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Famous Missing Persons

When a person goes missing, it will be devastating for those around them. Unfortunately, this is a tragedy that happens to many thousands of family and friends, globally each year. Thankfully, most people reappear or are found safe and well, days, weeks or months (sometimes, years) later and the circumstances are revealed, sadly some have been found deceased. In some rare cases, the missing person is never found.

In the cases of people who are in the public eye and quite often, appear to be successful and often wealthy, if they go missing, it appears to create an even deeper sense of mystery and this, in turn, creates a fascination amongst the general public as quite often, there are some unusual or unexplained circumstances leading up to their disappearance. Here are some cases of famous missing people, whose whereabouts are still unknown.

Glenn Miller

Glenn Miller

Glenn Miller - Band Leader

Glenn Miller was an American Big Band leader, musician, music arranger and composer whose band's distinctive compositions, for many, became the background music to the Second World War. Following earlier success with Music Recording, Radio and Movie appearances with his band - Glenn Miller Orchestra, At the peek of his civilian career, Glenn Miller joined the War effort, initially turned down by the Navy, he joined the US Army Air force and ultimately modernising and leading a 50 piece Army Air Force Band. The band transferred to England and during 1944 performed hundreds of concerts.

On December 15th, 1944, Major Glenn Miller boarded a single-engined USAAF aircraft, taking off in poor weather from RAF Twinwood Farm near Bedford, England, bound for recently liberated Paris, France to arrange his bands future concerts. The plane never arrived at it's destination and Miller and the crew were reported "Missing in Action". The plane, Glenn Miller and crew have never been found.

Numerous rumours surfaced as to Glenn Miller's disappearance, the most widely accepted is that his plane crashed into the English Channel after being hit by bombs jettisoned by British Royal Air Force bombers returning after an aborted mission, which was common practice at the time, although the areas would supposedly be "No-Fly" Zones, although the pilots judgement could have been impaired by the poor weather. This version of events appeared to be confirmed by some eye witness reports from ex RAF aircrew that had appeared many years later.

Many of Glenn Millers's musical arrangements are instantly recognised and it is widely accepted that Glenn Miller made an enormous contribution to the war effort with his morale boosting music. His story was immortalised in the 1954 film "The Glenn Miller Story", starring James Stewart.

Michael Rockefeller

Michael Rockefeller

Michael Rockefeller - Explorer and member of one of the World's wealthiest families

Michael was the son of Nelson Rockefeller ( Governor of New York and future Vice President to Gerald Ford) and member one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in US history. A Harvard Graduate and US Army veteran.

In November 1961, Rockefeller was taking part in an exploration expedition, in the region of Netherlands New Guinea in what is now part of Indonesia, South East Asia. It is believed he and fellow explorer, Dutch anthropologist Rene Wassing, were in a dug out canoe , which was swamped and overturned some distance from the coast and the last sighting was them swimming to shore. After this event, there is nothing but speculation, some believing that they had drowned, were eaten by sharks or crocodiles, however there has been strong speculation in recent years, backed up by some hearsay evidence in the region, that the most likely event was that the group, on reaching the shore, were killed by local tribes people and possibly eaten in acts of cannibalism. However, to date, there has never been any identification or recovery of remains. In 1964, Michael Rockefeller was formerly declared missing, presumed dead.

Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson - ex US Special Agent and Thai Silk Entrepreneur

Jim Thompson was born in 1906 in Greenville, Delaware, USA and following a good education, trained to be an architect. In 1941, Thompson quit his job and joined the Delaware National Guard regiment and a year later, was commissioned as an officer shortly after Pearl Harbour. Thompson was approached and recruited in the Office of Strategic Services (the wartime forerunner to the CIA) and served undercover in mainland Europe and then Asia. In August 1945, he had been detailed to parachute into Thailand, to assist the Thai resistance but following the Japanese surrender, he was posted to the OSS office in Bangkok and then afterwards to the US embassy as military attache.

Thompson fell in love with the country and following his discharge in 1946, decided to settle and make Bangkok his home. Thompson became very interested in hand woven silk production, a tradition which had almost disappeared, and following the setting up of his company - The Thai Silk Company, Thompson worked incredibly hard in getting the business off the ground. The company's fortune's received a massive boost in 1951 when it was chosen to supply the silk for the stage and film versions of "The King and I" and In the next tfifteen years, Thompson has been credited by some as almost single handed reviving the Thai Silk industry, as by the late 60's, there were now over a hundred silk producers in Thailand (when Thompson started, he had pretty much been the only one) and this provided employment to thousands of Thai's.

