19 People Who Went Missing Reveal Their Incredible (And Sometimes Downright Terrifying) Stories

Shutterstock / kreatorex
Shutterstock / kreatorex

Found on r/AskReddit.

1. 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.


2. 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.


3. 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.


4. When I was 4 I got lost in a city and was rescued by what my dad thought was a gang. 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.


5. A few years ago I was working a job in Manhattan. The building I worked in had 11 floors in it. One day after going out for a smoke I went inside and pushed the button for the elevator. The doors opened and a very young blond girl of about 11 was standing there in tears.

I asked her what was wrong but she couldn’t speak English. She seemed to be speaking Polish but I wasn’t sure. She came out of the elevator crying and just looking at me with so much fear in her face.

I walked her away from the elevator trying to figure out what was going on. She was wearing high heels and a really short skirt as well as wearing a bunch a make up. All she kept saying was “7” and Uncle. I was so confused and had absolutely no idea what to do.

I worked on the seventh floor so I took her up to my office in hopes that someone would know her. They did not.

I ended up taking her to every floor in the building asking people if they knew who she was. No one had a clue. I was losing heart and was getting ready to call the cops. We finally reached the 11th floor and I learned her uncle had an office there.

When she saw him she ran to him screaming and crying. He looked at me like I was a Pedo. I quickly explained what had happened. Turns out her Aunt had dropped her off at the building, gave her the wrong floor number and then just took off. The poor thing was horrified.


6. When I was about nine, my babysitter took my brother and I to the rec pool to kill time. When we got there I saw one of my good friends from school and I was like sweet someone to hang out with! so we swam around together for a while. Pretty soon it was time to go, and she and her mom asked if I wanted to come over for a few hours to play. So obviously I was nine and was like ABSOLUTELY, and asked my babysitter if it was okay.

She told me to call my parents and ask first, so I did and my dad picked up and I said something like, “Hey dad can I go to Rita’s house until dinner?” And he said “Sure sounds like fun.” So I went on my merry little way to Rita’s house.

Five hours later Rita and I are still partying with her Polly pockets and she asked if I wanted to sleep over. So again, being nine, I said DUH but I gotta call my mom first. I call my home phone number and my mom picks up and I say “hey mom Rita’s mom said I could sleep over is it okay???” And she screamed back, “RITA WHO AND WHERE ARE YOU AND WHAT IS THE ADDRESS AND LET ME TALK TO HER MOM!”

So apparently my parents had no idea where I was for that whole five hours, and thought I lied to my babysitter about calling them. Obviously I was in deep shit, and my dad came to pick me up. He’s so mad at me, talking in that dad voice that isn’t yelling but is somehow even scarier, and he’s talking about how ashamed I should be of lying to my babysitter and him and my mom, and I was so mad and yelled “QUIT LYING YOU TOLD ME I COULD GO.” And that’s when my dad stopped and looked at me with this mixture of concern and realization, because even I wasn’t stupid enough to lie about what he had said directly to his face. He said “tell me what number you called.” So I got halfway through telling him the phone number before I realized I was reciting this weird frankensteined phone number made from the first half of his phone number and the second half of my mom’s.

We get home, my dad explained what had happened to my mom, and now they were getting a little weirded out that some older dude had just okayed a random third grade girl to go to her friends house. They called the phone number and some man picked up and my dad was like “did you tell my kid she could go over to her friends house? Because she called this number earlier and says you told her she could go, and we just found her after five hours of her being missing and us calling the cops and everything.”

Apparently that guy didn’t tell me I could go, but he had a sixteen year old son who did and boy was he in deep shit that night.


7. When I was in 4th grade, the YMCA bus would pick me up after school and take me to the Y. My parents would pick me up there after they got off work.

One day my friend invited me over to her house after school, and that sounded infinitely better than going to the Y so I agreed. I asked her mom to take me home around 6 which was when my parents usually got home, so I figured it would be fine.

We pulled up to my house and there were two cop cars in the driveway. Fuck. Go inside. Parents are crying and have a bunch of pictures of me spread out on the coffee table.

Obviously the YMCA had called my parents when they couldn’t find me after school. My parents had no idea where else I might be and were (justifiably) freaking out.

Whoopsy daisy!


8. 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.


9. 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.


10. 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.


11. 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.


12. 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.

TL;DR: my friends thought it was more likely that I’d gotten kidnapped than gotten laid.


13. My friend and I were 15 at the time when we were both drugged and taken various places within the state for 3 days.

During this time we were constantly separated, reunited, drugged, emotionally/physically abused, and honestly feared that we would end up being murdered.

For 3 days, we were constantly on the move. We never visited any homes. They made us sleep in wooded areas with thin blankets, separated from each other. This was during winter although there was no snow yet.

The man (sounds strange calling him a man) that I was with was nicer than the other. He seemed to be the follower. He never did anything as cruel as the other did, but to this day I can’t stand certain names, accents, clothing, or looks in general. When I say he was nicer, it’s because he was rather gentle instead of forceful.

On the third day, they took us to a town about 40 miles south of our home in the middle of frankly nowhere. It’s a town with one gas station and few homes. They left us on the mountainside, told us the common “If you call the police blah blah we’ll kill you, blah blah.” We were there for a while before another car came around. (Hunting is rather popular around those parts.)

