Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.


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PrincesToday, ten famous disappearances. A fun post, fun to write, hopefully fun to read. Countless people have vanished throughout history, it’s not that hard to do. I’ve tried to select ones that may be a bit lesser known, and more importantly, there’s something interesting about their disappearance. Without further ado:

~700BC. Romulus. Romulus was the founder of Rome, and the first king of Rome. Many of Rome’s institutions were started by him. After ruling for 37 years, he was reviewing troops when he vanished into a sudden intense whirlwind. Contemporary theories were that he was torn to pieces by jealous senators, or was ascended into the heavens by Mars, god of war. Modern historians are pretty sure Romulus was an entirely mythical figure.

1483. The Princes in the Tower. They were brothers, 12 and 9, placed in protection in the Tower of London by their uncle Richard. The eldest was heir to the throne, so of course they needed to be protected, what else could Richard do? Then somehow they mysteriously vanished, and Richard III was reluctantly forced to become king himself. The astute reader can no doubt guess what their fate was. I mean, just look at Richard’s picture. Would you let him babysit your kids?

1900. Three schoolgirls and their teacher. They vanished during a day trip to Hanging Rock, Victoria. It is a rugged wombat infested place, dozens of people vanish there every year. Their disappearance was made famous by a book and novel in the late 20th century, bringing renewed interest to the case. As of today it has never been solved.

December, 1900. The Flannan Isle Lighthouse keepers. On 26 December 1900 a supply vessel discovered the 3 men manning the lighthouse, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, were missing. No sign of them, they’d been gone about a week, nothing particularly amiss about their lodgings. It’s still a big mystery. They were washed away trying to secure gear during a gale is the best guess. Modern theories include rogue waves and UFOs.

1913 Ambrose Bierce. A Civil War veteran, famous author and journalist, and pioneer of the modern short story. In his old age, over 70, he decided to visit revolutionary Mexico. Last rumored to be travelling with rebel troops, he vanished. His disappearance has never been solved satisfactorily. Hell, it’s never even been conclusively proven he went to Mexico. He did exist though, unlike the Moon Landings, his existence was well documented.

1930. Judge Crater. When I was a kid Judge Crater was synonymous with “person who mysteriously disappeared.” Everyone had heard of him, even if they knew nothing about him. Before Wikipedia people often knew nothing about stuff that was common knowledge, it was weird, I know. Famous judge, on a trip to New York was last seen having dinner with a few friends. Case was complicated by the fact that since he was on a road trip, he wasn’t reported  missing right away. Despite massive publicity and a huge search, his whereabouts were never determined. He may not have wanted to be found.

1937. Amelia Earhart and Frank Noonan. They got lost trying to circumnavigate the globe, ditched their plane in the middle of the Pacific, and shortly thereafter drowned. If they even survived the water landing. Their plane and bodies were never found. While for pop historians and the National Inquirer crowd their fate is still a huge mystery, and people to this day are milking it for money, there’s no real doubt about their fate.

November 17, 1961. Michael Rockefeller. Son of Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York and future Vice President. Eaten by cannibals. Yes, being the scion of the rich and famous only goes so far. OK, maybe eaten by cannibals. Exploring New Guinea with a Dutch anthropologist, their 40 foot dugout canoe swamped and overturned about three miles from the coast. Their two native guides swam to get help. Some hours later despairing of rescue, Michael also struck out for shore. The anthropologist was rescued the next morning, Michael was never seen again. While he most likely drowned, headhunting and cannibalism weren’t unknown at the time in the region, and rumours that he suffered that fate persist.

26 January 1966. The Beaumont Children. A sad one, though granted these are all sad in their way. Jane, Anna, and Grant, 9, 7, and 4, went to a public beach in Australia and were never seen again. Huge deal at time, never really went away in Australia. In 2018 the South Australian government put up an A$1,000,000 reward for information about their fate, so still an active cold case. It changed how Australians raised their children, destroying the illusion of their safety in public. The children were almost certainly kidnapped and murdered, one can only hope the case will one day be solved.

Oscar Zeta Acosta. 1974. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. A book I remember fondly from my youth, and the recent movie wasn’t too bad either. The Samoan Lawyer in the book was based on a friend of Hunter S Thompson’s, one Oscar Zeta Acosta. Very much a famous Chicano activist, he also sometimes travelled with a rough crowd. Last known to be boarding a “snow covered” yacht in Mexico, he was never seen again. As his son said: “The body was never found, but we surmise that probably, knowing the people he was involved with, he ended up mouthing off, getting into a fight, and getting killed.”

RIP Mr Acosta. And all the rest. Some of these cases will eventually be solved as forensic technology evolves. DNA sniffers are going to one day make it almost impossible for a body, alive or dead, to vanish. At the very least they will be able to trace its last location, as humans shed DNA all the time. If people like this post, this list was just the tip of the iceberg. Let me know in the comments and more will follow.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Painting, The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower, 1483 by Sir John Everett Millais, 1878.)


Written by unitedcats

June 3, 2019 at 7:43 am

Posted in History

2 Responses

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  1. Hey Dog. I do enjoy true life mystery, and the more the merrier. However, “picnic at Hanging Rock” truly is a fiction. I live close by Hanging Rock and am well informed about this matter.

    • Yes. Glad someone caught that joke, I would have thought that “wombat infested” or “dozens of people vanish every year” would give it away. :)


      June 12, 2019 at 7:31 am

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