2020 brings with it the start of not only a new year but a brand-new decade. There is a whisper of better things to come and a hint of hope. However, for some, it just means another year and possibly another decade stuck with an unsolved mystery that keeps them from finding closure.
Many have lost loved ones in inexplicable ways, while others wait for word on missing family members that never comes. On this list are 10 disappearances to be debated and mulled over. But all the while, we should not forget those left behind who are praying for their missing loved ones to return unharmed.
10 Boris Weisfeiler
Forty-three-year-old Boris Weisfeiler had just about had it with all the snow in Pennsylvania in December 1984. Craving sunshine, he booked a trip to Chile and was looking forward to hiking several trails in the Andes Mountains.
It is believed that Weisfeiler tried to cross a river at one point during a hike. The only sign that he was ever there was a backpack found on the riverbank. Weisfeiler never returned home and was never seen again. Authorities in Chile concluded that he had drowned while trying to cross the river, but his body was never recovered.
Fast-forward 16 years, and Boris Weisfeiler’s mysterious disappearance takes a sinister turn. Declassified US documents reveal that the Penn State University professor may have been murdered in Chile. The documents allege that a witness saw Weisfeiler being interrogated at an agricultural commune before being shot point-blank.
This revelation led to a new investigation. In 2012, eight men, including police and military officers, were charged with the kidnapping of Weisfeiler. However, the case was closed in 2016 and the men were all freed.
Boris Weisfeiler’s sister was devastated at this turn of events. To date, a body has not been recovered in Chile and Boris Weisfeiler’s ultimate fate remains a mystery.
9 Patricia Meehan
On April 20, 1989, 37-year-old Patricia Meehan was driving on the wrong side of the road on Montana Highway 200 when she crashed into another vehicle. The driver of the other car was Carol Heitz, an off-duty police dispatcher.
After Heitz exited her car, Meehan walked up to Heitz and stared silently at her. After a few seconds, Meehan turned around, climbed over a nearby fence, stared again at the scene, and then walked away. She was never heard from again.
After the incident, thousands of sightings of Meehan were reported: She was either hitching rides or having low-key meals at diners. These sightings all allegedly took place in the states of Montana and Washington. It was revealed that Meehan had suffered from depression and worked odd jobs at a ranch in Montana before her disappearance.
In conjunction with police efforts, Meehan’s family launched a personal search for Patricia. The family distributed 2,000 missing person flyers and made use of horses and a helicopter to search rough terrain. Despite this huge effort, Patricia Meehan remains missing.
8 Mayumi Arashi
Twenty-seven-year-old Mayumi Arashi left her home in Tokyo on September 2, 1994, after telling her sister, Yoko, that she was going out to meet a friend. When Mayumi failed to return by September 3, Yoko phoned that friend to find out where her sister was. The friend said that she hadn’t had plans to meet Mayumi the previous day.
Later the same day, a note was found in Yoko’s wardrobe. The note read: “I was going out with A but was betrayed. [ . . . ] I’m sorry.” A’s phone number was written at the bottom of the note.
Yoko dialed the number and spoke with “A.” He said that he had met with Mayumi the previous day. If Mayumi was dead, he hoped that the punishment would be prison. Yoko got hold of a private detective who tracked the movements of “A” for months. But the detective could only come back with the information that “A” had gone into the woods on March 9, 1995, carrying two drinks. A police investigation of the area turned up nothing.
Years went by with no news of Mayumi. Yoko and her father eventually did an TV interview about Mayumi’s disappearance. On a shelf behind the father was a piece of paper stuck to the wood that read: “Don’t believe what Yoko says.”
This sent viewers into a frenzy. But despite this weird turn of events, Mayumi Arashi remains missing. There are no new clues as to what may have happened to her.
7 Hannah Upp
It is not often that you hear of a person disappearing multiple times. However, this is exactly the case with Hannah Upp. She disappeared for the first time on August 28, 2008, after going for a jog on Riverside Drive near Hamilton Heights where she lived.
Nearly three weeks later, she was found floating in New York Harbor. She could not recall how she got to the harbor or what happened in the weeks she had been missing. While undergoing tests in a hospital, Upp was diagnosed with dissociative fugue, which is a rare form of amnesia. This disorder causes sufferers to forget their own identities and can last for years.
Upp disappeared again for two days in September 2013 and then again on September 14, 2017, a week after Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean. She was working at a school in the Virgin Islands at the time.
