People Who Disappeared Mysteriously People

People Who Disappeared Mysteriously

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List of men and women throughout world history who have disappeared under mysterious or unknown circumstances. The list includes the disappearances of all manner of individuals who vanished at various periods throughout human history, including explorers, monarchs and leaders, colonists, philosophers and thinkers, scientists, outlaws and authors. Aviator Amelia Earhart is probably the most famous inclusion from US History, and England's King Edward V may be among its most significant cases in terms of world politics.

These people who disappeared mysteriously present some of the most intriguing historical puzzles around, especially when their unexplained disappearances stay open for years. Mysterious disappearances can vary from suspected political assassinations to cases where somebody goes out in a boat, never to be heard from again. Regardless of the circumstances, they're always fascinating and often tragic.

What people disappeared mysteriously and have never been found? In some cases, the disappearances were widely discussed and the missing individuals became pop culture icons. (For example, DB Cooper, the unidentified man who, in 1971, hijacked a plane and then parachuted away into obscurity.) In other cases, the people remained obscure and forgotten, such as Louis Le Prince, the influential cinema innovator who disappeared off of a train in 1890.

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  1. Amelia Earhart
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain
    Amelia Earhart disappeared in 1937 during an attempt at a circumnavigational flight around the world. After becoming the first female to complete a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932, Earhart toured the US on a lecture circuit, seeking to empower other females to pursue aviation as she had.

    In 1937, the renowned aviator embarked twice on an attempt to complete a 29,000 mile flight around the world. The West to East route, which started in Oakland, CA, would see Earhart traverse 22,000 miles to Lae, New Guinea. On the flight's final stretch across the Pacific, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan lost communication and were never seen again.

    Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this record. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was ...more

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    • Birthplace: Atchison, Kansas, United States of America
    • Profession: Pilot, Writer
  2. Madeleine McCann

    Madeleine McCann disappeared in Portugal during a family vacation from the UK in 2007. The girl had been in a hotel room with her younger siblings just 160 feet away from a restaurant where her parents were dining when her mother discovered she was missing. The family fell under intense scrutiny when Portuguese police falsely concluded the girl had been murdered in the room. Madeleine remains missing to this day.
  3. Jimmy Hoffa
    Photo: Freebase
    Jimmy Hoffa was a powerful Union leader who served as President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1958-1971. Hoffa had powerful ties to organized crime and was last known to have been attending a meeting with two mob leaders at a Detroit restaurant when he disappeared in 1975.

    James Riddle "Jimmy" Hoffa was an American labor union leader who vanished in late July 1975, aged 62. He is widely believed to have been murdered. Hoffa was a union activist from a young age, and was an important regional figure with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union by his mid-twenties.more

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    • Age: Died at 69 (1913-1982)
    • Birthplace: Brazil, Indiana, United States of America
    • Profession: Trade unionist
  4. Natalee Holloway
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use
    While on vacation in Aruba to celebrate her high school graduation, Natalee Holloway disappeared sometime before she was set to embark on her return trip to the US. Three local men, Joran van der Sloot and Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, were last seen with the young woman early in the morning on May 30th, 2005 leaving a bar. While the men were all arrested on more than one occasion, no arrests were ever made in the case.

    Natalee Ann Holloway disappeared on May 30, 2005, while on a high school graduation trip to Aruba. Holloway, an 18-year-old American, lived in Mountain Brook, Alabama, USA, at the time of her vanishing, and graduated from Mountain Brook High School on May 24, 2005, shortly before the trip. Her ...more

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    • Birthplace: Mountain Brook, Jefferson County, Alabama, United States of America, North America
  5. Ambrose Bierce
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain
    A noted journalist and author, Ambrose Bierce disappeared while travelling with rebel troops to gain first-hand knowledge of the Mexican Revolution in 1914.

    Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist, and satirist. He wrote the short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and compiled a satirical lexicon, The Devil's Dictionary. His vehemence as a critic, his motto "Nothing matters", and the sardonic ...more

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    • Age: Died at 72 (1842-1914)
    • Birthplace: Ohio, United States, with Territories, Meigs County
    • Profession: Journalist, Novelist, Satirist, Author, Writer
    • Credits: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, American Torso, Ambrose Bierce: Civil War Stories, The Man and the Snake, My Name Is Boffer Bings, + more
  6. Glenn Miller
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain
    Popular on the big band scene in the US, Glenn Miller joined the Army in 1942 to aid the war effort by creating a modernized Army band. Captain Miller was being flown via single engine plane from the UK to Paris, France when his plane disappeared in 1944 over the English Channel.

    Alton Glenn Miller was an American big band musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era. He was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943, leading one of the best known big bands. Miller's notable recordings include "In the Mood", "Moonlight Serenade", "Pennsylvania 6-5000", ...more

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    • Age: Died at 40 (1904-1944)
    • Birthplace: Clarinda, Iowa, United States of America
    • Profession: Film Score Composer, Musician, Bandleader, Composer, Trombonist
    • Credits: The Glenn Miller Story, Taking Sides, The Bishop's Bedroom, Singapore Sling
  7. Sean Flynn
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain
    Sean Flynn, the only child of actor Errol Flynn and Lili Damita, disappeared while on assignment for Time magazine in Cambodia in 1970. He and Dana Stone, reporting for CBS News, were captured by communist guerrillas and never seen again.

