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5 Strange Cases of People Vanishing Into Thin Air

Why have they never been found?

By Author Eve S EvansPublished about a year ago 12 min read

Disappearances without a trace are eerie and often leave more questions than answers. It's a fascinating concept that has baffled many people for years. There are a bunch of theories out there about what could happen to someone who goes missing, but the truth is that we may never really know for sure.

Let's take a look at five of the most bizarre cases of people who have mysteriously vanished into thin air. From a missing toddler who disappeared 94 years ago to a suburban housewife and a bloody scene left behind, these cases are sure to perplex you.

The Suburban Housewife who disappeared in the middle of the day

On October 24, Martin Risch woke up early to catch an 8 a.m. flight to New York City for a business trip. He had planned to stay overnight in Manhattan. While he was gone, Joan served the children breakfast. She took her son to a neighbor's house and then left with Lillian in her car for an appointment with a dentist in Bedford. After the appointment, Joan and Lillian went on a brief shopping trip to a local department store where Joan paid in cash. Back at the Old Bedford Road residence, the milkman and postman made their usual deliveries. Neither of them reported anything unusual about the house or occupants.

At approximately 11:15 am, Joan and the children returned home after picking up David from the Barkers'. A short time later, a delivery driver for a local dry cleaner arrived to pick up several of Martin's suits. He entered the house and did not notice anything unusual about Joan or the house. After the delivery driver left, Joan changed into a blue housedress and white sneakers.

At approximately 2:15 p.m., Barker observed Joan, clad in what appeared to be a trench coat, moving swiftly up the driveway carrying an object that was red in color. Barker surmised that her neighbor was chasing one of the children at the time. This would turn out to be the last confirmed sighting of Joan Risch.

On October 24, 1961, police were notified by a neighbor that they had seen blood leading from a house in Lincoln, Massachusetts. The neighbor had made this discovery after a young girl living in the house had returned from a playdate to find her mother, Joan Carolyn Risch missing. Some witnesses claimed to have seen Risch walking on nearby roads later that day, appearing to be disoriented.

The missing woman's blood type was found smeared in the kitchen, and other evidence suggested to police that she had been abducted. However, her two-year-old son was found safe and still sleeping in his room. The victim had recently checked out several library books about murder and disappearances, one of which had striking similarities to her own case.

The police found some additional clues when they searched the house. Four letters that had been delivered to the mailbox at the foot of the driveway were still there. In the kitchen, the telephone directory was open to the page with emergency numbers, but none had been written down. Martin Risch explained that an empty liquor bottle discarded in the wastebasket was one he and his wife had shared the night before. He was dumbfounded about where the empty beer bottles in the receptacle might have come from.

The blood evidence was plentiful, but it didn't give investigators a clear idea of what had happened. There were large smears on the kitchen walls and floor, and some on the phone as well. Three bloody fingerprints were unidentified; without Joan's fingerprints to compare them to, they couldn't be sure who they belonged to. A roll of paper towels were on the floor; one had been used to wipe some blood off, possibly from a hand.

As no new evidence has come to light, all theories about Risch's fate remain open. Gerson believes that her history and difficult past suggest that her disappearance was a way to escape an unsatisfying life. However, Morton, who recommended the dentist Risch visited that morning, said that this is unlikely as Risch was very happy with her life as a suburban housewife.

The Child Who Has Been Missing For 92 years

On May 14, 1930, a woman claiming to be Julia Otis went to the home of Michael and Catherine Moroney in Chicago, Illinois. She said she was responding to a plea for help that had been published in a local newspaper. Otis told the Moroneys that she had been sent by a social worker named Mrs. Henderson.

The Moroneys were expecting their third child and were struggling to make ends meet. In order to provide for his family, Michael placed an advertisement in the newspaper seeking assistance. During the Great Depression, families often requested help from agencies and organizations. Newspapers had specific sections for advertisements from individuals and families who needed help.

Although the woman who introduced herself as Julia Otis offered to take their 2-year-old daughter, Mary Agnes, on a trip to California, Catherine Moroney was hesitant to let her child travel with a stranger and declined the offer. According to The Charley Project, in addition to running errands for the Moroneys, Otis also brought them groceries. Otis informed the family that she would be returning the following day with additional provisions, including clothing for the children and supplies for the newborn baby.

Otis kept her promise and returned to the Moroneys' home the next day as scheduled. In addition to bringing groceries and clothing, she offered to take Mary Agnes on a trip to California. Otis promised to buy the little girl new clothes and shoes on the trip and return her to her parents within a few weeks. The Moroneys agreed because Otis seemed sincere and they desperately needed help.

