In a world where we feel tracked twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week by technology, the thought of a person not being able to be found fills us with dread and awe. Grab your magnifying glass as we look for clues as to the disappearance of these famous figures!
Richey Edwards, the rhythm guitarist for Welsh rock band “Manic Street Preachers,” disappeared with barely a trace on a February day in 1995. Edwards and the band were somewhat cult icons at the time of his disappearance, making his sudden departure all that more prominent.
His car was found abandoned at a bridge, and speculation soon grew that Edwards had leaped from the bridge into the waters below. As with most high-profile missing people cases, reports of sightings trickled in from fans to taxi drivers. With no body and no leads, Edwards was officially declared deceased “in absentia” in 2008.
Sean Flynn, son of famed Hollywood actor Errol Flynn, followed somewhat in his father’s famous footsteps as an actor, but his true passion lay in photography, particularly photojournalism. The young Flynn used his skills to document the Vietnam and Arab-Israeli wars. The photojournalist returned to Vietnam in 1968 and followed the advancing Vietnamese forces as they invaded Cambodia.
Flynn, paying no heed to warnings from colleagues, approached a road checkpoint and was last photographed being led into the surrounding forest by alleged Viet Cong fighters. Flynn was never heard from or seen again, even though he disappeared in plain sight.
Amelia Earhart’s popularity took flight as she broke several records as the first female pilot to embark on solo flying trips. Earhart’s most ambitious feat was her intention to fly around the world. The fearless pilot and her navigator departed Papua New Guinea to their next stop in the Pacific.
Earhart and her navigator were constantly communicating with the United States coast guard. Her last message informed the coast guard she could not locate the designated landing spot. Her radio communication became spotty and attempts to contact her failed. No trace of Earhart, her navigator, nor her plane was ever found.
Iconic American actor Kirk Douglas found himself embroiled in the disappearance of Jean Spangler, an up-and-coming actress. The rising starlet was last seen supposedly heading out to a film shoot. Spangler’s ripped wallet was found two days later in a park.
The only item in the purse was a note believed to have been written by Spangler saying, “Kirk: Can't wait any longer, going to see Dr. Scott.” At the time, Spangler was working on a movie with actor Kirk Douglas. Attempts to link him to the letter failed. Spangler’s disappearance has remained a cold case for over seventy years.
Alain Kan, an eccentric French singer, has been missing for decades now. The singer’s breakthrough single “Speed My Speed” came about after he moved to England in pursuit of gaining more exposure for his music. Kan had returned to France at some point and was last seen at the Rue de la Pompe metro station in Paris in April 1990.
While more of an underground figure, Kan left a legacy of songs reflecting his inspiration from singers such as David Bowie and Lou Reed.
Big band trombonist and all-around musical prodigy Glenn Miller was at the height of his musical career when he felt called to enlist in the United States Army to help fight in the Second World War. The thirty-eight-year-old Miller was at first rejected for being too old, but his persistence and petitioning eventually landed him the rank of Captain in the Army band.
Miller left his station in England to fly to Paris on December 15th, 1944, and the plane and all its crew disappeared over the English Channel. Investigations into Miller’s disappearance and the doomed flight continue to this day.
Frank Lee Morris is famous for his own disappearance. The criminal is known as one of the inmates who attempted to escape the maximum-security prison, Alcatraz, in 1962. Morris, who is said to have been extremely intelligent, plotted his escape with several other inmates.
None of them were ever found and it's unclear whether he died while trying to get away, or if he fooled us all.
Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Antoine De Saint-Exupery led a productive and charmed life. The overambitious writer is most widely recognized as the author of “The Little Prince.” In addition to being a prolific poet and writer, de Saint-Exupery was a pilot. At the outbreak of the second world war, de Saint-Exupery flew missions around Europe to scout occupying German soldiers.
The highly celebrated pilot vanished in 1944 while on a reconnaissance mission. It would be fifty years before any sign of de Saint-Exupery would be found when a fisherman discovered his bracelet. His whereabouts remain a mystery.
Poet Hart Crane was on his way to being a key figure in the resurgence of modern American poetry when he disappeared in 1932. Crane‘s poetic prowess earned him a Guggenheim fellowship to compose a poem about the conquest of Mexico. Crane moved to Mexico to begin his epic.
Not long before his departure, his father, Clarence Arthur Crane, passed away, and friends recall Hart falling into a deep depression over his father’s death. Upon returning to America from Mexico, Crane disappeared from the ocean liner he was traveling on. His body was never recovered, nor was a note left behind.
