ByRob Harris, writer at
Sometimes I play video games.
Rob Harris

On November 24, 1971 a man hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft, extorted $200,000 in ransom (equivalent to $1,160,000 in 2015), and parachuted down to an unknown fate. This mysterious man, popularly known as D. B. Cooper, has never been seen or heard from since. This might be the most famous vanishing act in history, but it's far from the only one.

In our modern era of obsessive surveillance, high population density and ever more sophisticated tracking technology, it's become rather hard to simply 'go dark,' but not impossible. The fate of each and every person on this list remains unknown to this day. You could say that they simply vanished into thin air, but it's still anybody's guess as to what really happened to them...

1. Tara Calico - 'The girl in the photograph'

Possible explanation: Abducted

The tale of "the girl in the photograph" began on September 20, 1988, when a teenager from New Mexico named Tara Calico left her house at around 9:30 in the morning. After Calico didn't return home, her mother went out looking, contacting the police after finding no sign of her daughter.

Neither Calico nor her bike have ever been found. Several witnesses claim they saw a 1953 or 1954 Ford pickup truck following her, though no such truck was ever located.

The case continued without any leads until June 15, 1989, when a Polaroid photo of an unidentified young woman and a boy, both gagged and bound, was picked up in a parking lot in Florida. Some believed the woman in the photo was Calico, due to a scar on her leg that her mother claimed to recognize, but evidence was deemed inconclusive.

Several sightings of her in 1988 and 1989 were reported, but the case remains unsolved to this day.

2. Brian Shaffer

Possible explanation: Unknown

27-year-old medical student Brian Shaffer went out drinking at a bar on the evening of April 1, 2006. At around 2:00 AM, he mysteriously disappeared, and has never been seen since.

Shaffer had spoken on the phone to his girlfriend, before conversing with two other young women at the bar. However, no one seems to remember seeing him after this point. The biggest mystery of all is how Brian left the establishment without anyone noticing. Security camera footage shows the student arriving, but no footage exists of him leaving.

Brian's family believe he was abducted, though opponents to this theory question how anyone pulled off this kidnapping without any witnesses or camera footage seeing them. It was almost as if he vanished into thin air.

3. Nicole Morin

Possible explanation: Abducted

On July 30, 1985, eight-year-old Nicole Morin walked out of her mother's apartment in Toronto, Ontario. She had plans to meet a friend to go swimming, but she never arrived. 15 minutes after leaving, her friend turned up at the apartment to ask where Nicole was.

One tenant said they witnessed Nicole entering the apartment block elevator, but no one else came forward with any information. To this day, no one knows what actually happened to Nicole.

4. Michael Rockefeller

Possible explanation: Eaten by cannibals

In 1961, the fifth child of the New York Governor, Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, was traveling through New Guinea when his boat was overturned. Two of his guides swam to get help, but Michael Rockefeller decided he could get to shore, making a plight for escape.

His accompanying colleague, René Wassing, was rescued the next day, but despite an extensive search effort Rockefeller's body was never recovered. Some believed he drowned, but others believe he met a more sinister end. In the documentary film Keep the River on Your Right, Tobias Schneebaum claims he spoke with local known cannibals who said they found a man matching Michael's appearance and ate him. Some hospitality.

5. Maura Murray

Possible explanation: Ran away / abducted

In 2004 a 21-year-old student from the University of Massachusetts told her teachers that she was taking a break due to a death in the family, which was a lie. The same night, she crashed her car into a tree in New Hampshire. When a passer by asked he if she needed help she replied "no" and vanished.

On the following day Murray's fiancee found a voicemail message on his phone of someone crying. Though her family remains adamant she didn't disappear on her own volition, no hard evidence has been found that points to an abduction.

6. Brandon Swanson

Possible explanation: Abducted

In 2008 Brandon Swanson was driving down a secluded rural road when his car rolled into a ditch. The 19-year-old phoned his parents for help, who left to go and meet him. When they had no luck, his father called him back but Brandon abruptly interrupted him with a swear word and the phone cut dead.

Brandon's body was never found, and it's likely we'll never know what in the world he saw to trigger that explicit reaction.

7. Jason Jolkowski

Possible explanation: Abducted

On the morning of June 13, 2001 Jason Jolkowski was called into work, though he would never arrive. Jason was last sighted 30 minutes prior to when he'd organized to meet his friend.

There are little to no reasons for Jason wanting to disappear willingly, but no evidence has turned up explaining what might've happened on that fateful day. His parents, Jim and Kelly Jolkowski, soon after set up Project Jason - a non-profit organization that has become one of the front-running resources for families of missing persons cases.

[Via: iO9, Listverse]


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