In March 1967, Thompson went with friends, for a holiday to Malaysia's Cameron Highlands. On Sunday March 24, Thompson decided to go for a walk by himself and was never seen again. A huge search was mounted by Malaysian Police and various experts in the following months but not a trace was found. There have been many theories put forward surrounding Thompson's disappearance including abduction (possibly for ransom?), Thompson himself faking his own disappearance or that he was accidentally knocked-down by a passing a lorry and the perpetrators, in panic, concealing his body. Today the mystery endures but his legacy of an extraordinary man lives on with silk being one of Thailand's most famous products and Jim Thompson's traditional styled house serving as one of Bangkok's most popular tourist attractions.

Harold Holt

Harold Holt

Harold Holt - Australian Prime Minister

Harold Holt had been involved in politics in his native Australia from the early 1930's, becoming a member of the Australian parliament, a minister holding senior positions in the Australian Government and ultimately elected Prime Minister of Australia in January 1966. He was premier during the height of the cold war and forged a close working relationship with Lyndon B.Johnson, committing Australian troops to the Vietnam War.

On the the 17th December 1967, Harold Holt, along with friends and bodyguards, left Melbourne and drove to Port Philip Bay. In the afternoon, they arrived at Cheviot Beach and despite heavy swell and friends protestations, Harold Holt, being a strong swimmer, decided to go for a swim. Holt soon disappeared from view and his friends raised the alarm.

There followed a massive Police and Australian Naval & Army search but despite this, Harold Holt has never been seen since.

It is widely presumed that Harold Holt drowned in the heavy seas, pulled under by a rip tide, however as with similar scenarios, there has been speculation that he was assassinated, kidnapped by a Chinese submarine, was a Chinese Agent and defected, and even abducted by a UFO! Although these are all fairly implausible, speculation of the Chinese link was due to the suspicion at the time, that there was a Chinese agent in a very high position in government and subsequent unsubstantiated reports, that Holt had been spotted in China.

The official coroners findings in 2005, in light of no further evidence, concluded that Harold Holt was accidentally drowned.

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Sean Flynn

Sean Flynn

Sean Flynn - Photographer and Actor

Sean Flynn was the only son of the Hollywood Actor Errol Flynn and French actress Lili Damita. He was born in 1940 and after leaving college, followed in his parents footsteps and became a Hollywood actor, starring in a number of films in the early 1960's most notably "The Son of Captain Blood" (a sequel to his fathers hugely successful Captain Blood). Flynn soon became disillusioned with Hollywood and tried different ventures including singing, big-game hunting and safari guiding in Kenya.

Seeking further adventure, In 1966 he arrived in Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War and embarked as a freelance photographer and spent much of the next 4 years covering the conflict for Time Magazine and Paris Match, soon becoming a respected photojournalist. He lived and become embedded in the core of the foreign correspondents in Vietnam including the infamous Tim Page (on whom, allegedly, the journalist in Apocalypse Now!, played by Dennis Hopper was partly based on), Zalin Grant and Michael Herr. Flynn was wounded on one occasion and in between assignments, also covered the 6-Day War in Israel in 1967, returning again afterwards to South Vietnam to cover the the conflict.

In early 1970, Flynn accepted an assignment from Time Magazine to cover the hostilities in Cambodia, the Vietnam conflict was spilling over the countries borders along with the up-rise of the communist Khmer Rouge. On the 6th April 1970, Sean Flynn along with CBS Cameraman Dana Stone rented motorbikes and headed on the highway through Eastern Cambodia towards the Vietnam Border. It is known that they were seized by North Vietnamese affiliated forces, just over the border and have never been seen since.

It is assumed that both journalists were handed over the Khmer Rouge and may have been in captivity for some time. It is thought, that like a number of foreign journalists covering the Cambodia/Khmer Rouge conflict, it is likely they would have been executed, however despite various searches by friends and families and some false alarms, their exact fate and final resting place is still unknown.

Lord Lucan

Lord Lucan

Lord Lucan - 7th Earl of Lucan - Richard Bingham

Lord Lucan was a member of the British Aristocracy, was educated at Eton College and served as an officer in the Coldstream Guards. He married Victoria Duncan in 1963 with whom, he had three children. Previously Lord Bingham. Lucan was a compulsive gambler, known as "Lucky Lucan" by some of his friends and lived the life of a gentleman playboy, in the private clubs and gambling tables of London as a professional gambler, although he was amassing large debts and was facing possible bankruptcy.

