10 Most Mind-Boggling Missing Person Cases that Were Later Solved

by Rinku Bhattacharjee3 years ago
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6 After five-year-old Timothy Wiltsey went missing, his mother said that he disappeared from a local carnival on May 25, 1991. Nearly a year later, his remains were found miles away. In 2016, 25 years after his initial disappearance and eventual death, his mother was convicted of his murder.
Timothy Wiltsey
Image Credit: nj.com, newyork.cbslocal.com

On May 25, 1991, a 23-year-old single mother, Michelle Lodzinski, reported that her five-year-old son, Timothy Wiltsey, had gone missing from a local carnival in South Amboy, New Jersey. Police officers together with trained dogs, volunteers, and firefighters searched the carnival grounds and the surrounding area extensively, but no trace of the little boy was found.

On October 26, 1991, While exploring marshlands and birdwatching in the Raritan Center business park in Edison, New Jersey, a man found a kid’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sneaker. Because the case was so highly publicized, the man immediately recognized the sneakers like the ones that Timothy was said to be wearing when he disappeared. When the police showed it to the mother, she said that it was not her son’s. The shoe was stored as evidence, but nothing came of it until the man reported it to a local newspaper. The front-page story prompted an FBI forensic testing, which was inconclusive.

A few months later, an FBI agent contacted the man who had found the sneaker, and they toured the area where it was found. In 1992, after a full search of the area, law enforcement officers found a second matched sneaker that fit Timothy’s shoe size. They then discovered the partial skeletal remains of the boy. Dental records helped to identify him, and his death was ruled as a homicide. However, due to advanced decomposition, the location, time, and cause of death could not be determined.

The mother was the primary suspect in this case from the beginning. She had changed her story of what happened to the boy multiple times, she failed polygraph tests, and she even accused the FBI of kidnapping her. However, the official arrest was not made until August 6, 2014, which would have been Timothy’s 29th birthday. After a long and complicated trial, Michelle Lodzinski was sentenced to 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole. (1, 2)

7 Katie Beers, a nine-year-old girl from Long Island, disappeared on December 28, 1992. It was later established that a family friend had kidnapped and held Katie in a small underground bunker. She was found alive on January 13, 1993.

Katie Beers
Image Credit: WCBS via cbsnews.com, ABC News via thesun.co.uk

Katherine Beers, the nine-year-old daughter of Marilyn Beers, disappeared on December 28, 1992, just two days before her 10th birthday. After her disappearance, Katie left a message on her godmother’s answering machine, saying that a man with a knife had kidnapped her. The police traced the call to a payphone near the video arcade and indoor amusement park called Spaceplex in Nesconset, New York.

As it turned out, a family friend named John Esposito had lured the little girl to his home by promising her birthday presents. He kidnapped and held her in a six-foot-by-seven-foot concrete bunker, which he had built under the garage of his home in Bay Shore, New York. A 200-pound concrete trap door concealed the bunker. The bunker contained a mattress, TV, commode toilet, and chains that were used to restrain Katie.

During the initial investigation, Esposito had told the police that the child was kidnapped while they were at Spaceplex. The message that Katie had left on the answering machine turned out to be tape-recorded. On January 13, 1993, the child was found alive in Esposito’s bunker. (1, 2)

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8 Michael Anthony Hughes, a six-year-old boy, was abducted at gunpoint from school on September 12, 1994. The culprit was his stepfather, Franklin Delano Floyd, who had an extensive criminal history prior to the kidnapping. The boy or his body was never found. In 2015, after years of giving contradictory statements about what he did with the boy, Floyd admitted to killing him on the day he had kidnapped him.

Michael Anthony Hughes
Image Credit: Oklahoman.com

On September 12, 1994, six-year-old Michael Anthony Hughes, was kidnapped by his stepfather, Franklin Delano Floyd. Floyd, a convicted felon, had recently been released from prison, and Michael had been in foster care. On the day of the kidnapping, the first-grader was at school. Floyd walked into his school and forced the principal at gunpoint to take him to Michael’s classroom.

