11 Missing Persons Cases We'd Really Like To See Solved

Despite the many advances in forensic science over the past several decades, there remain far too many missing person cases that seem impossible to solve. Some of these unsolved mysteries, like the Sodder children who may or may not have perished in a fire, are over 70 years old. Others, like the case of Bryce Laspisa, who seemingly disappeared from his car on a road trip, happened in the last decade. Although these cases all have multiple theories surrounding them, what happened to these individuals remains unanswered.

Missing person cases bring up many emotions, whether it be empathy for the missing person's family or a desire to see the guilty party brought to justice. The unfinished nature of these cases is what perhaps keeps them at the forefront of the true crime world.

While it might seem like some of these cases can't be solved, it's not impossible. This list covers some of the most hotly debated missing person cases that everyone wants to see solved.

  • Asha Degree Packed A Bag And Left Her Home In The Middle Of A Rainy Night, Never To Be Seen Again

    Asha Degree, according to her family, was a studious 9-year-old girl who was wary of strangers. But for reasons unknown, it seems she packed a book bag with a few personal items and left her home in the middle of a rainy night. Asha was last seen walking down a foggy highway in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2000.

    Asha's father had checked on her around 12:30 am and 2:30 am on February 14 and found her sleeping. It's believed she left the house sometime between the hours of 2:30 and 6:30 am. Although two truck drivers saw Asha walking down the highway around 4 am, neither of them reported the sighting. One of the drivers reportedly did turn around to check if Asha was okay but said she ran away into the woods. During the ensuing search, all police could turn up was a hair bow of Asha's, left at a nearby shed.

    Despite hundreds of tips, the investigation stalled for a year and a half, until construction workers digging an access road uncovered new evidence on August 3, 2001. Asha's backpack, containing her New Kids on the Block shirt and a Dr. Seuss book, were uncovered 30 miles from where she'd gone missing. While it seemed a promising lead, after two decades, Asha has still never been found, and no one has been charged in connection with her disappearance.

    Asha's family still believes she is alive, and her case is considered an open investigation. Her mother, Iquilla Degree, said in 2020:

    After 20 years, I still believe my daughter is alive... I do not believe she is dead. And I know someone knows something. I’m not crazy enough to think that a nine-year-old can disappear into thin air without somebody knowing something.

  • Brandon Swanson Was On The Phone With His Parents When He Seemingly Vanished Into Thin Air
    Photo: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children / missingkids.org / Fair Use

    Brandon Swanson Was On The Phone With His Parents When He Seemingly Vanished Into Thin Air

    On May 14, 2008, Brandon Swanson was driving home after celebrating the end of the semester with friends when he crashed his car into a ditch on a rural road. Swanson called his parents to come meet him, but they were unable to find him or his car, despite Swanson giving them his exact location. Swanson's parents stayed on the phone with him for 47 minutes, attempting to meet him, until he suddenly shouted an expletive and the line abruptly went dead.

    When police found Swanson's car, it was far away from where he told his parents he had crashed. Swanson has never been found. It's been theorized that Swanson could have walked off into the surrounding cornfields or fallen into a nearby river, however, his cell phone continued to work for some time after the call dropped. Others have speculated that he could have fallen into an old well on some farmland. 

  • Amy Lynn Bradley Disappeared From A Cruise Ship While On Vacation In The Caribbean
    Photo: FBI / fbi.gov / Fair Use

    Amy Lynn Bradley Disappeared From A Cruise Ship While On Vacation In The Caribbean

    Amy Lynn Bradley was 23 years old when she went on a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation with her family. At 5:30 in the morning on March 24, 1998, her father saw her lounging on the balcony of their cabin. Thirty minutes later, she was gone, even leaving her sandals behind.

    The ship was set to dock later that morning in Curacao. After they were unable to find Bradley, her family asked the crew to search the ship and not let anyone off before Bradley was found. While a search was conducted of the common areas, staff and passenger cabins were not included. The crew also refused to make an announcement before the ship was docked, not wanting to upset the passengers. Passengers were let off at Curacao, allowing the opportunity for Bradley to leave the ship either of her own accord or by force.

    Bradley had danced with a man the night before she disappeared, and some passengers claimed they saw her with the same man the morning she went missing. Bradley's parents have also stated that crew members paid an unusual amount of attention to Bradley. They apparently wanted to take her to Carlos and Charlie's Restaurant in Aruba, the same restaurant where Natalee Holloway would last be seen in 2005.

