It’s a pretty terrifying thought, to simply vanish without a trace. Imagine the family members worried sick, never knowing for sure what happened. Imagine the investigations, perpetually stalling out because no one has any real clues by which to go on. Every time there seems to be a leader, or a witness who swears he knows the truth, it fizzles and you’re right back at square one.

And amazingly, it’s not just us anonymous, everyday people who go missing, either. Sometimes well known, famous, and notorious people simply disappear without any sign of where they went. Here are some of the most mysterious famous disappearances in history.

12Jimmy Hoffa

Jimmy Hoffa

Perhaps the most infamous missing person of all-time, this easily corrupted union leader is rumored to have been helped in his vanishing act by members of the mafia. His remains have never been found.

11Bison Dele



You may not immediately recognize the name, but if you’re a basketball fan who grew up in the 1990s you might remember the player, who was born Brian Williams. The former Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls center went missing at sea, and foul play involving his older brother is suspected.

10Azaria Chamberlain

Azaria Chamberlain

Chances are you don’t know the name here, but you no doubt immediately recognize “A dingo ate my baby!” Chamberlain was an infant who vanished from her home in Australia, and her mother was convicted of murder – only to be released when evidence was found supporting her claim that a dingo really did take the child.

9Harold Holt

Harold Holt

Speaking of Australian disappearances, this one amazingly involves a sitting Prime Minister of that nation. Harold Holt went for a swim in 1967 and was never seen or heard from again.

8Virginia Dare

Virginia Dare

Again, this is a name you wouldn’t immediately recognize, but Virginia Dare was the first English settler ever born in the New World in 1587. Her father returned to England to try to earn more money for his young family, and when he returned to America, his daughter, and the entire colony – yes, this is the Roanoke colony – was gone.

7Frank Morris

Frank Morris

If you’re a fan of Clint Eastwood, you know the name, Frank Morris – as he’s the character Eastwood played in Escape from Alcatraz. Morris (along with the Anglin brothers) escaped from the inescapable prison, never to be seen again.

6DB Cooper


Another infamous disappearance of a criminal whose name has become the stuff of urban legend, DB Cooper skyjacked a plane in mid-flight, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, and parachuted out. He and his stolen loot have been missing since 1971.

5Oscar Zeta Acosta


Once again, you might not know the name but you almost certainly know the man: Oscar Zeta Acosta was Hunter S. Thompson’s lawyer, as well as his traveling companion in the book (and later, as portrayed by Benecio Del Toro, the movie) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He vanished in Mexico in 1974.

4Henry Hudson


The man for whom the Hudson River is named, famed explorer Henry Hudson went missing in 1611 in James Bay, Canada, after his ship crew mutinied and set him – along with his son and a few other sailors – adrift in what is now Hudson Bay. He was never heard from again.

3Glenn Miller


Perhaps the most famous big band leader of all-time, Glenn Miller was leading the US Army Air Force Band and was headed to Paris in 1944, when his plane simply vanished. No evidence of what happened to either the plane or Miller has ever been uncovered.

2Ambrose Bierce


An author and philosopher, Ambrose Bierce was also a veteran of the American Civil War and gained fame as a journalist. His writing led him to Mexico during the revolution led by Pancho Villa, and ultimately, his disappearance in that nation in 1914.

1Amelia Earhart


What, did you honestly think we could make this list without including Amelia Earhart? The most famous female pilot of all-time was attempting to cross the Pacific Ocean when her plane went down, and neither the plane nor Earhart was ever found.