On the evening of 7th November 1974, Lady Lucan stumbled into the pub - The Plumbers Arms - near to the families Belgravia home, covered in blood and crying for help and exclaiming that "he's murdered my nanny". On the Police's arrival at the Lucan's home, the families Nanny - Sandra Rivett, was found bludgeoned to death in the basement, in a sack, a bent lead pipe nearby, the families children where safely asleep in bed, unharmed and Lady Lucan had suffered blows to the head in the earlier assault. Lady Lucan maintained that it was her husband - Lord Lucan who had assaulted her and killed Sandra Rivett.

In the following hours, Lord Lucan had been in contact with a number of friends, family and acquaintances, both in person and by phone, explaining that he had interrupted a burglary in progress that he had noticed, whilst passing the family home (due to the breakdown in his relationship with his wife, he was by now, living in a nearby flat) but due to the estranged nature of his relationship with his wife, things looked very bad for him, as his wife would doubtless accuse him of the terrible crime. Meanwhile. Police had searched Lucan's flat and found a number of personnel possessions, including his passport, chequebook and keys. Lord Lucan had driven a borrowed car to Uckfield, Sussex (40 miles south of London) and arrived at a friends house, although his friend was away, he explained the situation to his friends wife, made a number of phone calls, his host tried to persuade him to stay and to visit the local Police the next day, however he made his excuse that he had to get back. The following day, he posted two letters to his brother-in-law - Bill Shand-Kydd, whom he had be unable to contact the night before, one explaining again, his side of the story and the second, giving direction on settling some financial affairs.

Three days after Sandra Rivetts' murder, the borrowed car that Lord Lucan had been driving was found abandoned in the south coast port of Newhaven. Blood stains and a piece of lead piping, similar to the murder weapon were found in the vehicle and no further confirmed sitings of Lord Lucan had since been made. Whilst much of the evidence points to Lord Lucan being the perpetrator of the crime, there were a number of inconsistencies in the evidence, particularly eyewitness statements and differences in evidence provided by his wife and daughter. some legal minds believe that if he had have gone on trial, he may have been found Not-guilty by a jury.

Many theories have abounded since the terrible train of events. Many, including some of his close friends, believe that Lord Lucan committed suicide in the days following, either by jumping overboard from a ferry he had boarded, or had drowned himself in Newhaven Harbour. Whilst many more, including his brother, believe that he escaped to the continent, with the assistance of his wealthy friends. There has long been a suspicion that his close friends knew more about his whereabouts, than they let on. Since then, there have been a number of unconfirmed sitings of Lord Lucan all over the world, including South Africa, New Zealand and India (although the last high profile case of him living as a hippy in Goa was widely discredited).

Whilst the original Police investigation was never solved, the case has been reopened for investigation as recently as 2004, but despite calling upon modern technology such as DNA profiling, still no conclusive evidence could be reached that pinpointed Lucan as the murderer. however the lead Detective on the reopened case, from London's Metropolitan Police,did state that he believed that Lucan had escaped abroad (Also, a senior retired detective who had worked on the "cold" case in the early 1980s and had come to a similar conclusion, however on attempting to pursue the case, was ordered to "discontinue with the enquiry"). Lord Lucan was, however officially recorded as presumed dead in December 1992 and probate was granted, with Lady Lucan being sole beneficiary of her husbands estate, in August 1999. To add further speculation to the case, early in 2012, a secretary working for one of Lucan's close friends, John Aspinall, claims to have assisted in booking flights for Lucan's children in the late 70's and early 80's to visit Africa (so that Lucan could view, but not meet his children), although she believes that he had died in 2000, around the same time as his friend John Aspinall.

In February 2016, over 40 years since his disappearance, a Court in London declared Lord Lucan "Presumed Dead" , which allows the issue of a Death Certificate. This in turn, allows his 48 year old son George Bingham to inherit the title "Lord Lucan".


Christine "Licorice" McKechnie - Musician

Christine was/is a Scottish musician, most notable as a backing singer and percussionist with the British Psychedelic Folk Group "Incredible String Band", with whom she performed at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland , as a teenager, Christine became involved with the local poetry and folk music scene and was for a time engaged to be married to musician, Bert Jansch (later one of the key members of the legendary folk band Pentangle). he wedding never took place and she embarked on the "hippy trail" to Morocco with musician Robin Williamson, who she was later to join in forming Incredible String Band and remained a couple up until 1972. Moving to California in the 1970's, She remained a performer for a number of years appearing on various albums with different groups and married and divorced.

In 1986, she made the trip back to Edinburgh, Scotland to visit family and friends, before returning back "home" to the U.S. Her last known whereabouts was in 1987, being seen hitchhiking across the Arizona Desert in 1987 and sadly she has not been seen or heard of since. Although ,no doubt Christine had a free spirit and her whereabouts are currently unknown, Friends and family have insisted for her not to be in touch with any of them for nearly 30 years is completely out of character and they can only conclude that she is most likely deceased.

