15 Unsolved Disappearances That Shocked the World 

Unsolved disappearances are puzzling, tragic, and heartbreaking. Indeed, families of missing person cases rarely get closure. There are thousands of cold cases that remain unsolved. Many famous unsolved disappearances shocked the world. Internet investigators, the police, and detectives have many different theories regarding these haunting and mysterious disappearances. 

In some cases, individuals vanish into thin air without any explanation. On the other hand, kids are often victims of kidnappings, with numerous missing person cases involving children. As a matter of fact, six-year-old Etan Patz’s disappearance in 1979 led to the establishment of National Missing Children’s Day on the anniversary of his disappearance. 

At the same time, women are also victims of abduction and violence. For instance, the disappearance and murder of Gabby Petito made significant headlines around the world, with all clues pointing to her fiance, Brian Laundrie. Unfortunately, most missing person cases remain unsolved, with these 15 of the most shocking disappearances in the world. 

1. The Disappearance of Anthonette Cayedito 

Disappearance of Anthonette Cayedito 

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On April 6, 1986, a nine-year-old Native American girl, Anthonette Cayedito, vanished from her home in New Mexico. Five years later, Anthonette’s then ten-year-old sister Wendy finally revealed the events of that night. According to Wendy, the sisters were awake at 3 am when somebody knocked on their door, claiming to be “uncle Joe.” When Anthonette opened the door, two men grabbed her.

One year later, a panicked young girl called the police department claiming to be Anthonette, but an unknown adult ended the call before she could reveal her location. Four years later, a waitress believes she met a teenage girl matching Anthonette’s description. She was with a messy-looking couple and left behind a note asking the waitress to call the police. Police assume Anthonette was a victim of a homicide, but the case remains open. 

2. The Disappearance of D.B. Cooper

Disappearance of D.B. Cooper

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The identity of D.B. Cooper and his whereabouts have puzzled the police, private investigators, and curious minds for decades. In 1971, a man using the alias “Dan Cooper” hijacked Flight 305 and collected a ransom of $200,000. He then parachuted out of the plane and disappeared into the night sky.

The event became a media sensation, with journos dubbing him “D.B. Cooper.” There have been several leads and suspects but nothing conclusive. The police recovered some ransom money in the 80s, but the information went nowhere. The fate of D.B. Cooper and his identity remains one of the universe’s greatest unsolved disappearances.

3. The Disappearance of Cherrie Mahan

Disappearance of Cherrie Mahan

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In 1985, eight-year-old Cherrie Mahan exited the school bus near her house. Cherrie had to walk 50 feet from the bus stop to her driveway. Sadly, something happened along the way, and Cherrie never made it home. Cherrie’s disappearance became a huge news story.

She was the first missing child featured on a postcard. Cherrie’s mother admitted that she became pregnant with Cherrie after being raped. Her mother believes Cherrie’s biological father or someone he knows had something to do with Cherrie’s disappearance. There have been many tips and leads, but Cherrie’s case remains unsolved. 

4. The Disappearance of Fredrick Valentich

Disappearance of Fredrick Valentich

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The mysterious disappearance of Australian pilot Fedrick Valentich has baffled investigators and UFO enthusiasts for decades. On October 21, 1978, Valentich reported a strange aircraft above him during a flight. However, air traffic control responded that there were no aircraft in his area.

Valentich was a UFO enthusiast and believed it was an alien spacecraft. Moments later, air traffic control lost contact with Valentich and never heard back from him again. UFO enthusiasts believe an alien spaceship abducted Valentich. However, investigators believe Valentich became disoriented and saw his own reflection in the ocean before crashing. 

5. The Disappearance of Dennis Martin

Disappearance of Dennis Martin

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On June 14, 1969, six-year-old Dennis Martin disappeared in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He went on a camping trip with his older brother, father, and grandfather for Father’s Day. His father last saw Martin as he hid behind a bush to surprise some other adults.

The National Guard initiated the most extensive search of the park in its history but found no trace of Martin. Heavy rain and terrible weather hampered the investigation from the very beginning. Investigators believe Martin got lost and died during the night. Sadly, Martin has remained missing for over 50 years.

6. The Disappearance of Maura Murray

Disappearance of Maura Murray

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In February 2004, University of Massachusetts student Maura Murray packed up her car and headed toward Burlington, Vermont. Murray emailed her professors and told them she’d miss a few weeks because of a death in the family. However, her father confirmed there was no death in the family.

On her way to Vermont, Murray crashed her car in a small town near New Hampshire, Haverhill. A bus driver offered to help her, but she declined. Several drivers noticed Murrary outside the vehicle as they drove past. However, when police arrived at the scene ten minutes later, she was gone. That was the last known sighting of Murray. Her disappearance and the events leading up to it remain a mystery. 

