People disappear for many reasons, most of them heartbreaking. From mental illness and domestic violence to getting lost in hostile terrain, it’s all too hard to slip away from the world.
In this post, we’ve got 20 stories about folks who went missing via a viral thread from Redditor Xenilovedon. They asked:
“People who went missing, what happened?”
And we scoured through the list to find some of the best answers. Eat your heart out, true crime lovers.
I went sleep walking one night when I was ten years old. Unlocked the front door and went for a stroll through the neighborhood. I woke up a few hours later in the middle of the street, barefooted, in a cul de sac I’ve never been in before. Scared the bejeezus out of me. Ended up running through the streets until I found my way back home. My parents had been shitting bricks looking all over for me. They put a lock on my door after that so I couldn’t go for anymore midnight strolls.
2. No one looked
I walked out of my life when I came home to find another man in my bed with my girlfriend. Spent a year hitch hiking. No missing persons report. No one looked for me. No one missed me.
3. Went to the zoo!
I was about 6 years old, one day I was playing outside. There’s a petting zoo about 4 km away from where we lived and I guess I decided to go there. So I did, by myself, barefooted, in my pyjamas. When I got there the manager found out I was alone and had reached my parents by phone. I don’t actually remember much of it but it’s pretty hilarious.
4. Boy Scouts
So, back when I was in Boy Scouts, my troop lost me. Twice. In the same night. While I was still in my tent. This is not an exaggeration.
The story is thus: we were at Camp Decorah, in Iowa. We had the idea to go and perform a raid on the counselor’s tents/cabins. I, however, was feeling ill, so I specifically said “I’m not feeling well, I’m going to sleep.” They acknowledged this, expressed regret that I was not coming along, and went to have their fun.
They have their fun. They retreat into the woodline. Then they take a headcount. I am not in the headcount. They expect me to be in the headcount, because they forgot. So, now, there is a missing camper. The entire camp is set to searching for me. Some time during this, a guy from my troop decides to, get this, check the tents. I am in my tent, as I should be. So he goes to report that I am found. I go to the bathroom during this time. Someone comes back to the camp, and checks my tent. I am in the bathroom, so I am not in my tent. I am now missing again.
I get found sooner this time.
5. Gang rescue
When I was 4 I got lost in a city and was rescued by what my dad thought was a gang. We had dinner in Chinatown with another family. 5 kids in all. Crossing the street after dinner, we were holding hands in a big chain. My older sibling let go. When the light changed and everyone crossed I stayed on the sidewalk – I was looking through a window into a barber shop where some huge guy was having his head shaved – can still picture the scene. When I finally looked around everyone was gone. I started to cry. A group of teenagers approached and asked if I was lost. I said yes. A tall kid hoisted me into his shoulders and started down the block. Other kids split up and went in different directions. We rounded a corner and I saw my dad.
He turned white and ran toward us. The kid lowered me to the ground. A few other kids were there. They stood around awkwardly while the tall kid explained what happened to my dad. My dad (not a demonstrative guy) flung himself at the kid and hugged him. My mom appeared and picked me up. Years later my dad told me he saw the same group of kids hanging around when he first parked in the city that evening and was suspicious that they were a gang. He was embarrassed and tried to be less judgmental after that. Wish I could thank those guys. This was a long time ago.
I had a 12-day period of dis-associative amnesia while I was in the USAF. I was doing laundry one Sunday night while waiting to start extra cleaning duty, I woke up 12 days later to my supervisor shaking me awake in my dorm room. No one saw me for those 12 days, no one heard from me. I was not a recluse, I was extremely outgoing and easily noticed. How I vanished for 12 days is amazing.
7. Parents never came
My high school (American) football team had an away game in a somewhat sketchy city, bus took the team back to high school afterwards. I was too young to drive and I was grounded and had my phone taken away. I waited at the school for an hour and a half but my parents never came to pick me up. So I started the 4-mile walk back to my house carrying all my pads and school books.
