In modern times, we like to think that we know just about everything about everything. We have records, we have forensic evidence, and we can even excavate the relics of the past in order to better inform ourselves. The truth is, however, that we can still have big mysteries that no one can answer. One such mystery can surround what exactly happened to people at the ends of their lives.
All of the people in this list disappeared one day and were never seen again – presumably because they were dead. But we don’t know that for sure, and they may well have gone on to live their lives a little longer. There are some cases where the intervening time means that they must now be dead of old age at the very least, but we don’t know when or where their deaths took place.
It seems strange to think that a human being, who has family and friends and connections, could just go away one day and never have a trace of them found. But that really does happen – and is continuing to happen even now. These cases date back from antiquity right up to modern day.
We don’t have the answers, so it’s up to you to be the sleuths. Read our evidence, consider the facts, and try to answer the question for yourself. Do you think these people died at the time they disappeared – or did they continue to live somewhere else? Could they even be still living now?
15. Child Actor Joe Pichler Left Behind An Abandoned, Vomit-Filled Car
Joe Pichler was a child actor who took some time out of acting to complete school and also to have his teeth straightened with braces. He was still wearing those braces in January 2006, when he played cards with friends at one of their homes. He left the house, and drove away. It seems that a friend tried to call him early in the morning, but there has been no contact since. His abandoned car was found several days later. There was vomit in the car but no sign of him otherwise.
Weirdly, one of his friends set up a fake MySpace profile pretending to be him, and even had conversations with others keeping up the act. The most common theory seems to be that he overdosed on drugs, and the friends covered up his death out of fear of being blamed. If he was still alive and simply wanted to disappear, he would have needed somehow to have his braces removed.
14. Med. Student Brian Shaffer Went Into A Bar, And Never Came Out
Brian Shaffer wasn’t anyone famous, but his disappearance deserves a mention for the fact that it is completely baffling. There’s no way to know whether he is alive or dead, or what happened to him at all on the night of April 1, 2006.
He went to a bar that night, and can be clearly seen on surveillance footage entering the bar. That same footage, however, has no trace of him leaving. He spoke to his girlfriend on the phone, drank heavily, and then between 1.30am and 2am he simply vanished. It’s not clear how he managed to leave the bar without being detected, or even how anyone could have got him out if he was murdered. Since he was heavily drunk, it’s unlikely that he came up with a cunning plan to disappear by himself. With witnesses in the bar and cameras outside of it, there’s just no answer to how this one occurred.
13. Did Alcatraz Lie About Frank Morris’ Death To Keep Their Rep Clean?
It’s likely that you have heard of Frank Morris, even if you don’t remember his name. Frank is famous because he was one of the three convicts to escape from Alcatraz in June 1962. He was immortalized on film by Clint Eastwood, and while the prison officials like to claim that he died, no body was ever found.
If he did survive, it would break their perfect no-escape record, so it’s no surprise that they weren’t too keen to investigate further. Morris was hugely intelligent, and masterminded the whole escape plan. John and Clarence Anglin were also never found, but of the three, Morris would be the most likely to survive and get away with covering up his identity for the rest of his life.
Research has since suggested that the men would have been able to make landfall if they had set off at midnight with the currents in their favour. If they did not, then their bodies probably fell into the ocean around the same time that their lifeboat was destroyed.
12. Prime Minister Of Australia Goes For A Swim, Never Comes Back
How can someone who is the leader of a whole country go missing in the modern age?
Harold Holt was the Prime Minister of Australia when he disappeared on the 17th of December, 1967. Despite being one of the most important people in the world, he went swimming that morning and was never seen again. There are lots of wild conspiracy theories about what might have happened to him, though the most likely is that he simply drowned. He went swimming in rough waters, and did have some medical issues which might have come into play.
Still, it’s odd that someone could simply vanish like that. Searches were underway very soon after he went missing and found nothing. Popular theories include him being a Chinese spy who was taken by boat to Beijing, or that he gave up his office to run away to Switzerland with a lover who also picked him up by boat.
