Whether it is the recent disappearance of Malaysian Airline flight MH370 or mystery of The Bermuda Triangle, every once in a while, it so happens that someone goes missing and the circumstances behind their disappearance remain unknown and mysterious. Media outlets are quick to jump on stories like these because they bring in all the good ratings while keeping the attention of the general public. Some of these are also subject to massive search operations, dead ends and much more drama.
In short, a missing persons case motivates all sorts of fears and horrific deductions, leaving everyone aching for closure. Such is the case with this list of famous people over the years who mysteriously disappeared. While some were found, either dead or alive, others remain controversially undiscovered to date.
15. Playboy Pin-up Model: Bettie Page
Bettie Mae Page was an American model who gained significant recognition in the 1950s for her pin-up photography. A beautiful, intelligent, curvy woman with jet black hair worn in bangs over her blue eyes, Page was a sensational figure in fashion and sexuality that faded out after an infamous politically fuelled public interrogation that indirectly implicated her in a murder. After becoming the subject of this public shaming, Page soon severed all contact with her past life and disappeared in 1958 for almost 40 years. There were many speculations as to what had become of her over the years until all questions were put to rest in the documentary “Bettie Page Reveals All”. Page suffered from mental illness throughout most of her days and died from cardiac arrest in 2008.
14. Boyfriend of Singer-Actress Olivia Newton John: Patrick McDermott
Probably the most sensational disappearance and one that people find hard to accept is that of Patrick McDermott. Formally married to Yvette Nipar who he fathered a son with, McDermott was the 9-year boyfriend of actress and singer Olivia Newton-John when he went missing in 2005. McDermott was one of the 22 passengers on the fishing boat Freedom that left from the San Pedro marina for an overnight fishing trip, from which he never returned. His absence became noticed 6 days later when he failed to show up at a family event. Investigations into his disappearance were fruitless and it was concluded that he fell off the boat and drowned. However, many speculated that he had faked his own death to avoid debts which included $8000 in child support to his ex-wife. His disappearance led to an undercover private investigation led by Philip Klein in 2010, which was featured on Dateline NBC, and claimed that he was alive and well in Mexico and wanted to be left alone. But no substantial proof was ever provided. In 2016, the weekly magazine “Woman’s Day” claimed that McDermott was “healthy and alive” living with his new girlfriend in Mexico.
13. Australia’s 17th Prime Minister: Harold Holt
If you think that a being a strong swimmer can save you from the viciousness of the water, think again. Australia’s 17th prime minister in 1967, Harold Holt, was at the Cheviot Beach near Portsea Victoria enjoying a relaxing day with his companions. An excellent swimmer with a great love for the waters, the strong deadly currents and tides didn’t deter Mr. Holts decision to go for a swim. And that’s when he disappeared, never to resurface from the waters again. No amount of searching was enough to recover the prime minister’s body, finally declaring him dead. Popular beliefs hold that at some point the current must have gotten overwhelming, either accidentally drowning him or sweeping him into the sea to be devoured by sharks.
12. Egyptian Queen: Nefertiti
A beautiful woman holding supreme power, Queen Nefertiti was the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled Egypt in the 14th century. She and her husband are well known to history as the establishers of the Aten Cult of the Sun God, the promotion of radically different Egyptian artwork, and a strong romance. Nefertiti was one of the most powerful and beautiful women in history, her husband going to extreme lengths to establish her as his equal, and was actively displayed in depictions for 12 years wearing the Pharaohs crown and leading armies until her disappearance. Why she disappeared from ancient artwork and why no tomb has been found to date is the motivator behind the mystery of this beautiful Queen. History has many answers but none convincing enough. While some suggest she started dressing up as a man with her rise in power and became known as the Pharaoh Smenkhkare after her husband’s death, others maintain she was exiled when the worship of Aten was replaced by Amen-Ra.
11. Professional Wrestler: Perry Saturn
Winning titles in ECW, WCW and WWE, Perry Saturn was a professional wrestling star with a drug problem. In 2008, he disappeared from public view and wasn’t seen or heard from by friends or family for a few years. Saturn had been addicted to methamphetamine since he received a gunshot in the back of his neck while saving a woman from being raped. His addiction had left him homeless and broke. Saturn returned home in 2010 after resolving his addiction problem once and for all.
10. American Businessman: Jim Thompson
A former member of the OSS (the predecessor of CIA), Jim Thompson retired to the city of Bangkok after his discharge and quickly rose to fame as “The Silk King” in 1958. Single-handedly saving the vital silk industry from extinction in Thailand, Thompson first became famous for establishing a business making 650,000$ in annual sales of silk, and then as the central figure in an unsolved missing persons case. In March of 1967, Thompson disappeared during a short walk in the jungles of Malaysia. An intense official search involving 500 people, the police and 3 bloodhounds spanning over 11 days was unable to discover what really happened to this champion of Thailand and although the search would continue, on and off, for the next 45 years, with no traces found.
9. American Socialite: Dorothy Arnold
The year 1910 and the unbelievable case of Dorothy Arnold, who famously disappeared in thin air from the busy Fifth Avenue in Manhattan never to be found again. Dorothy Arnold was the beautiful daughter and heiress of the wealthy perfume importer Francis Rose Arnold. On a December morning, Dorothy left the house to go shopping, declining her mothers’ request to accompany her. When she failed to return home for dinner, her family got worried but decided to keep the search secret to avoid unfavourable publicity. When family friends and private detectives failed to discover any traces a month later, a formal report was filed with the police. The fruitless search would continue for almost a year, with reports of alleged sightings, claims of kidnap, presumed suicide and even rumours of a more controversial fate for the young woman. But no evidence was found in connection with any claims, leaving her fate a mystery.
