It’s always frustrating when a person mysteriously disappears and no one ever finds out what happened to them. It’s even more frustrating when the investigation of these disappearances winds up uncovering clues that only raise more questions than they answer. Here are some unsolved disappearances which are much more unusual than your typical missing persons case and feature some very baffling twists and turns. In each of these creepy cases, bizarre clues have been discovered which add a lot of confusion to the mystery and are sure to leave sleuths scratching their heads.
On September 28, 1988, a 19-year old girl named Tara Calico left her home in Belen, New Mexico to go bike riding on Highway 47. Neither Tara nor her bicycle were seen again. Her case went cold until June 15, 1989 when a woman found a Polaroid in a parking spot outside a convenience store in Port St. Joe, Florida. A white van had previously been parked in the spot, and the photo featured a teenage girl and young boy were both bound and gagged in the back of a van.
It was speculated that the girl in the photo might be Tara and that the boy was Michael Henley, a nine-year old who vanished on a New Mexico camping trip the previous year. However, Michael’s remains were soon found in the same area he originally went missing. Two other photographs featuring a gagged girl resembling Tara surfaced over the next few months, though they have never been released to the public. Years later, a Valencia County sheriff publicly stated his belief that Tara was killed the day she disappeared when two local residents accidentally hit her with their truck and disposed of her body, but he had insufficient evidence to make an arrest. But if this theory is true, then what’s the story behind the two kids in the photograph?
On the morning of January 25, 2006, the husband of 35-year old Teresa Butler returned to his home in Risco, Missouri after working the night shift and discovered that his wife was missing and their two young sons were home alone. Her Jeep was still at the house and there were no signs of struggle or forced entry, but her kids could not shed any light on what happened to her. Teresa’s purse and cellular phone were missing, as were a lot of other valuable items from the house, such as a Playstation, video camera and car stereo. However, her wedding rings and jacket were left behind.
Things got even more bizarre when authorities discovered that two calls had been made from Teresa’s cell phone shortly after she disappeared to numbers at two different towns in Missouri. The person at the first number never answered the phone, while the second did answer and claimed they heard nothing on the line. Neither of these people had ever heard of Teresa Butler and don’t have any information about her disappearance. Seven years later, there are still no answers in this baffling case and no trace of Teresa has ever been found.
In March of 1998, Amy Bradley, a 23-year old girl from Virginia, went on vacation with her parents and brother on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Rhapsody of the Seas. While they were in the vicinity of Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles, Amy mysteriously vanished from the ship. Amy’s family last saw her on their suite’s balcony in the wee hours of the morning of March 24, and eyewitnesses reported seeing her in an elevator with a member of the ship’s band sometime afterward. The ship docked in Curacao shortly after Amy’s parents reported her missing, but it was not locked down while the crew searched for her. Seven years later, Amy’s parents were E-mailed a photograph from an adult escort website featuring a woman who resembled her.
It is speculated that Amy may have been smuggled off the ship in Curacao and sold into sexual slavery. There have been numerous eyewitness sightings of her over the years. One of them came from an American sailor who visited a brothel in Curacao and claimed that a woman who said her name was “Amy Bradley” asked him for help before she was escorted away. While Amy’s family have launched an extensive investigation to find her, her ultimate fate is still unknown.
On November 21, 1987, Korrina Lynne Sagers Malinoski, a 26-year old woman from Mount Holly, South Carolina, mysteriously disappeared when she did not show up for work and her car was found parked in front of the Mount Holly Plantation. But that’s not even the most bizarre aspect of this story. On October 4, 1988, Korrina’s 8-year old daughter, Annette Sagers, was on her way to school and went to the bus stop in front of the Mount Holly Plantation… and she mysteriously vanished as well!
To make things even stranger, a note was found at the bus stop which read: “Dad, momma come back. Give the boys a hug”. While it looked like it may have been written under duress, handwriting experts determined that Annette likely wrote the note. It’s been speculated that Annette’s mother may have returned to reclaim her daughter so they could disappear together, but she also left two sons behind and no one in their family has heard from either of them in 25 years. In 2000, an anonymous caller claimed that Annette’s body was buried in Sumter County, but that lead never panned out. Overall, this is a truly baffling mystery with no discernible solution.
On the morning of August 4, 1981, a 20-year old woman named Cynthia Anderson went to her job as a legal secretary at a law firm in Toledo, Ohio. When her employers arrived at work later on, Cynthia had vanished. Her purse and car keys were missing, but her vehicle was still parked outside. Eerily, a romance novel she had been reading was at her desk and it was open to the one scene in the story where the heroine is abducted at knifepoint. This clue could be read as a sign that she staged her own disappearance, but there has been no trace of her in over 30 years.
There have been many other theories about what happened to Cynthia. A month after her disappearance, police received an anonymous phone call that Cynthia was being held against her will in the basement of a white house, but this lead never went anywhere. One of the attorneys at Cynthia’s firm was involved in drug dealing and later went to prison, drumming up speculation that she may have overheard incriminating information which led to her murder. However, there is no concrete evidence to support any of these theories and Cynthia Anderson remains missing.