11. Neighbors Hear A Scream And News Anchor Never Shows Up For Work
Jodi Huisentruit was a news anchor for KIMT who lived in Mason City, Iowa. She was 27 years old when she disappeared in mysterious circumstances. She had spent an evening with a friend, then went home, before failing to arrive at work in the morning of June 27, 1995. At 4am, when she should have been in the studio, her producer called her apartment. Huisentruit said that she had overslept and confirmed that she was getting ready to leave for work.
By the show’s start at 6am she still had not arrived, and at 7am, the show’s staff called the police. Her car was still in the parking lot, but some of her belongings were left around it and it seemed there had been a struggle. Her neighbours reported screams and a white van that was never found. She has never been found since, either dead or alive, and there have been no traces that might suggest what happened to her.
10. Was Amelia Earhart Captured By The Japanese?
Amelia Earhart broke ground as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She was attempting to circumnavigate the globe when she, her craft, and her crewman Fred Noonan disappeared without a trace. There are several ideas about what might have happened to her. One is that the aircraft crashed and sank into the ocean, and that Earhart drowned. Another is that they crash-landed on Gardner Island.
Though a search was made at the time that found nothing, later searches have found a few small traces of things that might have happened to them. One more theory is that they did crash but were then captured by Japanese forces, and that they later died in Japanese custody. By now she would be dead, but how did it happen? Drowning in the sea, starvation on a remote island, or death in confinement? Or did she somehow survive, but use the crash as an excuse to leave behind her life of celebrity and start again?
9. Did Thomas Edison Have Louis Le Prince Killed?
Louis Le Prince is known for capturing the first moving pictures on film that had ever been seen. The events of September 16, 1980 seem more like the plot of a film than reality. He got onto a train, checked his luggage into one compartment, and then got into another. This was at the station in Dijon. When the train pulled in at Paris, Le Prince and his luggage were gone.
There were no signs of foul play, but the train had not stopped. The windows were tightly closed. He was planning to travel to America to get patents for his motion picture recording devices, so it’s unlikely that he would commit suicide or choose to disappear. Still, his fate remains unknown. Interestingly enough, since he couldn’t get his patents, it was Thomas Edison instead who took the credit. Could it all have been part of a plot to get Edison more glory? Did he have Louis Le Prince paid off – or killed off?
8. Computer Scientist Goes Out On His Yacht, Both Never Seen Again
Jim Gray was a hugely influential computer scientist who won the Turing Award in 1998 and worked as a Technical Fellow at Microsoft for many years. His work was remarkable, but it was his disappearance that made the most headlines. January 28th, 2007, was the last time he was ever seen. He took his 40-foot yacht, Tenacious, on a short sailing trip near San Francisco to scatter his mother’s ashes.
His yacht had a beacon which should have automatically begun to transmit if the vessel should sink. The area was busy with sailing traffic, and yet no distress signal or beacon was heard, no one saw him, and no one reported a crash with a yacht. Work was undertaken by users on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to try to spot the vessel, but it was never found.
7. Adolf Hitler’s Body Was Hidden
So, everyone knows that Hitler committed suicide, right? He was found dead in his bunker, alongside his newlywed wife Eva Braun. Or was he? There’s a bit of a conspiracy theory here, because actually Hitler was found by the Russian troops who took his remains into custody. The location of his body was kept secret after it had been verified, supposedly because of fears that Neo-Nazis would worship his grave.
In 1970, his remains were cremated and dumped into the Biederitz River. The Russian State Archives retained a fragment of jawbone as evidence, but some researchers and historians have questioned its authenticity. One skull that was thought to belong to Hitler actually turned out to be that of a woman, but the jawbone and dental bridges were examined by Hitler’s dentist, who says that they are legit. Unmistakeable proof, right? Yeah, we’re just going to quietly reflect on the idea that Hitler may have escaped and lived out his life in comfort.
6. Richey Edwards Took Out Cash For 2 Weeks Before Disappearing
Richey James Edwards was the bass player and lyricist for the Manic Street Preachers when he went missing. Far from being suicidal, Richey was candid in interviews about not believing in killing himself. Though he had a history of self-harm, the reaction to his disappearance from his bandmates and family was one of disbelief.
On the 1st of February 1995, instead of going on a promotional tour of the US as planned, he disappeared. He spent two weeks withdrawing £200 a day from his bank account. Then he gave presents to some of his friends, and went to a hotel for the night. He checked out in the morning and left behind much of his belongings, driving away without them.
