People go missing every year, but sometimes where they’ve gotten to is a mystery that is never solved. Some of these people have some fame before they have gone missing and become part of an urban mythology. Here are five of the best known of these people who have vanished from the face of the earth. Will they ever be found? What happened to them in their final moments? Was there a cover up? The world may never know.
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This New York City judge disappeared on the night of August 6, 1930. He was last seen leaving a restaurant on 45th Street. He had stated earlier that he was planning to attend a Broadway show. His disappearance became one of the most famous in American history and pop culture, and earned him the title of “The Missingest Man in New York”. This mystery had all of the telltale marks of a great story: Murder, sex, and intrigue. In the summer of 1930, Judge Crater and his wife, Stella Mance Wheeler, were vacationing at their summer cabin at Belgrade Lakes, Maine. In late July, he received a telephone call. He offered no information to his wife about the content of the call, other than to say that he had to return to the city “to straighten those fellows out”. The next day, he arrived at his Fifth Avenue apartment but instead of dealing with business, he made a trip to Atlantic City with his mistress, a showgirl named Sally Lou Ritz. He returned to Maine on August 1, and traveled back to New York on August 3. Before making this final trip, he promised his wife he would return by her birthday, on August 9. Crater’s wife stated that he was in good spirits and behaving normally when he departed for New York City. On the morning of August 6, Crater spent two hours going through his files in his courthouse chambers. He then had his assistant, Joseph Mara, cash two checks for him that amounted to U.S. $5,150 (that’s over $70,000 in today’s currency). At noon, he and Mara carried two locked briefcases to his apartment and he let Mara take the rest of the day off. Later that evening, Crater went to a Broadway ticket agency and bought one seat for a comedy called Dancing Partner that was playing that night at the Belasco Theatre. He then went to Billy Haas’s Chophouse on West 45th Street for dinner. Here, he ate dinner with Sally Lou Ritz and a friend of his who was a lawyer. The lawyer later told investigators that Crater was in a good mood that evening and gave no indication that anything was bothering him. The dinner ended a little after 9 pm, a short time after the curtain rose on the show for which Crater bought a ticket, and the small group went outside. Crater’s two dinner companions entered a taxi outside the restaurant. Both later testified before a grand jury that they last saw Crater walking down the street (this differs from the popular story that Crater entered a taxi and waved to his companions before speeding away). What happened to him after that remains a mystery. Theories about his disappearance have suggested that he was murdered, that he ran off with another woman, or that he had been involved in corrupt practices which were about to be revealed. No one ever saw him again.
This woman is perhaps the most famous female pilot of all time. Earhart was the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for becoming the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. Earhart joined the faculty of the world-famous Purdue University aviation department in 1935 as a visiting faculty member to counsel women on careers and help inspire others with her love for aviation. She was also a member of the National Woman’s Party, and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Fascination with her life, career and disappearance continues to this day. For a complete article on what might have happened to this brave lady, read myFiveBest’s Searching For Amelia Earhart.
You might know this man because he was an American jazz musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era. He was one of the best-selling recording artists from 1939 to 1943, leading one of the best known “Big bands”. Miller’s signature recordings include In the Mood, American Patrol, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Tuxedo Junction, Moonlight Serenade, Little Brown Jug and Pennsylvania 6-5000. On December 15, 1944, Miller was to fly from the United Kingdom to Paris, France, to play for the soldiers there. His plane (a single-engined UC-64 Norseman, USAAF serial 44-70285) departed from RAF Twinwood Farm in Clapham, Bedfordshire and disappeared while flying over the English Channel. No trace of the aircrew, passengers or plane has ever been found. Miller’s status is missing in action. There are three main theories about what happened to Miller’s plane, including the suggestion that he might have been hit by Royal Air Force bombs after an abortive raid on Siegen, Germany. One hundred and thirty-eight Lancaster bombers, short on fuel, jettisoned approximately 100,000 incendiaries in a designated area before landing. The logbooks of Royal Air Force navigator Fred Shaw recorded that he saw a small, single-engined monoplane spiraling out of control and crashing into the water. However, a second source, while acknowledging the possibility, cites other RAF crew members flying the same mission who stated that the drop area was in the North Sea. n a book published in 2006, Clarence B. Wolfe, a gunner with Battery D, 134th AAA Battalion, in Folkestone, England, claims that his battery shot down Miller’s plane. However, Wolfe’s account has been disputed. Another book by Lt. Col. Huton Downs, a former member of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal staff, argues that the U.S. government covered up Miller’s death. Downs suggested that Miller, who spoke German, had been enlisted by Eisenhower to covertly attempt to convince some German officers to end the war early. The book goes on to suggest that Miller was captured and killed in a Paris brothel, and his death covered up to save the government embarrassment. Miller received a posthumous Bronze Star for his service to the United States.
In 1971, an unknown hijacker parachuted out of a commercial airplane with $200,000 over heavily forested wilderness. No one ever saw him again. No one knows if he lived or died from the jump. It is presumed that he is dead, but no one ever found the money or the body. This case is the only unsolved U.S. hijacking. A few clues have arisen, but nothing to prove what happened to Cooper – which is the pseudonym that he used for his plane ticket. Over five thousand dollars in $20 bills was found along the Columbia River in 1980 and a placard from the plane was also discovered. In 2007, the FBI re-opened the case, stating they don’t believe Cooper survived, but they wanted to know who he was. They aren’t alone!
Hoffa was an American trade union leader and author. Hoffa was involved with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union, as an organizer from 1932 to 1975. He served as the union’s General President from 1958 to 1971. He secured the first national agreement for teamsters’ rates in 1964, and played a major role in the growth and development of the union, which eventually became the largest single union in the United States, with over 1.5 million members during his terms as its leader. Hoffa, who had been convicted of jury tampering, attempted bribery, and fraud in 1964, was imprisoned in 1967, sentenced to 13 years, after exhausting the appeal process. However, he did not officially resign the Teamsters’ presidency until mid-1971. This was part of a pardon agreement with U.S. president Richard Nixon, in order to facilitate Hoffa’s release from prison in late 1971. Nixon blocked Hoffa from union activities until 1980; Hoffa was attempting to overturn this order and to regain support. He was last seen in late July 1975, outside a suburban Detroit restaurant called the Machus Red Fox. The remains of Hoffa have been speculated for years. Some say he was brought to a house, shot, then dismembered and buried in a land fill. Others claimed he was buried on a farm in Michigan. But my favorite is that his body was buried in the end zone at Giant’s Stadium. All people believe that he was killed by the mob.
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