Other mysterious cases of people, planes and boats vanishing into thin air. As the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 remains a mystery, here are 10 more unexplained disappearances
Mystery: From boats to planes and people
The rescue effort to find missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is well into its third day but it’s not the first mystery disappearance to grip the globe. The flight disappeared off the radar on Saturday and was presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast after losing contact with air traffic controllers. Initial fears were that terrorists could have been responsible for the incident, as it emerged two passengers were using stolen passports. But there was a glimmer of hope on Sunday lunchtime as one family received a dial tone when trying to contact a passenger on the plane. This was described by Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority Azharuddin Abdul Rahman as an “unprecedented aviation mystery”, and it is just the latest in a long line of strange disappearances.
Crew of Mary Celeste
The 100-foot Mary Celeste was discovered drifting without a crew This Canadian-built merchant brigantine was discovered in December, 1872, in the Atlantic Ocean. The vessel was discovered unmanned and apparently abandoned, despite weather conditions being good at the time. A lifeboat was also missing, along with the boat’s captain, his family and the crew. Captain Benjamin Briggs had reportedly taken his wife, Sarah, and the couple’s two-year-old daughter, Sophia, aboard, and none of them have been seen since. The ship was found to be in good condition and they had even reportedly left behind belongings including boots and pipes. The ship’s last log entry on November 25 confirmed it had reached the island of St Mary in the Azores.
Glamorous Amelia Earhart – one of the first female aviators in history – vanished on July 2, 1937, while attempting to fly around the globe. Her disappearance somewhere over the South Pacific during the last 7,000 miles of her epic journey captivated the world and devastated devoted fans. After the huge search was finally called off and she was pronounced dead, her mysterious end has continued to fascinate – and spark many conspiracy theories. A blurry black and white photo taken by a British military surveyor two months after Amelia disappeared, claimed to hold the key to where she ended up. It appeared to show the landing gear of an aircraft protruding from the waters off Gardner Island, near Australia. Women’s clothes and other artefacts from the 1930s were found on the atoll, now called Nikumaroro and part of the Micronesian nation of Kiribati. The discoveries raise the possibility that Amelia reached land where she may have survived for weeks before starving to death. But it was never confirmed.
Richard John Bingham disappeared in 1974 after his children’s nanny was found murdered Richard John Bingham – aka Lord Lucan – disappeared on November 8, 1974 after his children’s nanny was found murdered. Lucan is alleged to have brutally bludgeoned to death Sandra Rivett in the family home in London. It’s thought the Earl mistook Sandra for his wife Veronica, whom he blamed for the collapse of their marriage. He has not been seen since and over the next four decades, hundreds of sightings of the elusive Earl have been reported, but his whereabouts remain unknown. He was later declared legally dead in October 1999. In February 2012, it was claimed Lucan had fled to Africa after the murder.
Verdict: Declared dead but unsolved
Planes in Bermuda Triangle
Lost Squadron & plane Flight 19 supposedly vanished in Bermuda Triangle. There is a long list of aircraft which appear to have disappeared over the extensive patch of water, also named the Devil’s Triangle, in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean. But most notably, on the afternoon of December 5, 1945, five planes disappeared into thin air – and started the legend of the Triangle. A training mission of five Navy Avenger planes, named Flight 19, led by experienced flight instructor Charles Taylor, took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. An hour and a half into the mission, pilots reported that they had become disorientated and couldn’t recognize landmarks below them. In radio transmissions, Taylor told the Naval Air Station at Fort Lauderdale both of his compasses were out of action. Despite the efforts of the Air Station controllers, the team were unable to find their bearings. As the weather deteriorated, they couldn’t find landfall and ditched into the sea, with the deaths of all 14 airmen and crew. Weirder still, one of the planes sent out to look for the lost training mission also disappeared. The aircraft, a PBM Mariner sea plane, which took off at 7.30pm and was never heard from again. All 13 crew were presumed dead.
Henry Hudson, discoverer of the Hudson river in 1609, disappeared in the early 17th century. Sea explorer Henry Hudson made several attempts to find a northern passage to the Orient from the US. In May, 1607, he made it as far as the Great Barrier Reef, but couldn’t get past it, and more voyages ended in much the same way. The final expedition was on a boat called Discovery, setting out in 1610. Hudson and his crew made it to Hudson Bay where they were trapped in icy conditions and became stranded for months. When the ice cleared there was a mutiny, with several reports it was sparked because Hudson refused to turn home without exploring further. He is said to have been left with a small crew and his teenage son John, and set adrift in a small open boat. Verdict: Unsolved
She disappeared in 2007, sparking a worldwide appeal to find her but she’s still missing
Maddie McCann disappeared without a trace in May 2007, while she was on holiday with her family in Praia da Luz, Portugal. Her parents Kate and Gerry had left Madeline and her twin siblings in the room while they went for dinner in a nearby restaurant with a group of friends. They then allegedly took turns to check on them, before Kate discovered her eldest daughter was missing at around 10pm. It was first treated as an abduction by local police, before theories she may have died in the apartment arose and her parents became suspects. That line of enquiry eventually ran cold, and several theories over who could have snatched the then three-year-old have surfaced ever since. It became one of the most reported missing persons cases in the world, capturing millions’ of people’s hearts. British detectives launched a fresh investigation into the youngster’s disappearance in July last year – two years into a review of the case – and made renewed appeals on television in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany. After shelving their inquiry into Madeleine’s disappearance Portuguese authorities said last October that a review had uncovered enough new information to justify reopening it.