While I was walking back my mom showed up and I wasn’t there. She panicked and found the coach and told him. My coach sent a group text to the entire team asking if anyone knew where I was. Came to school the next day and everyone thought I had missed the bus and gotten lost. It ended up being a team joke for the rest of the year.
8. Beach baby
Family would take vacations to the beach every year when I was young. Being the youngest of 3 (aged 6 or 7 at the time) I was the only one who loved to play in the ocean. All I remember is catching waves and swimming around for what seemed forever. When I finally had my fill, I left for the shore and quickly realized I didn’t recognize where I was nor could find my family’s umbrella. I panicked and wondered around until I found the lifeguard. Luckily the entire beach had been in a frenzy, looking for me for over two hours. My mother was in hysterics and my father swears he was watching me the whole time.
9. Went to see the volcano
I was hiking to see the volcanic eruption back in 2010(the one before all the grounded flights). On the way back i got separated from my group, we were about 8-10, one of which was a very good friend of mine.
Anyway, i tend to walk pretty fast, especially on my way down from a mountain. This was in march in Iceland so it gets dark pretty soon and fast. Unfortunately for me i didn’t have a torch on me and in maybe half an hour everything went pitchblack.
I had chosen to walk the same path as the one i went up. This was extremely stupid of me as that path was about 5 meters away from a 15 meter drop into a canyon. Not only that, but the path was beside a waterfall. Waterfalls tend to have alot of mist coming from them. Said mist goes onto the path, and because this is march in Iceland, and on a mountain its about -5°C without wind chill. That mist turns to basically an ice skating rink on a 45° angle.
That was an experience, I had been lost for about 5 hours(i didn’t turn up until i got down from the mountain). But i was one of 20 that got lost that Saturday. 2 of whom died.
Icelandic SAR groups were quite busy that time.
10. Just a shower
Once when my grandfather was watching my younger sister and I, I decided to take a shower and didn’t think to tell anyone. I took my leisurely shower, and when I came out no one was in the house. I went outside to see if maybe they were out there (it was summer, so reasonable to spend the evening in the yard). It turned out, my grandfather and sister had alerted the neighbors that I had gone missing, and the entire neighborhood was out looking for me. It wasn’t even that long of a shower.
11. Never went back
When I was a young lad, my brother and I used to go to this gymnastics play area. They had trampolines, those bars you swing around, and a tightrope over a pit full of pieces of foam. My brother and I decided to play hide and seek, I hid first.
About an hour later, the place is closing. My mum asks my brother where I am, he says we’re playing hide and seek and I’ve hidden really well.
Three hours later, the staff have locked all of the doors and phoned the police, my mum was in a blind panic, my brother had given up on finding me and was bouncing on a trampoline, the staff were frantically tearing the place apart looking for me.
My brother got bored of trampolining so decided to play in the foam pit. He jumped in and heard a loud “OUCH”. I climbed out of the foam and said “did I win?”
We never went back to that place.
12. Friends figured I was kidnapped
I was at a college house party. I went there with several friends. I didn’t have a cell phone yet (managed to hold out until 2004, our dorm rooms came with land lines at the time). I ended up going home with a guy and hooking up with him. Woke up the next day, checked my email on his computer and found a ton of frantic emails from my friends. They actually thought that I’d been abducted, roofied or killed myself (I was very depressed at the time). They filed a missing person report on me with Campus Security and several friends were searching for me in the woods.
13. Way too drunk
I drank too much. Left my buddy’s house to get my phone out of his car. Woke up several hours later with about 5 cops standing on me yelling at me to “Quit resisting.” Turns out I had wandered through two gates, a front porch and into his neighbors basement. When the cops showed up, I was snuggling with his neighbors two Rottweilers on their basement floor (reminds me of Lethal Weapon 3, now). They said I was lucky they didn’t eat me.
I was also lucky I didn’t get shot. This took place in a small town near East St. Louis (pretty rough neighborhood). I was arrested for felony breaking and entering. Luckily, the cops ended up being cool and understanding. My buddy’s elderly neighbors were just freaked out by a drunk, naked white guy sleeping with their dogs in their basement.
