In this great big world of ours, people go missing every day. Unfortunately, many are crime-related, due to kidnapping or murder. Others are intentional with people trying to make a clean start with a new life and a new identity. Many disappearances, such as the before mentioned, have rational explanations. However, some are complete mysteries.
Some cases like this are very well-known. Pretty much everyone has heard the story of the mysterious disappearance of Flight 19, the 1945 U.S. Navy torpedo bomber training mission that vanished while inside the infamous Bermuda Triangle, or Jimmy Hoffa, the controversial Teamsters boss who went missing in 1975. There have been numerous television specials and public investigation about these disappearances.
But what about disappearances with even stranger circumstances? The kinds of occurrences that defy rational explanation and get the imagination working overtime in an attempt to make sense of what happened. These kinds of cases continue to baffle the police and while many have been simply closed due to lack of evidence, some remain open to this day. What follows are some of the strangest cases of unexplained disappearances on record. Do you have what it takes to solve them?
10. The Eleven Missing Days of Agatha Christie
How could the best-selling novelist of all time simply vanish? Just that occurred in the evening hours of December 1926, when mystery writer Agatha Christie got into her car and drove off. A massive search was undertaken involving a thousand policemen and hundreds of civilians. Britain’s famous crime writers, Dorothy L. Sayers and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Homes, were even brought in for their insight. Police found her car, crashed and abandoned, but there was no sign of Christie. Finally, eleven days later, Christie was recognized relaxing in a spa hotel. Records show she checked in under the name Theresa Neele, her husband’s mistress, however, she had no memory of how she got there or what had transpired.
9. The Disappearance and Reappearance of Ettore Majorana
Ettore Majorana was a famous physicist and mathematician with a brilliant future ahead of him when suddenly, in 1938, at the age of 32, he vanished while traveling in Italy. A huge search was conducted but no trace was ever located. Then in 2008, a man came forward claiming to have met a gifted scientist that he believed to be Majorana in Argentina in 1955. He only saw him once and then was never seen again. Soon after, Italian police announced that they had analyzed a 1955 photo of an Argentinian man, finding ten points of similarity with Majorana’s face. What makes this identification strange is that if that was Majorana, he looked almost exactly the same age as he had when he went missing 20 years earlier.
8. Martha Wright Vanishes
In 1975, Jackson Wright and his wife Martha were riding through the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City. The couple decided to pull over while in the tunnel to wipe away condensation from their windows. Jackson went to the front to get the windshield, while Martha volunteered to wipe of the rear window. Jackson looked back, and in a matter of seconds, Martha had disappeared. He had not heard nor seen anything suspicious and no vehicles had stopped or slowed down. Being in the tunnel, she couldn’t have run off without him seeing her. Police were unable to locate any evidence and ruled out foul play. Martha quite literally vanished.
7. Frederick Valentich Encounter
Frederick Valentich was a young pilot in 1978, on a training flight along the coast of Bass Strait, in Australia. In his single-engine Cessna 182L he reported another craft closing in on him at 4500 feet, approximately 1000 feet above him. Melbourne traffic control reported no other aircrafts in his vicinity. As the object got closer, he reported four bright lights and that the object was orbiting his plane. When asked to identify what type of aircraft it was, he replied, “It is not an aircraft…” That was last anyone ever heard from Valentich. No sign of him or his aircraft was ever found.
6. Hale Boggs Mystery
On a snowy day in October, two high-ranking politicians disappeared while on a trip through Alaska. They were House Majority Leader Hale Boggs and Rep. Nick Begich. They, along with an aide and the pilot, simply vanished on October 16, 1972, while on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. The pilot, experienced and well-known for his talent, reported no issues. An immense search was conducted with over 40 military and 20 civilian aircraft being called in. Even Coast Guard helicopters and Air Force spy planes were utilized in an attempt to find them or at least some wreckage. Every lead was followed but even to this day, no trace of them has ever been found.
5. Jim Thompson
During World War II, Jim Thompson was a highly-trained agent for the OSS, forerunner to the CIA. He retired to a peaceful life in Thailand, where he became a fashion icon rebuilding the Thai silk industry. He was highly respected by both the public and government. On March 29, 1967, while on vacation in the highlands, Thompson decided to take a walk. He was never heard from again. Due to his fame, what followed was the largest search effort in Thai history. Thompson left behind his jacket and cigarettes, indicating that he wasn’t planning to be out long. Being a retired spy with broad survival skills, it was unlikely that he couldn’t handle a simple jungle hike. Thompson’s fate is a mystery.
4. The Strange Mystery of the Sarah Joe
In February 1979, five men left their village in Maui for a fishing trip on a boat called the Sarah Joe. A fierce storm rolled in and the boat and its crew were seemingly lost at sea. Then, in 1988, during an expedition to a deserted atoll in the Marshall Islands, a small boat was found; nearby, a human jawbone was seen protruding from a shallow grave. The boat was the Sarah Joe and dental records proved the jawbone belonged to one of the missing fisherman. No trace of the other four men was found. If they were the ones who buried him, where did they go? And if they didn’t bury him, who did? Even stranger, the island had just been searched extensively a few years prior and neither the boat nor the grave was there at that time.
3. The Kinross F-89 Disappearance
On a quiet evening in November 1953, U.S. Air Force radar alerted to an unknown target entering U.S. airspace over Lake Superior. An F-89C jet, piloted by Lt. Felix Moncla and radar operator Lt. Robert Wilson, was scrambled by Kinross AFB to intercept. Radar reports indicate Moncla flew high above at about 500 mph before descending down upon the target at 7,000 feet. Controllers were astonished as they observed the F-89C’s radar blip close in on its target and then merge with it on the screen. The target blip then quickly left the area. A thorough search was conducted but no trace of the F-89C or its crew was ever found. Canadian aviation authorities maintain that they had no planes in the area at the time.
2. D.B. Cooper’s Great Escape
We don’t even know his real name, but what we do know is that on a cold, stormy night in November 1971, a man calling himself D.B. Cooper hijacked a plane and its 36 passengers. After he received his ransom of $200,000 and some parachutes, he released the passengers and had the plane fly towards Mexico from Seattle. Somewhere along the flight, Cooper jumped out of the rear door of the plane and parachuted into history. Even with five jets tailing the airliner, no one witnessed Cooper’s jump. Authorities are sure he perished in his escape but he has never been found and only a small portion of his money has ever turned up. The Cooper hijacking is still an open FBI case.
1. The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart
She was a world famous aviator attempting to circumnavigate the globe by air. However, on June 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard undertook one of the largest air and sea searches in American history. They were unable to find any trace of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra plane or its crew. After the official search had ended, Earhart’s husband financed a private search but was equally unable to locate any hint of what might have happened. The legendary aviatrix had simply vanished. Private searches for evidence continue to this day.