotel. She was assigned a shared room, but the room occupants complained to the manager about her strange, erratic behaviour and the manager moved her to her own room. Surveillance footage from February 1st shows Lam cowering in the hotel elevator, peeking out into the hallway and quickly turning into the elevator again as if she were hiding from something or someone. The footage of Lam was the last time she was seen alive. Eighteen days later, her body was found in the water tank on the roof of the hotel, having drowned in it. It is still unknown how she got onto the roof (with the door being locked and alarmed), or how she got in the tank, which had no fixed access. The circumstances of her disappearance and death have been hotly debated and theorized, with no definitive explanation to date.
9. Man Mauled By Elephant
In February of 2016, 36 year old British tourist, Gareth Crowe from Scotland, was killed while riding an elephant in Thailand. Crowe was on vacation with his family when the incident occurred. Crowe and his 16 year old step daughter, Eilidh Hughes, were on a trek riding an elephant when the elephant’s handler stepped down to take photos. The elephant appeared to ignore its handler’s commands and then proceeded to throw Crowe and Hughes off its back. The elephant trampled and gored Crowe to death before running off into the forest. The elephant’s handler blamed Crowe for the incident saying that Crowe teased the animal causing it to become more aggressive. Upon hearing the allegations, Hughes, from her hospital bed in which she was being treated, said the allegations were false and that her stepfather did not tease the animal in any way. A spokesperson from The Charity World Animal Protection stated that the incident is a reminder that elephants were never meant to be ridden and animals tamed for such tourist activities are often under a lot of stress and are both physically and mentally abused. The owners of the elephant have captured it after it ran into the forest and are undecided on whether the animal will be sent to a different park or put down.
8. Missing And Murdered In Brazil: Anne Swaney
ABC7 Chicago producer, Anne Swaney, aged 37, was visiting the Nabitunich Farm in Belize for vacation in January of 2016, when she was murdered and her body left in the Mopan River. It was Swaney’s second visit to the farm where she went to ride horses, and the caretaker of the estate described her as an outgoing and vivid person. On the day she disappeared, Swaney went down to a nearby river to practice yoga. When she didn’t return for over 3 hours, hotel workers notified police of her absence when her belongings were found abandoned by the river. Her body was found the next morning and an autopsy showed that she had been strangled to death. Officials say that the motive for the attack was unclear and that being only about a mile away from the Guatemalan border, it’s possible the culprit killed Swaney and fled to Guatemala( it being an open border). The murder rate in Belize is said to be the third highest in the world, although the area in which Swaney was staying was not common for violent crime. No new leads have been found and no culprit has yet been found.
7. Max Mendoza
American citizen and Arizona State University graduate, Max Mendoza, visited Brazil in July of 2014 to attend the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Investigators state that Mendoza and two of his friends went hiking through the Tijuca Forest which is home to the world famous Christ the Redeemer statue, a common landmark and tourist attraction. Sometime during the hike, Mendoza split up with his friends and his body was found by Brazilian police near the forest’s Waterfall of Souls and had appeared to have fallen from a large height. Police notified the US embassy of the discovery and the body was quickly identified by his belongings to be that of Max Mendoza. No foul play has been attributed to his death and investigators have ruled it an accident. Mendoza was said to be a great leader and was loved by all those he met. Numerous friends and family took to social media to offer their condolences to Mendoza’s family during a tragic and heartbreaking time.
6. Arizona Woman Lured Into Murder
Arizona woman, Denise Pikka Thiem, went missing on April 5th, 2015. Thiem quit her job to go travelling five months prior to her disappearance. She visited numerous countries such as the Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore and Vietnam, before heading to Europe to take on the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, a spiritual hike for those who are religious, a common tourist attraction, or a test of physical endurance that is walked by tens of thousands of people every year. The days prior and following Thiem’s disappearance, numerous tourists and locals reported being bothered by a strange man after taking a wrong turn off the pilgrimage route due to yellow arrows pointing in directions that caused people to stray from the path. Convicted of her murder, Miguel Angel Munoz, aged 39, was a recluse who lived in a shack along the path in which the arrows pointed. After being taken into custody and accused of Thiem’s murder, Munoz brought police to the remains of a US tourist he’d killed. The DNA of the corpse was confirmed to be that of Denise Pikka Thiem.
