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Vanishings - Mysterious Cases Of Missing People

Updated on August 29, 2013

People who vanish

Where have they gone? What is their fate?

Every year, all over the world, there are thousands of people who go missing - children, teenagers, adults and the elderly.

Most cases are resolved quickly. However, there are cases of missing people from the past to the present day that remain a mystery.

In addition the circumstances surrounding their disappearance are, in some cases, bizarre.

The Flannan Isles lighthouse where three men disappeared mysteriously.
The Flannan Isles lighthouse where three men disappeared mysteriously. | Source
Flannan Isles:
Flannan Isles

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The Flannan Isles in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

Ballad of Flannan Isle

The Flannan Isles Mystery

The Flannan Isles, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

The Flannan Isles is a beautiful location off the North West coast of Scotland. They are part of the larger group of Islands known as the Outer Hebrides. The Flannans are also known as the ‘Seven Hunters’.

Apart from the lighthouse, the islands are mainly a habitat for wildlife. However, it’s the lighthouse that gave rise to one of the most puzzling mysteries in the UK’s missing files.

The year is 1900 and one week before Christmas. Not one person went missing from the isolated lighthouse but three - James Ducat, Thomas Marshall and Donald MacArthur.

It was a ship on route from Philadelphia to Edinburgh that raised the first alarm. On passing the lighthouse the ship’s crew noticed that the light was not working and reported the matter as soon as they docked.

Finally, a relief boat - The Hesperus - arrived at the island on December 26th 1900. Captain Jim Harvie had the whole island searched in addition to the lighthouse. However, the men could not be found.

The search party began a more exhaustive investigation, searching for any clues that would point to the source of the keepers' disappearance.

Looking in all areas of the lighthouse they noticed nothing out of place. The work for the 15th December had all been completed - machines cleaned and oiled, lunch plates, pots and pans washed, kitchen tidied.

These observations pointed to the fact that the men probably disappeared sometime in the afternoon after they had eaten lunch; as no further cooking had been carried out for the evening.

A search of the sleeping quarters showed that their beds had not been slept in. The clocks in the light house had all stopped. The doors and windows were secure and showed no sign of damage. The mystified search party completed a report on their findings and left the island.

The main theory then put forward was that a recent savage storm had been responsible in some way, for their disappearance. However, one of the last logs made by the lighthouse keepers – dated 15th December – was at least 24 hours after the storm had ceased.

Another of the lighthouse keepers had also recorded in the log what outside damage had been caused by the ferocious gale force winds. This obviously proves that the men were still alive after the storms.

When the news broke that the keepers were alive after the storm, all manner of theories and rumours erupted.

Some of theories given were:

  • Despite the date, the storm was in some way responsible - the most likely theory was that the keepers had been swept out to sea.
  • A freak wave or other natural phenomena had caught the keepers off guard - most likely causing them to be drowned.
  • One of the keepers had murdered the other two and then committed suicide. Although there doesn't seem to be any reason to think that the keepers were other than friendly with one another.
  • A sea serpent or other monster was seriously considered. Up until this time there had been hundreds of reports from all over the world about huge sea serpents/monsters that could swallow ships whole. Most of these accounts have proved to be misidentifications.
  • The light house keepers had been kidnapped by spies. This is unlikely as no ransom money or any other demand was made for the men’s' return.
  • The light house keepers had been murdered by persons unknown. One theory put forward was that the murders were committed by a ghostly crew from a phantom ship! Leaving the spooks aside, if murder was the cause then it was the cleanest one ever committed. There was no sign of trauma, blood or violence of any kind. In addition, robbery is highly unlikely as nothing was taken.

It might have been expected that at least one of the bodies would have shown up - either washed ashore or discovered in another location. However, no trace of the men was ever found.

So intriguing is this mystery that not only songs and poems have been written about it, but an opera was also composed.

Curtis Cone Island in Bass Strait, Australia where a young pilot went missing under bizarre circumstances.
Curtis Cone Island in Bass Strait, Australia where a young pilot went missing under bizarre circumstances. | Source
A Cessna182 plane similar to the one that Frederick Valentich was flying when he disappeared.
A Cessna182 plane similar to the one that Frederick Valentich was flying when he disappeared. | Source
Bass Strait Australia:
Bass Strait, Australia

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Vanished Into Thin Air?

Is it possible for human beings to be there one moment and then gone the next?

Most of us, quite rightly would conclude that this is not possible. And yet if we research this subject it is surprising how many stories there are, seemingly by credible witnesses, who claim this is exactly what has happened. One of the most remarkable cases of one such disappearance - if not into thin air - was certainly while in the air.

Bass Strait, Australia - 1978

The disappearance of a young man named Frederick Valentich on October 21st 1978 is still one of the most mysterious and frightening.

