18 People Who Went Missing Explain What Really Happened

When you hear about people going missing, it’s usually as part of an episode of Unsolved Mysteries or a true crime podcast. You almost never get to find out what really happened. So when someone on reddit asked people to share their own first-hand accounts of going missing, we finally got to see what really happened. Some stories are scary, others silly. Either way, these true life stories from people who went missing are super interesting tales of what not to do.

“No one missed me.”

I walked out of my life when I came home to find another man in my bed with my girlfriend. Spent a year hitch hiking.

No missing persons report. No one looked for me. No one missed me.


The Petting Zoo

I was about 6 years old, one day I was playing outside. There’s a petting zoo about 4 km away from where we lived and I guess I decided to go there. So I did, by myself, barefooted, in my pyjamas. When I got there the manager found out I was alone and had reached my parents by phone. I don’t actually remember much of it but it’s pretty hilarious.


Hidden in Plain Sight

So, back when I was in Boy Scouts, my troop lost me. Twice. In the same night. While I was still in my tent. This is not an exaggeration.

The story is thus: we were at Camp Decorah, in Iowa. We had the idea to go and perform a raid on the counselor’s tents/cabins. I, however, was feeling ill, so I specifically said “I’m not feeling well, I’m going to sleep.” They acknowledged this, expressed regret that I was not coming along, and went to have their fun.

They have their fun. They retreat into the woodline. Then they take a headcount. I am not in the headcount. They expect me to be in the headcount, because they forgot. So, now, there is a missing camper. The entire camp is set to searching for me. Some time during this, a guy from my troop decides to, get this, check the tents. I am in my tent, as I should be. So he goes to report that I am found. I go to the bathroom during this time. Someone comes back to the camp, and checks my tent. I am in the bathroom, so I am not in my tent. I am now missing again.

I get found sooner this time.


A Gang of Helpful Teens

When I was 4 I got lost in a city. We had dinner in Chinatown with another family. 5 kids in all. Crossing the street after dinner, we were holding hands in a big chain. My older sibling let go. When the light changed and everyone crossed I stayed on the sidewalk – I was looking through a window into a barber shop where some huge guy was having his head shaved – can still picture the scene.

When I finally looked around everyone was gone. I started to cry. A group of teenagers approached and asked if I was lost. I said yes. A tall kid hoisted me into his shoulders and started down the block. Other kids split up and went in different directions. We rounded a corner and I saw my dad. He turned white and ran toward us. The kid lowered me to the ground. A few other kids were there. They stood around awkwardly while the tall kid explained what happened to my dad. My dad (not a demonstrative guy) flung himself at the kid and hugged him. My mom appeared and picked me up.

Years later my dad told me he saw the same group of kids hanging around when he first parked in the city that evening and was suspicious that they were a gang. He was embarrassed and tried to be less judgmental after that. Wish I could thank those guys. This was a long time ago.


Going AWOL

I had a 12-day period of dis-associative amnesia while I was in the USAF. I was doing laundry one Sunday night while waiting to start extra cleaning duty, I woke up 12 days later to my supervisor shaking me awake in my dorm room. No one saw me for those 12 days, no one heard from me. I was not a recluse, I was extremely outgoing and easily noticed. How I vanished for 12 days is amazing.


Reinstating Phone Privileges

My high school (American) football team had an away game in a somewhat sketchy city, bus took the team back to high school afterwards. I was too young to drive and I was grounded and had my phone taken away. I waited at the school for an hour and a half but my parents never came to pick me up. So I started the 4-mile walk back to my house carrying all my pads and school books.

While I was walking back my mom showed up and I wasn’t there. She panicked and found the coach and told him. My coach sent a group text to the entire team asking if anyone knew where I was. Came to school the next day and everyone thought I had missed the bus and gotten lost. It ended up being a team joke for the rest of the year.

Bonus: My parents never took my phone away again


When Sleepwalking Goes Wrong

I went sleep walking one night when I was ten years old. Unlocked the front door and went for a stroll through the neighborhood. I woke up a few hours later in the middle of the street, barefooted, in a cul de sac I’ve never been in before. Scared the bejeezus out of me.

Ended up running through the streets until I found my way back home. My parents had been shitting bricks looking all over for me. They put a lock on my door after that so I couldn’t go for anymore midnight strolls.


