Most Mysterious Missing People Cases

Nothing intrigues, baffles, or frightens us more than missing people cases. When someone disappears without a trace, they leave a trail of unanswered questions that last a lifetime for those who loved them.

Disappearances caused by ill fate or by choice have been part of human history for a long time. Here are some famous disappearances from the past.


The Gladiator

Even though we know little about his life, Spartacus remains a legend. Spartacus was a Roman slave turned gladiator. In 73 BCE, Spartacus and his followers, who were also slaves, escaped. They hid and trained near Mount Vesuvius. According to historians, Spartacus gathered an army of escaped slaves that was 100,000 men strong. He launched a rebellion against the Romans known today as the “Third Servile War.”

Spartacus and his army dealt the Roman army many defeating blows before the Romans took him seriously. His last big battle took place in Lucania, an ancient town in Southern Italy in which the Romans mounted a smashing defeat. It is likely that Spartacus died in battle, but no one ever found his body. Some say that given his strength and cunning, Spartacus could have quickly started a new life somewhere else.

James William Boyd:

The John Wilkes Booth Look-Alike

There is a small group of people who think John Wilkes Booth got away after Lincoln’s assassination. Around 1865, a man by the name of James William Boyd simply disappeared.

Boyd was a captain in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, but Union Forces captured him in 1862. While Boyd was in prison, his wife died. He asked to return home to care for his seven children. Boyd got the permission to leave, but never returned to his family.

Although disappearances were common at that time, Boyd’s uncanny resemblance to the John Wilkes Booth may be the reason why he vanished. During Booth’s autopsy, someone removed three cervical vertebrae. The vertebrae are on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington DC. Some of Booth’s descendants claim that Booth did not die, and they say the proof is in those bones, but the Army has refused to allow a DNA test.


Sean Flynn:

The Handsome Son of Errol Flynn

A Hollywood heartthrob of the 1940s, Errol Flynn had numerous affairs and marriages. He had one son, Sean Flynn, from his marriage to the actress Lili Damita. Sean had his father’s outstanding good looks but had little interest in acting. He did, however, have an interest in traveling around the world, and as a photographer and correspondent for the Paris-Match, he went to dangerous places.

Sean Flynn began to cover the Vietnam war in 1966, but he was injured. He then left for Israel to cover the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. In 1970, he and a fellow correspondent went back to Vietnam. Neither man returned. For many years, Sean’s mother Lili spent a fortune looking for him.

Historians believe that Sean and his colleague Dana Stone were captured and executed by the Viet Cong or Khmer Rouge. The Flynn dynasty hasn’t died, however. There is a new crop of young Flynns who still have Errol Flynn’s good looks.


Faking Your Death

There are those who want to disappear but, walking away from your life in the age of the internet, is challenging. Elizabeth Greenwood’s book, “Playing Dead” describes the stories of people who tried, and failed, to “disappear.” Greenwood’s book is a chilling account of what it takes to fake your death. Those who fake their deaths are usually discovered, not because they fail to plan but because their connections to the people they love often overcome their need to disappear.