Since the beginning of humankind, there have been stories told of human beings disappearing mysteriously. When it comes to mysterious disappearances age is but a number. There are middle-aged people, teenaged people, and even babies and toddlers that have, and continue to be, missing. There are so many missing people that agencies exist just to help find and fund efforts to find some of these people. This national bank of resources for missing people is run by the United States, but there are missing person investigations going cold around the entire world.
The free online system can be searched by coroners, law enforcement officers, and medical examiners. This has helped to find some of the people who mysteriously disappeared in the country. But unfortunately, many of these crimes still go unsolved. That’s why the Federal Bureau of Investigation has an area that investigates these missing person cases. They also run a website that shows the faces and stats of many missing persons in the country.
The travesty of decades-long missing person cases is that the family cannot even deal with the person’s estate and belongings until they are declared dead. This open-ended mourning can wreak havoc on the mental health of family and loved ones.
Here are the 15 Most Shocking Disappearances That'll Never Be Solved
15 Cherrie Mahan
Cherrie Mahan is still missing a total of 30 years after the initial disappearance. On February 22, 1985, Cherrie Mahan got off of her school bus only blocks from her home. This was the last time that she was seen. She was only eight-years-old when she disappeared.
This is a pivotal missing person case because it was the first to feature a circulated flier with the child’s photo. The story of her disappearance was also reported on CNN in January 2011 because of possible new evidence, but this evidence was never released. The only lead in the investigation that was released reported a van that was near the school bus when the children emerged.
This van had a picture of a skier on the side and was a teal/blue color, but understandably this isn't enough to track down the missing girl.
14 Philip Cairns
This little Irish boy left his school to go home and eat lunch one afternoon. Cairns was last seen getting on the bus to go back to his school. But the young man never arrived. There has not been one confirmed sighting of the boy since getting back on the bus. At the time, many believed that Philip had been kidnapped by a “bad man” who lured him into the back of his vehicle using candy.
The 1986 investigation utilized hundreds of officers and divers who searched lakes, forests, and everywhere for Philip Cairns. The story shocked the entire country because it caused parents to fear for the safety of their children even in the middle of the day. There is only one similar story of a child being murdered in Ireland, that of Robert Holohan in January 2005.
13 Tony Jones
At 20-years old Tony Jones thought it a great idea to backpack around Australia. It was November 1982 when Jones disappeared while backpacking in North Queensland. Jones was a native of Western Australia and was on the last leg of his trip with his brother when he disappeared. Tony would hitchhike and his brother would ride his bicycle. They frequently left messages for each other with family to keep in touch.
They split up just before the disappearance as Tony was headed home. When his brother arrived back in Townsville he called his girlfriend and family. He was surprised to find that money had been transferred to help the boys out but Jones never made it to Mount Isa.
The family of Tony Jones has been through a lot trying to solve this mystery and it seems that the police mishandled evidence making their anguish all the more painful.
12 Joe Pichler
When he was young Pichler relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. After finding a bit of success Pichler’s family begged him to come home to Washington in 2003, when he was sixteen years old. The young man graduated from high school in Washington in 2005 and planned to move back to Hollywood the next year to continue acting. He simply had to wait to get his braces removed.
On the evening of January 5, 2006, Pichler was in good spirits while he played cards with friends. His silver Toyota Corrolla was found four days later at an intersection in town. His family reported him missing on January 16, 2006. The last call on his cell phone was placed at 4:05 am on January 5 to a friend that he had seen that day.
11 Ron Arad
This Israeli pilot was marked as missing in action in October 1986. Many presumed him dead immediately. Arad was captured by a Shiite group and handed over to Hezbollah while on a mission over Lebanon. The mission went awry when a bomb exploded prematurely which damaged the aircraft.
Both pilots were forced to eject and although his other pilot escaped Arad was captured by the Lebanese Amal. He was then brought to Beirut where he was leveraged against Lebanese prisoners held in Israel. In 1987 the government did receive proof that Arad was alive, but negotiation talks eventually failed in 1988.
Lieutenant Ron Arad was never found, and a special forces agent even died while trying to rescue the pilot. It wasn’t until 2006 that the government openly claimed that they thought he was dead and had no idea where his remains could be.
10 Brian Shaffer
On the night of March 31, 2006, medical student Brian Shaffer decided to party to celebrate the first day of spring break. Shaffer had gone out for a nice steak dinner with his father earlier in the evening before going out to party with his friend Clint that night. He called his girlfriend and told her that he loved her before venturing down the Arena District taking shots.
Just after midnight a friend of Clint’s picked them up and returned them to their first bar, the Ugly Tuna Saloona, for their last round. While they were there Brian separated from them. After repeatedly calling him Clint and his lady friend waited outside for Shaffer to emerge.
He didn’t answer his phone the rest of the weekend, eventually missing a flight to Miami that had been long planned with his girlfriend. He was reported missing and his father searched for him high and low. The man’s body was never found.
9 Natalee Holloway
This young woman was celebrating her high school graduation with friends in Aruba in 2005. Unfortunately, she never made it home from her adventure. She was last seen leaving Carlos’n Charlie’s in Oranjestad leaving in a car with three young men who were local in the area.
The three young men, including Joran Van Der Sloot, claimed that they dropped the young woman off at her hotel and have no idea what happened to her after that. The Dutch-owned island of Aruba might not have had the police force that Holloway’s parents were looking for. The investigation was highly criticized, but the Aruban police and hundreds of volunteers scoured the nation for her.
