Have you ever wondered about missing people that were mysteriously found alive? You might be surprised how often this kind of thing happens. Whenever someone goes missing, it’s a tragic and terrifying event. The person’s loved ones go through a tremendous amount of anxiety and fear, wondering what happened. Too often, so much time goes by that they have to give up and declare the person dead. Consider their surprise and relief when that loved one shows up after years of being gone! We can only imagine what that might feel like, but we can at least hear their stories. Here are 25 Missing People That Were Mysteriously Found Alive.
Melvin Uphoff and Jacquelyn Rains-Kracman
Melvin Uphoff and Jacquelyn Rains-Kracman, a couple from Nebraska, had been missing for over 44 years. He left at 31 and she at 18. The entire time it was considered a cold case murder, but in 2009, an investigator located them alive and well. They had both decided to leave their family behind and start new but didn’t want to give out their new location.
Lucy Ann Johnson
Lucy Ann Johnson went missing in 1961, leaving behind her seven-year-old daughter, Linda Evans. Initially, police considered it a murder and even dug up their backyard to find a body. The case turned cold until 52 years later. A much older Evans put an ad in the paper for her missing mother and someone replied, saying it was her mother. It turns out that the person who answered the ad was Evans’ half-sister. Apparently, Johnson’s husband had been abusive and had multiple affairs. She tried to leave and take the kids, but he wouldn’t let her, so she left and started a new life.
In 1984, a computer science student named Petra Pazsitka was reported missing after not showing up to her brother’s birthday party. A massive man-hunt ensued but no body was found and her case was considered a murder. When a known rapist and murderer confessed to her killing, she was declared dead in 1989. Except, she wasn’t really dead. Thirty-one years later, she was found in Dusseldorf under a new alias. She wouldn’t give a reason for why she left, and she didn’t want to speak to the family she left behind.
At 28, Lula Gillespie-Miller gave birth to her third child, but feeling she was too young to be a mother, gave them up to her parents and took off in 1974. Many of her family hoped they’d find her again and never gave up hope. Eventually, they were able to get an investigator to go digging. 42 years later, they found her living in Texas under an alias. She didn’t want to meet with family but gave over her contact information for her daughter, Tammy.
At age 28, Judith Bello, a wife and mother of two, went missing with her car totally abandoned in Stanwood, Washington. Police considered it a murder case but it went cold. In 2011, after 18 years, she was found living two states down in Southern California with a totally new family. She reportedly left her children behind because of her abusive husband.
At age 21, Edgar Latulip disappeared. He suffered from mental health issues, including having a mental capacity of a 12-year-old. He wasn’t seen again until he remembered who he was and came forward, now in his early fifties. He hopped on a bus to Niagra Falls and somewhere along the way hurt his head and suffered from amnesia, forgetting who he was. He agreed to a DNA test and it came back, positively identifying him.
Carlos De Salazar
At the age of 26, Spanish doctor Carlos De Salazar went mysteriously missing and was later presumed dead in 1995. Twenty years later, mushroom pickers in Tuscany found him living in a nature reserve. Suffering from severe depression, he’d decided to leave his life behind and become a hermit and subsequently lived there for those twenty years.
On June 30th, 2009, U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl vanished while serving in Afghanistan. Later, it was discovered Bergdahl was a prisoner of war in a Taliban prison; President Obama secured his release in 2014. It was later discovered that Bergdahl snuck out of his post in an attempt to trek over to another operating base and tell the general there that his base was being poorly operated. He also wanted to get more intelligence about the Taliban as a leverage. None of that happened, and he was captured, instead. Bergdahl pled guilty and was sentenced to no prison time, a dishonorable discharge, a $1,000 forfeiture, and a reduction in rank from sergeant to private.
During the Russian-Afghan war in the 1980’s, Bakhretdin Khakimov fought for the Russians when he was wounded in battle. The locals took him in, cared for him, and he healed. Rather than heading back to his troop, he stayed in the village, got married, and changed his name to Sheikh Abdullah. Later, a veteran organization hunted him down, but when they found him, he was 53 and practicing herbal medicine in Herat.
Nguyen Thi Van
In 1992, Nguyen Thi Van was a 16-year-old who came home late one day in Vietnam. As punishment, her mother locked her out of the house. Instead of sticking around until she opened up the door, Van went to a karaoke bar with her friends and met a woman named Thanh who eventually trafficked them. They were all forced to marry old men, age 70 to 80, in China. She had been gone for 21 years before she eventually escaped back to Vietnam thanks to the help of a truck driver. Her mother, of course, regretted locking her out of the house.
Steve Carter, 35, always knew something didn’t add up with his childhood. When he heard a woman found out she was snatched as a baby, he did some digging of his own to see if the same happened to him. Turns out, he was right. While researching, he saw what a picture of Marx Panama Barnes should have looked like at his age, and it was his spitting image. He soon discovered that his mother had kidnapped him as a child and changed his name before she disappeared. Suddenly, he became a ward of the state and was later adopted by the Carters.
After a custody battle, Benjamin Harris Todd won custody of his daughter, Savanna Todd, when he claimed his wife was bi-polar and abusive. But, then Savanna disappeared. Her mother Dorothy Barnett kidnapped her, left the country, and settled in Queensland, Australia. Savanna’s name was changed to Samantha, and she grew up thinking her step-father was her real father. Years later in 2011, her mother confessed over drinks she had kidnapped her daughter, and her friends looked it up and contacted her real father and the authorities in the United States. Shortly after, she was arrested and Savanna learned the truth.