7. The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway

Disappearance of Natalee Holloway

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In May 2005, 18-year-old American Natalee Holloway disappeared while on a high school graduation trip to Aruba. Her classmates last saw Natalee outside a restaurant with locals Joran van der Soot and the Kalpoe brothers. When Natalee missed her flight home, authorities began searching for her.

Aruban investigators and the FBI conducted an exhaustive search but couldn’t find Holloway or any clues. Suspicion fell on Soot and the Kalpoe brothers. Police arrested the three but had to let them go for lack of evidence. Later, Soot went to prison for the murder of Stephany Ramirez. 

8. The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

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The disappearance of Amelia Earhart remains one of history’s greatest mysteries. In the 20s and 30s, Earhart was a pioneer in aviation and became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1937, she took her final flight when she attempted to be the first woman to fly the globe solo.

All was going well until Earhart and her navigator disappeared without a trace. Her disappearance created many theories, with some believing the Japanese captured her, others saying she became a spy, while many thought she faked her own death. Investigators believe she likely ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea. 

9. The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi

Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi

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The disappearance of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi is one of Italy’s greatest mysteries. She’s been missing for roughly 39 years now. The last time anyone heard from her was on June 22, 1983. Emanuela and her family lived in Vatican City at the time of her disappearance. She was late for music school and was last spotted hopping on a bus.

Later, Emanuela called to tell her sister that she had a job interview. Emanuela’s sister was the last person to hear from her. Several theories emerged including she was the victim of a Vatican sex party scandal. Other theories suggest Emanuela was murdered by the Banda della Magliana gang or abducted by the far-right organization Grey Wolves

10. The Disappearance of Virginia Dare and the Roanoke Colony

Disappearance of Virginia Dare and the Roanoke Colony

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In 1587,  Governor John Smith left the colony he established, Roanoke, to return to England. He planned to get new supplies and return to the New World colony with his daughter and his granddaughter, Virginia Dare, who was the first child born in America.

In 1590, Smith returned to Roanoke to find the colony deserted. The settlement was in shambles, and there was no trace of Virginia, her mother, or anyone else. For over 400 years, Virginia’s disappearance baffled people around the globe. Some theories propose a local tribe attacked the colony or the colonists joined a local tribe. 

11. The Disappearance of Christopher Dansby and Shane Walker

Disappearance of Christopher Dansby and Shane Walker

Find The Missing/YouTube

Christopher Dansby and Shane Walker are two missing children that disappeared from the same park a few months apart. On May 18, 1989, two-year-old Christopher disappeared from the Martin Luther King Jr. Tower’s playground in New York. He vanished without a trace. On August 10, one-year-old Shane Walker disappeared from the same park. Investigators suspect the cases are linked with the leading theory that their kidnappers sold them to a black market baby ring. 

12. The Disappearance of Lauren Spierer

Disappearance of Lauren Spierer

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The mysterious disappearance of Indiana University student Lauren Spierer is one of the most famous missing person cases. In 2011, Spierer went to Kilroy’s Sports bar with some friends. She was last spotted leaving the bar highly intoxicated later that night.

Her disappearance sparked a media frenzy with several possible theories. For instance, her parents believe Spierer’s friends that night had something to do with her disappearance. Other theories include a possible drug overdose or abduction by a stranger. 

13. The Disappearance of Glen and Bessie Hyde

Disappearance of Glen and Bessie Hyde

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In 1928, newlyweds Glen and Bessie Hyde decided to run the rapids from the Colorado River to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. If they completed the trip, Bessie would be the first woman to achieve that goal. However, they didn’t reach their destination point.

An exhaustive search found their raft drifting in the river. Glen and Bessie vanished without a trace, leading to several theories about their whereabouts. One suggests Bessie murdered Glen and took on a new identity as Georgia Clark. Oddly, Georgia’s friends found Glen and Bessie’s marriage certificate in her house upon her death.

14. The Disappearance of Tara Calico

Disappearance of Tara Calico

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On September 20, 1988, 19-year-old Tara Calico woke up early to go for her morning bike ride in Belen, New Mexico. When she didn’t return for a tennis date with her boyfriend, Tara’s mother searched for her along her regular bike path but couldn’t find her.

Later, the police found her Sony walkman smashed to pieces along the trail. Tara and her bike vanished without a trace. A year later, a disturbing polaroid discovered in a parking lot appeared to be Tara, although it was not confirmed. Tara’s still missing after 33 years and police continue to investigate. 

15. The Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa

Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa

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Jimmy Hoffa is a polarizing figure in history. He was the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters throughout the 60s. Hoffa also had ties to organized crime. In the late 60s, he went to prison and couldn’t serve as president again until 1980.

In the 1970s, Hoffa began making aggressive moves to take back the presidency. This rubbed some people the wrong way, in particular the mafia. In 1975, Hoffa mysteriously disappeared and was not seen again. Most people assume the mafia had something to do with his disappearance.