Celebs Who Went Missing And Have Never Been Found

The following article includes references to suicide.

Though the paparazzi basically act as celebrity GPS locators, there are a few occasions in which famous people actually go missing. They're just usually found, emerging carefully when they've got something new to promote. Most recently, Melania Trump disappeared after a short hospital stay, nearly triggering a milk carton campaign across Washington. As we know, the former first lady has since retired to Florida and all is well (at least as much as it can be when her husband is facing a myriad of legal problems). Similarly, there was a weird moment in Hollywood history where '90s icon Pauly Shore was reportedly lost in a rainforest in the Congo (an internet story that was, almost certainly, untrue but bizarre enough to spawn a parody Twitter account). That's also the same guy who faked his own death and was, essentially, hiding in plain sight while filming his 2003 mockumentary Pauly Shore Is Dead.

The truth is that most celebrities disappear because they want to disappear. They're tired of the constant public scrutiny. They just want to be able to walk barefoot into a gas station bathroom like an early-aughts Britney Spears without a flurry of negative headlines. Everyone deserves that right, but most celebs don't go missing forever. These famous people all disappeared and were never heard from again — and some of it reeks of foul play. Let the conspiracy theories fly!

Richey Edwards (disappeared in 1995)

In 1998, Manic Street Preachers' This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours was one of the most popular albums in the U.K. After a string of hits barely cracking into the top 10, the Welsh band found their single "If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next" at the top of the charts. Guitarist Richey Edwards never saw this achievement. Three years prior, the star made headlines as the subject of one of the most infamous disappearances in rock and roll history.

According to Independent, Edwards went missing on Feb. 1, 1995, and his body was never found. As the outlet recounts, the guitarist "checked out of his hotel in London first thing in the morning and drove to Wales" only to vanish. Edwards was widely thought to have died by suicide at the age of 27, joining the unfortunately grim 27 club along with beloved musicians like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse. 

As Independent reports, there has never been any "definitive proof" that Richey died by suicide — or even died at all. More recently, a book written with the full cooperation of Richey's sister, Withdrawn Traces: Searching for the Truth About Richey Manic, alleges that the guitarist staged his own death. Per Wales Online, Richey had a "fascination" with disappearing and may have started a new life in Israel.

Amelia Earhart (disappeared in 1937)

Amelia Earhart has staked claim to the most famous disappearance in history. In 1932, the aviator rose to fame as the first female pilot to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic. As TIME reports, the monumental achievement launched her career, and she made money "as a writer and lecturer, and even designed her own woman's clothing line." Even her publicity stunts were solid gold, with her earning the modern equivalent of $185,000 "to become the first person to fly from Hawaii to the mainland U.S." It all went awry when she attempted her biggest stunt yet: becoming the first person to fly around the globe. Unfortunately, she never returned.

Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, began the journey on June 1, 1937, and by the following day, they were nowhere to be found. According to ABC Newsthe last anyone heard was that she was running low on fuel and couldn't see her landing strip. As TIME reports, a "chaotic search-and-rescue mission" ensued, with the U.S. Navy racking up $250,000 in costs by the end of the search. Earhart was never located, and in January 1939, she was declared dead. 

To this day, Earhart's disappearance has become host to a number of conspiracy theories, a list that includes the belief that she was abducted by aliens. 

Joe Pichler (disappeared in 2006)

Joe Pichler was best known for his work on films like Varsity Blues and — during that weird era of the '90s where dog films were ultra-hot — the Beethoven franchise and Shiloh 2. He'd been working hard since getting his start in commercials at the age of six, but unfortunately, the child star disappeared before he could take on any adult roles. He was just 18 years old when he went missing in his Washington state hometown in 2006.

According to 10 Tampa Bay, his mother told local papers that she pushed the former child star to move back to Washington in 2002, away from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. She wanted him "to have some normalcy in his life," but he was reportedly "not happy about" leaving Los Angeles. Four years later, according to The Charley Project, he disappeared after a phone call with a friend. Suspicions were raised when his apartment was found "unlocked and the lights were left on."

After a weeklong search, 10 Tampa Bay reports that his car, a silver 2005 Toyota Corolla, was uncovered "near a narrow waterway" along with a note "asking for his belongings to go to his younger brother." Presumably, Pichler's disappearance was a suicide. 

Harold Holt (disappeared in 1967)

As the conspiracy theory goes, the 1967 disappearance of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt was not an accident. Some say he purposely faked his own death to start a new life with a mistress (just like British MP John Stonehouse had done years later). Others claim he was kidnapped by foreign adversaries or swept away in a Chinese submarine and interrogated for political secrets. All we know is that body was never found, and the reality is a lot less exciting and far more tragic.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, on that day in 1967, Holt went swimming at Cheviot Beach in Melbourne. As the outlet reports, the surf was particularly high and there was a "fairly strong undercurrent." Holt swam right out, away from the beach, as his companions stopped where they could stand, fearing that the water was too dangerous. They weren't wrong. Holt never emerged from the surf, and two days later, he was declared drowned. The extensive search mission failed to uncover his body.

