People disappear every day, but mass disappearances are truly eerie. How can so many people go missing at once without leaving a trace? What possible explanation could there be? In the five cases of mass disappearances you’ll read about below, the vanishings were so mysterious that authorities still have no clue what happened.
5. The Beaumont Children
In Australia, there is one case among the many mass disappearances in history that parents will never forget. After this case made headlines, the carefree days when parents trusted that their children would be safe on their own were over. This is the case of the missing Beaumont children.
In 1966, the three children (Jane, age 9; Arnna, age 7; and Grant, age 4) left their home in Adelaide to spend the day at Glenelg Beach. It was a 5-minute bus ride to the beach, and the children had made the journey numerous times before. The children were expected home later that afternoon but never arrived. Their parents searched for them to no avail.
During the police investigation, witnesses claimed they had seen the children on the beach speaking happily with a tall blond man. This concerned the parents; the children were notoriously shy, and it was unlikely they would be comfortable speaking with a stranger. Another witness, who knew the children well, stated that he saw them walking together, unaccompanied, in the direction of their home. His testimony was deemed reliable, making it less likely that the children had in fact been abducted on the beach. What happened to them on the short walk home?
The search for the three children went on for months but was unsuccessful. The case was all over the headlines, but the media was driven into a frenzy when Gerard Croiset, a well-known psychic, flew to Australia to assist with the case. Croiset led authorities to a recently excavated building site, claiming that the bodies of the children were buried beneath the cement that made up the foundation of the building. After a harsh public outcry, the owners of the building spent $40,000 demolishing the building. However, no trace of the children was ever found at the site.
Two years later, the family received a letter offering to return the children. The parents went to the designated meeting spot, but no one ever appeared. After this, the case largely went cold.
4. The Kaz II
Australia is the site of another of the world’s most baffling mass disappearances. Unlike the previous incident on this list, the case of the Katz II cannot be easily explained as a simple kidnapping. The clues left behind in this case are truly confounding.
The Katz II set sail with 3 men on board in April of 2007. Three days later, a helicopter spotted the boat, stating that it appeared to be adrift. Authorities caught up with the Katz II two days later 163 kilometers off the north-eastern coast of Australia. All 3 men who should have been aboard were missing.
Upon inspection of the ship, authorities turned up several baffling clues. They noted that the ship was in almost perfect condition for sailing: the emergency systems, GPS, and radio were all functioning perfectly. In addition, all of the ship’s life vests were on board in the appropriate spots. There was even another, smaller boat hoisted on the side of the ship, and the anchor was still up and the engine was running. Even stranger was that the ship’s table was laid out with food, plates, and silverware as if the crew had been preparing to eat just before they disappeared. Authorities also found a laptop that was open and turned on.
The only damage to the ship was to one of the sails, which had been shredded. The ship was towed to shore, where police performed a thorough forensic investigation. Nothing in the ship seemed out of place, and detailed investigations found no evidence of foul play.
A year later, authorities began a series of hearings in an attempt to get to the bottom of this strange case. The wife of the ship’s owner, Derek Batten, testified that her husband was an experienced sailor who was well aware of safety protocols for sailing. She insisted that the disappearance of her husband and his friends could not have been an accident.
To this day, authorities have uncovered no additional clues about the fate of the crew.
3. The Carroll A. Deering
The sea is a common setting for mass disappearances. With so much empty water, it’s easy for people to vanish without anyone around to witness their disappearance. This is especially true for ships sailing near the notorious Bermuda Triangle.
One such ship was the Carroll A. Deering. It was a commercial ship captained by William H. Merritt. On the Deering’s final voyage, Merritt took ill and was replaced by Willis. B. Wormell. On December 2, 1920, the Deering stopped for supplies in Barbados and remained there until January 9. This was the last time the ship would dock.
Several weeks later, on January 28, another ship was hailed by the Deering. A man described as having a foreign accent stated that the ship had lost its anchors. Witnesses noticed that the crew seemed to be milling around the deck aimlessly.
Three days later, the Deering ran aground in the Diamond Shoals with all of its sails up. Because of the rough weather, it was several days before the wreck could be investigated. When authorities boarded the ship, they found no trace of the crew. The investigators noted that the ship’s steering equipment was damaged and that the logbook and navigation equipment were missing. Additionally, the personal items of some of the crew members and two lifeboats seemed to be missing as well. However, they noted that it appeared that the crew had been in the process of preparing food at the time the ship was abandoned.
Authorities launched a massive investigation into the Deering. The most intriguing part of the case is that several other ships seemed to have gone missing in roughly the same area: the area commonly known as the Bermuda Triangle. Most of these ships later turned up in other areas without explanation.
The most commonly accepted explanation for the fate of the Deering is that the crew mutinied while sailing. It was no secret that there were tensions between the captain and the rest of the crew. However, this doesn’t explain how the crew managed to vanish. Where could they have gone? Why did they never resurface? Many theorize that the ship’s proximity to the mysterious and dangerous Bermuda Triangle is to blame. Authorities scoff at this theory, but no other reasonable explanation has ever been presented.
2. The Martin Family
The Martins were a happy family busy celebrating with Christmas festivities in 1958. The fact that this tragedy struck an entire family and the festive holiday atmosphere makes this case one of the more grim mass disappearances on this list.
Kenneth and Barbara Martin left their home with their three daughters: Barbie, Susan, and Virginia. Their plan was to gather greenery to make Christmas decorations for their home. When Kenneth didn’t arrive at work two days later, the family was reported missing.
There is little evidence about the family’s movements that weekend. In addition, authorities noted that the family hadn’t taken clothing from the house or money from their bank account; they had even left dishes in the drying rack and laundry in the wash when they left that morning. The house showed no signs of a struggle.
Three months later, a rig drilling in the Dalles River hit something unusual. Police were called, and the bodies of Susan and Virginia were recovered from the site. What makes this case truly baffling is that the other three bodies and the family’s car were never located. If the family had met with some sort of accident, why weren’t all five bodies found together? This question still plagues investigators to this day.
1. Franklin’s Lost Expedition
In 1845, two ships set sail under the guidance of experienced arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin, to explore the Northwest Passage. This was meant to be a long voyage, and over a year into the trip, the ship became icebound in the Victoria Straights. All 129 members of the crew were lost and presumed dead.
Over 150 years later, expeditions are still being mounted to the site where Franklin’s ships met their grim fate. Explorers who have investigated the wreckage of the ships have found a number of startling pieces of evidence that present more questions than answers.
For example, when investigators examined the bodies of the deceased crew members that were found in the area, they noted what appeared to be signs of cannibalism. However, the ship was still stocked with food when it was discovered. Why would they have resorted to this barbaric practice when they still had a supply of food? In addition, the body of one crew member was found preserved in the surrounding ice. When the body was autopsied, medical examiners found that the body had already been autopsied and the organs put back inside in a jumbled mess. Who would have performed this procedure?
Another baffling aspect of the wreckage is the lack of records. The ship carried numerous cylinders in which to store records of the trip. The cylinders were found, but there was no trace of the records. What happened to them? Some say that the British government is covering up the contents of the records by claiming they never existed.
Although this case has abundant evidence, many questions still remain. We may never know the truth behind this case: one of the most baffling mass disappearances in history.
Well there’s our look at some of the most perplexing mass disappearances ever recorded. Do you think these mass disappearances have rational explanations? Let us know in the comments below.