According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons (NamUS) database (U.S. Department of Justice), more than 500,000 people go missing every year in the United States alone. There are all sorts of reasons behind these disappearances - some nefarious, others not so - but a select few cases throughout history have proved so intriguing and mystifying that they remain a focus of speculation.
Everyone likes a good conspiracy theory, and many of the cases on the list below lend themselves to such conjecture. From advanced scientific designs and infidelities to prison breaks, lost colonies and the Masons, the stories below make for fascinating reading. Many of them are still being investigated by historians and amateur sleuths to this day. One even involves an active case, the hearing for which is due later this year.
Your writer has tried hard to eschew the more obvious and well-known cases here, with the focus instead more on unearthing some of lesser-known, but no less compelling narratives that you've likely never heard of.
Whatever your tastes, you are sure to find something here that will capture your imagination.
10. Owen Parfitt
For this entry, we go back in time 250 years to the provincial town of Shepton Mallet, England in the year 1763. Not too much is known about Owen Parfitt. His background is sketchy. What we do know is that he lived with his sister, Susannah, who also served as his carer. At this point in his life, Owen was completely paralyzed, unable to move by himself but able to talk. It seems as though he had not always been this way, for Owen habitually told wild tales of his earlier life.
These stories included terrible battles, piracy and women a-plenty. Although locals took Owen's tales with a hefty pinch of salt, there may be some truths around with his narratives were woven. On the day which concerns us here, the 60-year-old Owen had been taken outside to sit on his sister's porch. It was a warm evening. Owen was dressed only in his nightshirt. Directly across from him were a group of farm-workers, going about their business.
At around 7pm, mindful of an approaching storm, Susannah and a neighbour went to carry Owen back inside, and were shocked to discover that he was no longer there. In fact, no sign remained save for the folded greatcoat upon which Owen had been seated. The nearby farm-workers were adamant that they had seen no one come or go. Despite many subsequent investigations, no trace of Owen was ever found.