People Share The Greatest Unsolved Mysteries And Disappearances In History
Cold cases. Random vanishings. Unexplainable events and phenomena—the world’s history is riddled with them. Some of these cases are just so incredibly eerie that it’s hard to get them out of your mind. The more you read about the details of each case, the more you’re left scratching your head, unsure of what to think or how to feel. They may even cause you to lose sleep at night because you end up becoming so invested in them. People from around the world took to the internet to share the greatest unsolved mysteries and disappearances that just absolutely fascinated them. A fair warning to the lighthearted: the following stories may leave you with goosebumps, raised hairs or chills up your spine. You may want to keep a night light on when you read these tonight:
#1 The Lines Of Life
For me, it is the Nazca Lines in Peru. Giant line drawings that are really only visible from a high altitude (like in a helicopter or plane). They were made a long time before the technology to observe them from heights of a couple of hundred feet was possible.
#2 Gone Without A Trace
Rico Harris. He was a massive 6’9″ former Harlem Globetrotter basketball player who had addiction issues earlier in his life, but had made a full recovery and was getting his life back on track. He was driving along California’s Interstate I-5, from his home in Southern California to Seattle, to live with his girlfriend. He was somewhere just north of Sacramento, exhausted, and told his girlfriend over the phone that he wanted to check out the mountains. All calls stopped since then.
His car was found a couple of days later by a patrolman near a rest stop in the mountains. A massive search was launched. No signs of him. The strangest part? A driver later reported seeing a massive 6’9″ individual wandering down the highway, just a mile from where the car was found—a week later. A search was re-launched, massive size-17 footprints were found in the ground that had not there before, they were getting very close, and then… Nothing. No trace, no physical body, nothing.
Where did Rico go the first time he disappeared? Where was he for an entire week? And where did he disappear again? The fact that someone could disappear twice, is what makes this so dang mystifying to me.
#3 Parachute To Nonexistence
D.B. Cooper, the guy who hijacked a plane, collected a ransom, parachuted out the back, and completely disappeared. It wasn’t a trick parachute, it was a training parachute. It was also just the belly-mounted reserve. He still had a perfectly functional main parachute. The storm definitely makes a jump like that dangerous but not impossible.
#4 The Dancing Plague of 1518
The Dancing Plague of 1518 was a case of dancing mania that occurred in Strasbourg in July 1518. Around 400 people took to dancing for days without rest and, over the period of about one month, some of those affected collapsed or even died of heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion. Historical documents, including “physician notes, cathedral sermons, local and regional chronicles, and even notes issued by the Strasbourg city council” are clear that the victims danced. It is not known why these people danced, some even to their deaths.
#5 The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser
I find the story of Kaspar Hauser, an anonymous teenager found wandering the streets of Nuremberg in the early 19th century, fascinating. He appeared out of nowhere with no family, friends or anyone who could confirm his identity. He claimed to have been kept in almost total isolation for his whole life up until that point. His linguistic skills were severely limited, consistent with someone who had grown up with very little human contact.
Rumors began to circulate that he was actually a German prince who had been swapped at birth with a lifeless baby to prevent his succession to the throne by scheming relatives. Rather than end him, they locked him up in complete isolation and left him there to be forgotten, until somehow he was freed or managed to escape.
He attracted several wealthy sponsors over the course of his short life, but none were successful at solving the mystery of his origins. He passed away under suspicious circumstances five years after being found. Of course, he may have just been a deranged fantasist or attention seeker—who knows!
#6 The Disappearance Of Asha Degree
The disappearance of Asha Degree. She was a shy nine-year-old girl who randomly left her house around 2 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, 2000, in the pouring rain. Her backpack was found later, but she never was. It’s even stranger because some of the more common explanations for child disappearances don’t apply here. For example, there was no computer in her house, so she couldn’t have met some stranger who lured her out.
She did well in school and she had a supportive family, so none of the typical reasons children run away. She was also extremely afraid of dogs, so it was out of character for her to go walking around alone. There were never any real clues to her disappearance, and the trail went cold basically the day it happened.
