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. But they are all fascinating because they force us to question the solidity of our existence.
THE 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.
THE VANISHED HANDICAPPED MAN
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.
THE 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.
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