Raoul Wallenberg became a highly celebrated figure in World War Two for his efforts in rescuing Jews destined for Auschwitz. Wallenberg devised a scheme to distribute a form of identity document known as a “Schutz-Pass.” This document gave Hungarian Jews protection under the banner of Sweden’s neutrality in the war.
It is estimated to have saved the lives of 15,000 Jews. Wallenberg was captured by Soviet troops for suspected espionage and vanished. When pressured by Europe, Soviet authorities claimed that Wallenberg had passed away from a heart attack but provided no proof. Wallenberg’s true fate remains a mystery.
Daniel Lind Lagerlöf
Swedish director and producer Daniel Lind Lagerlöf was a highly accomplished filmmaker. Lagerlöf lent his directing skills to several highly acclaimed Swedish films and television series throughout his twenty-year-long career. He was in preparation for his next movie when he vanished.
At the time, the filmmaker was scouting for locations and was last seen in a nature reserve on the border between Norway and Sweden. Investigators believe Lagerlöf may have slipped off a rocky cliff face into the ocean. No eyewitnesses have come forward, and Lind Lagerlöf had no crew with him at the time.
Elizabeth Eaton Converse, better known by her stage name Connie Converse, became famous after her disappearance. Converse moved to New York City hoping to find fortune as a musician, but her fifteen minutes of fame turned out to be a single appearance on television in 1954.
The dejected Converse moved back to her home state after finding no success in New York and disappeared in 1974 after writing a letter to her family stating, “Let me go.” After ten years of searching, her family gave up all attempts to locate her.
Philip Taylor Kramer
Philip Taylor Kramer, the bassist for the 1960s psychedelic rock band “Iron Butterfly,” left a cryptic message for his father not long before his disappearance. As told by Kramer’s father, the musician said if he ever expressed the desire to self-harm, his father must take that as a sign he is being pursued.
It would be four years before Kramer’s car was found at the bottom of a canyon. There was a skeleton inside the car, but his family confirmed the remains are not that of Kramer’s, and he is still alive but embroiled in a far bigger conspiracy.
Musician and folk singer Jim Sullivan was destined for fame, although he would never get to know it. As Sullivan tried to gain recognition, he failed to make a breakthrough after three years of recording and releasing singles. The musician was growing increasingly depressed and began relying on alcohol. In 1975, Sullivan's abandoned car was found almost thirty miles from a hotel room he checked into in New Mexico.
All his belongings, including cash, were found in the vehicle with no sign of Sullivan, who was last seen walking away from his car and into the desert.
Urgel Wintermute, better known by his nickname “Slim,” was a professional basketball player in 1930s America. His impressive stats and sporting abilities influenced the future of basketball in America. Following his basketball career, Wintermute hung up his sports celebrity status and pursued a career in aerodynamics at Boeing.
Wintermute was last seen going sailing with a friend. The boat and the friend returned without Wintermute. When questioned, the friend stated that he had fallen asleep, and upon waking, Wintermute was missing. With nobody as proof, Wintermute is presumed deceased.
An American heiress and aspiring writer Dororthy Arnold disappeared while walking through Central Park one afternoon in 1910. Panic had set in when Arnold did not return by dinnertime, and her family began contacting her network of acquaintances.
It would be an entire month before her family filed a missing person report after private investigators failed to turn up any clues as to her whereabouts. A doctor testified that Arnold died during a botched medical procedure, but Arnold’s father believed this to be a red herring and continued to spend $250,000 of his own money to trace her.
Bangladeshi writer and filmmaker Zahir Raihan was last seen alive in December 1971 while trying to locate the whereabouts of his missing brother. Raihan’s literary and film work was focused squarely on political events in and around Bangladesh, particularly with its longstanding and violent history with Pakistan.
A passionate activist, Raihan donated all of his earnings to freedom fighter groups. The author was last seen searching for his brother, and reports indicate that Pakistani soldiers hiding in Bangladesh abducted or killed Raihan while traveling to Dhaka. Raihan’s fate remains unknown fifty years later.
Two grim phone calls marked the last contact of poet Weldon Kees on a July afternoon in 1955. Kees had a short but remarkable artistic career, leaving behind books, plays, poems, and paintings. His poetry is of significant importance as it has been recognized as a turning point in American poetry.
