From legendary big band leader Glenn Miller to infamous union boss Jimmy Hoffa, we take a look at 10 famous people that mysteriously vanished.
10. Glenn Miller
Big band leader, Glenn Miller was pronounced missing in action on December 15th, 1944 when his plane disappeared en route to France. Miller, who was 38 at the time was the best selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943. He persuaded the United States Army to ‘draft’ him into service to lead a band on tour to boost the morale of the serving troops in World War 2. Miller was on his way to Paris, France when his plane vanished in bad weather. Several theories attempted to explain his mysterious disappearance including a faulty carburetor and even the idea that a returning allied bomber may have hit Miller’s aircraft with a jettisoned bomb unused from a failed German bombing raid.
9. Harold Holt
Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt mysteriously disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria, Australia. Holt was with several others including his neighbour and rumoured lover Marjorie Gillespie to sea the British Yachtsman Alec Rose sail through the Port Phillip Heads when he decided to go for a swim in choppy conditions. Shortly after entering the water, Holt disappeared from view prompting his companions to call for help. The consequent search, which included the Royal Australian Navy, Air Force and local volunteers was one of the largest search operations in Australia’s history. The fact that Holt was a very experienced swimmer lead some to suggested that Holt’s disappearance was an elaborate cover-up. One theory surfaced claiming that Holt was a Russian spy and that he was picked up off the coast by a Soviet submarine. To this day Holt’s disappearance remains a mystery.
8. D.B. Cooper
At 2:50 pm on the 24th November, 1971, a man using the alias Dan (D.B.) Cooper hijacked a Boeing 727 en route to Seattle, Washington from Portland, Oregon. Cooper passed a note to a flight attendant declaring he had a bomb and was indeed hijacking the aircraft. His note detailed his demands which included $200 000 in U.S. currency, 4 parachutes and a refuelling truck awaiting their arrival in Seattle. The airline authorized the ransom which was delivered to the plane upon landing in Seattle. All passengers and non-essential crew were released before D.B. Cooper instructed the plane to take off and fly south, towards Mexico City. Shortly after takeoff, the crew, who were instructed to remain in the cockpit with the door closed, noticed a change in cabin pressure, indicating that one of the aircraft’s doors may have been opened. The aircraft landed in Reno, Nevada for refuelling where an armed search by authorities revealed Cooper was no longer on board.
It is believed that Cooper jumped out of the aircraft with the ransom and while F.B.I. authorities initially thought there was no way he could have survived the jump, no conclusive evidence that he died has ever been found. In 1981 a young boy vacationing with his family near Vancouver, Washington found 3 packets of money washed along the riverbank that was later confirmed to have been given to Cooper. The rest of the ransom was never recovered leading to speculation that Cooper may have successfully parachuted to the ground safely. Despite an exhausting manhunt the incident remains the only unsolved case of air piracy in American history. The case still remains open to this day.
7. Richey Edwards
Richey Edwards, member of the rock band Manic Street Preachers disappeared on the 1st February 1995 shortly before he was due to head to the US on a promotional tour. The circumstances of his disappearance were certainly mysterious with several strange details uncovered in the subsequent police investigation. Firstly, Edwards was found to have withdrawn 200 pounds a day every day in the 2 weeks prior to his disappearance. On the 1st February he checked out of the Embassy Hotel in London and drove to his apartment in Cardiff, Wales. Some days later he was spotted in the Newport passport office and the Newport bus station. On the 7th February, a taxi driver reported picking up Edwards from outside the Kings hotel in Newport and then drove him to Blackwood which was Edwards’ home as a child. On the 14th February, Edwards’ car, a Vauxhall Cavalier was discovered abandoned at the Severn View service station. The battery was flat and there was evidence that the car had been lived in. Initially it was thought that the rockstar may have taken his own life as the car was discovered in close proximity to the Severn Bridge, a well known suicide location.
In the years following his disappearance, Edwards was reportedly spotted in the Canary Islands and even in a marketplace in Goa, India. Despite several sightings, Edwards was officially declared missing presumed dead on the 23rd November 2008 even though his body was never found.
