There is something fascinating about stories of people who disappear without a trace. It could be a child who goes missing from their bed in the middle of the night, a woman who says she is just popping out and never comes back or a man who leaves the house one day and is never seen again.
Whatever the circumstances perhaps it is the thought that if these ordinary, everyday people can vanish into thin air, what is there to stop the same thing happening to you?
Some of these cases are decades old, some are quite recent, but all of them have one thing in common, although there may be plenty of theories about how the central figures disappeared or about what happened to them, nobody really knows for sure.
15 A Dallas Double Disappearance
Susan Renee Smalley and Stacie Elisabeth Madison were both spending the night at Susan's house in Carrollton Texas. Considered responsible teenagers they were in their senior year of high school when, on March 20th, 1988 they vanished without a trace.
Two young women matching their description tried to buy beer at a local 7-11 in the early hours of the morning but were refused, and the last confirmed sighting was shortly after this, at the Stake & Ale where Susan worked as a waitress.
Susans mom called the police when she discovered them missing when she got up that morning, and their car was found parked and locked in a strip mall in Dallas, complete with personal items still inside. The money in Stacie’s savings account was never touched.
Stacie's boyfriend confessed to killing the girls and burying them in the local cemetery, but a thorough search found no trace of them. The boyfriend later recanted his confession and passed a polygraph test.
No trace of either of them has ever been found.
14 Last Seen In Washington
Leah Roberts, aged 23, left her home in North Carolina, on March 10th, taking clothes, belongings and her cat Bea. A note was left behind along with money to cover her half of expenses and the suggestion she would be back within about a month.
On March 18th Leah’s vehicle was discovered, crashed at the bottom of an embankment on a small side route of the Mount Baker Highway in Washington. Belongings, including a pair of pants that had $2500 in the pocket, were scattered around the area and although the car had rolled over several times, there was no indication anyone had been in the vehicle at the time. This theory was supported when it was discovered a wire to the starter motor had been cut allowing the car to accelerate without a foot on the pedal.
One tip was received that Leah had been seen walking along the road, another suggested she left a diner with a mystery man named “Barry.” Neither tip can be substantiated or ruled out.
13 Valentine's Day Mystery
At 6:30 am on Valentines Day, 2000 Asha Degree, aged 9, was found to be missing from her bed. Asha’s father had seen her in bed at 2:30 and her brother, who shared the room with her had heard her bed squeak but heard nothing else.
Asha’s school bag and some clothes were missing, and several witnesses came forward to say they had seen a girl matching her description walking along the highway between 3:30 am and 4:14 am. The girl had no coat or outer clothes on, and it was pouring with rain. Only one of these witnesses stopped to see if she was OK and the girls ran off into the woods.
A hair bow and some candy wrappers were found in a shed at the end of a long driveway less than 36 hours after she disappeared and 18 months later her bag, with all of her belongings was found, buried and wrapped in plastic 26 miles away.
Asha had no reason to run away from home. Valentine's Day was her parent's Wedding Anniversary, and it is thought especially unlikely she would choose that day to disappear.
12 Terrance Williams And Felipe Santos
These two young men disappeared in the same Florida town, in the same circumstances, 3 ½ months apart.
On October 1st, 2003 Felipe Santos and his two brothers were driving to work when at around 6:30 am they were involved in a minor fender bender. Santos was arrested for driving without a license and reckless driving and was last seen in the back of the patrol car of Collier County sheriff's deputy Steve Calkins. Calkins claimed that as Santos was polite and cooperative, a claim denied by the other driver in the crash, he dropped him off at a Circle K and let him go.
On January 12, 2004, Terrance Williams was last seen getting into the patrol car of the same deputy who claimed, again, that he had changed his mind about the arrest and dropped him off at Circle K.
Calkin gave multiple conflicting statements, saying he did not remember towing Williams’ car, did not arrest anyone that day, called Circle K to find Williams and more all of which were proved through phone records and surveillance tapes to be untrue.
An internal inquiry and an FBI investigation failed to lay charges or to find any trace of the men.
11 Lies About A Family Death
Maura Murray was a nursing student who emailed her professors on February 9th, 2004 explaining there had been a death in the family and that she was taking a week off. In the week before she had been found sobbing at her on-campus job, supposedly concerned about her sister's relationship. The girl's father visited on Feb 7th to help Maura buy a new car and on the way home from a campus party on the 8th Maura crashed her father's car into a guardrail. All damage was covered by insurance.
