PEOPLE DISAPPEAR EVERY day. It's been estimated that as many as 10 million people are reported missing each year in the U.S. alone; about 95 percent of them return or are otherwise accounted for. Of the remaining 5 percent, some are runaways, others are kidnappings, abductions or the victims of some other crime.
There is a small percentage of disappearances, however, for which there is no easy explanation. We related several such incidents in a previous article, Vanished! Unexplained Disappearances. The fate of these people - sometimes groups of people - is left for us to wonder about. Did they unwittingly step into a time portal?... Were they swallowed up by a rift in our three-dimensional world?... Were they abducted by extraterrestrials in UFOs? These are pretty far-out suggestions, to be sure, but the circumstances of the following unexplained disappearances leave us scratching our heads in bewilderment.
THE VANISHING PRISONER
This first account is an excellent case in point because it defies any rational explanation for one simple reason: it occurred in full view of witnesses. The year was 1815 and the location a Prussian prison at Weichselmunde. The prisoner's name was Diderici, a valet who was serving a sentence for assuming his employer's identity after he died from a stroke. It was an ordinary afternoon and Diderici was just one in a line of prisoners, all chained together, walking in the prison yard for the day's exercise.
As Diderici walked with his prison inmates to the clanking of their shackles, he slowly began to fade - literally. His body became more and more transparent until Diderici disappeared altogether, and his manacles and leg irons fell empty to the ground. He disappeared into thin air and was never seen again.
(From Among the Missing: An Anecdotal History of Missing Persons from 1800 to the Present, by Jay Robert Nash)
STUMBLE INTO NOTHINGNESS
It's difficult to dismiss such incredible stories when they take place in front of eyewitnesses. Here's another. This case began as a harmless bet among friends, but ended in tragic mystery. In 1873, James Worson of Leamington Spa, England, was a simple shoemaker who also fancied himself somewhat of an athlete. One fine day, James made a bet with a few of his friends that he could run non-stop from Leamington Spa to Coventry. Knowing that this was a good 16 miles, his friends readily took the bet.
As James began to jog at a moderate pace toward Coventry, his friends climbed into a horse-drawn cart to follow him and protect their bet. James did well for the first few miles. Then his friends saw him trip on something and fall forward... but never hit the ground. Instead, James completely vanished. Astonished and doubting their own eyes, his friends looked for him without success, then raced back to Leamington Spa to inform the police. An investigation turned up nothing. James Worson had run into oblivion.
(From Into Thin Air, by Paul Begg)
HALFWAY TO THE WELL
Most disappearances do not have witnesses, yet there is sometimes circumstantial evidence that is no less puzzling. This is the case for the vanishing of Charles Ashmore. It was a cold November winter night in 1878 when 16-year-old Charles went out into the dark with a bucket to fetch water from the well for his family on their Quincy, Illinois property. He did not return.
After many minutes, his father and sister became concerned. They feared that Charles perhaps had slipped in the snow that blanketed the ground and was injured, or worse, had fallen into the well. They set out to look for him, but he was just gone. There was no sign of a struggle or fall... only the clear tracks of Charles' footprints in the fresh snow that led halfway to the well, then abruptly stopped. Charles Ashmore had suddenly disappeared into the void.
(From Into Thin Air, by Paul Begg)
Next page: Trips to nowhere