Most people have heard about the mysterious disappearance of aviatrix Amelia Earhart or the daring hijacking and vanishing of D.B. Cooper, or maybe even how Congressman Hale Boggs vanished while flying over Alaska. Mysterious disappearances aren’t anything new.
People just, for whatever reason, seem to just vanish without a trace, never to be seen again. There are plenty of reasons why someone would, perhaps, want to disappear; get off the grid; vanish from society. They might want to escape family issues, criminal implications, work problems, or maybe just to start fresh somewhere. You can usually discount the notion that many go off to commit suicide in seclusion, that’s just not common. Some could be abducted, but most crimes leave some trace of evidence especially when someone is taken forcibly.
Disappearances without any signs to what might have happened are always disturbing. Now, even as baffling as that may be, there are still some disappearances that are even more bizarre; people vanishing in full view of others, disappearing without a trace within just a few seconds when it should’ve been impossible to do so; here one minute, gone the next. It takes me a few seconds just to get out of my chair, but in some cases people have vanished in that amount of time without any idea of what might have happened to them.
There are many strange things about this world we live in that we still don’t understand. Let’s take a look at some cases from throughout history that might be some of the most bizarre disappearances on record.
15 Annette Sagers
On November 21, 1987, Korrina Sagers Malinoski, a 26-year old woman from Berkeley County, South Carolina, was reported missing when she did not show up for work and her car was found parked in front of the Mount Holly Plantation. That’s not the bizarre part. Almost a year later, on the morning of October 4, 1988, Korrina’s 8-year old daughter, Annette Sagers, was seen waiting for her school bus. The bus stop was in front of the same Mount Holly Plantation where her mother’s car was found. Bizarrely, when the bus arrived, Annette had vanished. A note was found nearby which read, “Dad, momma come back. Give the boys a hug.”
Handwriting experts determined that the writing matched that of Annette though the note did show signs of being written under duress. Some believe that Korrina returned to take Annette with her to wherever she disappeared to. However, she left behind her two sons and no one in her family has ever heard from either of them since that time. In 2000, an anonymous tip to the police reported that Annette’s dead body was buried in Sumter County, but no mysterious grave was ever located. This remains an unsolved case with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office.
14 Benjamin Bathurst
On the night of November 25, 1809, British diplomatic envoy Benjamin Bathurst was on his way back to London from Vienna. On his way, he made a stop in the village of Perleberg, near Berlin, for fresh horses and something to eat. After finishing his dinner, he was informed that his horses were ready. Bathurst excused himself and notified his assistant that he would be waiting in the carriage. Moments later when the assistant followed, he opened the carriage door to find that Bathurst was not inside. In fact, no one had seen him. Bathurst was seen walking outside the front door to the inn yet there was no trace of him in the courtyard, no sign of where he could’ve gone.
Considering his diplomatic status, a substantial search was conducted, with dogs in the woods, house-to-house checks, and included the dredging of the Stepenitz River. No sign of Bathurst was found. Later, a coat believed to have belonged to Bathurst was found in a restroom, and then a pair of pants in the woods. All this occurred during the Napoleonic Wars, and rumors spread that Bathurst was abducted by the French. Napoleon Bonaparte himself reportedly denied having any knowledge of the envoy’s whereabouts and even offered his aid the search. Ultimately, no conclusive trace of Bathurst was ever found. He simply vanished.
13 The Sodder Children Of Fayetteville, West Virginia
It was Christmas Eve 1945, five Sodder children, Maurice, Martha, Louis, Jennie and Betty, were staying up late; their parents and other siblings had gone to bed. About 1:00 A.M., their mother was awakened by a sound heard coming from the roof. It was then she realized that the house was on fire. She awoke her husband and other sleeping children and escaped the burning home. Immediately the parents began looking for a ladder that was always kept nearby so they could get to the five children who were trapped upstairs, but the ladder was nowhere to be found.
By the time the fire department arrived, the children were presumed to have died, yet no bodies or bones could be located in the charred remnants of the home. The parents believed the kids were kidnapped and the fire set to cover up the crime. Four years later, they had the grounds excavated looking for clues. Investigators were able to uncover six small bones without any fire damage that were believed to have belonged to a young adult. No other clues were found. Then, in 1968, the parents received a photo in the mail. The photo was of a young man, the words “Louis Sodder” inscribed on the back. Police were never able to identify the man in the photo and the parents died believing he was actually their lost son. No other evidence was ever found on the missing Sodder children.