According to Independent, Holt's friends admitted that while he happened to be "an excellent snorkeller who used to practise holding his breath for up to two minutes,"  the prime minister "was not a particularly powerful swimmer." What's more, he had a shoulder injury at the time of his disappearance. The widely accepted theory as to why his body was never uncovered is that after drowning, it was eaten by sea lice, which "can strip a corpse of flesh in 24 hours." Gross.

Jimmy Hoffa (disappeared in 1975)

Jimmy Hoffa was the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, America's largest union — but this was no straight and narrow worker advocate, even if he was popular among those he served. He was wrapped up in a bevvy of criminal activities. Moreover, as History.com notes, "many Teamster leaders partnered with the Mafia in racketeering, extortion and embezzlement." Basically, when Hoffa disappeared, it wasn't exactly surprising. Police immediately looked towards the Mafia.

As History.com reports, Hoffa had ties to "high-ranking mobsters," and he landed a 13-year prison sentence for a list of crimes that included "jury-tampering, mail fraud, and bribery," according to TIME. He served just four years before he then-president Richard Nixon gave him a pardon in 1971, and he was "expected to make a comeback" in his union role. Then, he vanished from a restaurant parking lot in Detroit, on the very same day he was supposed to meet with Mafia bosses Anthony "Tony Jack" Giacalone and Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano. 

Hoffa's remains were never found, but it's widely though that he was the unfortunate subject of a mob hit. There was just never enough evidence to convict anyone of the probable crime

Connie Converse (disappeared in 1974)

Connie Converse is widely regarded as the purveyor of modern singer-songwriting, paving the way for acts like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Unfortunately, she didn't get any recognition before her mysterious disappearance in the summer of 1974. 

According to BBC, Converse disappeared days after celebrating her 50th birthday. She was "disillusioned with how her life had turned out," spending her earlier years playing unconventional gigs around Greenwich Village, watching peers find mainstream success but always landing on the edge. The year Bob Dylan moved to the city — five years after Converse recorded her album in a kitchen with producer and animator Gene Deitch — "turned her back on her music career and left New York for a job at the University of Michigan," the outlet recounts. Then, Converse "fell into depression and heavy drinking."

In 1974, though, she was looking for a change. Per the BBC, she sent "fond letters to family and close friends telling them she wanted to make a new start." She packed up her car, left her place in Michigan, and was never heard from again. Her family believes that she died by suicide, but no evidence has ever been found. According to her Spotify biography, the singer finally got her big break in 2004, when Deitch played one of her songs for Spinning on Air, a radio show hosted by music historian David Garland. In 2009, a label released How Sad, How Lovely, a collection of Converse's music.

Bison Dele (disappeared in 2002)

Before Bison Dele quit basketball to become a world-traveling poet, the athlete was known as Brian Williams, an NBA star who — along with Dennis Rodman and Michael Jordan — helped the Chicago Bulls win the 1997 championship. Two years later, he retired before vanishing at sea.

According to Sports Illustrated, the former NBA star started his retirement in Beirut, where he lived for four months with one of his college friends, a Lebanese businessman. After that, he trekked across Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Australia; eventually learning how to sail; buying a boat named Hakuna Matata; and exploring the waters off the Australian coast. Unlike the boat's name — Swahili for "No Worries" — the worries were just beginning.

On July 6, 2002, Dele set sail for Hawaii with his girlfriend, Serena Karlan, a ship captain, and his brother, Miles Dabord (born Kevin Williams). He had reportedly been feuding with Dabord, who was "jealous" of his basketball talent, according to Sports Illustrated. Dele, Karlan, and the captain were never seen again, but about 10 days later, "a man who witnesses say matched the description of Dabord" was spotted in Tahiti with a boat that had been re-registered under a different name. Police "found blood traces and gunpowder" on the ship, and Dabord was later arrested for forgery after stealing Dele's identity. Without evidence of the suspected murder, Dabord was never charged. Rather, he died in Mexico from an insulin overdose, taking the events of Dele's disappearance with him.

Scott Smith (disappeared in 2002)

Canadian rock band Loverboy was one of the biggest acts of the '80s, penning the iconic hit "Working for the Weekend." That song was so popular that decades later, it still haunts the corridors of shopping malls across the country, along with the frightening disappearance of bassist Scott Smith. In 2000, the rock outfit's founding member vanished at sea. According to Rolling Stone, Smith — joined by two friends and his girlfriend — was sailing his sailboat from Vancouver, British Columbia to Mexico. He made it just off the coast of San Francisco before being "swept off his thirty-seven-foot sailboat by a twenty-five-foot wave." His girlfriend suffered from hypothermia, but his two friends emerged unscathed.