After two weeks of reportedly odd behaviour over several sightings, his car was found at the Severn View service station, with evidence that it had been lived in. Many believe he jumped from the Severn Bridge to take his own life. There have been alleged sightings of him in the years since that were never confirmed. His bandmates still keep a bank account where they deposit all of the royalties he would be owed if he was alive.
5. Did The Sheriff Bribe Doctors To Get The Reward On Billy The Kid’s Head?
The man born as Henry McCarty later became known as William H Bonney, and then Billy the Kid. We remember him because he was an outlaw in the Old West who is known to have killed eight men, and perhaps more.
He was just 21 years old when he was finally captured by Sheriff Pat Garrett, tried and convicted of murder, and sentenced to hang. He first managed to escape from prison for two months, but then Garrett caught up with him and shot him in Fort Sumner in July 1881.
Though Garrett did claim his death, and a body was examined at the time, there have been persistent rumours that he survived. At the time, it would have been easy for Garrett to bribe officials into recognizing the body, particularly since he later collected $7,500 in reward money. There were several people who later claimed to be Billy, and many alleged sightings, and it has never been proven whether he really did die that night.
4. Lord Lucan Abandoned His Blood-Covered Car And Was Never Seen Again
The incredible circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Richard John Bingham, Lord Lucan, sound more like a movie plot than true life. It all began when his wife, Veronica, battled for custody of the children following a bitter split. Lucan lost custody and was hugely upset by this. He began spying on his wife, and in November 1974, the children’s nanny was bludgeoned to death in the family’s basement. Veronica was then attacked by the same man, which she claimed was Lucan.
His story was that he happened upon the attacker and chased him off, leading to Veronica identifying him correctly when he came to her aid. As the police began investigating, Lucan drove a borrowed car to a friend’s house and was never seen again. The car was found abandoned and covered in blood, but Lucan was never found – either dead or alive. Many supposed sightings have occurred, but none have been proven.
3. Tsar Alexander I Of Russia’s Grave Was Found Empty
Alexander I may well have been the most prominent person of all time to successfully fake his own death. He was just 23 years old when he took the throne in 1801, and reportedly didn’t much like it. His father was assassinated, and attempts were frequently made on Alexander’s own life throughout his reign. Just before his death, he told close friends that he was planning to abdicate and retire to the countryside.
His daughter died, and his wife fell ill; while she recovered in 1825 he himself caught Typhus in the remote town they had chosen for her treatment. He died of typhus, in strange circumstances which included his wife becoming distraught after six hours of private conversation with him. His funeral was closed-casket, his autopsy was inconclusive, and when his grave was excavated, it was found to be empty. It is now thought possible that he took on the identity of one Feodor Kuzmich and lived out his life as a vagrant.
2. Forrest Schab – Aspiring Rapper Goes To Mexico, Doesn’t Come Back
Forrest Schab was a Canadian rapper known as DY whose career was just starting to take off. That was until November 18, 2010, when he was reported missing. He had planned to take a two-week trip to Mexico, but never returned. He had possibly been mixed up with drugs and gangs, though that has never been conclusively proven. All that we know for sure is that he went to Mexico – the rest is uncertain.
His brother now claims that “He is not supposed to be found he is starting his life over again in humble means. Where he is a no body and I think he is happier this way [sic].” On the other hand, it seems that Schab was also connected to the Hell’s Angels. The prevailing thought here is that he was lured to Mexico under some pretence and then murdered while he was there, with the death being covered up sufficiently to avoid detection.
1. Sean Flynn, Photojournalist – Died In Captivity?
As the only child of Errol Flynn, Sean Flynn had a promising career as a photojournalist. He was on an assignment in Cambodia in 1970 when he and fellow journalist Dana Stone were captured by communist guerrillas. That’s the story that we know and can confirm. Though he is presumed to have died in captivity, nothing has ever been proven. It is thought that they were held captive for at least a year.
A twist came in 2010 when a British team thought that they had found his body. It was sent for DNA testing, but turned out not to be a match. Flynn’s mother was Lili Damita, and she spent a lot of time and money on searching for him. She eventually had to give up in 1984, having him legally declared dead, and she died in 1994 so there is no hope that she will ever know what truly happened to him.
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