#7 Mysterious Men
The Lead Mask Mystery of Brazil. The bodies of two men found wearing lead masks covering their eyes with a notebook that mysteriously read “4:30 p.m., be at the determined place. 6:30 p.m., swallow capsules, after effect, protect metals, and wait for the signal.” in Portuguese.
#8 Who Ended Jon Benet Ramsay?
The circumstantial evidence points to a family member, likely her mother or brother. But all family members were conclusively cleared by DNA testing. So many things in the investigation were botched that we’ll probably never know. The deeper you look at the case the more theories you can come up with. Usually more evidence narrows the suspects but in this case, the volume of evidence expands the pool of possibilities.
#9 The Silent Twins
The silent twins. They only spoke to one another in a language they created. They also tried to end each other on occasion. They were committed, and both eventually decided that in order to live a normal life, one of them would have to leave this life… So they decided which one of them would have to go, and then that twin passed away… of heart failure… inflammation of the heart, to be exact. The other went on to live a perfectly normal life.
#10 Nowhere To Be Found
The disappearance of Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos.
“Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos went missing in 2004 and 2003, respectively, under similar circumstances in Naples, Florida. Both men were last seen being arrested by former Collier County Sheriff’s deputy Corporal Steve Calkins for driving without a license. He claims he changed his mind about both arrests and last saw the men after he dropped them at Circle K convenience stores. Actor Tyler Perry offered a $100,000 reward for any information leading to the location of the men or leading to an arrest in the case. Al Sharpton, of the National Action Network, and Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, also joined Perry in raising awareness of the cause.”
#11 The Alcatraz Mystery
The 1962 Alcatraz escape. I really hope they managed to escape even though they were criminals because I don’t think they ever injured anybody. I am very interested in crime that requires smart thinking and where nobody gets injured by the criminals.
#12 The Mary Celeste
The Mary Celeste: a merchant ship found abandoned and adrift in 1872. The crew’s belongings had not been disturbed. There were ample provisions for the sail. The cargo was not disturbed. However, the lifeboat was gone. The crew just… disappeared. A lot of scholars think that it’s likely the vessel was struck by a waterspout, which explained the water found on-board and why the crew might have panicked and abandoned ship even though the waterspout ended up not causing significant damage to the vessel. It seems plausible that they might have overreacted to one and then eventually were lost because the lifeboats couldn’t keep them afloat forever.
#13 Houska Castle
Houska Castle creeps me out. Basically, this Bohemian fortress was constructed on top of an ancient Slavo-Germanic pagan ritual site which was a very deep hole. Nothing too weird about that except for the way the castle was built. For one, it was constructed in a useless position that served no strategic purpose, so it was not desirable for medieval lords of Bohemia or any invaders to control.
Then, people realized that the castle was actually inverted! The fortifications were on the inside (arrow slits, turrets, thick fortress walls slanting into the castle, etc). It’s as if they were trying to keep something inside. There’s a legend that a Bohemian king lowered a prisoner into the hole that the castle was built on and he began screaming, so they pulled him back up. He had aged 60 years and passed away.
#14 The Unlucky Maura Murray
The disappearance of Maura Murray. She disappeared after crashing her car into a snowbank in the middle of the night in the Kancamagus region of New Hampshire. Some witnesses saw the crash and even spoke to her, but by the time the police arrived minutes later, she was gone. Her personal effects were strewn around the car and a rag was stuffed in the tailpipe.
K9s were used to track her scent but it ended a few yards away from where she crashed. It’s presumed that’s where she was picked up or abducted by someone. Later that year, a man approached her parents and claimed his brother had kidnapped and ended her, but it was never proven.
#15 The Fateful Detour
The American Dyatlov Pass. Five guys take a bizarre detour home from a basketball game. They end up inside a cabin in the woods and end up starving to death despite ample supplies in the cabin. A lot of people point to the fact that these people were “slow” adults as an excuse for the behavior, but nothing explains all of the weird events that seemed to have occurred.
#16 The Existence of UFOs
The UFO phenomenon. They told the public that aircraft of unknown origins with capabilities that are incomprehensible to known physics are regularly infringing on our airspace and there’s nothing we can do about it. Operating with no apparent means of lift or thrust, even underwater. And they seem to turn off our nukes whenever they want. Also, I guess they’re storing material recovered from UFOs at some building owned by Bigelow Aerospace.