On September 16, 2017, construction workers found her car at a beach. The vehicle contained clothes and her keys. The same day, Hurricane Maria was forming in the Atlantic and brought more devastation across the northeastern Caribbean.
Unfortunately, Hannah wasn’t found and remains missing to this day.
6 Patrick Warren And David Spencer
After celebrating a great Christmas Day with their families in 1996, best friends Patrick Warren, 11, and David Spencer, 13, spent Boxing Day lazing about in their homes in Chelmsley Wood. In the afternoon, they played with a group of children in Meriden Park. When the two boys finally returned home, they asked their parents if they could visit one of Patrick’s brothers that evening.
Patrick set off on the new bicycle he had received for Christmas, and David walked beside him. They made it as far as the local gas station where an attendant saw them head toward a shopping center.
The next day, another of Patrick’s brothers went looking for the boys when it was learned that they had never arrived at their destination the previous day. Much later, Patrick’s bicycle was found behind the gas station. The boys’ faces were plastered on milk cartons in an effort to find them.
It was only in 2003 that a suspect was arrested. However, the man was released without being charged. Child killer Brian Field was also a suspect because he had killed and raped a child in 1968 and imprisoned two teens in 1986.
In 2006, the area where Field used to dump waste was searched in the hopes that the remains of the boys would be found. The search was unsuccessful.
Patrick and David remain missing in early 2020. There is little hope that the case will ever be solved.
5 Ireland’s Vanishing Triangle
On March 26, 1993, 26-year-old native New Yorker Annie McCarrick went missing from Sandymount. She was last seen outside a post office in Enniskerry. Her parents arrived after being contacted by their daughter’s friends. The parents stayed in Ireland for six months while searching unsuccessfully for their daughter.
On July 25, 1993, 39-year-old Eva Brennan left her parents’ house in Rathgar but never made it back to her apartment. After two days of not hearing from his daughter, her father went to investigate. Inside Eva’s apartment, he found the jacket she’d been wearing the day she disappeared. Eva was never seen again.
On January 3, 1994, 22-year-old Imelda Keenan told her boyfriend that she was going to the post office. She left their apartment in Waterford City at 1:30 PM. The local doctor’s secretary was the last person to see Keenan as she crossed a road in town and seemingly vanished into thin air.
On November 9, 1995, 21-year-old Josephine Dollard was spotted using a pay phone in the Moone area of Kildare. After she ended the call, she was seen getting into a car with an unknown person. Dollard never made it back home.
On August 23, 1996, 25-year-old Fiona Pender vanished after leaving her apartment in Tullamore. On February 13, 1997, 17-year-old Ciara Breen disappeared from her home in Dundalk. On February 8, 1998, 19-year-old Fiona Sinnott went missing after leaving a pub in Broadway. On July 28, 1998, 18-year-old Deirdre Jacob went missing mere meters from her parents’ home.
None of these young women have ever been found.
The tie that binds them together? They all disappeared in what has come to be known as Ireland’s Vanishing Triangle within the boundaries of Leinster. Police decided that the missing women were most likely murdered and focused their investigation on convicted rapist Larry Murphy. He was charged with an unrelated rape and attempted murder case in 2000.
With Murphy in prison, the vanishings abruptly stopped, giving authorities even more reason to suspect him. Unfortunately, a lack of evidence and staunch denials on Murphy’s part mean that he was never charged for any of the disappearances. The fate of those who vanished remains unknown.
4 Lauren Spierer
On June 3, 2011, 20-year-old Indiana University student Lauren Spierer was enjoying an evening out at a bar with a bunch of friends. Her boyfriend, Jesse Wolff, hadn’t joined her. But he texted back and forth with her before eventually heading to bed.
Surveillance footage captured Spierer leaving the Bloomington bar just before 2:30 AM. She was accompanied by a friend named Cory Rossman. Several witnesses who had seen Spierer at the bar claimed that both she and Rossman were very intoxicated when they left.
Rossman and Spierer reached her apartment complex but left again shortly afterward. They walked through an alley just before 3:00 AM. They arrived at Rossman’s apartment, and his roommate, Michael Beth, escorted the young man to his room.
Spierer refused to stay and said that she wanted to return to her own home. She ended up at the apartment of Beth’s neighbor, Jay Rosenbaum. He claimed that Spierer left at 4:30 AM and that he saw her for the last time as she was heading south on College Avenue.
Boyfriend Jesse Wolff sent Spierer a text several hours later. But he received a reply from a bar employee indicating that Spierer had forgotten her phone at the establishment. Lauren Spierer was never seen again.