    Sean Leslie Flynn was an American actor and freelance photojournalist best known for his coverage of the Vietnam War. Flynn was the only child of Australian-American actor Errol Flynn and his first wife, French actress Lili Damita. After studying briefly at Duke University, he embarked on an acting ...more

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    • Age: Died at 30 (1941-1971)
    • Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America
    • Profession: Journalist, Actor, Photographer
    • Credits: Stop Train 349, Son of Captain Blood, Il segno di Zorro, Five Ashore in Singapore
  8. D. B. Cooper
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain
    The perpetrator of the only unsolved air piracy case in US history, D.B. Cooper hijacked a Boeing 727 en route from Portland, OR to Seattle, WA in 1971. He indicated to a flight attendant on board that he had a bomb in his briefcase and demanded a $200,000 ransom be paid when the aircraft landed in Seattle. Cooper's demands were met and, after releasing the passengers and the bulk of the crew, the plane was reloaded and set off for Mexico (with a planned refueling stop in Reno, NV).

    Less than half an hour into the flight the crew, who had been ordered to congregate in the cockpit, noticed a door had been open in the aft cabin and the rear stairs deployed. It is assumed that Cooper parachuted from the plane while it was in motion and was never seen again.

    D. B. Cooper is a media epithet popularly used to refer to an unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in the airspace between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, on November 24, 1971, extorted $200,000 in ransom, and parachuted to an uncertain fate. Despite an extensive manhunt and an ...more

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    • Profession: Criminal
    • Credits: NewsRadio
  9. Raoul Wallenberg
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain
    A symbol of humanitarian efforts during WWII, Raoul Wallenberg rescued tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary by issuing protective passports and giving them refuge in Swedish designated areas in the country. Wallenberg was detained by KGB operatives in 1945 and disappeared later that year.

    Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg was a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat and humanitarian. He is widely celebrated for saving tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from Hungarian Fascists and the Nazis during the later stages of World War II. While serving as Sweden's ...more

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    • Age: Died at 35 (1912-1947)
    • Birthplace: Lidingö Municipality, Sweden
    • Profession: Businessperson, Diplomat, Humanitarian, Architect
  10. John Cabot
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain
    Disappeared along with his five ships during an expedition to find a western route from Europe to Asia in 1499.

    John Cabot was an Italian navigator and explorer whose 1497 discovery of parts of North America under the commission of Henry VII of England is commonly held to have been the first European encounter with the mainland of North America since the Norse Vikings visits to Vinland in the eleventh century.more

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    • Birthplace: Italy
    • Profession: Explorer
  11. Arthur I

    Disappeared in 1203 while under arrest at the Château de Falaise in France.
  12. Francisco de Orellana
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain
    Disappeared while exploring the Amazon in 1546.

    Francisco de Orellana was a Spanish explorer and conquistador. He completed the first known navigation of the entire length of the Amazon River, which initially was named "Rio de Orellana." He also founded the city of Guayaquil in what is now Ecuador.more

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    • Age: Died at 35 (1511-1546)
    • Birthplace: Trujillo, Cáceres, Spain
    • Profession: Conquistador
  13. William Morgan
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain
    William Morgan disappeared in 1826 after threats to publish a book exposing the secrets of the Free Masons.

    William Morgan was Bishop of Llandaff and of St Asaph, and the translator of the first version of the whole Bible into Welsh from Greek and Hebrew.more

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    • Age: Died at 59 (1545-1604)
    • Birthplace: Wales
  14. Ambiorix

    Disappeared in 53 BC after Caesar invaded Belgium. He and his men are said to have crossed the Rhine River, never to be seen again.
  15. Subhas Chandra Bose

    Disappeared after a plane crash in Taiwan in 1945.
  16. Disappeared when his Cessna 310 went missing over the ocean during a night flight from Camagüey to Havana in 1959.

    Camilo Cienfuegos Gorriarán was a Cuban revolutionary born in Lawton, Havana. Raised in an anarchist family that had left Spain before the Spanish Civil War, he became a key figure of the Cuban Revolution, along with Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Juan Almeida Bosque, and Raúl Castro.more

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    • Age: Died at 27 (1932-1959)
    • Birthplace: Havana, Cuba
  17. Richey Edwards

    The guitar player for the Manic Street Preachers disappeared in 1995 at the age of 27. While sightings and clues persisted for the weeks following his disappearance, the famed musician was never found.
  18. Ettore Majorana
    Photo: Kanijoman
    Disappeared during a boat trip from Naples to Palermo in 1938.

    Ettore Majorana was an Italian theoretical physicist who worked on neutrino masses. He disappeared suddenly under mysterious circumstances while going by ship from Palermo to Naples. The Majorana equation and Majorana fermions are named after him. In 2006, the Majorana Prize was established in his ...more

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    • Age: Died at 32 (1906-1938)
    • Birthplace: Catania, Italy
    • Profession: Physicist
  19. The American businessman, who is credited with almost single-handedly saving the Thai silk business in the 1950s and 60s, disappeared in 1967 while taking a walk near his bungalow in 1967.

    Jim Thompson was an American businessman who helped revitalize the Thai silk industry in the 1950s and 1960s. At the time of his disappearance he was one of the most famous Americans living in Asia.more

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    • Birthplace: Greenville, Delaware, United States of America
    • Profession: Businessperson
  20. Renee MacRae
    Photo: Freebase
    The longest running missing persons case in the Britain, the disappearance of Renee MacRae and her 3-year-old son Andrew disappeared in 1976 while driving on the A9. MacRae's burning BMW was spotted and discovered to contain a rug stained with blood of her type, but nothing more. Neither mother nor son were ever found.

    Renee MacRae is a Scottish woman who is missing, presumed to have been murdered. Her disappearance along with her son is currently Britain's longest running missing persons case, and in Scotland the case is as notorious as Glasgow's Bible John murders. Nobody was charged with the murders, and the case ...more

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    • Age: age 75
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