#17 The JFK Assassination
I know the JFK assassination is too typical, but I still think about it and it’s freaking crazy. You can say it was a setup, that the FBI and the USA government were involved… but we’ll never know the truth. My understanding was that there totally was a conspiracy—to hide the monumental mistakes made by the FBI and the Secret Service.
#18 The Zodiac Killer
I vote for the Zodiac Killer. He left multiple cryptic messages, some of which never got decoded, but they never identified him. There’s much debate as to what happened to him, and even how extensive the scope of his killings are. I believe the FBI still has a reward for information leading to his arrest, but nobody has heard anything in decades.
#19 The Great Attractor
The Great Attractor. It’s a supermassive something (not a black hole, by the way) which is inexorably dragging everything nearby, including the entire Milky Way Galaxy, towards it. Nobody knows what it is, though it’s been theorised to be an incredibly dense cluster of galaxies (equating to the better part of a hundred thousand Milky Ways).
#20 Nahanni Valley
The legends of Nahanni Valley. It’s a valley in Nahanni National Park in the Northwest Territory in Canada. Very isolated and remote. Largely unexplored. Also known as “Valley of the Headless Men.” Many of the tribes in the area avoided it for thousands of years, believing it was an evil haunted place, inhabited by strange beings, spirits, etc.
A violent tribe called the Naha was said to inhabit it, with large men and strange weapons. They liked to decapitate their victims. They mysteriously disappeared one day, never to be seen again. When the frontier men, miners, etc. started coming in, many mysteriously ended up decapitated. Others just disappeared. It’s long had reports of strange lights, UFOs, cryptids, living fossils. Overall a strange place, and interesting to read about.
#21 The Annandale Jane Doe
December 1996. Under the cover of the night, she walked into a small cemetery and sat up against a mausoleum overlooking the section where children were buried. She put on headphones, sipped the last of her brandy, and then she was gone. Next to her was a small Christmas tree, a backpack, and a Minnie Mouse fanny pack. She left a note, saying she was deceased by her own hand, along with two $50 bills for her cremation. Her ashes sit in the local police department, and to this day, no one here in the DC metro area knows who she was.
#22 “Taman Shud”
The Somerton Man. The body of an unidentified man was found on Somerton Beach, South Australia in 1948. In his pocket, the man had a piece of a paper with the words “taman shud” printed on it, a Persian phrase meaning ended. After a police appeal, the book Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam was handed to police by a man who claimed it was put inside his car via an open window. This book had a piece of the final page torn, matching the paper from the Somerton man. The back cover of the book had indentations from handwriting, believed to be a code. To this day the man has never been identified nor has the code been deciphered.
#23 FBI Wanted Cases
Jason Derek Brown, former Mormon, partier, surfer, and chill type of guy. He ended a security guard and ran off. He hasn’t been seen since 2005, except for an unconfirmed sighting in 2009.
Robert William Fisher, a former marine. He blew up his house. He hasn’t been seen since 2001. The last sign of him was his abandoned car and his dog. Nobody knows if he’s still out in the woods.
Donald Eugene Webb had been on the wanted list for 26 years. You’d think he’d be all over the place but he was really hidden by his wife and passed away in 1999. His body was finally found in 2017.
#24 No Trace At All
One I feel a connection to because I followed it from the beginning: four years ago, a young girl called Anne-Cécile Pinel went missing. I was at a music festival in Croatia with a few friends when it happened. One morning, she got out of the van to go #1. She never came back. She was reported missing shortly after. The area was searched and they found her wallet and phone in an abandoned ruin not far away. No trace of her anywhere though.
#25 Orange Air
I was visiting friends in Vancouver Canada in the autumn of 1999. At around 9 pm we stepped outside and soon tried to figure out what big bright sign or light was illuminating everything orange. To our amazement, there were no lights of any kind. Then a neighbor came out and asked where the light was coming from. The haze, the fog, the ‘air itself’ was absolutely glowing a greenish-orange. Soon, others appeared, dog walkers coming back bewildered. We decided to take a walk and sure enough, it was everywhere.
