According to the Wall Street Journal an astounding 8-million children go missing around the world each year. In the US alone over 800,000 children go missing annually. That figure is probably underestimated due to the children that go missing and are unreported. There are non-family abductions, runaways, family abductions, and involuntary events such as accidents or vehicle crashes, causing injury, and the person is unable to notify family or friends of their whereabouts. The majority of children are safely found and/or returned, but for the families and friends of those that go missing and are never found---that is of no comfort.
A missing child is a person defined under the age of 18. Countries around the world have systems in place that don't require a specific amount of time before they can be put into action to expedite finding the lost child. People over the age of 18 are often required to be missing a certain amount of hours or days before a missing persons report can be filed and authorities are notified to start looking for the missing person. This can be extremely frustrating for loved ones as crucial minutes tick by before they can receive help. Adults that go missing oftentimes do so willingly for either personal or financial reasons.
Over the course of history, children and adults have gone missing under some very scary circumstances. Here are 15 of the scariest unsolved missing person cases.
15 Amy Lynn Bradley
In 1998, 23-year-old Amy Lynn Bradley went missing while on a Caribbean cruise. Her father last saw her asleep on the stateroom's balcony around 5am. When he got up at 6am she had disappeared. The ship was searched from top to bottom. Nothing turned up. Investigators do not believe she fell overboard or committed suicide.
In 1999, a member of the U.S. military came forward to say he had talked with a woman that identified herself as Amy Bradley while he was visiting a brothel. He said she asked for help, but before he could ask questions, she was quickly whisked upstairs. He held onto this information and didn't tell the authorities for several months. By the time he came forward and police were sent to the location, the brothel was no longer there.
In 2005, Amy's parents revealed a photo they received on the Dr. Phil Show. It showed a woman that resembled Amy dressed in trashy lingerie posing on a bed. She looked disheveled and possibly drugged. Her parents said they believe Amy might have been kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery. There is a $250,000 reward offered for Amy's safe return.
14 Harold Holt
Harold Holt was the 17th Prime Minister of Australia. Harold was a very experienced swimmer and diver. He was well-known for his endurance and athleticism.
On December 17th, 1967, while out relaxing and swimming with his family and friends at Cheviot Beach, Harold disappeared. One of Australia's largest rescue operations was launched but no sign of Harold was found. There are many that suspect foul play, while others believe he either succumbed to the elements or had a medical emergency of some kind. Harold was presumed dead and a new Prime Minister was sworn in. Harold left behind a wife, Zara, and three kids. Ironically, a swimming complex was named in his honor as he was an avid swimmer. Many Australians find this memorial odd because he disappeared while swimming, yet he has a swimming facility named after him.
13 Tara Calico
19 year old Tara Calico said goodbye to her mother and went out for a quick bike ride. She was never seen from again. The only evidence found was her cracked Walkman case--it was found along the side of the road.
Witnesses said they saw a van following close behind her, but other than that investigators turned up nothing. Less than a year later in 1989 a mysterious photograph was found in the parking lot of a convenience store. The photo was of two bound kids in the back of what looks like a windowless van. They have tape over their mouths and a scared look in their eyes. The girl looked similar to Tara, so similar that her mother believed it was her daughter. Next to the girl in the picture was the V.C. Andrews book "My Sweet Audrina". This book was one of Tara's favorites. Did her kidnapper buy it or was it planted there because of sick and twisted story line of brainwashing?
In 2013, a task force was formed to dive deeper into the Tara Calico disappearance. So far nothing has turned up but her family remains optimistic that hopefully one day Tara will be found alive and they will be reunited.
12 Louis Mackerley
Louis Mackerley has been missing from his Allentown, Pennsylvania home since June 7th, 1984. The charismatic 7 year old was last seen on his way to his neighbor's house. He frequently visited his elderly neighbor. On this particular day he was being chased by some older boys so he stopped at a food stand before continuing on his way.
After Louis disappeared the police investigated the older boys but it was determined that they were not involved in his disappearance. There is also the mystery of what was thought to be a child fibbing, but now may be credible evidence. A few months before Louis went missing, he had told his parents and a school psychologist that a lady and a man had molested him on multiple occasions. Unfortunately his version of events changed and details were sketchy so it was quickly forgotten... that is until he disappeared. Police still don't know if this was more than a child's imagination. Did this mystery couple abduct Louis?
