- Amelia Earhart’s 122nd birthday is on July 24. She disappeared just a few weeks before her 40th birthday on July 2, 1937.
- No one knows what happened to her and her navigator Fred Noonan.
- They’re not the only people to vanish without a trace.
- Natalee Holloway hasn’t been seen since the night before she was supposed to fly home from Aruba in 2005, and Tara Calico never came home from a 1988 bike ride.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Human disappearances have been happening for centuries, leaving the people around them and many future generations grappling with questions of what, exactly, happened.
Here are 14 cases of unsolved disappearances and missing people that captivated the world.
To this day, no one knows exactly what happened to pilot Amelia Earhart and her navigator during their attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
Here’s what we know: Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan were attempting to fly around the world when their plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937. Since then, not a trace of Earhart, Noonan, nor their plane has ever been recovered.
The most widely accepted theory is that their flight ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean, but there are plenty of conspiracy theories out there, ranging from wildly unlikely to semi-plausible.
One theory recently gained traction due to a photo uncovered in the National Archives. The picture appears to show a woman and a man that look like Earhart and Noonan on a dock off the coast of the island of Saipan. Some people believe this photo is proof that the two were captured by the Japanese military, something the Japanese military summarily denies.
Anne Marie Fahey went missing in 1996 and has never been found, though a man was tried for and convicted of her murder.
Technically the case of Fahey’s disappearance has been solved, but her body was never found.
Fahey was 30 years old at the time of her disappearance. Three years later, in 1999, her boyfriend, married lawyer Thomas Capano, was found guilty of her murder. According to Delaware Online, Capano shot Fahey while she tried to break up with him then dumped her body in the Atlantic Ocean, having put it in a cooler.
Both of Capano’s brothers admitted they helped him get rid of the evidence, one of them even helping him to get rid of the body itself, according to Delaware Online. They both ultimately testified against him. Another one of Capono’s girlfriend’s admitted to buying him a gun.
Capano was convicted and sentenced to death, which was later overturned and converted to life in prison. He died in 2011.
Maura Murray emailed professors that she’d be missing class for a week due to a death in the family in 2004 and was never heard from again.
Murray was just 21 years old when she disappeared in 2004. She was a nursing student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and emailed her professors that she would be missing the next week of classes due to a death in the family. There had been no such death in the Murray family.
The last time she was seen was on the side of the road after her car had allegedly skidded off. A bus driver told police that he had offered to call for help, but he said she replied that she had already called for roadside assistance. The bus driver got home, still felt like something was off, and called the police anyway. By the time that authorities arrived, Murray was gone.
An Oxygen series about her disappearance brought the case back into the limelight, and theories abound as to how and why she disappeared, from intentionally disappearing to getting lost in the woods to encountering a dangerous animal.
Natalee Holloway went missing on a school trip to Aruba in 2005 shortly after she graduated from high school. The case ignited an international media storm.
Holloway’s case has been picked apart for years, ever since her 2005 disappearance. She was last seen outside an Aruban nightclub the night before she and her classmates were supposed to fly back to the US. Her parents were notified that she was missing when she failed to show up to her flight home and within a few days, Holloway’s family was on the island.
One of the prime suspects in Holloway’s disappearance is Joran van der Sloot, one of the last people to see Holloway alive. He was arrested multiple times in conjunction with the case, but was released each time due to a lack of evidence. Over the years, van der Sloot’s story has changed multiple times.
Van der Sloot is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence for the murder of Peruvian Stephany Flores.
Tara Calico never returned home from a bike ride.
Calico, who was 19 at the time, told her mother to call the police if she wasn’t back from her bike ride by noon on the day she went missing in September 1988. Calico never returned from her ride and was never seen again.
During her ride, onlookers shared that they saw a truck following Calico and harassing her, though they thought it was her friends playing a joke on her. All that was ultimately found was Calico’s broken Walkman on the side of the road.
Almost a year after her disappearance, a suspicious Polaroid was found in a Florida parking lot over 1,000 miles away from where she was last seen. The photo shows a young woman and a boy bound with their mouths taped shut. Calico’s mother believed it was her daughter. The FBI, on the other hand, was unable to verify whether or not it was her.
Vermont’s “Bennington Triangle” continues to confound authorities.
Between 1920 and 1950, at least 10 people mysteriously vanished in a patch of woods surrounding Glastenbery Mountain that has been dubbed the “Bennington Triangle.”
The name was coined in 1992 by author Joseph Citro. According to a website dedicated to the “Triangle,” disappearances include tour guide Middie Rivers in 1945, college student Paula Welden in 1946, and 8-year-old Paul Jepsen in 1950.