Kees phoned two friends on July 18th, 1955, and expressed his mental health struggles to two friends – both of whom were unable to help at the time. Kees’s abandoned car was found near the Golden Gate Bridge. No sighting of Kees was ever reported.
English maritime explorer Henry Hudson — the namesake for the famous New York Hudson river — would never see the fruits of his labor. Hudson had been assigned to explore the northeastern regions of North America, which, today, include Canada. Hudson’s ambitions may have gotten the better of him, and his insistence on making further inland explorations after a long, brutal winter prompted his crew to rebel.
Refusing to journey any further, the crew set Hudson and a few other deckhands adrift with supplies while they returned to England. Hudson’s ultimate fate would never be known.
Norwegian explorer and adventurer Roald Amundsen left a gigantic footprint on the “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration” — the 19th and 20th-century excursions to the inhospitable continent. Amundsen became a legendary figure in the expeditions, first escaping starvation at age twenty-five while stranded on the icy land in 1897.
The near-death experience did not deter Amundsen, and the explorer continued exploring the frozen north and south poles for the next thirty years of his life. Amundsen went missing while on an aerial rescue mission in 1928. A float and gasoline tank was all that was ever found of Amundsen’s plane.
Amateur cold case detectives continue trying to piece together the puzzle of union leader Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance. Hoffa won the hearts and minds of workers across the United States as he championed unionizing workers across the country. This incurred the wrath of business organizations, and Hoffa recruited members of the mafia to protect him and enforce his visions.
His business associates collaborated with Hoffa to embezzle millions of dollars, and Hoffa vanished after being convicted on a host of charges. The most reliable leads point to Hoffa being assassinated by the mafia.
British author and Royal Navy officer Ian Mackintosh used his decorated military career to inspire his writing, producing five novels in three years. The avid writer conceptualized a television series, “Warship,” which was greenlit by the BBC and ran for four years.
Mackintosh’s literary works and his military career earned him the admiration of Buckingham Palace, and he was awarded an MBE upon his retirement from the navy. While flying over the Gulf of Alaska in 1979, Mackintosh sent out a distress signal, but no trace of him, the other passengers, or the aircraft was ever found.
American basketball star John Brisker may have been a real-life case of "live by the sword, die by the sword". Although a brilliant basketball player, Brisker had a fearsome reputation as a highly belligerent and aggressive player. Three years after he retired from basketball, the athlete traveled to Uganda to invest in an import and export business. The last contact made by Brisker was a phone call to his partner in Seattle.
His ex-colleagues believe he entered into a fatal deal. Brisker was eventually declared dead in 1985, even though the American government could not even confirm Brisker had left the country.
Ylenia Carrisi was born into a privileged life. The actress and aspiring author was born to famous tenor Albano Carrisi and American actress Romina Power. Carrisi, intending to carve her own path in life, took a break from her studies and decided to backpack across the world. She was last seen alive in the French Quarter in New Orleans with Alexander “Pops” Masakela, a far older musician.
Masakela was released from police custody as there was no evidence to tie him to Carrisi's disappearance. Carissi’s father had her declared legally dead in 2014, twenty years after her disappearance.
Richard John Bingham had several titles to his blue-blooded name: Baronet Bingham of Castlebar and Baron Bingham being some of them. He is most famously known simply as “Lord Lucan.” The then thirty-nine-year-old aristocrat disappeared after his wife identified him as the assailant who attacked her and killed their children’s nanny.
Lucan and his wife were engaged in a bitter custody battle over their children at the time. The last contact Lucan made with anybody was a phone call to his mother and a series of letters delivered to close associates. Though never found, a death certificate was issued for Lucan in 2016.
American entrepreneur Jim Thompson was credited for bringing new life into and reinventing the failing industry of Thai silk. After being stationed in Bangkok to collect intelligence for the American government, Thompson decided to invest in his new homeland, and the silk industry was his focus.
Thompson built the company up over the next thirty years and turned it into a multi-million dollar industry before vanishing while out on a morning walk. His disappearance prompted one of the most widespread manhunts in Thai history, but not a clue was uncovered about his whereabouts.
Barbara Newhall Follett
Barbara Newhall Follett was a child genius. By the age of fourteen, the young American writer had released two highly acclaimed and bestselling novels. The precocious Follett married her first love at the age of twenty and continued to write. After three years of marriage, Follett began expressing discontent with her marriage and, as accounted by her husband, left their home after a dispute in 1939.