12 Margaret Kilcoyne
Dr. Margaret Kilcoyne was a 50-year old cardiologist at Columbia University. She was conducting groundbreaking research on hypertension and had just made a breakthrough. She decided to spend the weekend at her vacation home in Nantucket, Massachusetts. She went to the grocery store and spent $650 on groceries, buying everything in multiples of three, and then $250 on liquor, claiming it was for a party. She told the store staff that she was also going to hold a press conference to announce her research findings.
She had left word for her brother to come wake her in time for church. The next morning, on January 26, 1980, her brother arrived but Margaret was gone. Her shoes were on the floor, her jacket in the closet, and her car in the garage. It was below freezing on the previous night so she couldn’t have gone anywhere without her jacket. The house was searched meticulously for clues, but nothing was found. Then, oddly enough, a few days later her sandals, passport, checkbook, and wallet with $100 cash were found neatly stacked in a conspicuous area that had already been searched. Her brother stated that she had been mentally erratic and the main theory being proposed is that she committed suicide by walking into the freezing ocean. Regardless, no trace of her has ever been found.
11 Dorothy Arnold, Famous Socialite Vanishes
The disappearance of 24-year old wealthy socialite and heiress Dorothy Arnold, shocked New York City in 1910. She was an aspiring writer whose first two short stories were rejected by publishers. The public focused on her pretty features and mocked her ambitions, even her family and friends. Then on the morning of December 12, 1910, she left her house, telling her mother she was going to buy a new dress for an upcoming ball. She was witnessed purchasing a new book and half a pound of chocolate, before being heard telling people she was going for a walk in Central Park. That was the last anyone had seen of Dorothy Arnold.
If Kim Kardashian was out walking down the street, people would notice; if she tried to run away and start over, people would recognize her, wouldn’t they? Well, this is the type of situation with Arnold. She was a New York City celebrity, easily recognizable during the time, yet she simply vanished never to be seen again. As if that wasn’t bizarre enough, her parents went out of their way to cover up the fact that she was missing, telling friends she was just upstairs asleep. In fact, Dorothy was missing for six weeks before her disappearance was even reported; even then it was to their lawyer, then the police. Some say Dorothy was leading a secret life, being engaged with plans to elope to Europe; her parents wishing to avoid a scandal. Nevertheless, no evidence was ever uncovered as to the fate of Dorothy Arnold.
10 The Missing Anjikuni Lake Tribe
The Anjikuni Lake is deep in rural Canada, near the Kazan River. In the early 1900s, the area was the home for an Inuit tribe that went missing one cold November night in 1930. The tribe was well known for welcoming passersby, offering a hot meal and a bed for the night. They had been visited numerous times by a Canadian fur trapper named Joe Labelle. On that night, as Labelle entered, the full moon was casting an eerie glow across the village. It was strangely quiet; the large group of huskies that were normally quite noisy with visitors was spookily silent. There were no signs of life, only a distant fire left smoldering. The fire appeared as it had been burning for some time, with preparations begun nearby for a hearty stew. Labelle examined a few homes in hopes of discovering where everyone could’ve gone. He found homes well-stocked with food, clothing and weapons. In some cases, he found projects begun and quickly abandoned with no evidence as to why. Whatever happened, it must’ve been quick to cause the entire tribe of approximately 30 men, women and children to leave without taking any supplies. He then found all the huskies dead, apparently starved to death.
Labelle reported the mystery to the Canadian authorities who sent investigators. They found nearby witnesses who claimed a large unidentified object was seen in the sky in the direction of the lake. They also determined that the colony had been abandoned for eight weeks. If this is true, how did the dogs starve so quickly and who left that burning fire Labelle found? No trace of the missing tribe was ever found.
9 Diderici’s Vanishing Act
It is one thing for someone to disappear without leaving any trace as to where they went, but another thing to simply vanish into thin air before the eyes of shocked witnesses. This is exactly what happened one day in 1815. It all started when a man named Diderici had assumed the identity of his dead boss by dressing up in his clothes, wearing a wig, and then trying to withdraw some money from his bank after the man died of a stroke.
