Interested in missing persons? Here’s the list of some of the most famous and interesting cases.
1. Harold Holt
Harold was the 17th Prime Minister of Australia for only 22 months before he disappeared. In December 1967, while swimming at Cheviot Beach, he went missing, and presumably drowned. His body was never found.
2. Megumi Yokota
A Japanese woman, Yokota was abducted by a North Korean agent in 1977, when she was 13 years old. The North Korean government has admitted to kidnapping her, but said she died in captivity. Her family and others believe that she is still alive in North Korea, and the government may be planning to use her and others in future negotiations with Japan.
3. The Springfield Three
This unsolved missing persons case began on June 7, 1992, when Sherrill Levitt, Stacy McCall, and Suzie Streeter went missing from their home in Springfield, Missouri. Sherill was Suzie’s mother, and Stacy was a friend. On the day before their disappearance, Stacy and Suzie had graduated from high school. They were last seen after leaving a graduation party around 2 am to head to Suzie’s house. Quite a few people visited Sherill and Suzie’s house after becoming worried, possibly tainting the crime scene. Police noted Sherril’s bed was the only one that had been slept in, and all purses, money, cars, and even the family dog were left behind.
4. Robyn Gardner
Robyn told her boyfriend that she was going to Orlando with her parents, and later told her boyfriend that she had actually gone to Aruba on a surprise family trip.
In reality, Gardner had gone to the Caribbean with a 50-year-old businessman named Gary Giordano. She never came back. Giordano had taken out a $1.5 million accidental death insurance policy on Gardner before the trip. Two days after arriving, Giordano reported that she had never returned from an evening snorkeling trip the two took. Robyn’s body was never found, and there was never sufficient proof to charge Giordano.
5. Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson was a former CIA agent and American businessman who attempted to revitalize the Thai silk industry in the 1950s and 60s.
While in southeast Asia, he went for a walk on Easter Sunday in 1967. He never returned. Many believe he was kidnapped, eaten by a tiger, or murdered in a robbery attempt. He may have also fallen into an aboriginal animal trap, and buried when they discovered what had happened.
6. Percy Fawcett
This British explorer disappeared with his eldest son in 1925 in a quest to find an ancient lost city, which he believed to be El Dorado, in the jungles of Brazil. They may have died of natural causes in the jungle, or they may have been killed by local Indians that were nearby at the time. In later rescue expeditions, rumors were heard that Fawcett had lost his memory and lived out his life as the chief of a tribe of cannibals.
7. The MV Joyita
The MV Joyita was a merchant vessel from which 25 passengers and crew mysteriously disappeared in the South Pacific in 1955. The ship was found adrift in the Pacific Ocean without a crew on board. The captain and crew should have known that the extreme buoyancy of the ship made sinking nearly impossible, yet all the lifeboats were missing.
Theories include that the captain had been injured, accounting for blood-stained bandages found on board. That would explain that the people on board had fled to the life rafts without the captain’s information that the ship could not sink. Another is that known tension between the captain and his first mate had come to blows, leaving both men severely injured and no experienced seamen on board.
8. Joseph Force Crater
The New York City judge was known for dalliances with showgirls and his ties to corruption-ridden Tammany Hall. He disappeared after leaving a restaurant on West 45th Street in 1930. On the day of his disappearance, he spent two hours going through his files in his courthouse chambers, destroying several documents.
Interestingly, he cashed two checks that were equivalent to about $73 thousand today, and brought two locked briefcases to his apartment with his law clerk. He then bought one ticket to a Broadway show and went to dinner with Sally Lou Ritz, a showgirl, and a lawyer friend William Klein. His friends originally said that he got into a taxi upon leaving, then changed their story to say that he walked down the street. It’s theorized that he got into a cab driven by the brother of a police officer, who later killed him so he couldn’t testify about Tammany Hall corruption.
9. Maura Murray
This nursing student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst disappeared the evening of February 9, 2004, after crashing her car in Haverhill, New Hampshire. She left campus after packing up her car and telling her professors that she was taking a week off due to a death in the family, although there was no death. Her family and friends believe she was abducted, while police suggest she may have wanted to disappear, due to her preparation. She had withdrawn $280 from an ATM and purchased $40 of alcohol before leaving Amherst.
10. D.B. Cooper
The name is an epithet used to refer to an unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft somewhere between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle Washington, in 1971. He then extorted what would equate to over $1.1 million today in ransom, and parachuted out of the plane to an unknown location. Despite an ongoing FBI investigation, he has never been identified or found.