On May 15, 1930, Otis left the Moroney home with Mary Agnes. The next day, the Moroneys received a letter from the woman identifying herself as Julia Otis. She confirmed that she was taking their daughter to California and said she would keep her for a few months. Otis promised to take good care of Mary Agnes in the letter.

The Moroneys were shocked and terrified to receive a letter from Alice Henderson two weeks after their daughter Mary Agnes left with Otis. In the letter, Henderson warned the Moroneys that Julia Otis, who she claimed was her cousin, had no intention of returning Mary Agnes. She claimed that Otis' infant child and husband had both died the previous year and she took Mary Agnes because she was desperate for love.

The Moroneys had six children in total- five sons and one daughter. Twenty-two years after Mary Agnes vanished, a reporter observed the strong physical resemblance between all of the siblings and decided to publish an article featuring their photos to locate a woman fitting their description who may have been adopted.

An article about the Moroney siblings caught the attention of a man who noted their similarity to his wife, Mary Beck McClelland. In addition to being the right age, McClelland was adopted the same year Mary Agnes went missing.

After conducting a thorough analysis, the anthropologists concluded that there were clear similarities between the dental impressions of McClelland and those of Mary Agnes Moroney's family. Additionally, they found that McClelland shared several physical characteristics with Mary Agnes, as seen in photographs.

After comparing McClelland's fingerprints to the Moroney family's, the fingerprint expert concluded that McClelland could be related. Similarly, doctors came to the same conclusion about the blood samples. However, none of the tests provided conclusive proof that McClelland was the missing girl. The Charley Project reports that although the results were inconclusive, McClelland traveled from California to Chicago to meet the Moroney family in 1952. Eventually, however, DNA testing would conclusively prove McClelland was not Mary Agnes Moroney. Nevertheless, they considered themselves to be family.

Mary Agnes was last seen with blonde hair and blue eyes. She is left-handed and has a strawberry birthmark on her face. Mary Agnes also has a scar from an operation to correct a ruptured navel. If she is still alive, Mary Agnes would have turned 94 in 2022.

Virginia Dare and Roanoake

In 1586, the English colony in North America was abandoned due to winter hardships, lack of food, and disagreements with the indigenous people. Sir Francis Drake brought the survivors back to England. As a result, Raleigh decided to send a second group of colonists in 1587. The fleet set sail on April 26 with the hope of establishing the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

The second group of colonists differed from the first in several significant ways. Most notably, it included women and children, which meant that it would be a permanent colony rather than a temporary one. The little fleet consisted of the ship Lyon, a flyboat, and a pinnace. The voyage to Roanoke Island carried more than 150 men, women, and children, as well as two Indians, Manteo and Wanchese. They had gone to England with Raleigh's previous expedition and were returning to their home. Simon Fernando was the pilot and John White was the governor of the new colony. Governor White's daughter, Eleanor, and her husband, Ananias Dare, were also among the colonists. The voyage took longer than six weeks, and the ships finally anchored off Roanoke Island on July 22.

After the colonists landed, they began repairing the existing structures and building new homes. On August 18, Eleanor Dare gave birth to a baby girl and named her Virginia. Virginia Dare became the first English child born in the New World.

The colonists implored Governor White to go back to England for supplies. He was initially hesitant to leave the colony but ultimately decided that it was necessary. He set sail on August 27, nine days after his granddaughter's birth. His intention was to gather relief supplies and additional colonists in England and then come back to Roanoke Island as soon as he could.

Unfortunately, White's plans did not come to fruition. Shortly after his return to England, King Philip II of Spain and his armada launched an attack against the British. This, among other reasons, prevented White from returning to Roanoke for three years.

Governor White finally arrived at Roanoke Island on August 18, 1590, three years after the colony had been abandoned. The only clues to what had happened were found in a log book kept by the governor. White found the letters "CRO" carved into a tree near the water's edge. Croatoan was the name of a Native American tribe that lived on Hatteras Island when the English settlement at Roanoke was established. In 1587, the colony's governor, John White, went back to England for supplies, and when he returned three years later, the settlement was abandoned and all the colonists were gone. The only clue to their whereabouts was the word "CROATOAN" carved into a post near the entrance to the settlement. White and his men searched for the colonists but never found them. He hoped they were safe with Manteo and his Croatoan tribesmen.