On the 9th Maura printed out driving directions for two destinations, made calls to book a room or a holiday condo and drove off campus. An ATM withdrawal of $280 at 3:40 was followed by a purchase of $40 at a liquor store and CCTV footage showed her to be alone and unharmed.
At 7:27 pm a Grafton Police received an accident report. When they attended, they found Maura's car crashed into a snowbank, locked and with all but her atm cards, phone and wallet inside. Maura was even at the roadside but disappeared without a trace before the police arrived. Her cards and phone were never used.
10 Into Thin Air At A Playground
On March 24, 1991, Michael Wayne Dunahee was four years old when his mother took him along to a park where she was playing a game of flag football in Victoria British Columbia. Michael's father was watching from the sideline, and Michael asked to play on the playground equipment. The equipment was within clear sight of the playing field, and the sideline and Michael was allowed to play.
Within moments he had disappeared. The police were called, and an extensive search of the area was carried out immediately. Everyone present was questioned, but nobody had seen or heard anyone or anything except for one witness who may have seen a brown van, but this was uncorroborated.
Multiple sightings have been reported as far away as New Jersey, but none have panned out. A convicted child molester and murderer in Milwaukee was found to have a flyer about Michael's disappearance among other missing child reports, but no connection was found.
9 Bizarre Happenings In Florida
Being a 40-year-old sufferer of bipolar with a recent history of drug and alcohol use as well as a criminal record for some minor offenses made Diane Augat a low priority when she was reported missing. The last confirmed sighting of Diane was on April 11th, 1998 when she was seen walking at the side of the road.
On April 13th Diane’s mother was out when Diane called and left the following message:
"Help! Help! Let me out" Her mom also said there was scuffling in the background then Diane said "Hey, give me that!" before the line went dead.
Two days later the severed tip of Diane’s middle finger from her right hand was discovered next to where she was last seen on US 19. When Diane went missing her nails were painted green, but the nail on the fingertip had been painted red.
A further two days later a bag of Diane's clothes was found in the freezer of a local convenience store, wrapped in plastic and neatly folded.
Two years later in what could be coincidental or suspicious Diane’s sister-in-law discovered a Ziploc bag with Diane written on it at another convenience store. The bag had items that Diane’s mother confirmed were of the same brand Diane used. Nothing else has ever been found.
8 Dorm Room Gamer Vanishes
William Howell is a sergeant for the sheriff's department homicide bureau and the only case that has ever caused him sleepless nights is the case of Michael Negrete.
Negrete was a freshman at UCLA, on a musician's scholarship. He was popular, was never in trouble, had good grades and apparently no problems. On Dec 10, 1999, Michael was playing video games with dorm mates, and at around 4:00 am he signed off, went outside and high-fived the student he was playing with, turned to go back to his room and has not been seen or heard from since.
Michael's dorm key, money, and all other items were left in his dorm. Scent dogs followed a convoluted trail through campus to a bus stop, but police say this could have been some different tracks from different times. No activity has been recorded on his ATM card, no CCTV footage of him has been found, and police suspect foul play.
7 Parent's Nightmare Or Sinister Parent?
Deborah Bradley checked on her ten-month-old daughter Lisa at 6:40 pm on October 4, 2011, when she was tucked in and fast asleep. When Lisa's dad Jeremy Irwin came home at around 4:00 am lots of lights were on, a window was open, and the front door was unlocked. Jeremy checked on Lisa and discovered her gone.
Two witnesses said they saw a man walking down the road with a baby but when they questioned a man who matched the description of one witness the second witness said it was a different person.
A cadaver dog reacted near Deborah's bed, burnt baby clothes were found in a neighborhood dumpster, and cell phones stolen from the house were repeatedly used in the area. Police also said Deborah failed a lie detector test and said she did not check around the house when her daughter disappeared because she was “scared of what she might find.”
6 The last Cruise
Rebecca Coriam was, according to all who knew her, a bubbly, happy young woman who enjoyed her work as a counselor for children on Disney Cruises. On March 22, 2011, Rebecca's mom was expecting a phone call from her daughter but instead received a call from Disney Cruises to say Rebecca was missing.
At 5:45 am Rebecca was captured on surveillance tape making a phone call in the crew quarters. She was wearing men's clothes and was obviously upset. When she failed to report for work at 9:00 am she was paged and eventually declared missing.