Needless to say, the plan failed, and Diderici was caught, sentenced to serve 10 years in the Prussian prison, Weichselmunde. One day, according to prison records, Diderici was being led through the prison yard in chains along with other prisoners when he began to literally fade out of existence. I mean to say, his body slowly became fainter and more transparent until finally his empty manacles and chains fell to the ground. This occurred in full view of astonished prisoners and guards. During an inquiry, a total of 30 eyewitnesses wrote accounts of what they saw: Diderici gradually becoming invisible until he was simply gone. Unable to rationally explain what happened, prison authorities closed the case and deemed it an “Act of God.” Diderici was never seen again.
8 Louis Le Prince
On September 16, 1890, French inventor Louis Le Prince boarded a train bound for Paris from Dijon. Le Prince was seen checking in his luggage and entering his cabin. When the train arrived in Paris, Le Prince did not disembark. The conductor, believing Le Prince simply fell asleep, went to his room to awake him. When entered the cabin, he found Le Prince and his luggage gone. A complete search of the train found no trace of Le Prince or his possessions. No one could recall seeing Le Prince leave his cabin at any time during the journey. Since the train made no stops between Dijon and Paris, he couldn’t have gotten off anywhere, and the cabin windows were closed and locked from the inside. There had been no incidents during the trip and no signs of foul play found inside the cabin. Le Prince had simply vanished.
Bizarrely, Le Prince had invented the process by which moving images could be captured on film – motion pictures. He had hoped to travel to America and patent his process. He was in possession of the plans for this invention long before inventor Thomas Edison received acclaim. Le Prince’s disappearance cleared the way for Edison to take credit for this invention. This is one case where a bizarre disappearance actually shaped history as we know it today.
7 Charles Ashmore
On a cold, winter night in November 1878, in Quincy, Illinois, young Charles Ashmore, only 16-years old, left the warmth of his home to go retrieve some water from a nearby well. When he did not return, his father and sister grew concerned. With the icy weather outside, possibly something could have happened to Charles. He might have slipped, tripped or otherwise be trapped in the unforgiving cold. They followed his trail out the back door tracking his footprints in the snow, which simply stopped after about 75 yards, halfway to the well. They called out his name but heard no response. There was no sign of him anywhere. The surrounding snow was untouched and had no footprints or otherwise marks of a fall. By all outward appearances it seemed as if Charles Ashmore simply vanished.
Then, four days later, Charles’ mother went to same well for water and claimed she heard the voice of her son calling to her. She walked the area looking for the source as she could hear them very clearly, the voice definitely being her son’s, yet she could not make out the message. For months afterward, the distant voice was heard every few days by one family member or another, although none could quite make out the words. Eventually the intervals between hearing the voice grew until, by mid-summer of 1879, it was no longer heard at all.
6 Martha Wright
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 of the vehicle to wipe down the windshield, while Martha volunteered to wipe off the rear window. Jackson looked back to see how his wife was progressing but Martha had disappeared.
It had only been a matter of seconds since he last saw her. He had not heard nor seen anything suspicious. He reported that no vehicles had stopped or slowed down. Being in the tunnel, she couldn’t have run off without him seeing her. Police were initially sceptical about his report but were never able to locate any evidence and eventually ruled out foul play. Jackson Wright was never believed to be a suspect in his wife’s disappearance. Martha quite literally vanished.
5 Jean Spangler
Jean Spangler was one of many small-time actresses trying to make it big in Los Angeles. She was pretty but hadn’t found the success she dreamt of. She had uncredited roles in numerous films, most notably Michael Curtiz’ Young Man with a Horn (1950). Then one day in October 1949, Jean went out to meet her ex-husband and was never seen again. Her purse was found two days later, intact. Inside, a note was found, “Kirk, can’t wait any longer. Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away.” Nobody knew who “Kirk” was, and the whole mystery gained national attention. All the publicity drew plenty of leads, each turning out to be baseless. The case was a dead end. The only “Kirk” they could find was the famous actor, Kirk Douglas, who starred in Young Man with a Horn with Jean. However, Douglas was quick to deny any involvement.