    In the years since, there have been multiple reported sightings of Bradley. Five months after her disappearance, two tourists saw a woman on a beach in Curacao with the same tattoos as Bradley. In 1999, a member of the Navy reportedly met a woman in a Curacao brothel who told him her name was Amy Lynn Bradley and asked him for help. However, he delayed reporting the sighting, as he didn't want to get in trouble. Other alleged sightings over the years have led to the theory that Bradley may have been a target of sex trafficking.

  • Some Believed The Four Sodder Children Perished In A Christmas Fire, But The Evidence Didn’t Add Up

    On the night before Christmas in 1945, the home of George and Jennie Sodder burst into flames. Although the Sodders and four of their children were able to escape, they believed that five of the children, Maurice, 14; Martha 12; Louis, 9; Jennie, 8; and Betty, 5, were still in the house. George attempted to get in to rescue them multiple times. With the stairs engulfed in flames, he tried to get in through the back window, but the ladder he kept there was missing. He then tried to back up his coal truck to reach the window, but it wouldn't start. By the time the fire department finally arrived, the Sodder house had burned to the ground.

    While it seemed at first that children perished in the fire, no human remains were found. The fire was blamed on "faulty wiring," but it didn't appear that the blaze was long enough to cremate five bodies and leave no remains. Adding to the mystery, the phone line to the home had been cut, and neighbors had seen a man lurking outside the home that night.

    The Sodder family believed that the five children had been taken and spent decades searching for them. What seemed like a promising clue came in 1968, when Jennie received an envelope in the mail, postmarked in Kentucky. Inside was a photo of a man in his 20s, with a handwritten note that said, “Louis Sodder. I love brother Frankie. Ilil Boys. A90132 or 35." The Sodders saw the resemblance to their missing son, but no leads were found.

    George Sodder passed in 1968, and Jennie became reclusive, wearing only black, until her 1989 passing. In 2021, Sylvia, the youngest of the Sodder clan, passed at age 79, believing, as her parents had, that her siblings hadn't passed in the fire.

    As George Sodder was an Italian immigrant known for his opposition to Mussolini, some believe the mafia may have been involved in the children's disappearance, but the theory has never been proven. George had reported several strange incidents leading up to the fire. A stranger had shown up looking for work a few months before. Pointing to the fuse box he said, "This is going to cause a fire someday," though George had recently had the wiring checked. Another man had tried to sell him life insurance. When George declined, he allegedly told him, "Your goddamn house is going up in smoke, and your children are going to be destroyed. You are going to be paid for the dirty remarks you have been making about Mussolini."

  • Brian Shaffer Walked Into A Bar And Seemingly Never Walked Out
    Photo: @OhioAG / Twitter

    Brian Shaffer Walked Into A Bar And Seemingly Never Walked Out

    Brian Shaffer was last seen at an Ohio bar in 2006, but no one saw him leave. Odder still, neither did security cameras. While CCTV footage showed Shaffer reentering the Ugly Tuna Saloona, it never showed him exiting. 

    It took over 48 hours for Shaffer's loved ones to realize he was missing, and they said he had no reason to run away; Shaffer was a promising med student and was supposedly planning to propose to his girlfriend. Shaffer's apartment appeared untouched, and his car was found in the parking lot. There was no evidence of foul play, but there was also no activity on his cellphone or credit cards.

    There have been numerous theories about Shaffer's disappearance, especially on how he left the bar undetected. The Ugly Tuna Saloona did have a back exit, but it wasn't meant to be used by patrons and led to a construction site. Some suggest Shaffer could have exited that route and accidentally gotten hurt. Others theorize foul play was involved or that Shaffer somehow died inside the bar and the construction site could have been used to hide his body. 

  • Maura Murray Got Into A Car Accident And Was Never Seen Again

    Maura Murray crashed her car into a snowbank along a rural New Hampshire road on February 9, 2004. Despite witness accounts that she was in or near her car after the accident, police could find no trace of Murray in the surrounding area.

    Murray was a 21-year-old nursing student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, who had emailed her professors the afternoon before she disappeared, saying she would miss class due to a death in the family. However, there had been no death in Murray's family. Upon searching her dorm room, police discovered Murray had packed up most of her belongings. She had also searched the previous day for directions to Burlington, Vermont, which were found in her car. She'd called about accommodations in Stowe, Vermont, but hadn't booked anything.

    Some theorize Murray met with foul play and was the victim of an opportunistic criminal after the car accident. Others believe she fled the scene and may have wandered into the woods where she perished from the elements. As police dogs were unable to follow her scent, though, others think a second car was following Murray and picked her up, and that she disappeared to start a new life.