On the morning of February 14, 2000, the parents of 9-year old girl Asha Degree went to wake her up and discovered she was not in her bed. Even though Asha shared a room with her brother, he had no idea what happened to her. Witnesses later reported seeing a girl matching Asha’s description walking down the highway at around 4:00 a.m., so it seems she may have sneaked out on her own. Asha was currently studying a fantasy book in school about children who go on adventures after running away, which could have inspired her actions. Things got even more bizarre once Asha’s belongings started turning up.
Three days after she disappeared, Asha’s pencil, marker and hair bow were found in the doorway of a tool shed approximately one mile from her home. A year-and-a-half later, Asha’s book bag was found 26 miles away. It contained more of her belongings and had been double-wrapped in plastic trash bags. This has led authorities to suspect foul play, but there are still no answers about why Asha would leave her home in the middle of the night, who she might have crossed paths with, or what ultimately happened to her.
Laureen Rahn, a 14-year old girl from Manchester, New Hampshire, was last seen on the evening of April 26, 1980 during a get-together at her apartment with two friends. Laureen’s mother, Judith, came home that night and was baffled to discover that the apartment building’s hallway was dark because all the light bulbs had been unscrewed. Judith assumed Laureen was sleeping in her bed, but in the morning, she discovered that it was actually Laureen’s friend, who had no idea where Laureen was.
The police initially suspected Laureen was a runaway, but things got weird in October of that year when Judith discovered three calls to California on her phone bill which she had never made. Two of the calls were made to motels while the other was made to a teen sexual assistance hotline. The wife of the physician who ran this hotline was known for housing runaways, and at least one of these motels was often used by a notorious child pornographer known as “Dr. Z”. However, authorities could find no evidence to tie Laureen to any of these leads. For the next several years, Judith would also get mysterious phone calls from a caller who never said anything, but in the end, the ultimate fate of Laureen Rahn remains a mystery.
In March of 2000, 23-year old college student Leah Roberts left on a road trip from her home in Raleigh, North Carolina. She took most of her belongings and her cat with her, but did not tell anyone where she was going. On March 18, her jeep was discovered abandoned on a logging road in Whatcom County, Washington. The vehicle had crashed over an embankment and while it’s likely the driver would have been injured in an accident like that, there was no sign of any blood. All of Leah’s belongings (including a pair of pants containing $2500) were scattered throughout the scene, there was no trace of Leah or her cat.
To make things even stranger, blankets had been placed over the vehicle’s windows, indicating that someone had used it as a shelter. One week later, police received a call from a man claiming he saw a woman matching Leah’s description at a gas station many miles away from the crash scene. The caller said she looked disoriented, but he inexplicably hung up before giving any more details. This has been the only known sighting of Leah Roberts since her disappearance, but there’s no other indication about what may have happened to her.
On April 10, 1988, 40-year old Diane Augat left her residence in Odessa, Florida and mysteriously disappeared. Three days later, Diane’s mother received a message on her answering machine from a woman who sounded just like her daughter. She was saying “Help, help, let me out” and “Hey, gimme that” as the sounds of someone trying to grab the phone away could be heard in the background. The caller ID read “Starlight”, but there was no answer when Diane’s mother called the number back.
Things got really morbid on April 15 when the severed tip of Diane’s right middle finger was found in the area where she was last seen. Two weeks later, a bag containing her neatly folded clothing was discovered in a convenience store’s freezer. Two-and-a-half years after Diane went missing, a local paper published a story about her disappearance. The very next day, Diane’s brother’s girlfriend happened to discover a plastic bag in another convenience store. It had the name “Diane” written on it and contained items which may have belonged to her. In spite of these bizarre clues, no other trace of Diane Augat has ever been found.
Mary Shotwell Little, a 25-year old newlywed secretary at a bank in Atlanta, Georgia, mysteriously vanished after having dinner with a friend on the night of October 14, 1965. The next day, her car was found in the same lot where she had parked the night before, but there were indications that it had been driven away from this location and returned. Her undergarments were neatly folded inside and there were traces of blood throughout the vehicle. The car also had a license plate which was not registered to Mary and had been stolen from another vehicle in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The day after she disappeared, Mary’s gasoline credit card wound up being used at two separate stations in Charlotte and Raleigh. The signatures for them read “Mrs. Roy H. Little Jr.” and appeared to be in Mary’s handwriting. Both places reported seeing a disheveled woman matching Mary’s description who seemed to have a minor head injury and was in the company of two domineering men. There have been many theories about her disappearance, ranging from an obsessive secret admirer to a sex scandal at her workplace, but none of them have ever been proven and Mary Little’s fate remains an unsolved mystery.
Robin Warder is a budding Canadian screenwriter who has used his encyclopedic movie knowledge to publish numerous articles at Cracked.com. I am also the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row.