History is peppered with intriguing tales of people who, for all intents and purposes, inexplicably vanish from the face of the earth without a trace. These stories – some of the most fascinating in the annals of the unexplained – vary from being well-documented to having the flavor of mere legend and folklore. This is the top 10 bizarre disappearances.
10The Disappearance Of Oliver Larch
The story of Oliver Larch (Sometime known as Lerch or Thomas) follows a similar narrative to that of David Lang (item 3). According to his narrative, Larch was on his way to collect water from a well one winter when he vanished; leaving nothing behind but trail of footprints in the snow which terminated abruptly, and a series of cries for help that appeared to come from above. In some tellings, Larch’s story is set in late nineteenth-century Indiana, in others, it is set in North Wales. One particular recurring citation of this variant was as Oliver Thomas of Rhayader, Radnorshire, mid-Wales and the date is given specifically as 1909.
9The Flannan Isles Lighthouse Keepers
In December 1900, three lighthouse keepers vanished from their duty stations, leaving behind equipment important to surviving the hostile conditions at that location and time of year. Despite exhaustive searches, the keepers were never found. The official explanation for the disappearances is that the men were swept out to sea by a freak wave.
8The Bennington Triangle
Between 1920 and 1950, Bennington, Vermont was the site of several completely unexplained disappearances:
On December 1, 1949, Mr. Tetford vanished from a crowded bus. Tetford was on his way home to Bennington from a trip to St. Albans, Vermont. Tetford, an ex-soldier who lived in the Soldier’s Home in Bennington, was sitting on the bus with 14 other passengers. They all testified to seeing him there, sleeping in his seat. When the bus reached its destination, however, Tetford was gone, although his belongings were still on the luggage rack and a bus timetable lay open on his empty seat. Tetford has never returned or been found.
On December 1, 1946, an 18-year-old student named Paula Welden vanished while taking a walk. Welden was walking along the Long Trail into Glastenbury Mountain. She was seen by a middle-aged couple that was strolling about 100 yards behind her. They lost sight of her when she followed the trail around a rocky outcropping, but when they rounded the outcropping themselves, she was nowhere to be seen. Welden has not been seen nor heard from since.
In mid-October, 1950, 8-year old Paul Jepson disappeared from a farm. Paul’s mother, who earned a living as an animal caretaker, left her small son happily playing near a pig sty while she tended to the animals. A short time later, she returned to find him missing. An extensive search of the area proved fruitless.
7The Vanished Cripple
Owen Parfitt had been paralyzed by a massive stroke. In June, 1763 in Shepton Mallet, England, Parfitt sat outside his sister’s home, as was often his habit on warm evenings. Virtually unable to move, the 60-year-old man sat quietly is his nightshirt upon his folded greatcoat. Across the road was a farm where workers were finishing their workday by pooking the hay. At about 7 p.m., Parfitt’s sister, Susannah, went outside with a neighbor to help Parfitt move back into the house, as a storm was approaching. But he was gone. Only his folded greatcoat upon which he sat remained. Investigations of this mysterious disappearance were carried out as late as 1933, but no trace or clues to Parfitt’s fate were ever uncovered.
6The Disappearing Diplomat
British diplomat Benjamin Bathurst vanished into thin air in 1809. Bathurst was returning to Hamburg with a companion after a mission to the Austrian court. Along the way, they had stopped for dinner at an inn in the town of Perelberg. Upon finishing the meal, they returned to their waiting horse-drawn coach. Bathurst’s companion watched as the diplomat stepped over to the front of the coach to examine to horses – and simply vanished without a trace.
In 1975, a man named Jackson Wright was driving with his wife from New Jersey to New York City. This required them to travel through the Lincoln Tunnel. According to Wright, who was driving, once through the tunnel he pulled the car over to wipe the windshield of condensation. His wife Martha volunteered to clean off the back window so they could more readily resume their trip. When Wright turned around, his wife was gone. He neither heard nor saw anything unusual take place, and a subsequent investigation could find no evidence of foul play. Martha Wright had just disappeared.
4The Norfolk Regiment
Three soldiers claimed to be witnesses to the bizarre disappearance of an entire battalion in 1915. They finally came forward with the strange story 50 years after the infamous Gallipoli campaign of WWI. The three members of a New Zealand field company said they watched from a clear vantage point as a battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment marched up a hillside in Suvla Bay, Turkey. The hill was shrouded in a low-lying cloud that the English soldiers marched straight into without hesitation. They never came out. After the last of the battalion had entered the cloud, it slowly lifted off the hillside to join other clouds in the sky. When the war was over, figuring the battalion had been captured and held prisoner, the British government demanded that Turkey return them. The Turks insisted, however, that it had neither captured not made contact with these English soldiers.
3The Legend Of David Lang
This famous case allegedly took place in September, 1880 on a farm near Gallatin, Tennessee in full view of several witnesses. The two Lang children, George and Sarah, were playing in the front yard of the family home. Their parents, David and Emma, came out the front door, and David headed off across a pasture toward his horses. At this time, a buggy carrying family friend Judge August Peck was approaching. David turned to walk back to the house, saw the buggy and waved to the judge as he strode across the field. A few seconds later, David Lang – in clear view of his wife, his children and the judge – disappeared in mid-step. Emma screamed and all of the witnesses rushed to the spot where David once was, thinking perhaps he had fallen into a hole of some kind. There was no hole. A thorough search by the family, friends and neighbors turned up nothing. A few months after the unexplained disappearance, the Lang children noticed that the grass on the spot where their father vanished had turned yellow and wilted in a circle measuring about 15 feet in diameter.
2The Stonehenge Disappearance
The mysterious standing stones of Stonehenge in England was the site of an amazing disappearance in August, 1971. At this time Stonehenge was not yet protected from the public, and on this particular night, a group of “hippies” decided to pitch tents in the center of the circle and spend the night. They built a campfire, lit several joints of pot and sat around smoking and signing. Their campout was abruptly interrupted at about 2 a.m. by a severe thunder storm that quickly blew in over Salisbury Plain. Bright bolts of lightning crashed down on the area, striking area trees and even the standing stones themselves. Two witnesses, a farmer and a policeman, said that the stones of the ancient monument lit up with an eerie blue light that was so intense that they had to avert their eyes. They heard screams from the campers and the two witnesses rushed to the scene expecting to find injured – or even dead – campers. To their surprise, they found no one. All that remained within the circle of stones were several smoldering tent pegs and the drowned remains of a campfire. The hippies themselves were gone without a trace.
1The Village That Disappeared
An individual that vanishes is one thing, but how about an entire village of 2,000 men, women and children? In November, 1930, a fur trapper named Joe Labelle made his way on snow shoes to an Eskimo village on the shores of Lake Anjikuni in northern Canada. Labelle was familiar with the village, which he knew as a thriving fishing community of about 2,000 residents. When he arrived, however, the village was deserted. All of the huts and storehouses were vacant. He found one smoldering fire on which there was a pot of blackened stew. Labelle notified the authorities and an investigation was begun, and which turned up some bizarre findings: no footprints of any of the residents were found, if they had vacated the village; all of the Eskimos’ sled dogs were found buried under a 12-foot-high snow drift – they had all starved to death; all of the Eskimos’ food and provisions were found undisturbed in their huts. And there was one last unnerving discovery: the Eskimos’ ancestral graves had been emptied.
Sources: The Book of Lists, Wikipedia
Notable Omissions: The crew of the Mary Celeste