We saw another neighbor waving their arms in the air as if it was smoke but it was just as if the atmosphere, the air itself was simply electrified orange. About an hour later it wasn’t too noticeable anymore but for what it’s worth, the sky, as in looking up to the clouds was the most astonishing and strange electric blue I have ever seen in my life.
#26 A Deadly Blow
Missy Beavers. She was a church gym instructor who was ended in the very early hour in the morning. She was doing fitness prep work when a guy in a full police uniform hit her with a hammer. She had a lot of creepers on social media and had, at the time, experience da falling out with her husband’s side of the family. The suspect pool is incredibly large and there are tons of theories.
#27 Food, Food, Food
Tarrare: a man of 1800s France who literally kept eating. He was thin, so he ate literally entire feasts that were meant for several people. He would feel terrible if he didn’t eat that much. His parents actually disowned him because they couldn’t afford to feed him.
#28 The Codex Gigas
The Codex Gigas. It’s been mysteriously saved multiple times from burning buildings. For example, it was chucked out of a burning building from the fourth floor or something, but the catch is that a single person can’t carry it. It weighs several hundred pounds and no one was in the building. Nobody knows its origins. Also, it’s reported that there’s evidence in the handwriting and ink that the entire book was written within a very short period of time, (like a week or something) but the book is so huge, it should’ve taken years to write. Really interesting stuff.
#29 The Miracle Of Fatima
The Miracle of the Sun, also known as the Miracle of Fátima, refers to an event that allegedly occurred on 13 October 1917 above a large crowd who had gathered near Fátima, Portugal, in response to a prophecy made by three shepherd children. The prophecy was that the Virgin Mary (referred to as Our Lady of Fatima), would appear and perform miracles on that date. Newspapers published testimony from reporters and other people who claimed to have witnessed extraordinary solar activity, such as the sun appearing to “dance” or zig-zag in the sky, careen towards the earth, or emit multicolored light and radiant colors. According to these reports, the event lasted approximately ten minutes.
Estimates of the number of people range from 30-40k all the way up to 100k. Yet this amazing event wasn’t observed anywhere else in the world outside of Fatima Portugal. There is also a cryptic aspect to the story where supposedly the Virgin Mary revealed a secret about the end of the world to the sisters that they never told anyone except for the Pope.
#30 A Lost Empire
The Lost Empire of Yam. Existing at the same time as the old kingdom of Egypt, we have records of merchants who visited it, but no consensus on where it was located! It was rich, powerful, and well known to the neighboring kingdoms.
#31 Pied Piper Myth
Whatever happened that developed into the Pied Piper myth? The earliest entry in the Hamelin town chronicles in 1384 which states: “It is 100 years since our children left.” But other than that, there is no consistent agreement on what happened that caused the children to ‘leave,’ whether it’s a metaphor for a plague or something else.
#32 The Mystery of Oak Island
The Mystery of Oak Island. Island off the east coast of Canada that has a large hole or shaft presumed to be many things. Templar Treasure, Lost works of Shakespeare, etc. No one has ever gotten to the bottom of the pit and it is booby-trapped. It’s crazy to me that something can be there for decades and known but never fully analyzed.
#33 The Black Dahlia Case
The Black Dahlia case. This one frustrates me because the journalists seriously screwed it up. They stampeded the crime scene and damaged a lot of the actual evidence, lowering the chances of it ever getting solved, and then they invaded the police station. Some of them went as far as to sit at the desks and answer the phones whenever someone called in a tip, and then rushed off to investigate the tip for their story without ever sharing it with the police. Yes, the police received a LOT of fake tips, but there’s always a chance one of those calls could have actually led to the culprit.
#34 No Motive, No Hints
Apparently, Stephen Paddock’s motive. It’s been several months and we still have no idea what motivated him to do what he did. No manifesto, no hints from relatives, nothing. This has sparked several conspiracy theorists to come up with explanations, but I suspect he just was a very private person and we will never know.
#35 Creepy Puzzle
Cicada 3301. If I remember correctly, one of the guys who solved it said that he got invited to a chat room composed of previous winners and they received commands of Cicada to build a program or something. I don’t remember if they managed to finish the project, but eventually, they left the chat room.
