Missing persons statistics are harrowing. Upwards of 600,000 people per year go missing in America alone every year. Global statistics are hard to pin down, but some reports indicate over 800,000 children per year go missing. While many of these people are found again, many more are not. So it should come as no surprise that some of the people who vanish had high-profile lives before they disappeared.
10. Richey Edwards
Welsh band Manic Street Preachers rose to fame in the 1980s and ’90s and, arguably, their most famous song was “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will be Next.” This came just shortly after the band suffered a great loss when lyricist and guitar player Richey Edwards, who had been with the band for six years, disappeared.
Edwards was known to have issues with mental health and had cut himself in the past, though not as part of a suicide attempt. In fact, he famously cut the words “4 Real” into his arm with a razor in front of a journalist after a show.
In 1995, Edwards was supposed to be heading to the United States as part of a promo tour for their most recent album. The day of the flight, he vanished. He had withdrawn a few thousand dollars from the bank, checked out of a hotel at 7 a.m. and was never seen again. Toll records show he crossed a bridge which was a known spot for suicide attempts sometime after, but the records show he crossed at 2:55 a.m., before he checked out.. His car was found at a gas station nearby but no body was found.
Speculation has continued that Edwards faked his death. Sightings have cropped up for years, but nothing definitive has been proven.
9. Ambrose Bierce
Ambrose Bierce wrote what is still considered one of the greatest books of all time, The Devil’s Dictionary, not to mention his famous short “An Occurrence at Owl Creek.” He was celebrated and prolific and truly an American original. When he stated he was heading to Mexico to chronicle the Mexican Revolution firsthand, people probably expected him to write something remarkable. Instead, he vanished and was never seen again.
There was another side to Bierce that most of his readers probably never knew. He was known to be a drinker, and also very acerbic. With literally no evidence at all regarding what happened to him, numerous theories arose to fill in the gaps, many of them colored by his already storied reputation as a dark soul with a penchant for the dramatic and deadly.
Nowadays, you can find numerous theories about what happened. Suicide, murder, execution, and disease are all possibilities. In the movie From Dusk Till Dawn 3, they suggest the man was a vampire. So there’s a lot of guesswork but no real answers.
8. Sean Flynn
For a time, Sean Flynn was following in the footsteps of his father, Errol Flynn. He had acted in a handful of films produced in Europe. However, he was most widely known as a photojournalist for his work as a freelancer during the Vietnam War. His photographs appeared in Time Life and later he worked for UPI. He became famous, or maybe infamous, for his high-risk photography right in the middle of a war zone. And there has been no end to speculation that this was responsible for his eventual disappearance.
Flynn parachuted alongside US soldiers in pursuit of his famous images. In 1970, he and another photojournalist were on the trail of a Viet Cong highway checkpoint they’d heard about. They left from Cambodia bound for Saigon and a press conference, with plans to see the checkpoint along the way. No one ever saw them again.
The Defense Intelligence Agency reported that the Viet Cong had captured the men and given them to Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, who executed them. No bodies were ever recovered.
7. Joseph Pichler
Joseph Pichler is most well known for playing Brennan Newton on Beethoven’s 3rd and 4th, those movies about a loveable St. Bernard. He’d been acting since he was about 9 years old and had appeared in several other movies and shows when his family decided he should return to Washington to finish schooling.
In 2006, Pichler went missing, Police say the 18-year-old left behind a suicide note and, though no body was found, they obviously drew that conclusion. However, Pichler’s family disagrees. They say the writing that the police found was just that, writing. They believe it was just poetry and other such creative writing. But the letter he left in his car, which police found near a body of water, said he wanted to leave his belongings to his brother.
6. Lord Lucan
In the modern world, not a lot of people know the name Lord Lucan. His proper name was Richard John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan and during his time he was quite the celebrity in the UK. Word is he was considered to play James Bond before Sean Connery got the role.
He didn’t become a potential Bond for no reason. The man drove an Aston Martin and quit his full time job to become a professional gambler, and this was back in the 1950s before the internet made this an actual option for some people but well after the Wild West had also made it a viable option. The major issue with his decision was that he was also not a good gambler and lost far more than he won. His debts were to the tune of about £250,000.
Bingham’s wife eventually left him and took their children. Bingham apparently lost his mind and would spy on his ex and record phone calls and generally be a creepy weirdo about the whole thing. This came to a head when his ex, Veronica Duncan, was attacked with her nanny in their home. The nanny was killed, and Duncan identified Bingham as the murderer. A manhunt ensued, but Bingham was never seen again.