Frederick was flying his Cessna 182L aircraft over an area called Bass Strait in Australia. It was a straight forward journey to pick up some friends from King Island.

During the flight Frederick was in two-way radio contact with the Melbourne Flight Service Unit. It’s these recorded conversations that give the last chilling details before Frederick and his plane vanished.

The 6 minute transcript details Frederick's description of an unidentified craft he was observing. He was asked on several occasions by Melbourne to identify the craft but he could not. At one stage Frederick reported that "it was playing games". The object would disappear for a few seconds the return from a different direction. Frederick could still not identify the craft because of the speed it was traveling at. He then reported that the object was approaching him again. A few seconds later he reported that it was now above him, but also that his engine was playing up. Then he spoke his last words:

"It's not an aircraft!"

A massive search and rescue mission was launched but neither the craft nor the pilot's body was ever recovered.

The Australian Department of Transport's conclusion of the investigation stated that the reason for the disappearance of the pilot and his craft could not be determined.

A number of theories were put forward to explain what happened to the young pilot but all remain, understandably, inconclusive.

The well respected and experienced researcher Dr Richard Haines, who worked for NASA, took a keen interest in the case and came up with four possible conclusions:

1. Pilot disorientation - this particular conclusion was not favoured by Dr Haines.

2. Deliberate hoax/suicide - Dr Haines, Frederick's family and friends all state categorically that this would be out of character for the young man and there is no evidence to suggest a hoax or that Frederick was attempting suicide.

3. UFO and/or UFO in-flight abduction - Dr Richard Haines did not feel that this was the most likely reason for the pilot's disappearance but other reputable researchers have concluded that it is possible given the observations made by the pilot.

4. Military Weapons' Test - this is the theory most favoured by Dr Haines as being the most likely given the evidence. However, a number of other researchers feel that this conclusion is based purely on speculation rather than fact.

To this day, Frederick's disappearance remains a mystery. Theories will continue to be put forward, but this seems to be one modern case destined to remain unsolved.

Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England. The location where a very bizarre disappearance of a 60 year old man took place.
Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England. The location where a very bizarre disappearance of a 60 year old man took place. | Source
Many of the  buildings in Shepton Mallet date back to the time of the weird disappearance of a man in the 18th century.
Many of the buildings in Shepton Mallet date back to the time of the weird disappearance of a man in the 18th century. | Source
Shepton Mallet Somerset:
Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK

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The disappearance of a paralysed man.

Shepton Mallet, Somerset - England.

One of the most baffling disappearances has to be that of the retired sailor, Owen Parfitt from his home in 1763. Parfitt lived with his older sister in the small country town of Shepton Mallet. In his younger days he was a sailor.

There were also many rumours about Owen Parfitt. The gossip declared that he was involved in a number of dubious practices such as - piracy, smuggling and black magic.

He was also a known womaniser. There are references to a scandal that broke out, involving his much younger cousin called Dorothy.

It's not known exactly when Parfitt suffered a stroke. However, the condition left him unable to move on his own and he was cared for by his sister. She was assisted by a friend at night, because two people were needed to get the, now 60 year old Parfitt, in and out of bed.

Frequently during the day and in the evenings, Parfitt would sit outside the house wearing just a nightshirt and was kept upright by placing his old great coat underneath him.

However, on one particular evening he simply vanished. While many farm hands were working in the fields next to the house and his sister was inside, Parfitt mysteriously disappeared.

The alarm was raised when his sister's friend came to help her put Parfitt into bed. The two women went outside to assist him in, but there was nothing there except the great coat. Helped by the farm hands a thorough search was made in the area, but no trace of him was found.

His sister maintained that he was spirited away by the Devil because of his lurid past. Other rumours suggested that he was kidnapped and made to reveal the hiding place of buried treasure he had stolen during his days as a pirate.

As it happened, kidnapping was ruled out as neither his sister nor the many farm workers close by, had heard any noise of a struggle and there was no evidence of violence.

Moreover the place where Parfitt was sitting was not disturbed - his great coat that was used to keep him upright, was still in the same position as his sister had placed it earlier that day.

The mystery seemed to have been solved however, when in 1813 alterations were being made to a property close to Parfitt's home. Behind the fireplace a skeleton of what was reported to be 'a crippled old man' was found. Conversely, on examination the skeleton was found to be that of a young woman.

This of course is another mystery as foul play was suspected in her case. Even more intriguing is the fact that the building was once the house belonging to Parfitt's young cousin Dorothy - the same lady he allegedly had an affair with many years previously.

Investigations into the case continued right into the 20th century - 1933 being the last recorded investigation - but the case remains a mystery to this day.

Are unknown forces responsible for some of the cases involving missing people?
Are unknown forces responsible for some of the cases involving missing people? | Source

Missing People

Which of the three cases do you find the most baffling?

See results


There is no doubt that people will continue to vanish in mysterious circumstances.