Amy Wroe Bechtel vanished without a trace during a run in 1997.
Bechtel went missing during a run on July 24, 1997, which police know as her car was found near a running trail she frequented.
Her car and an eyewitness who claimed they saw a woman who could have been Bechtel jogging was all the evidence there was. Six years later, a watch similar to the one Bechtel owned was found in the area, but it was impossible to connect it to her.
“In my mind,” Sgt. Rizor told the Billings Gazette, “there is only one person that I want to talk to, only one person who has refused to talk to law enforcement, and that’s her husband.”
Sherry Lynn Marler went to grab a soda from a grocery store vending machine and was never seen again.
On June 6, 1984, Marler was 12 years old when she went into town with her stepdad, who had some business to attend to. Marler was thirsty and asked for some money to get a soda from the vending machine. She was supposed to meet him back at the truck. She was never officially seen again.
According to the Charley Project, Marler was seen three times over the years, but none of these sightings has been verified.
Morgan Nick, 6, disappeared from a ballpark in 1995.
Nick was last seen on June 9, 1995, at a ballpark in Alma, Arkansas. She had been there with her mother but had left her side with two friends to go catch lightning bugs. According to a timeline compiled by CBS affiliate 5 News, she was last seen emptying sand from her shoes around 10 p.m. that night.
Around the same time, a red truck pulling a white camper van was seen driving away from the park, which was deemed suspicious. Just a few days later, two more young girls were almost abducted by a man matching the description of the driver in Alma.
Mary Badaracco disappeared from her home under mysterious circumstances in 1984.
Badaracco’s car was in her driveway with the side mirror smashed, and her wedding ring and car keys were on the kitchen counter, but she was nowhere to be found.
According to her husband, Badaracco took off with $US100,000 in exchange for their home. The two were planning to divorce.
No evidence of the money has ever been found, however, and her husband didn’t report her missing. He claimed that she had left her life, her job, and her daughters behind to start a new life.
Badaracco’s daughters convinced the police to classify the disappearance as a homicide, and there have been tips throughout the years, including a potential Hell’s Angels connection.
Jessica Gutierrez was taken by “the man with the magic hat and the beard,” according to her sister.
The 4-year-old was kidnapped from her bed on June 6, 1986, in South Carolina. Her sister, Becky, told authorities that “the man with the magic hat and the beard took her last night,” as their mum frantically searched their home.
“I need to find my daughter,” Gutierrez’s mother, now 60, told The State in 2017. “I don’t know how much time I have left.”
The Sodder family home caught fire in 1945 and four of their children escaped. The other five were never found.
On Christmas Eve 1945, a fire broke out at the Sodder home. Of their nine children, four escaped. The house burned down completely before the fire was able to be put out, and the other five children were nowhere to be found – not even teeth were able to be salvaged.
The fire chief at the time concluded that the fire had been hot enough to melt bone, and death certificates were issued, but that claim has been challenged over the years. Other theories claim that the Sodders were the target of organised crime, that the fire had been set intentionally, and that the ladder that was usually propped up against their home had been stolen.
Years later, Jennie, the Sodder matriarch, received a photo in the mail captioned “Louis Sodder,” one of her sons who had been ruled dead. He was nine years old at the time of the fire.
The living Sodders maintain that their siblings did not die in the fire, and that something suspicious went down that Christmas Eve.
A mysterious passenger on a flight to Seattle demanded $US200,000 and then jumped out of the flying plane. All we know is that he bought a ticket under the alias D.B. Cooper.
In 1971, a man casually drinking a bourbon and soda on his flight to Seattle passed a note to a stewardess explaining that he had a bomb in his suitcase and requesting $US200,000 in $US20 bills. As soon as the flight landed in Seattle, he received his money, let the other passengers off, and demanded that the pilot take him to Mexico City.
But before he reached the southern border, Cooper shockingly made the choice to skydive out of the plane at 5,000 feet in terrible conditions, wearing his normal pants and loafers.
It was likely that Cooper did not survive the fall, but nonetheless, a manhunt was on. Cooper, which was probably an alias, was never found. In 2016, the FBI officially stopped investigating.
Lauren Spierer was last seen walking barefoot around her college town at around 4:30 a.m. in June 2011.
Spierer’s disappearance was unusual in that her entire night, right up until a few moments before her disappearance, was trackable via security cameras. The 20-year-old Indiana University student went out with her friends during a summer night in 2011, and was never heard from again.
She was last seen at around 4:30 a.m. leaving a friend’s apartment. Her boyfriend reported her missing after she left her phone at a bar, and a bartender began responding to her texts.
- Read more:
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