A strange coincidence involved a questionable abortion doctor named Dr. Kirk, who had an associate who also disappeared mysteriously just weeks before. However, no evidence could be found linking him with Spangler. Another connection was uncovered regarding two mobsters who had disappeared around the time Spangler vanished. The mobsters had been seen out partying with Spangler weeks prior. However, once again no definitive link could be found between the disappearances. In the end, it still remains a mystery just what happened to young Jean Spangler.
4 James Worson
It was 1873, Leamington Spa, England, a shoemaker named James Worson was out with friends at a local tavern. All of a sudden he outrageously claimed that he could run nonstop all the way to Coventry, a daunting 16 miles away. He even made a gentlemen’s bet to the effect. His friends decided to take him up on the bet, having little faith in Worson’s ability to actually carry out the feat. To insure no trickery was involved, his friends followed Worson in a horse drawn cart. Worson ran for a few miles without any issue, and his friends began to think he might actually do it.
His friends’ certainty that Worson would lose the bet began to waver when unexpectedly Worson tripped on something in the road. The witnesses claim that they saw Worson suddenly pitch forward, but never hitting the ground. Instead, they say he vanished completely before everyone’s eyes. Everyone was shocked and terrified. Where could he have gone? They contacted the local police and explained what they witnessed. The sceptical police conducted a search but weren’t able to turn up any evidence as to the man’s whereabouts. James Worson, local shoemaker, vanished out of existence in full of his friends.
3 The L-8 Blimp Mystery
During World War II, blimps were used to patrol the coastal seas for enemy submarines. In California, many of these search missions were based out of an airfield on Treasure Island, located in the San Francisco Bay. On August 16, 1942, the L-8 Blimp was scheduled for one of these missions. Two experienced crew members were assigned: Ernest Cody and Charles Adams. They had conducted numerous submarine search missions and it should’ve been a routine trip. Their mission was to take them out to the Farallon Islands, 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco, and then circle back to base.
Out over the water, the L-8 radioed that they had detected a possible oil spill and were en route to investigate. The blimp was sighted on course by two ships and then a Pan Am airliner. Then another witness claims he saw the blimp glide higher up into the sky. No one can recall seeing the blimp for approximately an hour after that. Then, the L-8 came crashing down suddenly onto the rocky shoreline of the Daly City beach before bouncing back up into the sky. The blimp then came to rest in the middle of a busy Daly City street. Rescuers hurried to the crash site but were shocked to find the cockpit empty. The equipment was intact, the parachutes and life raft still stowed. Two life vests were missing, but crewmen often wore them when flying over water. No radio call for help was ever transmitted. No trace of Cody or Adams was ever found; their disappearance remains a mystery.
2 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 Scorpion Interceptor jet, piloted by Lieutenant Felix Moncla and radar operator Lieutenant Robert Wilson, was scrambled to intercept by Kinross Air Force Base in Michigan. Ground radar operators reported that Moncla flew high above the target at about 500 mph before descending down and closing in on the object while crossing over Northern Lake Superior 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 two radar blips became one. The target blip then quickly left the area, disappearing. A thorough search was conducted but no trace of the F-89C or its crew was ever found; no debris or wreckage. Canadian aviation authorities maintain that they had no planes in the area at the time. Moncla, his radar operator, and his plane were never seen again.
1 The Frederick Valentich Encounter
In October 1978, a young light aircraft-certified pilot named Frederick Valentich was on a flight along the coast of Bass Strait, in Australia. In his single-engine Cessna 182L, he was hoping to gain some additional training hours to improve his rating. The flight was initially uneventful until he noticed another aircraft tracking him. He reported the craft closing in on him at an elevation of 4500 feet, approximately 1000 feet above him. Melbourne air traffic control reported no other aircraft 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's hovering, and it is not an aircraft…” Then his transmission was interrupted by white noise with the final 17 seconds of the flight recording containing metallic scraping sounds that no one has been able to identify. Valentich's plane then disappeared off radar. That was the last anyone ever saw or heard from Valentich. No sign of him or his aircraft was ever found. According to the Royal Australian Air Force, that same weekend there were approximately ten reports of unidentified flying objects.
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