It would be two weeks before her husband filed a missing person’s report. This raised suspicions, but no evidence tied her husband to her disappearance, and Follett remains missing almost a century later.
The Arizona desert may hold the secret as to where Scottish singer and songwriter Licorice McKechnie could be. Born Christina McKechnie in Edinburgh in 1945, McKechnie found fame as a member of the psychedelic folk rock band “The Incredible String Band.” The band found marginal success in America, and after McKechnie left the band in 1972, she stayed in America to pursue her musical career.
The last sighting of McKechnie was hitchhiking across the Arizona Desert in 1986, but her sister mysteriously claims McKechnie was living in California in 1990. McKechnie has left no trace of her whereabouts.
American politician Thomas Hale Boggs was a high-ranking Democratic Party member at the time of his disappearance in 1972. Boggs was elected the House Majority Leader, which placed a lot of public relation responsibility on him. Boggs was en route to Alaska to campaign for Democratic candidate Nick Begich when communication with the Cessna aircraft he was traveling in was lost.
Curiously, the plane did not have an emergency locator transmitter on board even though it was required by law. This meant that any hope of finding the whereabouts of the craft and passengers was lost. Bogg was declared legally dead a month later.
Cameraman Patrick Kim McDermott made headlines as Olivia Newton John’s missing boyfriend. The Korean-born McDermott went missing after a fishing trip with a group of passengers, all unknown to him. The tour operators were oblivious to the missing passenger, and all his belongings remained on the boat.
It would be a full week later that his family would begin to investigate his absence. A highly publicized manhunt occurred, with even “Dateline NBC” and investigators setting up websites to track the missing man. Dozens of leads indicated he was living in Mexico, but none have been proven.
Theodosia Burr Alston
Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of American vice-president, Aaron Burr, boarded a boat one afternoon and sailed into obscurity. Theodosia was as prominent and famous as her vice-president father — for all the wrong reasons. Her name was smeared across dozens of tabloids as allegations were made of her and her family’s scandalous White House lifestyle.
The scrutiny and rumors proved too much, and Theodosia fell into depression. It is unknown where her fateful boat ride was headed that day, but it would be one she would never return from.
American actor Joe Pichler found a budding success in Hollywood at the age of eleven when he landed a role in the film “Varsity Blues.” Pichler would continue landing roles while he lived independently from his family in Los Angeles.
His family insisted that Pichler return to his hometown and complete his high school studies. Pichler graduated high school but disappeared in 2006 after spending an evening with friends. A note was found in his car, but his family has discounted this as indicating self-harm. Pichler has not been seen since.
Basketball superstar Bison Dele disappeared at the age of thirty-three, presumably while sailing in the middle of the South Pacific ocean. Of four people aboard the catamaran, Dele’s brother Dabord was the only person to return. Curiously, Dabord did not attempt to contact the authorities about the missing passengers, including Dele’s long-time girlfriend, Serena Karlan, as well as the boat’s skipper.
When authorities apprehended Dabord for questioning, he claimed that Bison had taken the lives of Serena and the skipper, and Dabord shot him in self-defense. Dabord took all secrets with him to the grave after overdosing on insulin later that year.
On an autumn day in 1971, a person who identified as Daniel Cooper boarded a flight from Portland to Seattle. Soon after takeoff, the peculiar passenger handed a stewardess a note grimly stating that there was a bomb in his hand luggage. He instructed the cabin crew to inform authorities that he sought $200,000 in ransom money upon landing in Seattle.
Soon after landing, the ransom was paid, and Cooper instructed the pilots to charter a course to Mexico City. Halfway to the new destination, the man donned a parachute, leaped from the rear door, and was never seen again.
Fan Binging was one of China’s top actresses. Her face was plastered everywhere and her name was known to all for over two decades. After she was accused of tax evasion the actress just disappeared off the face of the earth.
She made her last public appearance in 2018, which sparked rumors of her being arrested by the authorities. Her manager said that that was not true, and she used her social media to issue an apology. Still, she hasn't been seen since.
Art Scholl was the real-life “Top Gun” and, ironically, vanished while filming stunts for the Tom Cruise megahit. Scholl was a natural choice to provide the jet stunts for the movie after having a lifelong career as an aerobatic pilot. He was well-known in Hollywood, making an appearance in well over two hundred films and documentaries.
Scholl struggled to get his fighter jet under control while filming a spin scene for “Top Gun.” While crew and investigators are certain he crashed, the jet and Scholl’s body were never located, and the reason for the failed spin remains a mystery.
