10 bizarre missing persons cases that are still unsolved to this day
More than 500,000 people go missing every year. While many of these people are eventually located or leave of their own accord and do not want to be found, others vanish without a trace. Here are the stories of 10 people who vanished under unsettling circumstances that remain missing to this day.
1. Tara Calico
On a bright sunny day, Tara Calico went for what would be her final bike ride. It was September 20, 1988, and the 19 year old headed out alone for her daily 2-hour bike ride. Hours later, officers found her walkman, headphones, and cassette along the side of the road. Tara and her bike were nowhere to be found.
Witnesses identified a group of young men who had been following her in a pickup truck, but no arrests were ever made.
Over the years, photographs have surfaced of a bound, gagged woman that many believe to be Tara.
2. Asha Degree
Asha Degree was only 9 years old when she went missing in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day, 2000. Soon after her father checked in on her at 2:30 a.m., Asha packed a bookbag and snuck out of the house. Motorists reported seeing her walking on the road, alone, between 3:45 and 4:15 a.m.. When someone pulled over at the bizarre site of the young girl in the dead of night, she ran into the woods.
The next day, several of her belongings were found in a shed near the last known sighting of Asha. Her bookbag was found in 2001, in a town 26 miles away. No other trace of Asha has ever been found.
3. Natalee Holloway
Eighteen-year-old Natalee Holloway went missing during a class trip to Aruba in 2005. She never showed up at the airport for her flight home, and her passport and cell phone were later found in her hotel room. Witnesses came forward saying had seen Natalee leaving a bar with three young men on the night she went missing. The men were arrested and questioned but never charged.
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Theories abound about what happened that fateful night, but perhaps only one person knows the answer: Joran van der Sloot, the last person known to be with Natalee. He is currently in prison in Peru, serving 28 years for the murder of another young woman.
4. Brandon Swanson
College student Brandon Swanson disappeared on January 30, 1989 after driving his car into a ditch. The accident left him uninjured, and he was able to call his parents and ask them to pick him up. They remained on the phone with him for 45 minutes, at which point he said, “oh sh*t” and the call ended. His parents never located him that night.
The next day, cell phone records led authorities to his car, 25 miles away from where he had asked his parents to pick him up. Despite exhaustive searches, Brandon was never seen again.
5. Lars Mittank
Twenty-eight-year-old German man Lars Mittank was on vacation with friends in Bulgaria at the time of his mysterious disappearance. A few days before his trip ended, he was involved in a physical altercation that resulted in a ruptured eardrum, leaving him unable to fly home. Lars stayed at a local hotel, where security cameras recorded his odd, paranoid behavior.
At one point, he called his mother and claimed men were coming to kill him, and asked her to cancel his credit cards.
He was last seen running away from the airport into a nearby meadow. No trace of Lars has ever been found.
6. Katelin Akens
Katelin Akens was only 19 years old when she disappeared while visiting family. At the time, she was living in Arizona, and had gone to see her mother in Virginia. Since her mother was unable to take her to the airport, Katelin’s ex-stepfather would be the one to drive her. She never made her flight.
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Katelin’s stepfather claimed to have dropped her off near the airport, but cell phone records show he never left his house. That same day, both Katelin’s mother and her girlfriend received texts from Katelin’s phone, but both claim that the texts don’t sound like Katelin. Cell phone records show she was never near the airport. No one has heard from Katelin since.
7. Danica Childs
Seventeen-year-old Danica Childs went missing in Washington just days before Christmas, 2007, after failing to show up for a shopping trip with her sisters and friends. Danica’s belongings, including her cell phone, were found in a motel known for seedy and illegal activity.
When her mother eventually figured out Danica’s cell phone password, she immediately realized that her daughter was in serious danger. In 2015, one of Danica’s sisters received a message from someone claiming to be Danica, but the social media account it came from was quickly deleted. No one has heard from her since.
8. Tara Grinstead
Beauty queen and high school teacher Tara Grinstead was reported missing in October, 2005, after she didn’t show up for work. Police found her cell phone inside her house, but her keys and purse were missing.
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Videos surfaced in 2009 from a man claiming to have killed sixteen women, including Tara, but it turned out to be a hoax.
One of Tara’s students was eventually charged with murdering her during a robbery gone wrong, but Tara’s body has never been found.
9. Dail Dinwiddie
Twenty-three-year-old Dail Dinwiddie vanished in 1992 after a night out with friends. Following a rock concert, the group had gone to a local nightclub. Unable to find Dail and assuming she had found a ride home, her friends left without her at around 1 a.m.
But Dail hadn’t left, and at 1:15 asked one of the bouncers if he had seen her friends. Alone but undeterred, Dail headed out and down the street.
She was never seen again.
10. Emanuela Orlandi
Emanuela Orlandi was only 15 years old when she went missing in Vatican City. She disappeared in 1983 after a flute lesson. She had told her sister and some friends that she was going to be selling Avon products, and was last seen getting into a large, dark-colored car.
Oddly enough, Emanuela’s disappearance was at one point tied to the demand to release a Turkish prisoner from jail, as part of an exchange. The theory was never confirmed, and Emanuela never resurfaced.