Lost on a Volcano

I was hiking to see the volcanic eruption back in 2010(the one before all the grounded flights). On the way back I got separated from my group, we were about 8-10, one of which was a very good friend of mine.

Anyway, I tend to walk pretty fast, especially on my way down from a mountain. This was in march in Iceland so it gets dark pretty soon and fast. Unfortunately for me I didn’t have a torch on me and in maybe half an hour everything went pitch black.
I had chosen to walk the same path as the one i went up. This was extremely stupid of me as that path was about 5 meters away from a 15 meter drop into a canyon. Not only that, but the path was beside a waterfall. Waterfalls tend to have a lot of mist coming from them. Said mist goes onto the path, and because this is march in Iceland, and on a mountain its about -5°C without wind chill. That mist turns to basically an ice skating rink on a 45° angle.

That was an experience, I had been lost for about 5 hours(I didn’t turn up until I got down from the mountain). But I was one of 20 that got lost that Saturday. 2 of whom died.


An Eventful Shower

Once when my grandfather was watching my younger sister and I, I decided to take a shower and didn’t think to tell anyone. I took my leisurely shower, and when I came out no one was in the house. I went outside to see if maybe they were out there (it was summer, so reasonable to spend the evening in the yard). It turned out, my grandfather and sister had alerted the neighbors that I had gone missing, and the entire neighborhood was out looking for me. It wasn’t even that long of a shower.


Hide and Seek

When I was a young lad, my brother and I used to go to this gymnastics play area. They had trampolines, those bars you swing around, and a tightrope over a pit full of pieces of foam. My brother and I decided to play hide and seek, I hid first.

About an hour later, the place is closing. My mum asks my brother where I am, he says we’re playing hide and seek and I’ve hidden really well.

Three hours later, the staff have locked all of the doors and phoned the police, my mum was in a blind panic, my brother had given up on finding me and was bouncing on a trampoline, the staff were frantically tearing the place apart looking for me.

My brother got bored of trampolining so decided to play in the foam pit. He jumped in and heard a loud “OUCH”. I climbed out of the foam and said “did I win?”

We never went back to that place.


Coed Overreaction

I was at a college house party. I went there with several friends. I didn’t have a cell phone yet (managed to hold out until 2004, our dorm rooms came with land lines at the time). I ended up going home with a guy and hooking up with him. Woke up the next day, checked my email on his computer and found a ton of frantic emails from my friends. They actually thought that I’d been abducted, roofied or killed myself (I was very depressed at the time). They filed a missing person report on me with Campus Security and several friends were searching for me in the woods.


A Lucky Slap on the Wrist

I drank too much. Left my buddy’s house to get my phone out of his car. Woke up several hours later with about 5 cops standing on me yelling at me to “Quit resisting.” Turns out I had wandered through two gates, a front porch and into his neighbors basement. When the cops showed up, I was snuggling with his neighbors two Rottweilers on their basement floor (reminds me of Lethal Weapon 3, now). They said I was lucky they didn’t eat me.

I was also lucky I didn’t get shot. This took place in a small town near East St. Louis (pretty rough neighborhood). I was arrested for felony breaking and entering. Luckily, the cops ended up being cool and understanding. My buddy’s elderly neighbors were just freaked out by a drunk, naked white guy sleeping with their dogs in their basement.

My buddies had no idea where I was until the next afternoon when I called him from jail. Luckily, he was a good dude and bailed me out.

All the charges were dropped. When I walked up to the attorney and judge at court, they all pretty much made fun of me and just asked if I learned my lesson.


The Dangers of Youth Camps

When I was 17, I was suddenly and forcibly “escorted” from my room in the middle of the night and tucked away in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, Utah. My parents had a vague idea of where I was and a lot of incorrect ideas about what was going on there, but no one else I knew (family, friends, etc) knew about it. I just disappeared off the face of the earth for 9 months. This is the most recent news to come out of the latest incarnation of that “school”. (It would be shut down then reopened in a new place periodically)

Outside of the abuse, I learned some life lessons. The first of which is to never do that to my future child. But I got some crazy stories from that place, and sadly being confined and cut off from the outside world was actually more freedom than I got at home.

