IN 1970, a single mother named Lula Cora Hood left her home in Galesburg, Illinois after a family argument and never returned, simply vanishing without a trace and leaving behind her 15-year-old daughter.
In 1996 human remains were discovered buried in a brickyard that were determined to be those of the missing woman. The remains, little more than some bones, were given a proper burial as Lula Hood. In 2009 there was a strange new development.
With the use of more advanced DNA analysis techniques than had not been available back in 1996, investigators began to peel away new layers of the seemingly long dead mystery. It was found that the remains belonged to another unidentified individual. One of these mysteries would be solved when authorities managed to discover that an 84-year-old woman living in Florida was in fact the long missing Lula Hood, and that she had a new family and had eventually had 14 children. As for the identity of the remains that were found, they remain a mystery.
Another surprising case concerns the disappearance of commodities trader Arthur Jones in 1979. On May 11, 1979, Jones, who was a happy father of three and had a lucrative job with a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade, told his wife he had a sudden meeting to go to, after which he rushed out the door and seemingly off the face of the earth. It also later came to light that Arthur had sold off his seat with the Board of Trade prior to the vanishing in order to help pay off deep gambling debts in excess of $210,000, and that a fellow trader Carl Gaimari had been murdered in the days before the disappearance, leading authorities to strongly believe that he had certainly met with foul play. Arthur Jones was eventually declared legally dead in 1986. In 2011, the missing man turned up almost by chance, and proved to be far from dead. Jones was discovered to be using a fake identity, which he had procured through someone else’s social security number, and was caught when the owner of the number had noticed unusual
activity with it at the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and had reported it to the Social Security Administration. An investigation found that Arthur Jones was living under the name “Joseph Richard Sandelli,” and had made stops in Florida and California, before settling in Las Vegas where he had been working as a sports bookie for 10 years. In the wake of Jones’ discovery, it was found through fingerprint evidence that he had been busy committing crimes other than identity theft, and that he had been arrested numerous times in Florida, California, and Nevada for a variety of crimes under different fake names.
On July 26, 1984, a 24-year-old computer science student in Braunschweig, Germany named Petra Pazsitka left her student apartment to go shopping and make a visit to the dentist before taking a bus to go to her brother’s birthday party. She would never arrive.
However, it was strongly assumed that Pazsitka had been murdered, and she was officially declared dead in 1989.
In 2011, police received a call from a woman calling herself “Mrs. Schneider,” reporting a burglary at her home in Düsseldorf, around 200 miles away from Braunschweig. When authorities arrived to question the woman about the crime, she at some point casually admitted to stunned police that she was in fact the missing Petra Pazsitka. Petra claimed that she had lived all over western Germany under various fake identities.
The sudden decision to escape one’s life and run from real or perceived threats, even leaving behind beloved family and friends to cut off all contact, is a recurring theme in many of these cases, and the story of 24-year-old Denise Bolser, of Manchester, New Hampshire, is no exception. On January 17, 1985, Denise disappeared from her home without a trace, the only clue being a note which allegedly read “We’ve got your wife.”
It was found that Denise herself had been at least partially responsible for stealing between $12,000 and $100,000 when she falsified books in her role as bookkeeper. She was charged with her crimes in absentia in 1986, and this information gave authorities reason to believe that it may have given Denise a reason to run.Nevertheless, no good tips or leads on the disappearance could be found, and it was a perplexing mystery until 2002, when a credible lead came in from a private investigator who had long been working to crack the case. Denise Bolser was soon tracked down and discovered to be living in Panama City, Florida, where she had started over under the name Denise James, and had started a whole new family who had no idea about her shadowy past life.
Another person who apparently mysteriously vanished in order to take flight from his own existence was Richard Hoagland, of Indianapolis, Indiana, who on February 10, 1993 called his wife to tell her he was feeling ill and on his way to the emergency room. It was the last anyone would hear from him.
In 2016, when he was unexpectedly found living in Florida. Hoagland had assumed the identity of a man named Terry Symansky, who had died in 1991, and he had not only remarried, but had also had a child with his new wife. As to why he did it, Hoagland explained to authorities that he had run away to avoid a messy impending divorce with his previous wife, although she gave a different reason; that he had been on the run from the law after embezzling money. Hoagland has been charged with fraudulent use of personal identification.
In 2002, Brenda Heist had just gone through a divorce and been left to care for her two children with next to no money, and her request for public housing had been denied. One day Brenda put dinner on the stove, laundry in the washing machine, and walked out the door to vanish without a trace, leaving behind her dear, much loved 8 and 12 year-old kids..
