In this day and age, the idea that someone could disappear without a trace seems far-fetched. There are cameras everywhere. Our most personal details are online for all to see and it is easy for anyone to track our movements via what we charge with our plastic. However, thousands still disappear annually. Some reports indicate that 2300 persons go missing on a daily basis in the USA. The National Center for Missing Adults, based in Phoenix, consistently tracks about 48,000 active cases every day.
Why? What happens to these people? Are they abducted, or do they disappear on their own? A majority of the cases reported every day deal with individuals under the age of 18 with about half of them being runaways. Eighty percent of these disappearances are white females. Further statistics show that many of them are victims, being endangered or taken without consent with sex seeming to be the main reason for the abductions. Although, several of the voluntary disappearances revolve around domestic abuse, people running away from a bad situation. Most cases remain unsolved.
Amongst all these reported cases of disappearances, there are a fair number of cases that have gained notoriety. Sometimes, well-known individuals gone missing get spotlighted more than the average individual. The drama is played out in the news media with everyone discussing it. What happened to that individual? In most cases, we eventually find out what happened, but in rare circumstances, the truths are never discovered, leaving us to do a list like the one below.
5. Oscar Zeta Acosta
Oscar Zeta Acosta was an American attorney, Chicano activist, who was made famous by Hunter S. Thompson in his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Dr. Gonzo was based on Acosta in the book, which was later turned into a movie. Acosta was heavily involved in the LA Chicano movement in the 1960s and early 1970s,even running for office in 1970 to help rid the county of a biased officials. In the height of his fight against a corrupt system, the lawyer subpoenaed every member of the Los Angeles County grand jury to prove a pattern of discrimination. His son, Marco Acosta, later wrote that his father loved to live life to the fullest, always pushing, never satisfied. His life was loosely depicted in the Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo. It was rumored he was also a heavy user of drugs including amphetamines and LSD. In 1974, he disappeared while traveling to Mexico. His son was the last person to speak to him and told the media his father related to him on the phone that Acosta was boarding a “boat full of white snow.” It was rumored that Acosta mouthed off to the wrong person and was killed, or was the victim of a political assassination. None of these rumors were ever substantiated.
4. Frank Morris (and John and Clarence Anglin)
Frank Morris, with the brothers John and Clarence Anglin, made international news in June 1962 when they escaped from Alcatraz prison in San Francisco. Alcatraz was known as the inescapable prison because it was located in the rough waters of San Francisco Bay, so when Frank Morris turned up missing that June morning, everyone was amazed. Frank Morris was a career criminal, who had an IQ of 133. In an elaborate plot fictionalized in the movie Escape from Alcatraz, Frank Morris and the brothers, along with Allen West, who was involved from the beginning but did not get his vent cover off in time to participate in the prison escape, made lifelike dummies and a life raft out of old raincoats. On June 11, they completed their work on carving holes in their cells, sneaked up to the roof and launched off into the freezing waters in their homemade raft. None of the three were ever seen again. The raft and two life vests were later discovered along with the Anglins’ personal effects. The FBI officially closed the case in 1979, stating there was no solid proof the men survived the trip across the bay. However, there have been sightings of the the three men over the years adding to the mystery of their collective fates.
3. D.B. Cooper
In 1971, A Boeing 727 was highjacked in the airspace between Portland Oregon and Seattle Washington. A man, with a briefcase, seated in the rear of the plane handed a note to the stewardess with the inscription, “I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked.” The man demanded $200,000 in cash, four parachutes and a fuel truck waiting in Seattle to refuel the plane. His demands were met and the plane took off with a destination of Mexico City, with all the other 38 passengers and some of the flight crew getting off in Seattle. During the trip to Mexico, the man jumped out of the plane, never to be seen again. The media named the man D.B. Cooper and dramatized the story in full detail to the American public, building on the legend of the criminal act. Over the last forty years, the number of leads on the case has grown to more than 60 volumes with none of them ever panning out. In February 1980, some of the ransom money was located in a river in the initial search area. Many people claimed to have seen the man fitting D.B Cooper’s description, but nothing has ever been found to prove if D.B. Cooper even survived his jump from the plane.
2. Jimmy Hoffa
James Riddle “Jimmy” Hoffa was the famous Teamster’s Union President in the 1960s. No one in history did more for union rights than Jimmy Hoffa, who was often criticized for his approach to achieve rights for his union members. Hoffa was convicted of a series of crimes in 1967 and sentenced to serve 13 years in prison. He was released early in a plea agreement with President Richard Nixon, getting out of prison in 1971, promising to resign as Union President and stay out of union business. Hoffa disappeared on a July night in 1975 while at the Detroit Restaurant, Machus Red Fox. Hoffa reportedly had gone to the restaurant to meet two known members of the Mafia , but never came home that night. His car was located in the restaurant’s parking lot, but no sign of Jimmy Hoffa was ever located. He was declared officially dead in 1982. Many theories existed on what happened to Hoffa, most of them dealing with the Mafia’s attempt to control his rise back to power within the Teamsters. A 2006 Detroit Free Press report outlined a FBI memo indicating Hoffa was killed by the Mafia over the control of the union’s pension fund. In 2013, the FBI followed a lead to a field just north of the restaurant, where Hoffa’s body was supposedly buried, but no remains were found.
1. Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart made the top of our shocking disappearances. Earhart was internationally known for her daring flights across the world. Her disappearance in an attempt to fly around the world caused many discussions around the water cooler. What happened to her all those years ago? In 1937, Earhart decided to make a second attempt to fly around the world. As far as technology allowed, the world followed her flight, but no one heard from her again after 8:43 am on July 2, 1937. There were many theories on what happened to her. Many believed she ran out of fuel over the ocean and ended up sinking into its depths. Another theory had Earhart ending her flight on a deserted island while an even more outlandish idea had Earhart as a spy for President Roosevelt. As the legend continued to grow, many more theories were developed in attempts to explain this most shocking disappearance of an important figure in history.