But yeah, came home and right away messaged my best friend for a tearful reunion, as he assumed I was gone forever. 4/10 over all, definitely made me who I am now but that place had some messed up shit, yo.


Don’t Turn the Ringer Off

I was living with my new husband in a town about a thousand miles away from my mother, who has always been a world class worrier. This was in the days before everyone had a cell phone. His entire family was going to be invading us in a few days, so I was polishing up the apartment to look good, and in the process of wiping fingerprints off the phone, I turned the ringer off, and did not notice. We’d just moved in, so several days without any calls wasn’t unusual.

Fast forward. The in-laws have just arrived while I am lying down in the bedroom taking a nap because I have been spit shining everything in the place and making tasty baked goods all while coming down with a bad cold. There’s a knock on the front door. My husband comes to the bedroom, and says there’s someone who wants to talk to me. It’s the police, and they insist on talking to me alone in the hallway to make sure everything is really, truly ok, then they tell me to call my mother. I come back in to see his parents, sister, brother-in-law, their seven kids, and a passel of assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins, all staring silently at me.

But wait, there’s more. Mom didn’t have our address, all she had was a description of the building. The town was small enough that the police knew just where that was, but they didn’t know what apartment, so they knocked on every other door in the building before getting to us on the top floor corner unit.


“Help, I Lost”

I got black out drunk on the 4th of July and presumably tried to walk home from my friend’s house. First thing I remember is being in a really sketchy part of town about 8 miles away from my home with my phone dead and still shit faced. Went around knock on peoples doors at 3 in the morning trying to use a phone.

I eventually stumbled to a grocery store at like 5 in the morning and asked for directions. When I walked outside these two real gangsta looking guys who were picking up more booze at the store asked if I wanted a ride. Being a very trusting person and drunk as shit, I accepted. They lit up a blunt and we smoked it as they gave me a ride home. I stumbled into my house at 6 to be screamed at by my girlfriend who thought I was dead because the last text she got from me was, “help, I lost”.


Ski Show Neglect

My dad (my parents are divorced and I only saw him a couple times a year), my grandparent’s on his side (that I saw even less), and my sister went to this huge waterpark. Apparently there was a water ski show they all wanted to watch. I asked if I had time to stand under the big bucket that splashes everybody. They all walk to the big bucket thing, and 7 year old me spends five minutes staring at the bucket waiting for it to tip over.

When it finally happens, it is awesome! Then, I look around, and my entire family was gone. They only had two kids to keep up with… I, being a rather intelligent child, walked to the front of the park and got them to keep calling them on the intercom. They didn’t come until an hour and a half later (after the show had ended). They told me after the fact that they indeed heard the announcements and thought I could find my way back. I didn’t consider myself close to this side of the family as it was, but this was the first event that made me start distancing myself from them.


Time to Live Under a Bridge

One time I lost my dad in the supermarket and was freaking out, I didn’t know what to do so I sat next to some cornflake boxes and started sobbing. I created so many scenarios in my head, that nobody would find me, that I would have to live under bridges and abandoned houses and eat dead rats and bugs to survive. (I was 8)

After 5 minutes my dad passes by with a shopping cart and goes “Wtf are you doing? Your mom called, we need to pick up some milk.”


A Happy Ending

I had a Tinder account but was too embarrassed to tell my friends. So when I actually hit it off with this guy and he asked me on a date, I didn’t tell anyone.

I was in college & in a sorority at the time that had weekly Sunday meetings. I never missed a meeting and I lived with some of my sorority sisters so we always walked to meetings together.

Well, this date was on a Sunday but I told the guy I HAD to be back for the meeting (easy get out clause if the date went poorly). He was picking me up and taking me to dinner but wouldn’t say where … Super sketchy but I went with it.

Turns out the date was GREAT. So great that dinner lasted forever and then we went out for ice cream. I totally lost track of time, missed my meeting, and of course didn’t check my phone.

I got back to my apartment hours after the meeting ended. It was full of my roommates and other sorority sisters freaking out about where I was. I was so giddy after the date I totally wasn’t expecting all the scared and angry looks. I said some lie about getting caught up at the library and forgetting my phone.

It’s been a year since that date and I’m madly in love with him. Still no one knows we met on Tinder … We plan on telling everyone at our wedding.