In 2013, a woman calling herself Kelsie Lyanne Smith suddenly turned up at the Alachua County jail in central Florida and declared herself to be a missing person. It turned out that she was Brenda Heist. When questioned by authorities, Brenda explained that one day she had been crying in a Pennsylvania park, the weight of her worries overcoming her, when she had been approached by three strangers who comforted her, befriended her, and offered to let her join them in their travels hitchhiking to South Florida. She had accepted their offer, leaving everything behind.
Brenda had ended up mostly living as a homeless vagrant, living off of hand-outs, doing drugs, and only sporadically working as a housekeeper. Seeing that her life had taken a turn to be even worse than before, Brenda decided to return to her old life, but her old family wanted nothing more to do with her.
32 year-old Michele Whitaker, of Spartanburg, North Carolina, vanished in August of 2002 after an argument with her mother. One of Michele’s co-workers, 21 year-old Heather Sellars, also went missing a short time later. Sellars’ boyfriend, Jonothan Vick, had long been suspected of a rape and murder from 1995, and was immediately considered a suspect in Heather’s disappearance. Vick was eventually convicted of the 1995 crime in 2006, but he steadfastly refused to divulge any information on the two missing women. It was for years assumed that Michele had been murdered in cold blood.
The case was aired on an episode of the TV show Forensic Files, and this produced a tip from a viewer who claimed the missing Michele Whitaker was their own neighbor. Shocked authorities found that she was indeed alive and well, and that the disappearance of Heather Sellars and the conviction of Vick had been completely coincidental. It turned out she had mostly just decided to leave her unsatisfying life behind and start anew.
Philip Sessarego, a soldier in the British Army, fantasized about being in the SAS special forces unit to the point of obsession. Indeed, he had tried to apply to enter their ranks twice, and both times he had been denied. In 1993, as he was serving in Croatia, Sessarego would simply vanish, and it was assumed that he must have died in action. Not long after, a man named Tom Carew began making claims that he had served with the SAS for 20 years, and had helped to train Muhajideen to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1970s. Carew would release a book in December of 2000 entitled Jihad! The Secret War In Afghanistan, which told of his many supposed adventures with the SAS and would propel itself to the New York Timesbestseller list. In addition, Carew made many appearances in the media in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks talking about how to retaliate, and also talked about writing a follow up book, but little by little it was suspected that Carew was not who he said he was.
It was eventually discovered that Carew was in fact the supposedly vanished and thought to be likely dead soldier Philip Sessarego, still very much alive and living out his fantasy of being in the SAS. Exposed as a fraud in great part due to a November 2001 episode of the program BBC Newsnight, Sessarego then sort of dropped off the map and even took on a new alias, Philip Stephenson, under which he traveled around Belgium and continued to spin yarns about his imaginary days in the SAS to anyone who would listen. Then, in 2009, Sessarego was found dead in a rented garage in Antwerp, Belgium. There are still rumors that this is just another chapter in the façade, and that he had made a habit of playing dead.
On January 21, 1987, a husband and father of two in Sydney, Australia named Gabriel Nagy called his wife to tell her he would be home early for lunch before vanishing without a trace. For decades, it was widely assumed that Nagy had died.
Nagy may have remained just one of many unsolved disappearances if not for one dogged detective named Senior Constable Georgia Robinson, who in 2012 had been at work trying to crack the cold case for 10 years, without much luck. In the days leading up to an inquest to get Nagy declared dead, the frustrated and desperate Robinson meticulously went through her files again and found a clue in the form of a Medicare card registered to a Gabriel Nagy. After that it was just a matter of simply calling the number on the card, but the man on the other line seemed confused as to why the police would want to speak to him and seemed somewhat frightened when Robinson showed up at his door.
Upon questioning, Nagy seemed to have no idea what she was talking about.It started to become very clear that this was indeed the missing Gabriel Nagy, but that he genuinely seemed to have no memory of anything that had happened.
It was slowly revealed that Nagy’s earliest memory was bleeding badly from a head wound, although he could not remember what had caused the injury, and most of the following 20 years were a complete blank.
It remains unclear just what caused Nagy to lose 25 years of memories, but his family believes it was a rare form of amnesia called “Dissociative Fugue.” Edgar Latulip, a mentally disabled man from Ontario, Canada vanished from the disabled home where he was staying in 1986 and was not seen again. 30 years later he was found living around 80 miles away from where he had vanished, in St. Catharines, Ontario, where he had long been living without any memory whatsoever of his past life. MU