11 Natalee Holloway
The case of Natalee Holloway has perplexed and provoked the curiosity of millions around the world. In 2005, Natalee disappeared while on a high school graduation class trip to Aruba. She had been at a club with friends and was last seen getting into a car with three local men: Joran van der Sloot, Satish Kalpoe, and Deepak Kalpoe. When Natalee missed her flight back to the US the next morning, the alarm was raised. Where was Natalee?
Natalee's parents immediately flew to Aruba to look for their daughter. They found her belongings packed and ready to go in her hotel room but no sign of Natalee. The authorities focused on the three well-known young men who were the last people seen with Natalee.
Over the years there were many interrogations. Natalee's mother, Beth, is a firm believer that the key to her daughter's disappearance is held by Joran and the Kalpoe brothers.
In 2010, Joran resurfaced in the news when he eerily killed 21 year old Stephany Flores Ramirez, on the anniversary of Natalee's disappearance, May 30th. This time he didn't get away with it because he was caught on hotel surveillance entering the hotel room in which Stephany's beaten body was found. Joran is behind bars but the whereabouts of the beautiful Natalee Holloway have yet to be revealed. In 2012, Natalee was legally declared dead, an act initiated by her father. Her mother has contested the declaration was very much against it because Natalee has not been found.
10 Maria Des Los Angeles Martinez
On October 12th, 1990, Maria Des Los Angeles Martinez, called into a Phoenix, Arizona radio station to advertise her services as a babysitter. A caller then contacted the station and requested Maria's services, as he had children and needed a babysitter for the following day.
Soon Maria was picked up outside her home by the unidentified male caller. A few minutes later Maria's parents received a phone call from Maria requesting they please come and get her. Before she could give them her location, her phone was disconnected. Maria has never been seen or heard from again. Who was this unidentified caller? Where did Maria go? The radio station had no information on the caller's identity.
9 Paula Weldon
It was just another ordinary December day for Paula Weldon when she decided to go for a walk a few miles off campus. She went to hike the Long Trail in Bennington, Vermont. She had never been on this particular trail but was an avid outdoors lover. She hitchhiked her way to the start of the trail. Several witnesses reported to see her at various points along the trail.
Her college roommate noticed she wasn't in her room that evening but assumed she was studying late in the library. The following morning campus administration was notified of her absence. School was canceled for the next few days while students and professors helped in the search efforts for Paula. She didn't bring any other clothing or make any bank withdrawals to suggest she would've run away. Paula's father was a very well-known and wealthy architect that initially fueled speculation that she might have been kidnapped and held for ransom. But as the days passed and no ransom note was presented, that speculation began to fade. Years passed and investigators were no closer to finding Paula than they were during the first few days of the investigation.
8 Kyron Hormon
On June 4th, 2010, 7 year old Kyron Hormon disappeared from Skyline Elementary School. His stepmother was at the school in the morning attending his science fair. She took a photo of him standing at his science project. That photo is the last known photo of Kyron.
His stepmother, Terry, said that she said goodbye to Kyron, and watched him walk away towards his classroom. He never reached that classroom. Suspicion immediately fell on Terry. After investigators started narrowing their suspects, Terry was looking like the prime suspect in Kyron's disappearance. The Hormon's landscaper came forward and said that Terry had offered him a great deal of money to kill Kyron's father, Kaine. The police tried to get the landscaper to catch Terry on tape admitting to this but were unable to. Kaine became devastated and terrified of his wife and asked the courts for an immediate divorce and restraining order against Terry. It was granted.
Kyron's biological mother is convinced Terry knows where and what happened to her beloved smiling boy. There has been no new evidence to come up other than the picture of Kyron at the science fair, minutes before he went missing.
7 The Springfield Three
"The Springfield Three" refers to a group of three missing women that disappeared together. Sherrill Levitt was the mother of Suzie Streeter, and Stacy McCall was Suzie's friend. All three went missing from Sherrill and Suzie's house on Delmar Street, Springfield, Missouri, on July 7, 1992.
