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7 Chilling Cases of People Who Vanished Without Explanation

Don't read after dark...

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  • Photo Credit: North American Missing Persons Network

I don’t know about you, but disappearance stories really creep me out. If you’re the same, buckle up ... and maybe don’t scroll through this list after dark. 

7. Thelma Pauline Melton

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  • Thelma Pauline Melton and the Great Smoky MountainsPhoto Credit: NamUs and Wikimedia Commons

Themla Melton was out hiking with two friends on a relatively easy, familiar trail in the Great Smoky Mountains. Though overweight, Thelma was in good spirits that day and hiked a bit ahead, rounding a bend a few minutes before her companions. 

When they rounded the bend, Melton was nowhere to be seen. And she never has been again. 

Related: Without a Trace: The Chilling, Unexplained Disappearance of Maura Murray 

6. Owen Parfitt

This mysterious disappearance hinges on the fact that Mr. Parfitt, who went missing in the 1760s, was unable to walk or get around on his own. He lived with his sister, who cared for him (a job that included moving him around the house, to the toilet, outside for fresh air, etc). One day, she came to retrieve him from his usual chair on the front porch to find only his coat. 

No one in town owned up to moving Owen, and he was unable to move himself.  

5. Martha Wright

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  • Photo Credit: Salvadore Rosillo / Facebook

In 1975, Martha Wright and her husband Jackson had to pull over in the Lincoln tunnel because their windows were too fogged over to see. While he cleaned the windshield, Martha walked around to do the rear window. When Jackson finished, his wife was just gone

No other cars pulled over and there was nowhere to hide. Some have suggested that Jackson murdered his wife and invented this cover story, but don’t you think he would have come up with something more believable?

The story could also be an urban legend: No one has been able to dig up any proof of Martha Wright's existence.

Related: 6 of the Creepiest Unsolved Mysteries of All Time

4. Damian McKenzie

Ten-year-old Damian McKenzie was on a camping trip with about 40 other children when the group suddenly realized he was missing. No one saw him wander off, and no one remembers seeing any suspicious characters while out in the woods. 

They tracked his footprints on a trail until they just stopped–no dogs were able to pick up the scent, either, and his body was never found.

Related: Woman Goes Blind After Playing China’s Most Addictive Mobile Game for a Whole Day

3. Brian Shaffer

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  • Brian Shaffer with his motherPhoto Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Brian Shaffer was an OSU medical student out for an evening with his friends. They lost track of him at the bar during the evening, and assumed that he’d simply decided to go home (or had picked up a girl and left without telling them). When he never showed up or called, they alerted authorities. 

They found no sign of foul play, and the security cameras showed Brian entering the bar that night ... but not leaving. Some believe he may have been killed by the supposed "Smiley Face Killer".

2. James Edward Tedford

In November of 1949, James Edward Tedford left his family in St. Albans, Vermont and headed toward the bus station with plans to return to his retirement home in Bennington, Vermont. No fewer than 14 passengers report seeing Mr. Tedford sleeping in his seat at the last stop before Bennington, and yet when the bus arrived, he was nowhere to be found. All of his belongings were still on the luggage rack but the man was never seen or heard from again. 

It gets even weirder when you learn that Tedford had returned from WWII some years earlier to discover that his wife had vanished from their property.

1. Brandon Swanson

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  • Photo Credit: North American Missing Persons Network

Brandon’s story is by far the creepiest of the bunch. The 19-year-old was driving home one night in 2008 when he crashed his car into a ditch. Unable to get it running and back on the road, he called his parents for a ride. Brandon's parents agreed, climbing into their car to go pick up their son. When they asked Brandon for his location, the young man said he was near the town of Lynd, Minnesota. 

His parents found no sign of the car or Brandon in Lynd. They finally located the car in a ditch outside Taunton, Minnesota, a good 20 minutes away from Lynd. It’s odd that Brandon gave them the wrong location because he was familiar with the route home. 

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I would be inclined to guess that Brandon was under the influence, which would explain both the crash and his confusion about the location. Yet Brandon's father was on the phone with him for 45 minutes while they drove toward Lynd, and never reported the young man sounding off. 

At least, until Brandon suddenly cried, “Oh shit!” and the line went dead.

Authorities thought that perhaps Brandon fell into a nearby river. Yet after the phone call was cut off, Brandon’s parents tried to call him back repeatedly and his phone kept ringing. So if he did plunge into the river, his phone likely stayed on land, as it remained operational. They never saw or spoke to their son again. It's worth noting that his body never turned up in a river, either.

This story was first published on did you know?   

Featured photo of Brandon Swanson age-progressed to 24 years: North American Missing Persons Network; Additional photos: National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs); Salvadore Rosillo / Facebook; North American Missing Persons Network