Sadly, most days when you turn on the news, there will be the face of someone being reported missing. All around America, missing persons are reported each and every day. In fact, the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Crime Information Center (NCIC) shows that, in total for 2012, 661,593 missing persons records were entered into the system’s database. This astounding number equals out to around 1,812 U.S. citizens going missing each day of the year. While these numbers are staggering, they have actually improved over the past decade or so. Analysis reveals that the numbers of reported cases increased in the years following 1990, and have since began to decline in the past decade. For example, there were 821,975 entered cases in 2002, revealing that in the years leading up to 2012, there was a decrease of almost 20%.
While singular missing persons cases are terribly upsetting to those involved, everyone becomes interested when these disappearances include large groups of people. Throughout history, mass disappearances have shocked, frightened, and dumbfounded the people left behind in their wake. What’s most disturbing is that many of these circumstances are never solved. All that is left is circumstantial evidence and radical hypotheses of what we think could have happened. Put your thinking cap on and see if you can explain these 7 mass disappearances.
7 The Colony of Roanoke
One of the earliest and probably most notable disappearances on American soil involves the lost colony of Roanoke. This particular vanishing act dates all the way back to 1587 and it still perplexes historians today. Roanoke consisted of an initial settlement of about 115 settlers from England who set up a colony near the coast of modern day North Carolina. The governor of Roanoke, John White, left the colony in 1587 for England. He was delayed from returning due to a naval war between England and Spain that required the assistance of all available ships. When he finally returned to the colony three years later, there was not a soul in sight. The entire settlement—including his wife, daughter, and granddaughter, Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the new land—was gone. The only clue as to where the colonists had disappeared to as carved onto a wooden gatepost, “Croatoan”. This was the name of an island to the South, home to the Croatoan tribe of Native Americans. Theories abound as to what exactly happened to the settlers. Were they killed by the local Native Americans? Were they abducted by aliens? No one truly knows, although many assume the settlers moved along in search of food and supplies.
6 Mary Celeste
There have been many strange ship disappearances but one of the many foreboding ones has details that really don’t add up. It was December of 1872 when the Mary Celeste was observed drifting in choppy waters approximately 400 miles from Azores by the British brig Dei Gratia. The captain switched the course of his brig to offer assistance. Once a party boarded the ship they were stumped at the scene before them. One of two pumps had been disassembled and the only lifeboat was gone. There was at least a 6-month supply remaining of food and water, over 3 feet of water covering the floors, and, surprisingly, a completely intact cargo of alcohol still aboard. However, the ship’s captain, Benjamin Briggs, his wife and daughter, along with 7 members of the crew were all missing. Modern-day technology has led historians to believe that this nautical mystery occurred because the ship’s inhabitant’s fled for some unknown reason and capsized in the lifeboat some distance away, their bodies never to be recovered.
5 USS Cyclops’ Last Voyage
According to the Naval Historical Foundation, this incident included the “largest loss of life in the history of the United States Navy of a U.S. built steel hulled warship where there simply is no direct evidence of why it happened, when it happened, or exactly how it happened”. The Cyclops was in charge of moving bulk cargo between the U.S. and Brazil in 1918. On its last voyage, there were 309 souls onboard—both crew and passengers—on the day of March 3rd when the ship sent its last telegram. Due to previous damage to the starboard engine earlier in the voyage, the ship moved at a slower pace of 10 knots when it departed Barbados—an unscheduled port—for Baltimore on March 3rd. It was never seen again. The notion that the ship was too heavily loaded with ore resulting in its engine failing and causing it to sink is one conclusion drawn about the Cyclops’ fateful journey.
4 The Village of Hoer Verde
Another disarming mass disappearance occurred in 1923 in a Brazilian town with a population in the ballpark of 600 people. This mystery is specifically puzzling since little was known about the town or its people to begin with. However, as visitors embarked on the village, they noticed that it was strangely silent without a person in sight. Authorities were called in and launched an investigation that concluded that the town’s inhabitants seemed to be gone without a trace. The only remaining, and more confusing, evidence remaining were a gun which seemed to have been recently fired and a note that when translated read: “There is no salvation”. It seems that the note rang especially true; the mystery disappearance of these 600 individuals remains unsolved today.
3 Lake Anjikuni Inuit Village
Moving north to Canada is yet another strikingly disturbing vanishing act. Previously, there existed a booming fishing village on Lake Anjikuni of Inuit settlers. However, in November of 1930 when a fur trapper, Joe Labelle, returned to the village with an expectation of finding its inhabitants going about business as usual, he found no one. Between 2,000 and 3,000 people—men, women, and children— seemed to have evaporated into thin air. Each shack he examined came up empty, and, more startling, nothing had been taken with them. Food, supplies, and weapons remained. Labelle vacated the village to find either answers or help. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) took up an investigation, learning that nearby settlers had seen strange objects and lights in the sky just days before. When they arrived back at the ghost village, they found open graves in which the bodies had been removed. Plus, sled dogs, which were quite valuable at the time, were found dead of starvation buried beneath snow drifts. No further information about the Inuit settlers was found. However, years later in 1959, the RCMP attributed the story of the disappearance to an American author, Frank Edwards, who published the account in his book “Stranger than Science”. What’s interesting is Edwards’ book came nearly 20 years after the first known accounts of the disappearance where told, which further muddles the reliability of this bizarre story.
2 2. The Nina
Ghost ships are not restricted to centuries past. More recently, the disappearance of the 50-foot ocean racer, the Nina, happened during a 1,500-mile voyage from New Zealand to Australia. The 85-year old schooner carried its American owner, David Dyche III, his wife and teenage son, as well as 4 other members of the crew. The schooner departed for Australia in early June of 2013, on an expected 8 to 10 day journey. Last contact was made on June 4th mentioning that the vessel had encountered bad weather but it wasn’t until the 12th that a report was made by family and friends that the schooner was overdue for its port. A rescue search commenced, but to no avail. Authorities believe that the old boat sank after enduring a bout of stormy weather and that everyone aboard is likely dead. Still, after more than 10 months, the American parents of one of the schooner’s inhabitants continue to search those lonely waters for any, and ever, sign of life.
1 Malaysia Flight 370
On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was scheduled to take-off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing. The trip would be a calculated 2,700 miles on a plane that had a great safety record. 239 souls were on board, 12 crew members and 227 passengers representing 13 nations. About 45 minutes after take-off, the plane lost contact with the air traffic control board. The investigation of the incident reveals that that this severing of contact occurred at the same time as its transponder's “malfunctioning”. A tiny island in the Strait of Malacca named Pulau Perak is the last known location of the plane. This island was, in fact, in the opposite direction of the plane’s flight path suggesting to many theorist that the plane had been hijacked by someone aboard. Currently, all search efforts are being directed along the southern portion of the Indian Ocean where Malaysian authorities believe the plane went down with no survivors.