The man used the name Dan Cooper to buy the plane ticket, which became D.B. Cooper in the media due to a miscommunication. Agents believe the man was an Air Force veteran struggling financially. He was possibly Canadian, due to his specific demand for negotiable American currency, and the fact that he may have taken his alias from the comic book series featuring the Royal Canadian Air Force test pilot Dan Cooper.
11. The Beaumont Children
Jane, age 9, Arnna, age 7, and Grant, age 4, were three siblings who disappeared from Australia on January 26, 1966. The children took a five-minute bus trip to the beach, the same as the trip they took the day before. They never came home.
Several witnesses saw the children in the company of a tall blonde man. A theory is that the children had grown to trust this man, due to a comment Arnna had said to her mother, that Jane had “got a boyfriend down the beach.”
12. The Roanoke Colony
One of the most well-known missing persons “cases” is also known as the Lost Colony. It was a late 16th-century attempt by Queen Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement in what is today’s North Carolina.
The final group of colonists disappeared sometime between 1587 and 1590, three years after the last shipment of supplies from England. There has been no conclusive evidence about what happened to the colonists. Theories include abduction by local Native American tribes or integration with local tribes after dwindling supplies.
13. Boston Corbett
Thomas “Boston” Corbett was a Union soldier who shot and killed Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. He was declared insane before his disappearance, and was sent to the Topeka Asylum for the insane. In 1888, he escaped the asylum on horseback. He briefly stayed with Richard Thatcher, a man he met when they were both prisoners of war.
When he left, he told Thatcher he was going to Mexico. He is believed to have actually settled in a cabin he built in eastern Minnesota, and is believed to have died in the Great Hinckley Fire on September 1, 1984, although there is no proof.
14. Dorothy Arnold
Dorothy was an American socialite who disappeared while walking on Fifth Avenue in New York City in December 1910. She had run into a friend before excusing herself to meet her mother for lunch at the Waldorf-Astoria by cutting through Central Park. When she failed to return home for dinner, the Arnolds began calling her friends to find out her whereabouts. Around midnight, one of Arnold’s friends called the Arnold family to see if she had returned. The friend said Arnold’s mother told her Dorothy had returned home, and when she asked to speak to Dorothy, her mother said that she had gone to bed with a headache.
The family didn’t report Dorothy’s disappearance for weeks, fearing it could be potentially socially embarrassing. A main theory is that Dorothy committed suicide because of her failed writing career. In a letter after her second story rejection, she said “All I can see ahead is a long road with no turning. Mother will always think an accident has happened.”
15. Bobby Dunbar
Bobby Dunbar was an American boy who disappeared at the age of 5 in 1912. After searching for 8 months, investigators found a child with William Cantwell Walters of Mississippi. Bobby’s parents said it was their missing son.
Both Walters and a woman named Julia Anderson who worked for Walters were insistent that the child was Charles Bruce Anderson, Anderson’s son. The Dunbars retained custody of the child, who lived the rest of his life as Bobby Dunbar. In 2004, DNA evidence established that the child returned to the Dunbars as their son Bobby had, in fact not been a blood relative of the Dunbars.
16. Maud Crawford
Maud Crawford was the first female attorney in Camden, Arkansas. She disappeared from her home on March 2, 1957. That night, her husband went to a show and then a liquor store, as was his typical routine. When he came home, all of the lights and the television were on. Her car was in the driveway, and her purse was on a chair.
When she didn’t come home, he reported her missing. Because one of the partners in her law firm had chaired a high-profile Senate investigation into mobster ties to organized labor, it was believed that Crawford had been kidnapped by the Mafia to intimidate the partner. To this day, no body was ever found and the police have never solved the case.
17. Zebb Quinn
Zebb went missing on January 2, 2000 in Asheville, North Carolina. He was 18 and working at Walmart when he disappeared. After his shift, he went to meet a friend named Robert Owens before taking separate cars to look at a car Quinn was thinking of buying. Owens said that on the way, Quinn flashed his headlights so Owens would pull over. He said he had gotten a page and needed to return the call, and went off to a pay phone. When he came back, Owens said he was frantic and canceled the plans to look at the car.
As he drove off, he rear-ended Owens car. His mother filed a missing person’s report the next afternoon. Two weeks after he disappeared, his car was found parked near the hospital where his mother works. A pair of lips were drawn on the car’s back windshield and a live Labrador puppy was found inside. No arrests have been made in the case, and it remains unsolved.