Unsolved: Mysteries of people who vanished into thin air

French novelist and airman Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 - 1944) with his mechanic Andre Prevot. (Keystone/Getty Images)

HISTORY is littered with tales of people who simply vanished into thin air — one minute they were here, the next they were gone forever.

From Wild West outlaws, to sailors, socialites and even Hitler’s personal chef, there have been countless instances of the famous and the obscure disappearing.

This week, we take a look at a few of the extraordinary tales of men and women who disappeared and were never heard of again.

Back in 1526, intrepid Spanish sailor Francisco de Hoces had been commander of the San Lesmes, one of seven expedition ships on a big adventure, looking for new lands.

Francisco de Hoces

Last seen in the Pacific, many reckon Hoces and his crew may have reached Easter Island, or another of the Polynesian islands or even New Zealand.

Whether he really did arrive on dry land, or drowned at the bottom of the ocean, or was devoured by hungry cannibals or animals, we shall never know . . .

Centuries later, Jesse Evans, a half-Cherokee gunman, outlaw and leader of the Jesse Evans Gang, also seemed to vanish after he was released from prison in 1882.

Bizarrely, in 1948, a man named Joe Hines insisted that Evans was still alive — although he must have been pretty old! — and added that Billy the Kid was still living, too.

Jesse Evans

An investigator was sent to Florida, and Hines revealed he really was Jesse Evans.

He was claiming rights to land he said had been his brother’s, and talked about events from the past that seemed to prove his identity.

Historians later claimed he was lying, but Hines — or was it Evans? — was granted the land.

In the early 20th century, Manhattan socialite Dorothy Arnold went for a walk in Central Park and was never heard of again.

A perfume heiress, Dorothy had bought a new book to read, and then headed towards the park.

Alas, there was no happy ending for Dorothy, who was “declared dead in absentia” aged just 24.

Dorothy Arnold

Incredibly, her wealthy family didn’t report her absence for several weeks, as they felt the story would be socially embarrassing.

George Griscomb, suspected of dark deeds by her family, would spend thousands trying to find Dorothy, whom he had planned to marry, all to no avail.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery was a fascinating fellow, poet, aristocrat, pioneering aviator and more.

Many of us still love his books, including The Little Prince and his two classics about flying, Night Flight and Wind, Sand And Stars.

But we don’t know what became of him.

French novelist and airman Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 – 1944) with his mechanic Andre Prevot. (Keystone/Getty Images)

He was flying over the Mediterranean on a reconnaissance mission in the summer of 1944, when contact was lost.

Weeks later, an unidentifiable body in French uniform was found in the sea and buried there, though whether it was his or not is open to conjecture.

Constanze Manziarly was only 25, chef and dietitian to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, when she vanished in Berlin on May 2, 1945.

With the Soviets all over Berlin and Hitler dead a few days earlier, many believe Constanze was shot dead by Red Army troops in a subway tunnel.

 

Constanze Manziarly

Hitler had personally told the Austrian-born Manziarly to leave his bunker, but she had remained until his death, and was never heard of again.

In early July of 1966, not one but three young women from Chicago got onto a boat in Lake Michigan and were never seen again.

Two 19-year-olds, Ann Miller and Patricia Blough, along with Renee Bruhl, 21, left their blanket and personal belongings on a crowded beach to sail off.

Theories have abounded, one being that there was an offshore illegal abortion, with the other two girls killed because they’d been witnesses. Another linked their vanishing act to a criminal horse-breeder, a hit man and a bitter gang feud.

Portraits of missing women Ann Miller, Renee Bruhl, and Patricia Blough since July 2, 1666

We’ll never know for sure.

Errol Flynn’s son, Sean, was 28 when he worked as a freelance photo-journalist during the Vietnam War in 1970, and he and colleague Dana Stone, two years his senior, disappeared in Cambodia on April 6.

Sean Flynn

It has been assumed they were killed by Khmer Rouge guerillas and Sean was officially declared dead in 1984, following 10 years of searching by his mother.

Remains have since been found, but DNA showed they were not from Sean Flynn or Dana.

And just a few months before Lord Lucan famously vanished in 1974, New York folk singer-songwriter Connie Converse also disappeared for all time.

Connie Converse

Having told friends and family she simply fancied starting a new life elsewhere, Connie loaded her Volkswagen Beetle with her belongings, drove off and has never resurfaced since.

As recently as 1978, Harry Domela was seen but then vanished into thin air, though with his background of many disguises, he could have any name and appearance if he’s still alive now.

Latvian-born, he had pretended to be a deposed German crown prince at one point, before reappearing as a teacher in Venezuela in 1965.

Harry Domela

It was in 1978 he was definitely last sighted, so it’s anyone’s guess where — or who — he is today.

A real man of mystery, like all of these people, who for one reason or another were here one minute, gone the next, never to be seen again.

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