Backpackers Who Mysteriously And Tragically Disappeared
The practice of backpacking comes with all sorts of risks, the least of which is ending up on a list of the many backpacker disappearances over the years. Given the various creepy experiences backpackers go through, it comes as little surprise that some missing backpackers never get the chance to tell their own stories. No one location remains safe, with backpackers vanishing everywhere from urban centers to national parks to their own hostels.
The backpackers who disappeared in these reports all vanished mysteriously; while a few of these travel nightmares end with some closure, the vast majority of backpackers who disappeared did so without rhyme or reason. Even the bodies unearthed offer little evidence, in some cases being found hundreds of miles away from where they disappeared.
A Hitchhiker In Canada Mysteriously Vanished After An All-Night Party
In 1989, a 20-year-old backpacker by the name of Charles Horvath decided to embark on a months-long, cross-country hitchhiking trip in Canada. He arrived in British Columbia and was staying at a campground in Kelowna when he disappeared.
Horvath contacted his mother Denise Allan saying he would meet her in Hong Kong for his 21st birthday. When some time passed and she never heard from him, Allan became worried, especially because Horvath maintained constant contact up until that point. She traveled to British Columbia to try to find him, but when she arrived at the campground, she found out that he left his tent and all of his possessions.
Allan started posting missing persons flyers and publicizing her son's disappearance. She returned one day to her hotel room to find a note that said, "I seen him May 26. We were partying and two people knocked him out. But he died. His body is in a lake by the bridge." Divers searched the lake but never found his body. After Denise was contacted a second time, she told police they were looking on the wrong side of the bridge, so they launched another search. A body was uncovered, but it turned out to be a local resident who committed suicide. Horvath's body was never found, but a witness did come forward saying he attended an all-night party before he disappeared.
Two Dutch Tourists Disappeared On A Hike In Panama
Dutch tourists Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon both in their 20s, traveled to Panama to study Spanish. They mysteriously vanished on April 1, 2014, after taking a hike near the town of Boquete. Though the girls' bodies haven't been found, locals found small bone fragments and a backpack they believed was owned by one of the women. In addition to a pelvic bone, police found a hiking boot with a severed foot still inside. DNA tests confirmed their suspicions, but the reason for the disappearance remains a mystery. Police believe the girls possibly got injured and died after having no food and water.
A camera recovered from the backpack offered some clues. It contained photos taken during the 10 days the pair were missing. Based on cellphone data, the girls tried to contact 911 only a few hours after one of the pictures was taken, but there was no cellphone reception. The camera also showed a mysterious photo of what looks like red plastic stuck to a twig that was taken eight days after the girls disappeared. At least 90 photos were taken in total darkness 10 days after the girls disappeared – but who could have taken them?
A 23-Year-Old Girl Disappeared On A Hiking Trip In Nepal
Twenty-three-year-old Aubrey Sacco never returned home from her solo, week-long trek in Nepal's Langtang National Park. While backpacking across Asia in 2010, Sacco kept in constant contact with her parents. After a few days of no contact, Sacco's mother alerted the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, who told her that civil unrest in Nepal may have delayed their daughter. After three more days and no word from Sacco, her father and older brother flew from their home in Colorado to Kathmandu to join the search party. Between May and July of 2014, over 200 people searched the Himalayan Mountains near the Tibetan border. They searched the main trail, both sides of the river and smaller paths and monasteries hidden in the hills, but she was never found.
Scott MacLennan, who led medical trips in Langtang for a decade and joined Sacco's father on his search, believed she became the victim of abusive army soldiers who act as rangers in the national park. In July of 2010, three French women reported being sexually assaulted by soldiers manning a check post near where Sacco vanished. While this is the soundest possibility, it's just one theory.
Some locals conjecture that Sacco drowned trying to cross the river in Kathmandu's tough terrain. Others say they saw Sacco get into a helicopter in Langtang Village. Some believe she was killed by a hunter, and others say her disappearance was sacrificial. She was possibly killed by witches who worship Kali, the Hindu goddess of death. Regardless of what happened, Sacco has never been found.
Two British Women Disappear In The Australian Outback
Caroline Clarke and Joanne Walters were just 22 years old when they vanished in April of 1992, after leaving a backpackers' hotel in Sydney, Australia. Both of the women worked a number of short-term jobs to support their backpacking lifestyle, and managed to stay in touch with their families in Britain.
Right before Walters and Clarke disappeared, Walters told her family that she planned to travel to Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory and China before going home. Meanwhile, Clarke wrote to a friend outlining plans to travel to Western and Central Australia. Some time after this, the women disappeared. Australian immigration records show neither of them left the country, and their bank accounts and phones had not been used since that day.
When both of the women's families failed to hear from the girls in two months, police launched a nationwide search. They set up a hotline which got swamped with calls, claiming the girls worked as cooks in the small town of Mount Isa or that they were seen in Alice Springs and Yulara in the Northern Territory. In September of that year, the bodies of Clarke and Walters were found in the Belanglo State Forest. Walters had been stabbed 14 times, and Clarke had been shot 10 times. Police believe she was used as target practice by Ivan Milat, a serial killer who was convicted in 1996 and thought to be responsible for seven disappearances.
Woman Disappeared In Philadelphia, Mysteriously Found Dead In North Carolina
In 1997, Judy Smith joined her husband Jeffrey Smith on his business trip to Philadelphia. Jeffrey was attending a conference, so Judy went sightseeing in the city by herself, and she never returned. Five months later, hikers came across her partially buried, decomposing body in an isolated mountain area in North Carolina – over 600 miles from Philly.
Police could never determine how Judy Smith died, but believed it was a murder. They ruled out robbery as Smith still had her wedding ring and $167 in cash. Mysteriously, a blue backpack was found at the scene, though Smith carried a red backpack. There were even indications that Judy traveled to the area voluntarily. Witnesses placed her in Asheville, and said she was in a friendly mood. She told witnesses that her husband was a lawyer, but a friend reports that Judy's marriage was sometimes difficult and she wanted to temporarily get away. Her adult children from another marriage believed Judy was in love with Jeffrey and would never disappear on purpose. No one could ever figure out why a woman with a family would disappear on her own or how she could have ended up dead on a mountain hundreds of miles from where she disappeared.
A 27-Year-Old British Backpacker Disappeared In Mexico
Back in 2000, 27 year old Brenda Searle planned to meet her Dutch boyfriend Andre Van Der Vooren in Chichen Itza, an archeological site in southern Mexico. A globally traveled backpacker, Searle flew to Mexico alone, but never made it to her destination. After her mysterious disappearance, her credit card was used to withdraw over £1,000.
Searle's family, friends, and co-workers organized a search party for the missing woman. Eight of her friends flew out to Mexico to join in the search, and eight months later she was found murdered. Police arrested a Cuban man who had used her credit card, who eventually led them to the woman's remains hidden under a shrub on the side of a random road.