8. Fashion Designer: Vittorio Missoni
CEO of Missoni brand, Vittorio Missoni was the successful head of a family business, that became a world renown fashion house and lifestyle brand when he disappeared in January 2013. Mr. Missoni was onboard a private plane traveling from Los Roques to Caracas airport with his wife, two other passengers and two crew members that disappeared off the coast of Venezuela. A widespread air and sea search were unable to return any immediate results, eventually leading to the discovery of the plane’s wreckage in waters near Los Roques 6 months later. Family members of the victims claim the cause of the accident was foul play. However, no solid evidence has been found to support this claim and the fate of the victims remain unknown.
7. NBA Basketball Player: Bison Dele
Formerly known as Brian Williams, Bison Dele was an American professional basketball player who was presumed dead in 2002 after being lost at sea. But how does a person going on a harmless vacation to Hawaii suddenly vanish into thin air? Final reports on the investigation into his disappearance along with his girlfriend Serena Karlan and the ship captain Bertrand Saldo concluded that they had possibly been murdered at sea and thrown overboard by Dele’s older brother Miles Dabord. The only account that could be extracted from the accused before he overdosed on insulin and eventually died is as follows. Shortly after the victims along with Dabord had begun their voyage, a fight ensued between the brothers ending in the murder of Dele, Serena and Captain Saldo. The suicide of Miles Dabord left many questions unanswered into this mysterious disappearance/alleged murder.
6. Hijacker: D.B Cooper
On November 24, 1971, D.B. Cooper hijacked Northwest Airlines Flight 305 with 36 passengers onboard using a briefcase that he said contained a bomb. He managed to extort $200,000 and several parachutes, which were delivered to the aircraft. Cooper then demanded the plane fly him low and slow to Mexico and that the rear door remain unlocked. Although five different planes with law enforcement agents on them were tailing the jet, no one witnessed when Cooper jumped into the night with a parachute as the plane flew to Reno, Nev to refuel. FBI maintained that Cooper couldn’t have survived the high-risk jump although no trace of his body or the money was ever found. The perpetrator remained missing and unidentified 45 years later when FBI formally closed this famous case of air piracy.
5. Religious Extremist: Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden was the founder and head of Al-Qaeda, the Islamist group responsible for the 9/11 attack. Despite USA claims that he was captured and killed in a secret operation by United States Navy SEALS in 2011 and buried in the North Arabian sea, there remain many unanswered questions and hence the mystery behind the death of a man who was able to elude the most advanced military and an international man-hunt for 9 and a half years. According to the account from May 2, 2011, US military and intelligence were aided by Pakistani government in a sting operation to kill Osama Bin Laden, who had been hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan. However, contradicting accounts from SEALS who participated in the raid, the US government’s decision to not make public pictures of the raid and body public, and an unreleased DNA report proving identity has led to worldwide disbelief that this account is in fact true. Which leaves us with the question, is Osama Bin Laden really dead? And if not, where is he now?
4. Murderer: Zodiac Killer
The stuff of fiction, this mysterious disappearance revolves around the notorious Zodiac killer of the 1960s-1970s. The self-announced Zodiac Killer was specifically connected to no less than five murders in Northern California in 1968 and 1969 and may have been the culprit behind many more. After he provoked police and threatened the public through cryptic letters sent to newspapers from 1969 to 1974, correspondence from him suddenly ended. Notwithstanding an intensified manhunt for the murderer and the investigation into many prime suspects, nobody was ever captured for the cold-blooded killings, leaving the case open to date. Who was the Zodiac killer, what was his true motive, how many murders did he actually commit, why did he disappear and what did his unsolved cryptic messages mean are the subject of many books and movies today.
3. Model and Dancer: Jean Spangler
Jean Elizabeth Spangler was an America early television actress, model and dancer, who mysteriously disappeared in October 1949 at the age of 26. Jean left her daughter Christine at home with her sister in law to go meet her ex-husband Dexter Benner over late child support payment, but never returned home. A missing person’s report was filed the very next day and an intensive investigation into her disappearance began. Prime suspects who were later dismissed included her ex-husband, who she had recently won custody of their daughter from, and the actor Kirk Douglas, who was implicated based on a handwritten note found in Jeans abandoned purse. Speculations over her mysterious disappearance included a burglary that went wrong, kidnapping and murder. It was later established that she had been 3 months pregnant and was on her way to get an abortion, which was illegal at the time. However, no solid leads were found.
2. Author and Playwright: Agatha Christie
Best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections revolving around the fictional “Hercule Poirot” and “Miss Marple”, Agatha Christie was an English crime novelist, story writer and playwright, receiving the first highest honor from the Mystery Writers of America in 1955. In 1926, shortly after she had gained fame for her works, public outcry and an 11-day search ensued when she mysteriously disappeared on a trip to Yorkshire, leaving behind an expired driving license and clothes. The search eventually concluded when she was found by officials at a hotel suffering allegedly from amnesia and having taken up a different name. Although no credible explanation for her mysterious disappearance was ever provided, later years and an in-depth study of her work led many to believe Agatha had provided those very details to the public in her novel “Unfinished Portrait”, masked behind the story of its protagonist. Leaving the incident, a final mystery that she took to the grave.
1. Guitarist and Lyricist: Richey Edwards
Lyricist and musician who gained popularity for his dark, politicized and intellectual songwriting and captivating personality, Edwards was the member of Welsh alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers. He mysteriously disappeared in February 1995 with no leads and has been missing for the past 22 years, being declared “presumed dead” in 2008. Edwards had a history of self-abuse and depression leading many to believe he might have taken his own life by jumping from the Severn Bridge. However, over the past several years many repeated sightings have been reported in Goa, India and the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, none of which have proven to be credible. Leaving the fate of this famous person a mystery for all.
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