Suzie and Stacy had been out with friends the previous night, attending different graduation parties. They were last seen at 2am on July 7th, leaving a graduation party. They subsequently made their way back to Suzie's house. Suzie's mother was already in bed. Dozens of people descended on the house the following morning when the trio couldn't be contacted by phone. Any crime scene that was there was now extremely contaminated. There was no evidence of a struggle and their purses and personal belongings were all accounted for.
What happened to these three beautiful women? Psychics and private investigators have come forward over the years to offer their theories but no concrete evidence has turned up regarding their bizarre disappearance.
6 Rebecca Coriam
Rebecca Coriam worked on a Disney cruise liner. On March 22nd, 2011, Rebecca was on the ship at 6am. This is a known fact because Disney has produced footage taken from the ship's security cameras showing Rebecca in the lobby talking on the phone before walking off never to be seen again.
Disney claims they know for sure that Rebecca fell out of the crew swimming pool and was washed overboard. How do they know this? That is the question because they also claim to not have any security cameras in that area of the ship. There's also the fact that there is a huge 7 ft tall barrier from the crew swimming to and the wide open ocean. She would have had to scale the wall and knowingly jump to her death or be washed overboard by a gigantic 40 foot tall wave. Neither are very likely.
The family have said that Disney has not been cooperative or forthcoming in giving them answers to their questions. Why did they say they found Rebecca's flip flops near the pool in which she jumped, but the flip flops they gave to the Coriams were definitely not Rebecca's--wrong size and style. And why aren't they giving the Coriams access to the security camera footage from the entire ship? What's on the security footage? Rebecca's case is not closed but there has been no new evidence.
5 Madeleine McCann
The case of Madeleine McCann made huge international headlines when she disappeared on May 3rd, 2007, from a resort in Praia da Luz, Portugal. She was asleep in her bed while her parents dined in a restaurant with friends less than 200 feet away. Her parents checked on her every half hour until the alarm was raised when her mother, Dr. Kate McCann, who returned from their resort apartment screaming that Madeleine was missing.
Resort guests and staff immediately began searching the resort and surrounding area for the three year old girl. Police descended on the area and began interviewing staff and searching waterways. The parents remembered that whenever they checked on their children the bedroom door would be open and they would close it. It seemed unlikely that Madeleine or her twin two-year-old siblings were getting up and opening the door. Also, when Kate checked on her children the last time and discovered Madeleine's empty bed she also found the window wide open.
Speculation is that someone had noticed the restaurant reservation book. The McCanns and their friends (dubbed the "Tapas Seven" by the media) had made reservations for every night of their resort stay at the same tapas restaurant. Whoever took their reservation wrote that they were to have the same table at the same time every night & that the groups children would be staying in their rooms while the parents dined.
There have been no solid leads in the Madeleine McCann disappearance. Was she kidnapped by sex traffickers? Killed in a robbery gone wrong? It is almost as if the little girl just disappeared off the face of the earth. The McCanns and their well-to-do friends have been subjected to intense scrutiny for what some believe to be child neglect. The McCanns have continued to try and keep Madeleine's face out there and even made her a ward of the courts in their native England, so that the courts can work on her behalf. Private investigators and Scotland Yard have spent countless hours on the case.
4 Laureen Rahn
Laureen Rahn disappeared from her apartment in Manchester, New Hampshire, on April 26, 1980. She had been left alone at home while her mother attended a sporting event. Laureen had two friends over the night before she was reported missing. They were drinking alcohol and having a good time. The last friend to leave reported that they had heard voices in the hallway and assumed it was Laureen's mother returning home so he quickly left. He said he heard Laureen lock the deadbolt when he left.
Late that night Laureen's mother returned home and found all the hallway lights in the apartment building were busted. Her apartment door was unlocked. She peered into her daughter's room and saw someone asleep in her bed--she assumed it was Laureen. The following morning Laureen's mother found it wasn't Laureen but one of Laureen's friends sleeping in her bed. The friend said that Laureen had been sleeping on the couch. There was no sign of Laureen. Her personal belongings were accounted for. The only thing missing was the 14 year old. Police initially considered her a runaway but after a few weeks went by they began to realize that it was more likely a kidnapping. Laureen's mother received strange phone calls at about 3:30am in the morning---no voices just breathing. After a little while the phone calls stopped. Laureen's mother believed it was Laureen on the other end of the phone.
