Sadly to say, people disappear all the time, but some disappearances transcend usual tragedy to become enduring mysteries due to their circumstances. These are ten of the strangest examples.

10Joan Risch (1960)

Joan Risch (1960)

When this homemaker vanished in October evidence pointed towards murder or forced disappearance. But despite this nothing has been proven.

Making matters more complicated (and leading many to believe that it was all an elaborate hoax) was the discovery that Risch had taken out numerous books about staged disappearances over the prior year.

9Barbara Follett (1939)



By the age of fourteen Follett had published two critically successful novels, but she also saw her dreams as having falling apart during her parent’s divorce. When she felt her own marriage was going south she left her home with thirty dollars and was never seen again. A bungled missing person’s bulletin meant the media didn’t report accurately on the case until the Sixties.

8Jim Robinson (1979)

Jim Robinson (1979)

Robinson was a last-minute replacement to fight Muhammad Ali in 1961, making him Ali’s fourth pro opponent. He lost in the first round and racked up few wins over the next seven years. His last known interview was in 1979; all attempts to locate him after that have ended in failure.

7Peter Winston (1978)



This junior chess champion banished at twenty years of age. After suffering startling loses at two tournaments he left his home empty-handed during a severe snowstorm. Friends have suggested his mental state had deteriorated in the previous two years, with some going so far as to say substance abuse was the cause.

6D.B. Cooper (1971)



Cooper pulled off the greatest heist in the history of aviation, netting two-hundred thousand dollars before parachuting out of the plane he hijacked in poor weather conditions. It’s assumed that he didn’t survive. But despite some of the bills from his heist being found in a riverbank years later, there’s no evidence of his own fate (or what happened with to the rest of the money).

5Mary Agnes Moroney (1930)


Catherine Moroney was a struggling mother when a social worker responded to her request for help. The worker, Julia Otis, offered to take her daughter two-year-old daughter Mary for two weeks to help her financially.

Moroney agreed; Otis wrote once and never returned. The whole con was made possible by an oversight: The newspaper that printed Moroney’s request for help also included her address, which the paper normally didn’t publish.

4Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (1995)


This (then) six-year-old was recognized by the Dalai Lama to be the eleventh incarnation of the Panchen Lama. Shortly afterward he was whisked away by the Chinese government, who named a different boy as the official incarnation.

Since that time Nyima is reportedly under house arrest. All requests to see him have been denied by the government, who offer no proof of his whereabouts.

3Boston Corbett (1888)


Corbett, the soldier who shot and ultimately killed assassing John Wilkes Booth, was later sent to a mental institution as he suffered from increasing mental illness. He broke out of the institution in ’88, though where he went to and how much longer he survived are unknown.

2Charles Rogers (1965)


Rogers remains the only suspect in the murder of his own parents, having fled the scene before the grisly crime scene was discovered. He has since been declared dead, though no trace of the intelligent recluse was found. What makes his case really bizarre are the alleged ties he has to those believed to be involved in the JFK assassination, though those connections are debated.

1Frederick Valentich (1978)


The twenty-year-old Valentich was flying over the Bass Straight when he reported being stalked by a strange aircraft. Part of his plane may have been found (being narrowed down to a group of planes which would have included his Cessna) but after his radio communication ceased he himself (and his craft) vanished.

Some have interpreted the craft he described to be a UFO (Valentrich was a UFO enthusiast himself) and assume he was attacked or abducted. Another group claims it was a staged disappearance. The most likely explanation is that he got disoriented and crashed.