In 2015, 22-year-old Hannah Wilson was found murdered and dumped in a vacant lot 10 miles from the Bloomington campus after being reported missing. Daniel Messel was charged and convicted for the crime. Police investigated any possible links between the Spierer disappearance and the Wilson murder, but nothing came of their efforts. To date, no suspects have been named and no new clues have emerged.
3 Ben McDaniel
Thirty-year-old scuba diver Ben McDaniel was diving in the underwater cave at Vortex Springs on August 18, 2010. He tried to access a dangerous part of the cave by tampering with the gate that barred uncertified divers. Two employees of Vortex Springs were diving at the same time and noticed what McDaniel was doing. One of the men decided to let McDaniel into the cave to minimize the risk of him hurting himself or accidentally drowning by getting himself stuck inside the gate.
It took two days for the same employee to realize that McDaniel’s truck had never left his parking spot on the day he went diving. Fearing that McDaniel had drowned, the employee immediately called the police. Recovery divers searched every possible corner of the cave but came up empty-handed. A veteran diver came back with the news that Ben’s stature made it impossible for him to have become confined deeper in the cave.
McDaniel’s parents offered a $30,000 reward for any diver who would risk his own life to go even further into the depths of the cave to try to find their son. One diver may have taken up the challenge, though no one is sure. That diver was found dead in the cavern.
Conspiracy theories began flying. One claimed that McDaniel had faked his own death to escape personal troubles. Another maintained that someone had murdered McDaniel and hidden his body where it would be impossible to find. According to other theories, McDaniel had drowned and his body was covered with sand or he had committed suicide and squeezed himself into a tight space beforehand, making sure that no one could get him out.
Ben McDaniel remains missing, and the truth of his disappearance still evades his loved ones.
2 Anthonette Cayedito
On April 6, 1986, Penny Cayedito arrived at her apartment in Gallup, New Mexico, after a hard day’s work. Her three daughters were sound asleep, and the babysitter left as soon as Penny got there. Penny still had a few things to do around the house and only got to bed around 3:00 AM.
She had barely fallen asleep when a knock sounded at the door. Penny didn’t hear it. But her eldest daughter, Anthonette, did and went to answer the door. Penny’s two youngest daughters didn’t think anything of this and went right back to sleep. When the family awoke later that morning, nine-year-old Anthonette was gone.
Penny immediately called the police and reported her daughter missing. One of Anthonette’s sisters believed that their uncle may have been the one who had knocked on the door. But he was soon ruled out as a suspect due to a lack of evidence.
Neighbors reported seeing a brown van outside the Cayedito residence and a man walking toward the house. Police never found this van. A whole year had gone by without any leads when police received a phone call out of the blue from a young girl.
She told police that her name was Anthonette. She claimed to have been abducted and held in Albuquerque. In the background, a male voice could be heard asking, “Who said you could use the phone?” After that, the line went dead. Police were unable to trace the call.
A few years later, a waitress in Carson City, Nevada, contacted police after a teenager left a note under her plate that read, “Help me! Call police.” Despite this, the police never found Anthonette. Penny Cayedito died in 1999 without seeing her daughter again. The case remains open.
1 Mikelle Biggs
On January 2, 1999, nine-year-old Kimber Biggs and 11-year-old Mikelle Biggs were impatiently waiting outside their house in Mesa, Arizona, for an ice cream truck to arrive. Mikelle was riding her younger sister’s bike. Kimber was feeling very cold, so she told Mikelle that she was going inside. Kimber came back outside 90 seconds later and saw her bike lying in the road with the front wheel spinning. There was no sign of Mikelle.
Within 30 minutes, more than 1,000 people were walking the streets looking for Mikelle. But with no witnesses and no leads, the case quickly ran cold. The only people questioned were neighbors of the Biggses and Mikelle’s own father, who was quickly cleared of any suspicion.
Years passed without any sign of Mikelle. Then on March 14, 2018, a reporter phoned the police in Mesa. He told an officer that a man had handed in a dollar bill with writing on it that read: “My name is Mikel Biggs. Kidnapped from Mesa. I’m alive.”
Kimber Biggs was not convinced that the note was authentic because her sister’s name had been misspelled. This, too, was a dead end.
As of early 2020, Mikelle Biggs remains missing. Her sister now has her own son, and not a day goes by that she doesn’t hope and pray for Mikelle’s safe return.