Throughout the world, there are thousands who go missing every year – many of these cases are bizarre and remain unsolved.

In addition, there are some factors that may point to the unsettling conclusion that forces may be at work other than natural explanations. If true, what these forces are remains unsolved at the present time.

© 2011 Helen Murphy Howell


Submit a Comment
  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    There are indeed some weird things that happen in this old world of ours.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    i heard that there r some beautiful ladies around us who r living just like human with us and in our daily life we r seeing them but mistaking them to think as humans. but they r something else. my friend got married wit a beautiful girl last year, her name was Rupangona and she was very mysterious to me becuz she never told us abt her past. and in a short time after she joined our circle got married wit jim my frnd. but the sad thing is she did this on purpose. the day when my friend and his wife disappeared i was in his home. which priangona didn't know. i was taking a nap in the guest room and i heard something like scream from loud to very far away. i stepped carefully and i was feeling scared. when i reached to their bedroom i saw my friend is only 1 or 2 " tall and his wife just lifted him by her two fingers and released him in her mouth. and swallowed him. after seeing that priongona suddenly noticed me and smiled horribly and i got senseless. when i woke up it was 2 days passed and no body ever found my poor friend and that monster ever. I think only for those unknown mysterious creatures ppl r being disappeared

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi molometer, lovely to hear from you.

    I agree about how astonishing it is that people can disappear in such odd circumstances - very weird and quite scary I think. One day you could just be going about your usual routine life and the next you've vanished!

    Lovely to hear from you and many thanks for the vote up!

  • molometer profile image


    7 years ago from United Kingdom

    What an absolutely astonishing hub.

    I am flabbergasted. Where do all these people go?

    Just walk out of their lives and vanish.

    Great work seeker7 voted up

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi PaddyBoy60,

    Lovely to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub!

    I have to agree with you about the UFO theory. No matter how hard you try to make the facts produce a 'logical' explanation, it just doesn't fit. The only explanation that would seem to fit all the known evidence is the UFO phenomena.

    Personally I do think there is definitely 'something' to the UFO sightings etc. It is at times a bizarre and very weird phenomena and difficult to come to terms with, but the facts, in many cases, do speak for themselves.

    Lovely to hear from you and many thanks for taking the time to leave a comment - much appreciated.

  • PADDYBOY60 profile image


    7 years ago from Centreville Michigan

    These were very interesting stories. My wife and I both are interested in this subject. It seems more and more, we hear about these strange disappearances. I enjoyed reading this. I think I would lean towards the UFO theory involving the airplane. There are so many reports of UFOs all over the world, there has to be something to this.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Austinstar,

    Many thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment.

    I agree that these cases must be so frustrating for investigating officers! I wonder if today it would make some difference with the fact that they can have DNA tested from very small samples, huge databases of people with their information etc? Obviously they didn't have all these scientific and technological tools to work with.

    As for the families - absolutely, what a horrible thing to happen to a loved one. Wondering if they are still alive or what. I've heard that people have collapsed with nervous exhaustion after someone in their family going missing and this was a few years after the event. But although I find this really sad, I don't find it surprising - I think if it was me, my nerves would be torn to shreds!

  • Austinstar profile image


    7 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

    As one who always wanted to be a detective, this article fascinated me. It must frustrate the heck out of the investigators when no clue at all ever surfaces.

    And yes, it must be horrible to be a relative of the vanished one.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Eiddwen,

    As always - lovely to hear from you and for leaving a comment.

    I agree it is sad and traumatic - I was saying earlier to another hubber how devastating it is to loose a loved one, but to have them vanish and not to know if they are alive, injured, dead or whatever must be awful for them!

    Many thanks again for stopping by.

  • Eiddwen profile image


    7 years ago from Wales

    Sad but also very interesting.

    I am sure that many will benefit from reading this one.

    Take care and have a great day.


  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Gypsy Rose Lee,

    As usual it's always a great pleasure to hear from you! Glad that you enjoyed the hub!

    I agree with you - there has to be an unknown factor that would account for some of these disappearances - as you suggest perhaps a place in between the physical and spiritual? Another Dimension? Time Rip or Time Slip? I think that's what makes these cases so intriguing, is that, with some of them at least, you do get the feeling there is another factor involved, (like with Frederick and his plane, for me the 'factor' was definitely a UFO of some kind. It does make these cases so intriguing and scary!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Dee aka Nonna,

    Many thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a heartfelt comment. I agree with you 100% - I can't think of anything more painful and traumatic than a loved one going missing and having no idea where they are or what has happened to them. It is devastating enough loosing someone you love, but at least when you know what has happened and more importantly where they are, there is closure eventually. For the families of missing people, they never do have the benefit of proper bereavement and healing.