My buddies had no idea where I was until the next afternoon when I called him from jail. Luckily, he was a good dude and bailed me out.
All the charges were dropped. When I walked up to the attorney and judge at court, they all pretty much made fun of me and just asked if I learned my lesson.
14. At the beach
Was 2-3 years old. At the beach with dad and bro (on a camping trip). Just started walking around picking up bird feathers. My dad and bro and the rest of the people we were camping with went back to camp. I just kept picking up feathers.
After a while my dad realized he forgot me and went back to the beach in a panic and found me with a large amount of feathers in my hands. I didn’t so much go missing, as much as…got forgotten.
15. Not really lost
One time i lost my dad in the supermarket and was freaking out, i didn’t know what to do so i sat next to some cornflake boxes and started sobbing. I created so many scenarios in my head, that nobody would find me, that i would have to live under bridges and abandoned houses and eat dead rats and bugs to survive.(i was 8)
After 5 minutes my dad passes by with a shopping cart and goes “Wtf are you doing? Your mom called, we need to pick up some milk.”
I was living with my new husband in a town about a thousand miles away from my mother, who has always been a world class worrier. This was in the days before everyone had a cel phone. His entire family was going to be invading us in a few days, so I was polishing up the apartment to look good, and in the process of wiping fingerprints off the phone, I turned the ringer off, and did not notice. We’d just moved in, so several days without any calls wasn’t unusual.
Fast forward. The in-laws have just arrived while I am lying down in the bedroom taking a nap because I have been spit shining everything in the place and making tasty baked goods all while coming down with a bad cold. There’s a knock on the front door. My husband comes to the bedroom, and says there’s someone who wants to talk to me. It’s the police, and they insist on talking to me alone in the hallway to make sure everything is really, truly ok, then they tell me to call my mother. I come back in to see his parents, sister, brother-in-law, their seven kids, and a passel of assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins, all staring silently at me.
But wait, there’s more. Mom didn’t have our address, all she had was a description of the building. The town was small enough that the police knew just where that was, but they didn’t know what apartment, so they knocked on every other door in the building before getting to us on the top floor corner unit.
17. Private school
When I was like 8 I went to a sort of shitty private school. It was 20 miles out in the country and they had a bus that would take you from town to the school, but it didn’t go right up to your house. You had to go to the bus stop which was the parking lot of a U-Haul store.
One day my mom had some other comittment so she asked my dad to pick me up after school. He works nightshift and didn’t set an alarm to wake him up, so after school I got off the bus in a U-haul parking lot and waited for 3 hours for nobody to pick me up.
This is a small town so you can’t just have a U-haul store and expect it to stay in business, so it did double duty as an indoor Honda dealership as well. I went inside and the dude running it let me sit on a bunch of motorcycles and ATVs the whole time. I spent like the next decade babbling about motorcycles and ended up f**king buying one. My folks weren’t happy about that but they could have prevented it
18. Just needed to study
I wanted to study for some tests, so i turned off my internet and my phone for 3 days, moved to a friends house to avoid distractions, and forgot to tell my parents and roommates.
I got home and there were police at my apartment looking for clues. Man where my parents mad.
19. Dorm neighbor gone
My Dorm room neighbor went missing our freshman year. He had actually ran away to new york to join the Occupy Wallstreet movement at the time. He told no one he was leaving, not even his family and his phone was off for over a week. Missing person posts started showing up all over facebook and apparently this kids’ dad had friends in the hells angels who found him and brought him back to his parents.
He ended up dropping out that semester, getting a job, saving up around 20k and traveled europe for an entire summer. I got to see it through snapchat too haha. I sure do miss that kid.
20. 2 Years Old
At a new years party at a friend of the family’s house, little 2 year old me vanished. My parents and most of the adults panicked searching the neighborhood for hours. Turns out I was upstairs playing with legos. My mom quit drinking after that. (Not that she did often anyways)