Unsolved Cases of Famous People Who Disappeared Mysteriously

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Dorothy Arnold, A Manhattan Socialite (disappeared in 1910)

Known as New York socialite,Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold was the heiress of a wealthy perfume importer, Francis Arnold and niece of the magistrate Rufus Wheeler Peckham. She was disappeared into thin air when walking down the busy Manhattan Street on one cold morning of 12th December 1910 and never to be heard from again. In the summer before, Dorothy spent nights at Boston hotels with 40 years old man named George Griscom. This affair caused lots of media attention as girls of high society at that time never did such thing. Suspecting that Dorothy might had run away withGriscom and trying to avoid embarrassing scandal, Dorothy’s father appointed Pinkerton detective agency to investigate her whereabouts. Only after 6 agonizing weeks without successful result, the father reported to the Police and opened this case to the media.

Speculation floated that Dorothy might have committed suicide because Griscom had refused to marry her. Other theory said that she might had fallen onto icy pavement and suffered from amnesia. Others said that she might have been banished in disgrace to Switzerland after her family discovered that she had been pregnant.  However, no one in Manhattan hospitals matched her description and no one had ever seen her famous face in Switzerland. Numerous sightings of her all proved to be false.  In 1916 a Rhode Island convict stated that he helped a man, whose description was strikingly close to that of Griscom, dig a grave for Dorothy Arnold in the cellar of a house near West Point. He was paid $150 to do the job.  He said Dorothy had died after a botched abortion. Police searched the cellar but found no sign of corpse.  After spending $ 100,000 for massive hunt, Francis Arnold finally gave up. He never knows what have become of his daughter.

Joe Pichler, American Child Actor (disappeared in 2006)

Joe Pichler was a famous child actor who starred successful family movie “Beethoven”. He was last seen on 5th January 2006 by his card-playing pals.  On 9th January 2006, his car was found at the busy intersection of Wheaton Way and Sheridan Road above Port Madison Narrow. Several poems and a note expressing suicidal thoughts were found in the car. In his note, Pichler stated that he was sorry for not being able to be a good role model for his 17 years old brother, A.J. He wished he could be a stronger brother and also asked his belongings to go to A.J.

Joe Pichler started his acting career at the age of 6 when he appeared in commercial ad. He starred several movies and took part in a TV series “Touched by an Angel” before his mother insisted him to move to Brementon to have a “normal life”. His mother said that he was not really happy about it. His mother and family members did not believe the message found in the car to be a suicide note and until today, the family is still actively searching for him.

Bison Dele, A Former NBA Player (disappeared in 2002)

A basketball game. Image credit

Formerly known as Brian Carson Williams, Bison Dele was the son of Eugene Williams of famous musical group, The Platters. He was an eccentric professional basketball player who started his NBA career by playing for Orlando Magic. He retired in his prime time at the age of 30 after having some strained relationship with his latest club, Detroit Piston.

He disappeared in July 2002 when sailing on the South Pacific Ocean along with his girlfriend Serena Karlan, skipper BertrandSaldo and his brother Miles Dabord. Dele’s catamaran, the HakunaMatata left the French Polynesian island of Moorea on 6th July. Dele, Karlan andSaldo were never to be heard from again. The police arrested Dabord after he tried to use Dele’s passport and credit card and forged his brother’s signature in order to buy $152,000 gold in Phoenix, Arizona in September 2002. Later, the police discovered that on 20th July, Dabord docked the catamaran under other name, Aria Bella, at Tarayao, Tahiti.The catamaran was found off Tahiti coast. There were several possible bullet holes patched on the boat. The police believed that Dele, Karlan andSaldo were murdered by Dabord at sea, probably on 7th July near Maiao, a small island between Tahiti andRaiatea. However, this was never confirmed as the bodies never recovered andDabord, the only source of information, had intentionally overdosed on insulin, fell into a coma and finally died on 27thSeptember. Until his death, he never told anyone what really happened on that boat.

Patrick McDermott, boyfriend of Olivia Newton-John (disappeared in 2005)

McDermott had been in relationship with John for 9 years when he disappeared on 30th June 2005 from a fishing boat off San Pedro, California. The boat “Freedom” sailed from San Pedro Marina for an overnight fishing trip carrying 22 passengers including McDermott and three crew members. No one on board could give a convincing report of McDermott whereabouts during the trips. Investigation report released by Coast Guard in November 2005 concluded that McDermott most likely drowned. His body was never recovered.

McDermott’s disappearance triggered controversies and speculations that he might have faked his own death to avoid debts. He had filed for bankruptcy after separating from his first wife, actress Yvette Nipar. This case was featured in Dateline NBC. Numerous sightings of him had been reported in Mexico and Central America ever since. For the purpose of trapping him, investigator set up a website FindPatrickMcDermott.com. The investigator said that most people who run away will always look over their shoulder. All the web’s visitors were mapped. The investigator believed that McDermott continuously tracking hits to the website. In April 2009, investigator released a statement that he has been in contact with a man who claimed to be McDermott’s representative. However until now, there is no confirmed information on his whereabouts, although the Investigator firmly believes that he is alive and now living in a boat off the west coast of Mexico.

Richey Edwards, member of Alternative Rock Band, Manic Street Preachers (disappeared in 1995)

Severn Bridge. Image credit.