Van Der Sloot was arrested twice and the brothers in the car with him three times under suspicion of involvement. However, none of the charges stuck. In 2011 the case was reopened but Holloway was eventually declared dead.
8 Lisa Stebic
At the time of her disappearance, Lisa Stebic lived with her two children and husband Craig. A neighbor reported Lisa missing on May 1, 2007. Her husband had last seen her April 30 at 6 pm. He was under the impression that she got a ride to her job since her phone and purse were gone.
Her car remained in the driveway and there was no activity on her credit cards or phone after that night. Lisa was also attending counseling at the shelter for battered women. Craig had filed for divorce months before she disappeared but the couple continued living together.
He told police that they lived together amicably but on the same day as her disappearance Lisa filed a court order to have him removed from their home. She cited him as cruel, domineering, and verbally abusive. Though Craig was a person of interest in the matter he has never been arrested for the disappearance of Lisa Stebic.
7 Louise and Charmian Faulkner
This mother and daughter went missing in 1980 from St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia. To this day no bodies have been found and no one has been charged in the case of this disappearance. Louise was the youngest of three children. Louise made friends with another mother in the neighborhood a bit of time before she disappeared.
Louise had told this woman about how she was excited to go to her new boyfriend’s farm. He was a potato farmer in Gippsland. The last time that Louise and Charmian were seen they were getting into a white car with an older man.
Police investigated the disappearance for a year before it was deemed a cold case.
6 Ayla Reynolds
At just 20-months old Ayla Reynolds went missing in 2011. The last time she was seen she was lying in bed at 9 pm. When her father went in to check on her the next morning she had completely vanished.
Though he has never been charged in the case both Ayla’s mother and police believe that he’s been less than forthcoming about the details of that night. Ayla’s mother was the primary caretaker but she was staying with her father for an overnight visit.
In 2012 police released that over a cup full of Ayla’s blood was adjacent to her father’s bed. There were also two other people in the home at the time of Ayla’s disappearance, her father’s girlfriend and his sister. To this day the baby remains missing.
5 Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos
Both of these men disappeared under similar circumstances in 2003 and 2004. Their last time being seen in public was while they were being arrested by former Collier County Sheriff's deputy Corporal Steve Calkins.
In a strange and elaborate tale, Calkins explained that he had dropped both men off at Circle K convenience stores. These alibi drop off points were just four miles from each other. Both men were last seen handcuffed driving away in the back of Calkins squad car. He claimed that Santos was polite and cooperative which is why he decided to drop him off.
Both investigations cleared Calkins but Santos’ wife claims that he was never even questioned.
4 Tara Calico
Many believed that Tara Calico was kidnapped near her home in Belen, New Mexico. Calico left for her daily bike ride at 9:30 AM in New Mexico on September 20, 1988. She used to ride with her mother until her mother had a scary experience being stalked by a motorist. Calico’s mother requested that she bring mace on her rides but the young woman shrugged her off.
Before leaving Calico told her mother to come find her if she wasn’t home by noon since she had made plans with her boyfriend at 12:30 that afternoon.
At noon her mother followed her route to find her but Tara Calico was nowhere to be found. On her trail, several items were found, including her broken walkman, headphones, and phone. Her mother is adamant that these items were dropped as Calico tried to mark her path.
Though nobody witnessed her actual abduction many saw a truck with a camper shell following her on her ride. While it is not confirmed, many suspect it is Calico in the horrifying photo above.
3 Amy Lynn Bradley
This woman is one of many who disappeared while taking a cruise to a foreign land. She stayed up drinking until the middle of the night with the cruise ship band and then went back to her room. In the morning her, her cigarettes, and her lighter were gone.
Earlier that evening her mother reports that the waiters tried to invite her out to Carlos’n Charlie’s and she refused. Instead, Amy stayed on the ship with her brother and took in a show then stayed out until the wee hours partying together. She fell asleep first on the balcony before waking up around 5:30 am to have a cigarette.
She didn’t bring her shoes, which shows how soon she was planning on coming back. The theory is that she was drugged or beaten over the head and then removed from the hotel in a garbage bin or dumpster. The weirdest part about her disappearance is the reported sightings of her around the Caribbean, so at least we can hope she is still alive.
2 Maura Murray
Before leaving campus on February 9, 2004, she emailed her professors and her work supervisor that she was taking a week off because of a death in the family. To this day nobody has been able to confirm the death. But many believed that the young woman was kidnapped.
In the day before the minor car accident where she was last seen Murray was acting emotionally and erratically. She was unhappy with the relationship that she was cultivating with her fiance. Murray also conducted online research and made bookings at hotels in various areas on the east coast.
The woman had packed her boxes and taken the art off the walls. All of this information led police to believe that Murray wanted to disappear, but many people still believe that she was kidnapped.
1 Etan Patz
Little Etan Patz disappeared his very first time walking to the school bus on his own. Patz’s father was a professional photographer so beautiful photos of him were strewn across billboards, projected on Times Square, and put on milk cartons. This was the first time that a missing child was put on a milk carton.
Immediately after his disappearance 100 police officers and bloodhounds searched his SoHo neighborhood high and low for him. Eventually, the trail went cold and the case was put to the side. The case was never solved but it was picked back up by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in 2010.
These detectives officially determined his death a kidnapping and murder. Pedro Hernandez confessed to the murder before his Miranda Rights had been read. Because of this, his first trial went to retrial. He was eventually convicted of murder and kidnapping, so while this was a "solved" kidnapping we sure you won't blame us for ending with a positive resolution.