3 Zebb Quinn
Zebb Quinn went missing in January 2000. After Zebb finished his shift at Walmart, he met his friend Robert Owens to go look at the car he was considering buying. They each drove separately to go look at the car. However, on the way there--according to Robert--Zebb received a page and flashed his headlights at Robert to pull over. He told Robert he needed to go find a phone. He found a phone and made a call. Robert said after the call Zebb appeared distraught. He said he was going to have to look at the car another time. As he was leaving he accidentally hit Robert's car. It was a minor fender bender so no report was taken. Robert and Zebb parted ways.
The following morning Zebb was reported missing by his mother. Police traced the call Zebb received to the home of Zebb's aunt. Strangely Zebb's aunt was not at home at the time the call was placed. Zebb's aunt was at the home of Zebb's new girlfriend's mother having dinner with his girlfriend Misty, her mother, and Misty's on-gain, off-again boyfriend, Wesley. Zebb had told his family that Wesley was abusive to Misty.
Zebb's aunt reported that while she was at dinner her home had been broken into. The only thing was --nothing was stolen. Whoever the intruder was, rearranged a few picture frames and placed the call to Zebb. If the police didn't think this case could get any weirder--they were wrong. Two weeks after Zebb's disappearance his car was found near his mother's workplace. A pair of lips were drawn on the back window and a lab puppy was found inside. This new discovery definitely threw investigators for a loop.
In 2015, Cristie Schoen, a contestant and expectant mother on a Food Network television show, and her husband, were found murdered. The murderer? Robert Owens. Investigators found their remains in his stove and on his property. The motive has never been figured out. Did Owens also murder Zebb?
2 Maura Murray
21-year-old Maura Murray was involved in a car crash on February 4, 2004. She was having emotional issues at the time of the crash and had been acting strangely weeks prior to the accident. Maura had been having relationship and school issues. She was under a great deal of stress. She didn't tell anyone she was going anywhere, but withdrew $250 from an ATM, and purchased quite a bit of alcohol before heading off for what investigators believe was Vermont.
The crash occurred on Route 112. It was the middle of winter but visibility was good and roads were snowy but not treacherous. The accident was reported by several witnesses including a school bus driver. The bus driver had seen Maura outside the vehicle and asked if she needed help. She insisted she did not, and told the bus driver she had already called for help, which was later determined to be a lie. When officers showed up at the crash location they found no sign of Maura. There was evidence of her having been drinking alcohol but her personal effects were gone. Both air bags had been deployed and the windshield was cracked.
Maura's boyfriend believes he received a call from Maura shortly after she disappeared but his phone was off and it went to voicemail. The call was traced to an American Red Cross phone card. There were no words spoken, just heavy breathing or sobbing.
1 Jennifer Kesse
Jennifer Kesse lived in Orlando, Florida until her disappearance in 2006. Jennifer was last seen January 23, 2006, leaving work around 6pm, before she headed home. She was last heard from around 10pm by her boyfriend. Typically she would call him every morning while she drove into work. He found it strange and called her but it went to voicemail. It wasn't until Jennifer didn't show up for work that the alarm was raised. Her employer called her parents who drove straight to her apartment. There was nothing out of the ordinary. No sign of forced entry or anything stolen. They did find a wet towel and evidence that she had taken her morning shower and got ready for work. Her car was missing.
On January 26th, Jennifer's car was found in a neighboring apartment block. Police obtained security camera footage that showed a male subject driving the car into the parking lot and leaving. Unfortunately, everyone was beyond devastated to find that the footage wasn't any good--it didn't show the subject's face.
There had been construction going on at the apartment complex where Jennifer lived. Jennifer had said that they had made cat calls to her, and whistled when she would walk by. What happened to Jennifer? No evidence or clue into Jennifer's disappearance has ever been found.
Sources: Wikipedia, CharleyProject