In Photos: Missing Person Cases From History That Are Unspeakable
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 8 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.
According to Fremont County sheriff Sgt. Roger Rizor, the lead investigator, there is just one person of interest: Bechtel’s husband, Steve, who has since refused to take a polygraph test.
“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.”
Steve Bechtel maintains his innocence and was able to provide an alibi for the time of his wife’s disappearance. While her case remains open, her husband declared her dead in absentia in 2004.
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.