#36 The Unknown
Archaeology is nothing but a mystery. One of my favorites is the Chauvet cave paintings. (If you’ve never seen Werner Herzog’s documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams about Chauvet, please do.) They appear to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, cave paintings our species made, around thirty thousand years ago. They were made more than ten thousand years before the cave paintings at Lascaux, although there are strong stylistic similarities between the two sites.
We don’t know who made them and why – it’s interesting thinking about the decisions they made, for instance, most illustrations are made in profile. There are no human figures except for the “sorcerer” image of a bull appearing to embrace or merge with the naked lower half of a woman, which is a unique image in style and content—the vulva is forward-facing and some of the pubic triangles were erased to draw the “sorcerer” bull, whereas in the rest of the cave figures are drawn overlapping each other quite constantly and the artists appeared to have no problem with that. What did this mean?
#37 The Wow! Signal
Astronomer here. In my field, the Wow! signal is probably the most famous unexplained mystery. It was basically detected in 1977 by a telescope that was just pointed overhead and looked very similar to what a SETI signal is expected to look like. It was first noted the next morning by an astronomer (who wrote “Wow!” in the log margins) and was never seen again despite extensive follow up over the years.
There have been various suggestions on what the Wow! signal was (but no, it probably wasn’t comets). Personally, based on my experience with man-made interference (RFI) in radio astronomy (I wrote a paper on distinguishing a real transient signal from that stuff), it was most likely RFI from a satellite or similar. But until we see another signal like it, we just don’t know for sure, and that’s very fun to think about!
#38 The Creepy Diary
Probably my favorite unsolved mystery is the Eilean Mor Lighthouse Mystery. Basically, the three lighthouse-keepers disappeared from the island. Inside the lighthouse, they found uneaten meals on the table and missing coats among other weird things. The creepy part is the logbook. It’s supposed to be used strictly for logging work-related entries, but they started using it as a sort of journal or diary. It was explained in the logbook how there was a terrible storm the was lasting for many days and that one of the keepers, an old, weathered seaman, was crying in fear. The last entry said that the storm had ended and everything was calm and fine. A neighboring island reported that there was never a storm.
#39 Committed To The Narrative
The Billy Meier U.F.O. hoax. It’s pretty obvious it wasn’t real, but to think about the lengths the man went to make his intricate narrative is interesting. Did his apparent motivations make any sense? How many people protected Meier’s secrets? Why did some parts of his story fool so many people, and other parts so ridiculous? In many ways it’s an obvious story, a guy has an idea and takes it too far. The events themselves aren’t unexplained, but he is a strange, mysterious fascinating story by himself.
#40 The Case Of Brandon Lawson
The disappearance of Brandon Lawson. He left his home after an argument with his wife and he was heading to his dad’s home. He ran out of gas along a highway in Texas. He called his brother to bring him gas and when his brother showed up all he found was Brandon’s truck parked haphazardly. Shortly before he disappeared, he also called 911 saying he was in a field and had run into someone. They have yet to find any trace of him.
#41 Entering But Never Leaving
The disappearance of Brian Shaffer. He was a 27-year-old medical student caught on camera entering but never leaving a bar in Columbus, Ohio. That area of town was a lot rougher back then, but it’s still worth mentioning that it’s a two-story bar with only one real entrance and exit. The building was getting renovated at the time, but it still would have been super hard to take someone, unnoticed, out of there against their will.
#42 The Face
Since it’s local. The “face” that appeared at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. It appeared on one of the stone panels on the outside of the building. UT maintenance power blasted the panel, and the face reappeared in another location on the facade. They literally cannot get rid of it. I’ve seen it and it’s kind of unnerving.
#43 Kyron And The Stepmother
Kyron (9 years old in 2010) was allegedly dropped off at school by his stepmom but never made it to his first class. They never found any evidence of him and never charged the stepmother. For some reason, this story totally upsets me.
#44 An Urban Legend
Spring-Heeled Jack is a mystery that has always stood out to me. At this point, a lot has been contributed to Spring-Heeled Jack that has turned him into more of an urban legend than anything. But, the original reports are very fascinating.
#45 The McCann Mystery
The disappearance of Madeleine McCann. I wouldn’t say it’s the best, but it’s a mystery that no one seems to be able to solve.