The Man who was stalked by a strange aircraft

The disappearance of Frederick Valentich almost 40 years ago still captured the attention of UFO hunters. Valentich was flying a Cessna 182L light aircraft during a training flight over the Bass Strait between Australia and Tasmania. He had approximately 150 hours of flying experience and was considered a moderately experienced pilot. On October 21, Valentich took a training flight from Moorabbin to King Island, which is 125 miles over the Bass Strait.

At 7:06 PM, Valentich contacted the Melbourne Flight Service to report that an unidentified aircraft was following him at 4,500 feet. The service told him there was no traffic near him at the time. Valentich insisted he saw a bright, unknown aircraft nearby with four bright landing lights. He said it passed 1,000 feet above him at high speed.

For five more minutes, the air traffic controller reported the aircraft's movements. He said it was moving closer to him, and he thought the other pilot might be trying to scare him. He also said it looked like the plane was "orbiting" overhead.

Valentich described the aircraft as being metallic and shiny, with four lights and a green light. He was unable to provide any further information.

Valentich first contacted the Melbourne Flight Service to report engine trouble. He was asked to identify the other aircraft, and he responded that it wasn't an aircraft. The last sound heard from him was a metallic, scraping sound. Officials at the Melbourne Flight Service began to assume that Frederick Valentich had crashed when he failed to check in, but an initial sea and air search of his last reported location found no trace of him.

Although the Australian Department of Transport conducted an investigation, they were unable to find any concrete answers in regards to Valentich's disappearance. A few eyewitness reports claimed to have seen planes flying or landing in the area, but no definitive conclusions could be drawn. Based on the lack of evidence, it was assumed that Valentich had died, and the case was closed.

The reports of green lights in the sky near where Valentich was last seen have led some ufologists to claim that he was abducted by aliens. Eyewitness accounts of these lights have been used to support this theory.

Ground Saucer Watch, a group based in Phoenix, Arizona, believes that a UFO abduction is the most likely explanation for the disappearance. The group has photos taken by a plumber that shows a fast-moving object near the scene of the disappearance; however, each of the stills are too indistinct to identify the object.

Mystery in the Farmlands

Owen Parfitt was a man who lived a very eventful life. His stories of piracy, great battles, and many women were often met with skepticism. But he never let that stop him from recounting his glory days.

Owen Parfitt was in his sixties by the 1760s, and his reputation for wild living had begun to take its toll. He was now a virtual cripple, living with his elderly sister Susannah in Shepton Mallet, England. For a man used to living an adventurous life, the paralysis must have been a heavy burden to bare.

His final adventure created quite a stir in Shepton Mallet and the surrounding villages. The date is uncertain; some sources say it took place in June 1763, while others claim it happened in 1768.

Even though we don't know all the details, we do know that Owen Parfitt wanted to sit outside on a warm evening. It's understandable that being able to sit outside and enjoy some fresh air would be a relief, especially if you're immobile. Since he couldn't move much, he needed help from his sister and a neighbor to carry him out to a chair on the porch.

When his sister returned, Owen was sitting quietly in the chair. A short distance away, several farmworkers were working within easy hearing distance of Owen. If someone had approached him while he was sitting on the porch, they would have seen or heard something. But nobody saw anything strange happen.

Owen's sister went onto the porch to bring him back inside when she saw that a storm was coming. However, he was no longer in the chair. She searched the porch, but he was nowhere to be found. Baffled, she asked the farm workers if they saw anyone come and get him, but none of them had seen anything. It's understandable that his sister was so upset. It's traumatic when someone you love suddenly disappears without any explanation.

Owen's incredible disappearance remains unsolved to this day and has become a popular piece of local lore. The story would fade but became news again in 1813 when construction workers unearthed a human skeleton.

When the skeleton was discovered, many people assumed it must be Owen's remains. There were theories about how Owen's body had come to such an undignified end. However, the medical community quickly stated that the skeleton was of a young female, ending the speculation. Although it's been many years, there are still no clues or evidence in the case of his disappearance. He simply vanished without a trace while sitting on his porch enjoying the sunshine. To this day, he remains one of southwest England's most intriguing mysteries.

There are many unsolved cases of people disappearing into thin air. These cases are fascinating and often very eerie, as the sudden and unexplained disappearance of a person is the one shared element. If you're interested in reading more stories like this, be sure to check out my other stories on medium or subscribe so you don't miss upcoming content. Thanks for reading!


About the Creator

Author Eve S Evans

After residing in two haunted houses in her lifetime, Eve Evans is enthralled with the world of paranormal. She writes ghost stories based on true events and fictional thriller & horror novels.

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