5. Sweet Jimmy Robinson
You may not recognize the name “Sweet” Jimmy Robinson, and that’s perhaps part of the tragedy of his disappearance. On February 7, 1961, Robinson got the opportunity of a lifetime when he stepped into the ring with Cassius Clay, the man we know today as Muhammad Ali. He went toe-to-toe with one of the greatest boxers in history for a total of 94 seconds. It was Ali’s fourth match ever and Robinson was a last-minute opponent, so he hadn’t really trained for the bout at all.
Not every boxer is destined for greatness, sure. But Robinson did try. His record was only 8 wins with 25 losses. Still, he stuck with it for seven years. And he was good friends with Ali, as well. He told an interviewer back in 1980 that he used to drive Ali around in a pink Cadillac and the champ would sometimes give him money when he was down on his luck.
In 2009, ESPN was putting together an article on the 50 boxers who had faced Ali during his career. They found 49 but Robinson was missing. And this was no lazy attempt. Police and the FBI joined the hunt but turned up nothing. Not only could Robinson not be found, they couldn’t even find a trail. Robinson had no birth date that anyone knew. They didn’t even know his full name, or if he had any family. There was no official documentation of Sweet Jimmy Robinson existing anywhere. And he was gone, never to be seen again.
4. Scott Smith
Loverboy’s hit “Working’ for the Weekend” has been a pop culture staple since it was recorded in1981. VH1 has it placed 100 on their Top 100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s. It’s been in movies like Click and Zoolander and was even a song on the radio in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
The Canadian rock band featured Scott Smith on bass. In his spare time, he was an avid sailor and loved the water. In the year 2000, he was sailing off the coast of San Francisco with some friends. They were four miles from shore when a wave hit the boat.
His passengers were below deck when the wave hit, and it’s presumed Smith went overboard. He was not wearing a life jacket at the time. That said, neither the passengers nor rescue workers who were called in later were able to find any sign of Smith after two days of searching.
3. Jean Spangler
Dancer and actress Jean Spangler might have had a bright career ahead of her, but we’ll never know. She had started her career dancing and taking parts as extras in films. She wanted to be a star but, on October 27, 1949, she vanished and was never seen again.
Unlike some disappearances, Spangler’s threw law enforcement for a real loop. It wasn’t that there were no leads, if anything, there were too many. Her life was wrapped in intrigue and mystery, but none of the paths they followed had a satisfying conclusion.
When Spangler left her house that evening, she told her sister-in-law she was going to work. She called two hours later to say that she wouldn’t be home till the next morning. Spangler had not been scheduled to work that night at all.
Her purse was found two days later in a park. The handle was torn. There was a note inside that read “Kirk, Can’t wait any longer. Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away.” That was where the trail ran dry.
Spangler and her ex-husband were battling over custody of their young daughter. He ended up getting custody of Spangler’s disappearance. The Black Dahlia killer was also active around the same time. Even the mob was suspected, as a couple of known mobsters disappeared around the same time. But the mystery remains to this day.
2. Glenn Miller
One of the most famous Big Band performers ever, Glenn Miller joined the military during WWII in a bid to help entertain the troops. He gave up a serious salary and for two years, he performed and trained and boosted morale for troops abroad.
On December 15, 1944, Miller was flying from Bedford in England to Paris, France with two other soldiers. Somewhere over the English Channel, the plane vanished. Neither Miller nor his companions were ever found. The plane was not recovered, either.
Since they were not flying over a combat area, speculation that perhaps friendly fire took them out was offered up. There were even conspiracies that he was assassinated or that he was involved in espionage.
Later, an RAF navigator named Fred Shaw would recall seeing the same type of plane on the day and time Miller was in transit being knocked from the sky into the channel, but it was never confirmed.
1. Rico Harris
Rico Harris achieved brief fame playing with arguably the most entertaining team in the world of sports: the Harlem Globetrotters. He had only been with the team for a month when he was attacked in a road rage incident and hit in the head with a baseball bat. Though he survived, he never fully recovered. He suffered headaches and balance issues and was no longer able to play the game.
In the following years, Harris’s life spiralled out of control. He was arrested numerous times for things like burglary and public drunkenness. But, after a near death experience brought on by an overdose, he turned his life around. He went to rehab, got clean, and held down a job for seven years. He met a girl and moved to Seattle to be with her. He also relapsed into drugs.
On October 9, 2014, Harris decided to drive back to California to talk to his mother and brother and bring some of his stuff back to Seattle. He disappeared somewhere on the road. He had called his girlfriend at 10:45 to tell her he was tired and planned to get some rest in the mountains. His car was found in a county park lot days later. There were size 18 footprints located nearby, but Harris was never seen again.