"I went down below to change into my foul weather gear so I could relieve Scott and then the wave hit and the boat went over on its side," friend Bill Ellis told the Ottawa Citizen (via Rolling Stone). "Within seconds, I went back up and Scott was gone and he took the wheel with him. We turned back around but couldn't find any of the debris or cushions or the man-overboard pole."

After a 133-square-mile coastguard search, which was "hampered by massive waves and fog," and private search and rescue, Smith was presumed dead. His body was never found.

Daniel Lind Lagerlöf (disappeared in 2011)

Swedish director Daniel Lind Lagerlöf may not be a name widely recognized in the United States, but in his home country, he worked on various TV series and movies including the award-winning crime series Wallander and Beck. It was ultimately his work that led to his tragic disappearance in 2011.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the director went to Sweden's Tjurpannan nature reserve with two crew members to scout locations for The Fjallbacka Murders, a film series adaptation of the popular crime novels by Camilla Läckberg. When the crew split up amidst high winds and heavy rains, Lagerlöf never returned. Local authorities searched the area for the filmmaker, but as THR notes, when they were unable to locate him, they determined he must have "slipped and fell into the sea."

Lagerlöf's body was never found, and the series went on without him, premiering its first installment in 2012.

Jim Sullivan (disappeared in 1975)

Jim Sullivan isn't a household name, but he did have a cult following. The folk singer was part of the Hollywood scene in the '60s and '70s, releasing two albums and teetering on the brink of success as he made celebrity friends like Dennis Hopper, who he appeared alongside in an uncredited role in Easy Rider. On the precipice of his big break — literally, on the way there — he mysteriously disappeared.

According to The New York Times, Sullivan left L.A. for Nashville, where he planned to pursue songwriting and migrate his children and wife, Barbara Sullivan, once he was established. A day later, he mysteriously called Barbara "telling her he was all right" – without sharing the details of what, if anything, had happened to prompt the call. In notes shared with The New York Times, she wrote, "I said, 'Jim, what's the matter, is anything wrong?' And he said, 'Forget it. Just forget I said anything. I'll call you from Nashville.'"

After reporting him missing, The New York Times recounted that his family was informed that he "had been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence" and "passed a sobriety test" before going to a motel in Santa Rosa, where he vanished. His car was found abandoned 24 miles away with his guitar in the front seat. Barbara lived the rest of her life convinced Jim — whose debut album was called U.F.O. – had been abducted by aliens.

Theodosia Burr (disappeared in 1813)

Theodosia Burr's father, Aaron Burr, is having a moment because of the hit Broadway play Hamilton. He served as Thomas Jefferson's vice president, which made his daughter's 1813 disappearance all the more curious. 

As Atlas Obscura reports, Theodosia was a controversial figure. In fact, rumor has it that she was the reason behind the infamous duel where Burr killed Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton allegedly made comments alluding to a possible incestuous relationship between the pair, and so Burr fought him to the death. She later helped her father flee the country. This is where things went awry.

Theodosia was presumably battling uterine cancer, according to Atlas Obscura, and when she wrote a doctor about her symptoms, she shared that she had been experiencing "hysteric fits, various colors and flashes of light before her yes, figures passing around her bed, strange noises, low spirits and worse." Then her son died of malaria, throwing her into a deep depression, her husband was elected governor, and she desperately missed her father. She ended up voyaging on the Patriot, a small boat meant to take her from Georgetown to New York to visit Burr. She never made it, and the Patriot was never located. Unsurprisingly, this sparked a flurry of rumors and theories, some of which involve pirates. As a Library of Congress blog post put it, "Her disappearance remains one of early America's greatest unsolved mysteries."

Michael Rockefeller (disappeared in 1961)

It's not every day a genuine Rockefeller goes missing. Michael Rockefeller's disappearance rocked the world of New York socialites, and likely would've landed the largest headline Page Six, had it been a thing in 1961. As the son of New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, Michael lived a privileged life, where he did what all rich New York 20-somethings do: he traveled. In modern times, that'd probably have equated to him snapping a shirtless photo at Machu Picchu for his Hinge profile, but back then, it led to his probable death.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, Michael was seven months into a trip across the Asmat region of New Guinea when his boat overturned after being hit by a wave. He swam to shore, where he disappeared without a trace. A "two-week search involving ships, airplanes, helicopters, and thousands of locals prowling the coats and jungle" turned up nothing. His death was ruled a drowning, but questions about what did or did not happen lingered. Conspiracy theories raged to the point that they spawned an off-Broadway play, a novel, a rock song, and a 1980s TV series.

Years later, Michael's disappearance finally did make it to Page Six. The publication previewed the Netflix documentary The Search for Michael Rockefeller, which they claim confirms The New York Post's original 1968 report: Michael was eaten by cannibals.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).