Richey Edwards

Richey Edwards

Richey Edwards - Guitarist with Welsh Rock Band "The Manic Street Preachers"

On 1st February 1995, 27 year old, Richey Edwards was due to fly to the US for a promotional tour with his band - The Manic Street Preachers, however, he checked out of his hotel in London, and drove back to his native Wales. On 17th February 1995, his vehicle was found abandoned at a service station near the Severn Bridge (which links England to Wales across the rivers Severn and Wye and is a recognised suicide location). Edwards had a history of depression, but had always maintained that he would never consider taking his own life. To add to the mystery, he had been withdrawing cash on a daily basis in the two weeks before his disappearance and had also been spotted at a passport office. There have been possible sightings of the musician particularly in Goa,India and the Canary Islands over the years but none of these sitings have been confirmed. The other members of Manic Street Preachers have vehemently refused to accept that Richey is dead and he still receives 25% of the bands royalties. His status is still "missing" rather than being declared legally dead, however his family, in 2008 took the steps to officially record him as "presumed dead", although they haven't given up all hope of finding him alive and continue in their quest to follow up any lines of enquiry into his disappearance. 22nd December 2017 was his 50th Birthday.

Jim Gray

Jim Gray

Jim Gray - Leading Computer Scientist

Jim Gray was a leading American Computer Scientist, a pioneer in his field of research and software design. He worked at the top levels of leading technology companies, such as IBM, Tandem, and DEC, where he developed database software, data warehousing and transaction processing, the foundations of much of his work is still in use today . He was the recipient of many leading scientific awards, including the prestigious annual "Turing Award" in 1998, for his work on relational database technology, it is generally recognised as the highest distinction in the field of Computer Science.

He joined Microsoft in 1995 as a Technical Fellow and eventually become head of Microsoft Research eScience Group, with interests in developing software for the scientific community, as well as the application of supercomputers, he was also one of the leading developers of Microsoft TerraServer, a database of ariel and satellite imagery and still the world's largest online Atlas.

On 28th January 2007, an experienced sailor, he sailed his 40ft sailing yacht from San Francisco harbour , heading towards The Farrallon Islands, some 30 miles away, to scatter the ashes of his deceased Mother. This was the last know sighting and despite his boat having some of the most advanced technology available, including automatic emergency signalling, no distress beacon was transmitted and no trace has been found of Mr Gray , or his boat, despite extensive aerial and sea and subsea searches. Whilst accidental sinking seems unlikely, some have speculated that Jim Gray may have intentionally sank his boat, which seems the most plausible. Other more unlikely theories are he may have set off, towards the horizon, for a new life. Some more outlandish theories have concluded that he may have been perhaps kidnapped, by agents of an unknown Government, due to his vast technical knowledge and experience and may be alive and working still, perhaps against his will.

Five years after his disappearance, in May 2012, Jim Gray was officially pronounced legally dead. Microsoft continue to award the annual "Jim Gray eScience award" to a researcher who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of data intensive computing and the influence of Jim Gray's work, is a legacy that continues strongly today.


Minorkle on November 24, 2017:


Mike Hey from UK on May 14, 2016:

A really interesting read. I knew of Lucian and Edwards but had always assumed that, although I knee of Millers disappearance, it had appeared stateside.

Suzie from Carson City on February 16, 2016:

The only names I recognize are Glenn Miller & Sean Flynn. I had absolutely no idea that Glenn Miller was a missing person! My parents had albums of his music.

This is an interesting and informative hub. Thanks. Paula

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on February 10, 2016:

This was a very interesting hub. I knew about most of these disappearances(especially the Australians) but you included some extra information. Well written.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on January 25, 2016:

I didn't know these stories so very interesting.

Nathan M from Tucson on April 26, 2015:

Interesting article. I always believed that Lord Lucan started a new life elsewhere, helped by a few wealthy friends.

Kieran Clarke (author) from Newton Abbot on May 24, 2013:

Thank you kymp! Really Appreciate your comment. Although the HP highlights people in the public spotlight, I think it's important also to remember the truly astounding number of people who simply "disappear" globally each year. This is something that has personally affected me in the past and it is heartbreaking to think of those loved ones still waiting for that piece of information, phone call, letter or knock on the door, that tragically in many cases, never materializes. Thanks Again!

Kym L Pasqualini from Carefree, AZ on May 22, 2013:

Really great article!

Kieran Clarke (author) from Newton Abbot on August 15, 2011:

Thank You SG Hupp!

S G Hupp from United States on August 11, 2011:

Really interesting article...

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