Fort Worth Three
Julie Ann Moseley, Rachel Trlica and Lisa Renee Wilson went missing in 1974. In December 1974, three girls from three separate families set out on a shopping trip to the Seminary South Shopping Center in Fort Worth, US. Rachel Trlica, 17, 14-year-old Renee Wilson and nine-year-old Julie Ann Moseley were never seen again. Rachel is reported to have picked her friend Renee up and they took the youngest, Julie, along with them, who lived nearby. They were spotted in the mall by witnesses throughout the day, and their car was later found with their shopping inside, but with no sign of any of the girls. The mystery sparked a widespread search as friends, family, and local residents scoured country roads looking for the trio. Despite chasing many empty leads, police failed to find anyone who knew where the girls could be and the trail eventually went cold.
The Crew of the Sarah Joe
A case of five lost fishermen from Hana Bay, Maui, still baffles people across the world. Benjamin Kalama, 38, Scott Moorman, 27, Patrick Woessner, 26, Peter Hanchett, 31, and Ralph Malaiakini, 27, all disappeared in 1979 while out on their boat the Sarah Joe. The friends had reportedly been helping to build a house when they decided to take a day off and have a trip out to sea on the 17-foot Boston whaler. Severe weather meant swell and winds were high and they weren’t found. But, 10 years later, a marine biologist reportedly found a small boat in the Marshall Islands next to a small grave with a jaw bone buried. Dental records showed it belonged to Scott Moorman, but none of the other men were found, according to reports. It is unclear whether they made it to land alive.
The Sodder Children
Maurice Antonio, Martha Lee, Louis Erico, Jennie Irene and Betty Dolly Sodder all went missing in 1945. The siblings, from West Virginia, US, were never found after their home burned down due to what was reported as wiring problems. The eldest three children, and the youngest daughter, survived, but the five middle children’s remains were never found. Parents George and Jennie Sodder reportedly believed the fire was a cover up for an abduction so hired detectives to find their children, but they were unsuccessful. They were later declared legally dead, but police continued to pursue several leads, including a photo sent to the family in 1968 of an unknown man. They were never seen again.
FBI sketch: Plane hijacker D.B. Cooper, who has never been formally identified but named D.B. by the media, boarded a Northwest Orient flight in Portland, Oregon on 24 November 1971, under the name Dan Cooper. Once mid-air, he demanded $200,000 from the crew and a parachute. They landed in Seattle, where he was handed the money, and he later demanded the pilot take off again and head to Mexico. Cooper is thought to have jumped from the back stairway of the plane over Washington state. Despite several planes following, no one saw him leap to the ground. It is thought he may have died during the jump, but a body has never been found.
Irish Crown Jewels
The Irish Crown Jewels were stolen in 1907 from Dublin Castle. The Irish Crown Jewels comprised of a jewelled star and badge and were the regalia of the Order of St Patrick. They were entrusted to the care of Ulster King of Arms, Ireland’s chief herald and genealogist. The jewels and the collars and badges of the members of the Order were locked in a steel safe together. They were stolen from Dublin Castle in 1907 and the thieves left no trace of who they were, so the jewels were never found. It caused uproar and distrust in the Government, and King Edward VII had reportedly been due to visit Ireland a few days later to invest a knight of the Order, but had to abandon his plans. Verdict: Unsolved
A Boeing B-47 Stratojet disappeared, carrying nuclear weapons, in 1956 over the Mediterranean Sea. The jet took off from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, on March 10 on a heading for Morocco. It completed one aerial refueling without incident but after descending through cloud for more fuel, it never made contact with the tanker and disappeared. It had been carrying two capsules of nuclear weapons material in carrying cases but a detonation reportedly wouldn’t have been possible. No debris was ever found and the crew were later pronounced dead.
Navy carrier USS Cyclops disappeared in 1918 in the Bermuda Triangle. The ship, plus 306 crew and passengers, were never found again. It had been travelling with a heavy load of bulk cargo and passengers from Brazil, to Baltimore, Maryland, in February, but rather than heading straight to its destination, it reportedly deviated to Barbados for a final stop. Cyclops departed again for the last leg of the journey in March but was never seen again Despite it being reported as the largest loss of life in US Naval history not involving combat, there was speculation it may have been captured or sunk by German troops as it was in the First World War. There are also theories heavy winds and storms between Cape Hatteras and Cape Charles may have sunk the boat without anyone knowing. No debris was ever found, nor any of the passengers ever traced again.
An engraving of the Capture of Roanoke Island, in 1862. The Roanoke Colony, nicknamed the Lost Colony, was set up by Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh to create a permanent English settlement on Roanoke Island in Dare County, US. The 120 settlers, who arrived in 1587, disappeared in 1590, sparking several theories as to what happened. According to some reports, they may have died from disease, while others say local Native American tribes could have killed them in a violent rampage. The group comprised families with women and children attempting to make their homes there, but none of them were seen again. An investigation into what happened was sparked again in 2012 when a map was discovered which appeared to show where the colony attempted to set up home. A satellite survey began and scientists used ground penetrating radar (GPR) to try and find clues to what happened, but it still hasn’t been solved.