He then forced the child and the principal into his pickup truck. After driving for a while, he forced the principal out of the truck in a wooded area and handcuffed him to a tree. After that, he sped off in his truck with Michael. Though the principal survived the kidnapping and was eventually rescued, Michael was never found.

Two months after the incident, Floyd was arrested, but the boy was not with him. Authorities received several conflicting reports of what he had done with the boy. Some said that he drowned the boy in a motel bathtub, while others said he was buried in a cemetery. Floyd himself stated that Michael was alive and well somewhere even though he never gave his location.

Finally in 2015, during an interview with the FBI, he admitted to killing the boy the same day he kidnapped her. He said that he had shot him twice in the head and then dumped his body on Interstate 35. The remains were never found despite conducting a thorough search of the area. The authorities believe that Michael’s body may have fallen prey to wild hogs. (1, 2)

9 Tanya Nicole Kach, a middle school student, went missing in 1996. She was kidnapped and held captive for 10 years by her school’s security guard. Kach was able to escape in 2006 with the help of a man who owned a grocery store in the same neighborhood where she had been held captive.

Tanya Nicole Kach
Image Credit: tanyanicolekach.weebly.com, insideedition.com

Tanya Nicole Kach was reported missing on February 10, 1996. She was an eighth-grader at Cornell Intermediate School at the time of her disappearance. A decade later, the truth of what had happened to her finally came to light.

As it turned out, she was kidnapped and held captive by a man named Thomas Hose, who worked as a security guard at her school. The man had befriended Kach before kidnapping her. He would often take her out of classes just to talk to her. Once, he caught her skipping class and kissed her. Over time, he convinced the 14-year-old girl to run away with him. Kach did so without knowing what awaited her.

For the first four years of living together, Kach was not allowed to leave the house. Hose lived with his son and parents and kept Kach hidden from them. She was entirely confined to a bedroom, and because she did not have access to a toilet, she would have to use a bucket.

In 2000, Hose created a new identity for Kach and told his parents that she was his girlfriend who would be living with them. After this, Kach was allowed to leave the house occasionally, but she had to abide by a strict curfew. Six years later, she managed to escape with the help of a local grocery store owner. (1, 2)

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10 In 1935, a tiger shark, on display in an Aquarium in Sydney, vomited up a human arm. The coroner’s report stated that the arm had been cleanly removed with a blade and there were no bite marks, concluding that the shark had not bitten it off. The arm also had a tattoo, which later revealed that it belonged to a man named James “Jim” Smith who had gone missing a few weeks earlier.

Shark
Image for representational purpose only. Image Credit: Unsplash.com

One of Australia’s most publicized murder investigations began in 1935 when a tiger shark, on display in an Aquarium in Sydney, vomited up a human arm. It was initially thought that the shark had bitten off the arm, but an autopsy revealed that it had been severed with a knife.

Fingerprints taken from the hand helped to identify the victim. The arm also had a distinguishable tattoo, which was positively identified by the victim’s wife. Turned out, the arm belonged to a man named James “Jim” Smith, who was born in England in 1890.

Smith was a boxer and a small-time criminal who had been missing since April 7, 1935. He was also a police informer and led a high-risk lifestyle. Early inquiries led the police to a Sydney based business owner named Reginald William Lloyd Holmes.

Holmes was a smuggler and fraudster who had a successful boat-building business on the side. He had employed Smith several times to run insurance scams. The pair also ran a racket with a convicted forger and ex-serviceman named Patrick Francis Brady. The three carried out various illegal operations together.

The police found out that Smith had been blackmailing his partner Holmes. Smith was last seen at a hotel, playing cards and drinking with Brady on April 7, the day he disappeared. Brady had rented a small cottage at the time of Smith’s disappearance. The police suspected that Smith was murdered at the cottage. Gunnamatta Bay and Port Hacking were searched, but the rest of his body was never found.

Brady was charged with the murder of Smith, and Holmes gave a detailed description of how Brady had murdered and disposed of Smith’s body. However, due to a lack of body and other necessary evidence, the case against Brady fell apart and he was found not guilty. (1, 2)

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