Richey Edwards, a guitarist a lyricist of alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers, disappeared on 1st February 1995. His abandoned car was found on the Severn Bridge, a famous suicide location in England. Edwards was widely known for his intellectual song writing. Lyrics that he left behind were compiled in Manic Street Preachers’ ninth album which was released on 18th May 2009, Journal for Plague Lover.

Edward has a long history of self-injury. He said that he liked cutting himself because it made him feel better. Edwards openly admitted that he suffered from depression and had been treated for alcoholism and drug addiction. With this background many people thought that he had committed suicide by jumping from the bridge. However, his body was never recovered and this led to a speculation that he might still be alive. His family decided to declare him legally death in November 2009. His real fate though, remains a mystery to this date.

Michael Rockefeller, member of 4th generation of Rockefeller family (disappeared in 1961)

Michael Rockefeller was the son of Nelson Rockefeller, the former governor of New York and the great grandson of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil Co. His disappearance was big news in the 1960s. From early age, Michael Rockefeller had shown his desire to experience adventurous life. When his Harvard’s professor planned to film the life of Asmat tribe living on the island of New Guinea (now Papua), he insisted to go along and finally his professor agreed to assign him as still photographer. His collection of Asmat photographs are kept at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Asmat people. Image credit

On 17th November 1961, his boat was overturned on Arafuru Sea, approximately 5 miles from shore. He and his colleague, Rene Wassing, a Dutch anthropologist, were clinging on to it, while two local guides swam to shore for help. After waiting for some time for uncertain rescue, Rockefeller became impatient and determined to swim to shore too. Wassing tried to talk him out of it but failed. Wassing was rescued only nine hour after he was left alone but Rockefeller was nowhere to be found. He was declared death in 1964.

The family believed that he was drowned in the sea. Some believe that he was attacked by crocodile or shark. Other speculated that he might be eaten by local tribe as cannibalism and headhunting were common in New Guinea in the 60s. Others wondered whether Rockefeller had decided to go native and choose to live among the local tribes. Milt Machlin, A journalist who traveled to the island for the sole purpose of investigating Rockefeller’s disappearance provided another theory. Had Rockefeller made it to shore, he would most probably had arrived at Otsjanep village. Several leaders of the village had been killed by Dutch patrol in 1958, thus, being a white man, Rockefeller might had become the target of the villager’s revenge. None of the theories were confirmed.

YleniaCarrisi, Italian Celebrity, Daughter of famous singer AlbanoCarissi (disappeared in 1994)

 

La Dale Hotel. Image credit.

Daughter of AlbanoCarrisi, Ylena Maria Sole Carrisi disappeared mysteriously when visiting New Orleans during her solo world voyage. Before her disappearance, Carrisi was a famous TV celebrity in Italia and a talented student at London’s King College. In 1993 she sold all her belonging andstarted travelling the world with only her journal and backpack. No one notice her disappearance until his brother, who would like to surprise her by visiting her, tried to follow her trail from Belize, Mexico to New Orleans but failed to find her. She was last stayed in a New Orleans hotel, the LaDale. The search for her and various reported false bizarre sightings of her caused much excitement for the media, in particular the European tabloids. A security guard testified that he saw a woman matching Carrisi’s description jump into Mississippi River. No body was found. Her father finally believes this story while her mother believes that her daughter is still alive until today.

Ambrose Small, Canadian Millionaire (disappeared in 1919)

Ambrose Small, the owner of several theaters including the famous Grand Opera House in Canada disappeared after leaving his Opera House on 2nd December 1919 right after receiving a million dollars check. His mysterious disappearance was followed by decades of scandals and controversies. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had once considered investigating the case if asked by authority, but for unknown reasons, he was never asked. The mystery was fueled by stories that Small had been cremated by his murderer in the furnace in the basement of his opera house and his ghost had haunted that place ever since. Michael Ondaatje told a fictitious story of Small’s disappearance in his novel In the Skin of the Lion. This mystery also inspired a 1999 TV Movie Sleeping Dogs Lie. The police launched an extensive manhunt but no result was yield. Several psychics also involved with the case. They gave various non-conclusive explanations lead to nowhere.

Before his disappearance, Small was known for his extensive gambling and drinking habits. Parts of his fortune were made of illegal gambling. He was also a notorious womanizer often seen squiring beautiful showgirls about town. He designed a secret chamber adjoining his office in his Opera House in order to discreetly conduct his affairs. His wife, Theresa Small came from a wealthy and respectable family and it is no secret that Small took advantage of his wife’s fortune and good connections. Theresa Small was allegedly connected with her husband death, but the court ruled that Theresa’s reputation was beyond questions and she was not linked in any manner to her husband’s disappearance. However, a document written by Hammond, the lead investigator of this case, which had been recently found, revealed that Theresa Small might have had some roles in her husband disappearance. Not only that, Hammond also accused Austin Mitchell, a police inspector, involved in covering up the crime by intimidating witnesses. This accusation had not been confirmed yet.

 

The haunted building of Grand Opera House. Image credit.

The case was closed in 1960. However the story of ghost sightings in the Opera House continued. In 970, the Opera House prompted two séances on its stage. He was told the clue to Small’s disappearance will be found in the west wall. This clue was not pursued and the west wall was the only wall remained un-excavated during the Opera House’s renovation in 1977.  

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