5. Two Canadian Men Beheaded In The Philippines
Back in September of 2015, Canadian tourists John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, were taken at gunpoint by the Islamist Militant group, Abu Sayyaf. Ridel and Hall were on vacation at the Oceanview resort on Samal Island in the southern Philippines. Philippine army captain, Alberto Caber, stated that the foreigners were the targets of the Islamist raid and were not taken at random. The Abu Sayyaf terrorists demanded varying ransoms for each captive, threatening to execute each hostage in turn if their demands were not met. They released numerous heartbreaking videos of the captives, pleading and begging for the Canadian Government, Philippine Government and even Philippine celebrities to help meet the demands of the terrorists and get them to safety. Unfortunately, months later in April of 2016, Ridsdel was confirmed dead by the Canadian government and his family mourned his senseless execution. In turn, nearly a year after their capture, in June of 2016, Robert Hall was confirmed executed as well.
4. American Student Found Dead During Summer University Program
Study abroad programs are highly sought after and can offer great experiences travelling the world and prestigious education at some of the world’s best Universities and Colleges. However, things took a turn for the worst for Beau Solomon when he travelled to Rome to study at John Cabot University. In July of 2016, 19 year-old Solomon, from the University of Wisconsin, went missing shortly after arriving in Rome. After not arriving at the University, his roommate reported his absence and officials were alerted. Three days later, Solomon was found dead in the Tiber River. Surveillance footage showed three men who supposedly brought Solomon to the riverbank after mugging him. The men left and Solomon was approached by Massimo Galioto, a homeless man who was suspected of pushing Solomon into the river. The footage showed Solomon was alive when he fell or was pushed into the river, but was soon taken away by the current and eventually drowned to death.
3. Female Tourist Survives Month Alone In Harsh New Zealand Outback
On July 26, 2016, a young couple from the Czech Republic went for a hike on a track that spanned twenty miles which took most hikers about three days to complete. The track was a large tourist attraction, but in the harsh winter climate and terrain, is normally only taken on by avid climbers equipped with ice axes and crampons. Two days into the hike, the man died after falling down a steep slope. The woman, distressed and distraught, survived outside for three nights before finding a park warden’s hut on the track. She suffered minor injuries and frostbite and due to her condition, decided it was best to stay in the hut rather than trying to find help. Almost a month had passed before the couple’s car was found abandoned and the alarm was raised to find them. The woman survived a month in fear and isolation on whatever food was left behind by the previous rangers and whatever she could scavenge from another hut nearby. Police plan to recover the remains of her deceased partner.
2. Child Killed By Alligator At Disneyland
On June 14th of 2016, the world famous Disneyland Park made headlines around the world regarding the brutal death of a 2 year old Nebraskan boy, Lane Graves. The boy was standing in a lagoon, only about a foot deep into the water when he was attacked by an alligator and dragged into the water. Graves’ father tried, but failed to save the boy, suffering minor wounds himself from the altercation. The boy’s body was found two days later by a dive team, close to where he was attacked. Investigators found the body fully intact with minor bite wounds and concluded that he had drowned to death. Alligators are said to be very common in the area and tourists are cautioned with numerous signs saying “No swimming”, or even “Do not feed or go near the alligators”. Officials say that while alligators are common in the area, altercations with humans are very rare. The situation was simply a rare tragedy, one that both tourists in the area and management of the park serve to learn from.
1. Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann
In May of 2007, 3 year old Madeleine McCann was reported missing from an apartment where the McCanns were staying during their holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal. The case has spurned much controversy and a wide array of theories due to the suspicious circumstances in which she was abducted. The McCanns put their children to bed around 7 pm and left their apartment around 8:30pm to meet their friends at a tapas bar just across a swimming pool from their apartment. Supposedly checks were made on the children every 30 minutes to make sure they were alright. The first check was made at 9:05pm by their father, Gerry McCann, who said all 3 children were fast asleep. The second check was made by a close friend of the family, Dr. Matthew Oldfield, around 9:30pm, who claimed that he saw the bedroom door wide opened, but after hearing no noise assumed all was well and left without walking far enough into the room to see if Madeleine was still in her bed. At 10:00pm, the mother, Kate McCann, made the third check and noticed the door was open wider than they left it and she noticed the window shutter and curtains were open and Madeleine was nowhere to be found. Many questions have been asked that leave holes in the case and its many theories. Would the parents really leave their three children, aged from 2-3 years old, alone in an apartment in a foreign country? If Madeleine was abducted by a paedophile or human trafficker, why were her younger siblings left alone? Many questions have been asked but unfortunately, no leads have been found and Madeleine McCann’s case remains open and unsolved to this day.