Timothy Carney was last seen on September 28th, 2004 by his roommate at their apartment. He’d told his employer that he’d be late for work but never showed up. After seven years of searching, he was found by The Kristen Foundation, an organization that looks for missing people. However, it turns out he didn’t want to be found and was under the strict control of a religious organization called Gospel Outreach. His parents were just glad he was safe.
Steven Stayner, a second grader in 1972, was walking home from school one day and completely vanished. During that time, his parents put up flyers and desperately sought their son, but no one recognized him. They wouldn’t see him again for seven years. He was abducted by Kenneth Parnell, a convicted pedophile, who told Steven to call him “Dad.” Stayner was told his parents didn’t want him anymore and even that he’d been adopted. Parnell abused him, beating him and giving him drugs and alcohol. When Stayner turned 14 and Parnell brought another victim home, a young boy named Timmy White, Stayner had to act. He and White escaped and hitchhiked 40 miles to the nearest police station. He and White were reunited with their families, but he continued to struggle with what happened.
Arthur Gerald Jones
Arthur Gerald Jones, a Chicago trader, up and vanished in 1979, leaving behind his wife and three kids. Eventually, he was declared dead. But, of course, we all know that’s not the end of the story. In 2011, he was found in Las Vegas with a fake name. He had been fleeing the mob and lived in several parts of the country with different names and fake IDs. Federal authorities found Jones working at Rampart Casino in Las Vegas under the name Joseph R. Sandelli.
An unidentified woman on an Icelandic tour went missing and a search party quickly was underway to find her. She was described as 160 cm Asian, who was wearing dark clothing and could speak English well. However, this woman wasn’t really missing. She had left the tour to change clothes, and when she returned, no one recognized her. She joined the search party of fifty people all trying to find her. Of course, she eventually found out she was the one they were looking for and she told the authorities she was safe and sound.
When he was five-years-old, Julian Hernandez’s father, Bobby, took the child away from his mother in Alabama. His mother put out a missing person report but they didn’t find him until Julian was 18 and applying for college. A social security discrepancy brought him up in the missing person database. Julian had no idea he was a missing person. Subsequently, Bobby Hernandez was arrested and tried in court for kidnapping.
In 2002, Elizabeth Smart, age 14, was kidnapped at knife-point by Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. While in captivity, she was repeatedly raped and assaulted. This continued for nine months until she was recognized and rescued while out with the couple in Sandy, Utah.
Robert McDonough suffered from dementia at age 73 and was reported missing in Limington, Maine. The local news crew reporting his disappearance on Monday at 4 pm on WMTW found him during the exact broadcast reporting his disappearance. McDonough came out of the nearby woods and walked right up to the camera.
At age 15, Danielle Cramer went missing in 2006 and was later found by police in a local neighbor’s house nearby. She had been locked up in a closet with a dresser covering the door. Her captor was 41-year-old Adam Gault, an acquaintance of her parents. Supposedly, Cramer had a troubled childhood and ran away from her parents often. It’s unknown how she ended up with Gault.
On January 21st, 1987, Gabriel Nagy, husband and the father of two children, called his wife to tell her he’d be home for lunch; he never showed. Later, they found his abandoned car on the side of the road. The last trace of him was when he took money out of his bank account. He was gone for 23 years before an investigator found him through a Medicare record. Nagy, it was found out, had suffered amnesia and didn’t remember anything about his former life. To get by, he did odd jobs and lived on the street, using a pseudonym. Eventually, he was taken in by a church and that’s how he ended up using Medicare with the real name he had finally remembered.
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Georgina DeJesus
Over the course of several years, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Georgina DeJesus were all kidnapped by Ariel Castro and kept as prisoners down in his basement. For years, many had thought they were dead until they were rescued and escaped Castro’s home in 2013. Castro repeatedly raped the girls and fathered a child with one. After he was arrested, he committed suicide while in prison.
In 1991, 11 year old Jaycee Dugard was abducted outside her home by Phillip Garrido. Dugard was held captive in a shack in Garrido and his wife’s backyard for 18 years . She was repeatedly raped and told several lies. While in captivity, she also gave birth to 2 daughters while in captivity and developed a case of Stockholm Syndrome. She was rescued in 2009 after Garrido visited the UC Berkeley college campus with their 2 daughters, and his suspicious activity lead to Jaycee’s discovery.
In 1990, Winston Bright vanished without a trace, leaving behind his wife Leslie. After a decade, she declared him legally dead. Since he was dead, she collected his pension from Verizon to care for their children. Twenty years later, he returned with the name Kwame Seku, claiming he’d had amnesia and wanting to claim his pension for himself. Needless to say, not many people bought the amnesia story.
Harold Wayne Lovell
At age 19, Harold Wayne Lovell cleaned John Wayne Gacy’s pool and then totally disappeared soon after. Even some of his things were found in Gacy’s home. Authorities assumed the notorious serial killer had claimed Lovell as one of his victims. But, 34 years later, Lovell was found living in Fort Lauderdale, working odd jobs. He’d originally told his relatives he was looking for construction jobs but eventually made his way down to Florida instead. Lovell says he didn’t know his family thought he was dead and is happy to be reunited with them.