People disappear every day, but mass disappearances are truly eerie. How can so many people go missing at once without leaving a trace? What possible explanation could there be? In the five cases of mass disappearances you’ll read about below, the vanishings were so mysterious that authorities still have no clue what happened.
5. The Beaumont Children
In Australia, there is one case among the many mass disappearances in history that parents will never forget. After this case made headlines, the carefree days when parents trusted that their children would be safe on their own were over. This is the case of the missing Beaumont children.
In 1966, the three children (Jane, age 9; Arnna, age 7; and Grant, age 4) left their home in Adelaide to spend the day at Glenelg Beach. It was a 5-minute bus ride to the beach, and the children had made the journey numerous times before. The children were expected home later that afternoon but never arrived. Their parents searched for them to no avail.
During the police investigation, witnesses claimed they had seen the children on the beach speaking happily with a tall blond man. This concerned the parents; the children were notoriously shy, and it was unlikely they would be comfortable speaking with a stranger. Another witness, who knew the children well, stated that he saw them walking together, unaccompanied, in the direction of their home. His testimony was deemed reliable, making it less likely that the children had in fact been abducted on the beach. What happened to them on the short walk home?
The search for the three children went on for months but was unsuccessful. The case was all over the headlines, but the media was driven into a frenzy when Gerard Croiset, a well-known psychic, flew to Australia to assist with the case. Croiset led authorities to a recently excavated building site, claiming that the bodies of the children were buried beneath the cement that made up the foundation of the building. After a harsh public outcry, the owners of the building spent $40,000 demolishing the building. However, no trace of the children was ever found at the site.
Two years later, the family received a letter offering to return the children. The parents went to the designated meeting spot, but no one ever appeared. After this, the case largely went cold.
4. The Kaz II
Australia is the site of another of the world’s most baffling mass disappearances. Unlike the previous incident on this list, the case of the Katz II cannot be easily explained as a simple kidnapping. The clues left behind in this case are truly confounding.
The Katz II set sail with 3 men on board in April of 2007. Three days later, a helicopter spotted the boat, stating that it appeared to be adrift. Authorities caught up with the Katz II two days later 163 kilometers off the north-eastern coast of Australia. All 3 men who should have been aboard were missing.
Upon inspection of the ship, authorities turned up several baffling clues. They noted that the ship was in almost perfect condition for sailing: the emergency systems, GPS, and radio were all functioning perfectly. In addition, all of the ship’s life vests were on board in the appropriate spots. There was even another, smaller boat hoisted on the side of the ship, and the anchor was still up and the engine was running. Even stranger was that the ship’s table was laid out with food, plates, and silverware as if the crew had been preparing to eat just before they disappeared. Authorities also found a laptop that was open and turned on.
The only damage to the ship was to one of the sails, which had been shredded. The ship was towed to shore, where police performed a thorough forensic investigation. Nothing in the ship seemed out of place, and detailed investigations found no evidence of foul play.
A year later, authorities began a series of hearings in an attempt to get to the bottom of this strange case. The wife of the ship’s owner, Derek Batten, testified that her husband was an experienced sailor who was well aware of safety protocols for sailing. She insisted that the disappearance of her husband and his friends could not have been an accident.
To this day, authorities have uncovered no additional clues about the fate of the crew.
3. The Carroll A. Deering
The sea is a common setting for mass disappearances. With so much empty water, it’s easy for people to vanish without anyone around to witness their disappearance. This is especially true for ships sailing near the notorious Bermuda Triangle.
One such ship was the Carroll A. Deering. It was a commercial ship captained by William H. Merritt. On the Deering’s final voyage, Merritt took ill and was replaced by Willis. B. Wormell. On December 2, 1920, the Deering stopped for supplies in Barbados and remained there until January 9. This was the last time the ship would dock.
Several weeks later, on January 28, another ship was hailed by the Deering. A man described as having a foreign accent stated that the ship had lost its anchors. Witnesses noticed that the crew seemed to be milling around the deck aimlessly.
Three days later, the Deering ran aground in the Diamond Shoals with all of its sails up. Because of the rough weather, it was several days before the wreck could be investigated. When authorities boarded the ship, they found no trace of the crew. The investigators noted that the ship’s steering equipment was damaged and that the logbook and navigation equipment were missing. Additionally, the personal items of some of the crew members and two lifeboats seemed to be missing as well. However, they noted that it appeared that the crew had been in the process of preparing food at the time the ship was abandoned.
Authorities launched a massive investigation into the Deering. The most intriguing part of the case is that several other ships seemed to have gone missing in roughly the same area: the area commonly known as the Bermuda Triangle. Most of these ships later turned up in other areas without explanation.
The most commonly accepted explanation for the fate of the Deering is that the crew mutinied while sailing. It was no secret that there were tensions between the captain and the rest of the crew. However, this doesn’t explain how the crew managed to vanish. Where could they have gone? Why did they never resurface? Many theorize that the ship’s proximity to the mysterious and dangerous Bermuda Triangle is to blame. Authorities scoff at this theory, but no other reasonable explanation has ever been presented.