6. Jimmy Hoffa
Perhaps the most well known missing person in history is Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa was the President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union from 1958 to 1971 and was heavily implicated in organised crime and affiliation with the mob. Convicted of jury tampering, fraud and attempted bribery, Hoffa served 4 of a 13 year sentence after agreeing to resign as president of the union which was part of a pardon agreement with President Nixon.
Jimmy Hoffa vanished in July, 1975 after last being seen outside the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Detroit, Michigan. Since his mysterious disappearance, several mob hitmen have come forward claiming to have killed him but no one has ever been charged. His remains were even rumoured to have been buried under tonnes of concrete during construction at Giant’s Stadium in New Jersey.
5. Jean Spangler
Jean Spangler, a small part movie and tv actress disappeared on October 7th, 1949. The part time model and dancer vanished after telling her sister in law she was heading out to meet with her former husband to discuss a late child support payment and then heading to a studio to film a night shoot for a movie. Her ex husband told police that he had not seen her the night of her disappearance and his new wife claimed he was with her the whole night. Two days after Spangler’s disappearance her purse was found near Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Inside police discovered a mysterious note addressed to a man named Kirk that read “Can’t wait any longer, Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away,“. The note, ending with a comma seemed to be unfinished. An exhaustive police search failed to uncover the identity of Kirk or the mysterious Dr. Scott. Friends of Spangler told police that she was 3 months pregnant and that she was considering getting an abortion which was illegal at the time. To this day Jean Spangler remains listed as a missing person.
4. Stratojet B-47 Bomber
Ok so this one is not about the disappearance of a famous person but rather a famous or infamous cargo. In March 1956 a Boeing B47 Stratojet bomber disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea while travelling from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida to Ben Guerir Air Force Base in Morocco. Aboard the plane were 3 US Air Force personnel and 2 nuclear warheads. Despite exhaustive searching the warheads were never recovered!
3. Frank Morris
Frank Morris was the alleged ringleader of a group of men who famously escaped from Alcatraz prison on June 11th, 1962. Using tools stolen from the prison yard the men slowly widened the ventilation ducts in their cells, creating an escape tunnel that lead to the roof of their cells. Here the men created a makeshift workshop where they fashioned life preservers from stolen raincoats and a raft from discarded rubber sealed together using heat from the steam pipes. On the night of June 11th, the men left their cells, placing paper mache heads they had created in their beds as decoys. The men made their way down to the water where they used the makeshift raft to escape. Despite no bodies ever being found, the authorities asserted that it was extremely unlikely the men survived the frigid and turbulent waters. However, in 2011 an 89 year old man named Bud Morris, who claimed to be the cousin of Frank Morris, said he had delivered bribes to the guards prior to the daring escape. More amazingly, Bud Morris claimed to have met with Frank in a San Diego park shortly after the escape. His daughter who was 8 at the time corroborated the story saying she could remember meeting with “Dad’s friend, Frank.”
2. Amelia Earhart
Famous female pilot Amelia Earhart vanished on July 2nd, 1937 while flying over the Pacific Ocean attempting to circumnavigate the globe. Earhart lost radio contact near Howland Island and a large search of the surrounding area was soon conducted by the US Navy. Soon after her disappearance, several theories surfaced suggesting that she may have been taken prisoner by the Japanese. One such rumor was fuelled by the fact that soon after her disappearance, the Japanese released the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft which had several strikingly similar components to the aircraft Earhart was flying at the time she disappeared. It was also suggested that she was a spy sent to report on the Japanese and that she survived the flight, changed her name and moved to New Jersey.
1. The Babushka Lady
The Babushka Lady is the name given to the mysterious woman who was present at the assassination of JFK on November 22nd, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. In several photographs taken by other eyewitnesses, the Babushka Lady can be seen videotaping the assassination within meters of the motorcade. Unusually, the photos show the woman acting very calmly as she continues filming despite the surrounding eyewitnesses fleeing in panic. Despite exhaustive investigations, neither the woman nor her video footage have ever been officially located.