As the ship was registered in the Bahamas, the Royal Bahamas Police had jurisdiction to investigate. They spent one day on board, interviewed a handful of staff and no passengers and declared Rebecca had fallen overboard from deck five, the same story as Disney.
Multiple inaccuracies, missing evidence, allegedly fabricated evidence and secrecy surround Rebecca's disappearance. Possible sightings have proved false.
5 Russian Gangsters And Vampire Clubs
On July 16, 1996, Susan Walsh left her apartment block in New Jersey and had not been seen since. Walsh and her husband were separated but lived in the same neighborhood, and she dropped off their 12-year-old son with her husband and said she would be back in half an hour, taking nothing with her. Susan was believed to have been going to make a call at a nearby public phone but that is speculation, and her family has said she would never willingly leave her son.
Just before disappearing Susan had been the lead researcher on a book about Russian organized crime and strippers, as well as having an article of her own published on the subject. She had also been investigating the underground vampire club culture in New York City and had apparently become close to a man who claimed to be a vampire.
There has not been a single sighting of Susan since that day.
4 Triple Puzzle
Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall left a graduation party at around 2:00 am on June 7, 1992, and decided to spend the night at Susie's house. At 8:00 am a friend called the house as they had plans and received no answer and at 9:00 am came to the house and found the door open, and the globe lights on the porch smashed. The friend went inside and found all of their belongs there and nothing to suggest anything odd. While she was there, the friend answered the phone then hung up when a man made lewd comments to her.
Many people came and went before the police were called, contaminating the crime scene. The women's purses were strangely lined up outside one bedroom, Stacey's underwear and a t-shirt were missing, but the rest of her clothes were there. A witness reported a van which set off a cascade of sightings of vans in the area. Multiple suspects have been questioned, and an independent investigator paid for ground penetrating radar investigation of a nearby hospital parking lot that was under construction at the time. The radar fond three anomalies but the car park have not been dug up.
3 A Parent's Worst Nightmare
At around 6:15 am on July 17, 1986, the parents of Christopher Abeyta went to check their 7-month-old son and discovered an empty crib. The front door was, as always, unlocked, a basement window was open, and a garage door opener was missing.
Initially, the parents, who had been separated, were suspects. This had been the first night Christopher's father, Gil had spent in the family home for some months.
Six months before the abduction the Abeytas had received some crank calls where the caller hung up when they answered. These calls stopped when Christopher disappeared resuming several months later and were traced to Emma Bradshaw, a women Gil Abeyta had ended an affair with. The same woman had the previous arrest for stalking the family of another married man she had had an affair with, breaking into their home and threatening their children.
2 Mom Missing From Home
Dave Butler returned from his nightshift at work after running a few errands and having breakfast with his mom on the way home. The house was locked, and when he went inside, he discovered the couple's four-year-old son hiding under the cover on Dave and his wife Teresa's bed. Their two-year-old son was laying on a love seat at the foot of the bed with a full diaper and an empty bottle.
Teresa's wedding ring was still on the bedside table, her jacket was hanging up, and her Jeep was parked outside. A video camera, some games consoles and games, a digital camera, Teresa's purse, her cell phone and her car stereo were all missing as well as Teresa herself.
This took place on January 25, 2006, and no trace of the 35-year-old mother has been found since.
Two calls were made from Teresa's phone in the early hour of that morning. The first went unanswered and the second was answered, but all that was heard was empty air. Both calls were made to complete strangers who have no connection to Teressa, her work or her family.
1 Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
When 239 people boarded flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, to its destination, Beijing Capital International Airport in China. They had no way of knowing they were about to vanish in one of the world's most perplexing mysterious disappearances.
The flight last made contact with air traffic control at 01:19 MYT, 8 March 2014 and disappeared from their screens at 01:22. The flight left Malaysian military radar at 02:22 and the plane and all onboard became the subject of the largest multinational search effort ever mounted.
At 01:52, Flight 370 was detected passing just south of Penang Island and Inmarsat; a global satellite system had automated communication with the aircraft until 08:19 but no human contact.
Multiple theories abound including sabotage, hypoxia, and pilot suicide but without the wreckage, nothing may ever be proved.
Sources: The Charley Project, The National Center For Missing And Exploited Children, The National Center For Missing Adults, The Doe Network, KFVS12, LA Times, KCTV5, People.com, Huffington Post, GreeningZ, Unsolved.com