Solomon Northup would go missing twice in his life. Northup, a Black man, was born in the United States when slavery was not yet abolished. Fortunately, he was a “free man” in New York, where slavery was illegal, and he lived the life of a traveling musician and farmer. Slavers tricked Northup into thinking he was going to Washington D.C., for a musical performance, but he was kidnapped and horrifically sold into slavery in Louisiana.
Northup escaped after twelve years and spent the next four years as an abolitionist before mysteriously disappearing in 1957. No record of his death was ever recorded.
Michael Rockefeller garnered worldwide attention when he disappeared during an exploratory mission in modern-day Indonesia in 1961. The vanishing of the twenty-three-year-old American elicited a media frenzy for several highly sensationalized reasons, not least of them being that he was the grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller.
Early reports indicate that he could have fallen victim to one of the last tribes of cannibals in the region after his canoe became stranded. Maybe Rockefeller left the boat in an attempt to swim to safety? After three years of investigations, Rockefeller was declared legally deceased in 1964.
Ambrose Bierce was a literary giant amongst early American authors. His writing style and storytelling prowess influenced Ernest Hemingway, and several of his works have been listed among the most influential pieces of work in historical American literature.
Bierce's first-hand experiences as a soldier during the civil war inspired the vast majority of his short stories. After a lifetime of military retirement, he returned to the battlefield at the age of seventy-one to document the Mexican Revolution. A final letter to a friend stated that he was headed to an “unknown destination.” The destination remains unknown forever as Bierce was never heard from again.
State agents and cartels have often targeted high-profile businesspeople in China for extortion or bribery. Teddy Wang, the founder of the Chinachem group, found himself a victim of this when kidnapped in 1983 after being hijacked. His abductors held him in chains for a week before his wife paid millions of dollars for his release.
Seven years later, Wang would be kidnapped again, but this time he would not be returned. Those implicated claim he was thrown into the sea but could not substantiate their claims. Wang’s whereabouts or body were never located.
Oscar Zeta Acosta
Oscar Zeta Acosta was a firebrand of the counterculture movements sweeping across the landscape of the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. Acosta was an attorney and activist who wielded all of his efforts to bring justice to marginalized Hispanic communities.
Acosta is immortalized as Dr. Gonzo, a character in Hunter S. Thompson’s seminal work, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” He was played by Benicio Del Toro in the 1998 film of the same name. Zeta Acosta vanished in 1974 after cryptically telling his son he was “about to board a boat full of white snow” in Mexico.
Donald Scott Smith, known by his stage name Scott Smith, was a bassist for the Canadian rock band Loverboy. Smith’s chunky bass lines would help propel the band to international stardom, and they scored several top-ten singles throughout the 1980s. Smith took two friends sailing with him in November 2000.
The rock star, who was aged fifty-five at the time, was battling some heavy surges in the yacht when a rogue wave swept over the boat, taking Smith with it. A massive search party was formed, but Smith vanished and, as of today, was presumed drowned.
Chechen singer and musician Zelim Bakaev was a rising star in his homeland and soon found fame in Russia's much larger music market. Bakaev, a homosexual man, was born in the ultra-conservative Chechen Republic, where LGBTQIA+ folk are severely discriminated against, and he was banned from performing. While en route to his sister’s wedding in 2017, Chechen armed forces intercepted the vehicle he was traveling in and arrested the singer.
Bakaev disappeared without a trace, even though his family appealed to Chechen and Russian authorities to investigate. Human rights organizations believe the singer was killed as part of the anti-LGBTQIA+ agenda.
Espionage and skullduggery accusations plagued the disappearance of Australian prime minister Harold Holt in 1967. Holt’s government was facing a barrage of controversies at the time of his disappearance, and many conspiracies have tried to link the politician’s vanishing to an assassination or even faking his own death to escape his political turmoils.
Holt, an avid swimmer, was last seen swimming with a friend. Eyewitnesses claim Holt was caught in a riptide. Despite the Australian government conducting the largest manhunt in Australian history, no trace of Holt was ever discovered.
French football star Pierre "Pierrot" Bianconi vanished without a trace at the age of 31. The professional player played for a number of leagues for over a decade and racked up an impressive 175 games.
The defender’s car was located at the port of Bastia, a small town on the island of Corsica, and no word had been heard from him since December 29th, 1993. No leads of any sort arose from the investigations, and Bianconi remains missing to this day.