    Glad that you enjoyed the hub.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi CMHypno,

    Great to hear from you and many thanks for stopping by. I agree that they are frightening - all the searches and investigations carried out and it's still a mystery what happened to these folks! I wonder to, if somewhere there is just that small link or clue that would lead to a solution? I think with the most recent vanishings at least the family would have more peace of mind.

    Many thanks again for leaving a comment - much appreciated.

  • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee 

    7 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

    Absolutely fascinating. Who knows maybe there somewhere beyond these boundaries and before the next life's boundaries there's a world where these people now live in spirit. We will never know but eventually it may be popular to start saying oh, really? Did he just leave or did he disappear?

  • Dee aka Nonna profile image

    Dee aka Nonna 

    7 years ago

    Very interesting hub. I wonder, like I know many people, of why this happens. Without a trace is the way law enforcement will often describe it. I have prayed for the family that I do not know many times because I would hate to have one of my loved one vanish into thin air. Voted up and interesting.

  • CMHypno profile image


    7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

    Frightening stories Seeker 7. The fact that people can just disappear out of the blue is spooky. I wonder if we will ever find out the truth behind theses disappearances.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Silva,

    Great to hear from you. Many thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    I'm glad that you enjoyed the hub - I really enjoyed writing this one. I'm working on second hub at the moment about vanishings. Many thanks again.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    1. Hi LisaKramer - many thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment - much appreciated and glad that you enjoyed the hub!

    2. Hi writer20 - lovely to hear from you and many thanks for leaving such a nice comment. I'm glad that you enjoyed the hub!

    3. Hi just a teacher - many thanks for the visit and for leaving a comment.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Rosemay,

    Lovely to hear from you and many thanks for stopping by. I'm glad that you enjoyed the hub.

    Do you know, when I was writing this hub I thought a lot about people who go missing all the time and I kept thinking - how horrible for their families to spend year in year out wondering what has happened to their love ones and where they are? It must be even worse if the disappearance is a complete mystery that baffles even the experts!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Alastar,

    Smashing to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub. I have to say that the Flannan Isles one is very creepy. They reckon with the tides etc. up that way, that some trace of at least one of the men might have been found in the sea or on shore, but nothing? I could understand one guy going missing with a freak wave or similar, but three experienced keepers? It's very odd and chilling. I can only imagine what their poor families must have went through.

    As to the young man Frederick?? There is so much more to this story that on reflection, deserves a hub on its own - and it is still being investigated by a few UFO researchers. I have to say, even although this young man was not an overly experienced pilot, he seems to have been highly intelligent and emotionally stable. So I agree that confusion/suicide etc is definitely not to be considered. My feelings are that this was no mystery weapon and that it was a genuine UFO encounter, you only have to read over the radion transcript to realise something very weird was happening - and yes it does sound very much like an abduction. But as you say what have 'they' done with him. And surely the don't need his Cessna plane for spare parts? I found this episode chilling. I was really surpised at myself, I'm very interested in UFO encounters but I had honestly never heard of this one until I began researching. And as I said, I find this 'vanishing' actually very frightening.

    The paralysed man? I have wracked my brains wondering what on earth happened to this man? It has even kept me awake at night trying to figure out a scenario! There was no noise, no violence, no disturbance, absolutely nothing? Maybe his sister is correct? LOL!

    It was lovely to hear from you again - and I always learn lots more from your insightful and fascinating comments. Many, many thanks!

  • Silva Hayes profile image

    Silva Hayes 

    7 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

    So strange...fascinating stories. The one about the paralyzed man especially intrigues me. More, please.

  • justateacher profile image

    LaDena Campbell 

    7 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

    Interesting cases.

  • writer20 profile image

    Joyce Haragsim 

    7 years ago from Southern Nevada

    Very interesting hub, I enjoyed reading all about those people disappearing.

  • Lisa Kramer profile image

    Lisa Kramer 

    7 years ago from Auburn, MA

    This is all fascinating. Thanks for sharing these stories.

  • Rosemay50 profile image

    Rosemary Sadler 

    7 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

    Fascinating I enjoyed reading this. There are so many people go missing and never have been found. It is vertainly a mystery.

    A great hub and well laid out.

    voted up

  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 

    7 years ago from North Carolina

    These are some great mysteries to write on Seeker. Always done exceptionally well by you too. The lighthouse keepers disappearance on the Scottish isle is a real humdinger of a mystery. I think the same thing happened to them what happened to Fredrick Valentine. There's no question but that Valentine and his plane were scooped up by a UFO. The bizarre back and forth with air traffic control, including the 17 second weird noise at the end; radar and eyewitnesses too. For all the nay-sayers he still hasn't turned up in 33 years and the planes never been found either. A very solid UFO abduction. The only mystery is what they did with him. Paralyzed Man is a new one here. Its an enigma, inside a riddle, wrapped up in a mystery alright. Thanks a mil for another great paranormal read Seeker7!


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