The guys who found us thought we had been stabbed or shot. Looking back I was a fucking chaotic mess as they tried to approach us. I became very defensive as my friend was still mostly lethargic and I didn’t believe that they were there to help us.

Another half hour maybe passed and police finally showed up. I hadn’t felt so happy to see officers before in my entire life because I had been one of those “fuck the police” stupid girls back then. I remember falling and just crying. I remember grabbing my friend and telling her it was going to be okay.

About a week later they found the guys. they arrested them, and they went to prison for some time. They both plead guilty for reduced sentences.

The drugs they gave us make a lot of the details sketchy, so I can’t really remember too much. I have scars still, I have trust issues. My friend on the other hand turned to drugs quickly after and we’ve lost touch with one another.

– Anonymous

14. Was 2-3 years old. At the beach with dad and bro (on a camping trip). Just started walking around picking up bird feathers. My dad and bro and the rest of the people we were camping with went back to camp. I just kept picking up feathers.

After a while my dad realized he forgot me and went back to the beach in a panic and found me with a large amount of feathers in my hands. I didn’t so much go missing, as much as…got forgotten.


15. 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 neighbor’s 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.


16. When I was 16 I got into a fight with my mother about how to properly load dishes into a dishwasher. Actually, she yelled a lot and I failed to react. They were fucking dishes, who cares? At that point in my life she was running her own business and my father was working full-time, so all of the chores in the house were being done by me personally anyway and at that point I had been loading the dishwasher “incorrectly” for the better part of 6 years and felt it didn’t matter if she thought it was wrong now. Well, I decided that telling her that was the way to end the argument. As you can probably predict, it did not.

She threw me out of the house. In typical teenage fashion, I told her if she threw me out then I wasn’t coming back. At that point she had escalated to white-hot rage and said something like “We don’t want you here anyway.” Well, that was all I needed, and really she should have been paying better attention to me.

See, I had gotten a job as soon as I had turned 14 and I had purchased my own car. I had been buying my own clothes and things for years with money from that job. I left and could honestly say that I hadn’t taken anything from the house that I hadn’t personally paid for. To that end, I left my cell phone on the table. They had no way to get in contact. So, hours later when my mother’s anger faded and she realized that she had just thrown her 16-year-old child into the streets over the dishes, she called the police.

Well, the police showed up and heard her out. They put out the details on my car to try and find me, but they told her that since I had a car and clothes and had my own bank account and I had been gone for hours there was no guarantee that I was even in the state anymore. They really only started looking so soon as a favor to my mother, they weren’t required to look at all since it was clear that I was a runaway that had left under my own power. My father came home from work and was bewildered by all the chaos. I wish I could have seen his face. After 48 hours they had me declared missing, which apparently made my profile available to other states and such.

And that was how they found me, two weeks later, 18 hours away. I was sitting on the hood of my car eating ice cream and filling out a job application. An officer noticed I was illegally parked and casually scanned my plates while he approached to ask me to move. I don’t think he was going to give me a ticket, it was just a reflexive action. I came up as a missing kid and he stopped mid-question and sort of stutters, “You, uh, you should call your mother.”

I nodded agreeably and he gave me his cell phone. I dialed my mother’s number from heart and she picked up. As soon as I identified myself, she turning into a screaming rage monster of hatred and insults. I casually put the phone on speaker for the officer to hear, and his eyes widened. She didn’t stop to take a breath and let me get a word in, so I hung up on her. I told the officer that I was fine where I was and since it had already escalated to this point I was going to hold out for an apology, or divine intervention. He sort of patted my shoulder and made sure I had someplace warm to sleep at night.

Two days later, my dad showed up and got me. The officer had called the department that the missing person’s report originated from and gotten my father’s contact details and told him that if the situation was left to my mother to resolve, they would never see me again. I agree that it was for the best. I could have gotten my GED and a job, but I certainly wouldn’t have been able to make my way through college and get my Master’s.

TL;DR: My mother picked a stupid argument with me, and I was a shitty teenager and escalated the situation beyond all reason.


17. So when I was about 15 I was living with my dad who was going through a horrible divorce and custody battle with my mentally ill and abusive mother. Well one day my mother came to the school car pick up line ahead of my dad, stopped the car, got out, and tried to put me in the vehicle. I struggled and refused, but she’s almost 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds Opposed to my 5 feet and 90lbs. A school administrator came over and asked what was going on. I said I didn’t live with her, and my mother pulled the old “I’m her mother and she’s just a stupid dramatic child making a scene” card. The administrator believe her and basically helped force me into the car. She also told the administrator, “Oh yeah me and my husband are separated and this is my day to pick her up. She’s just being a brat because she wants to go to her friends house.” She got in the car and gave this smug fucking triumphant look and I tried to open the door and get out, but she had the child lock on. My dad who was further back in the car line had no idea what happened, and he said he had just assumed I was goofing around in school with my friends and hadn’t come outside yet. He went around the car line several times before he stopped and reported me missing.

So my mom told me she was driving me to the state capital where there was a youth mental hospital for runaways. You only needed one parent and a birth certificate to have someone committed, and there was no way my dad would know or be able to get me out for awhile.

I saw a cop car start driving beside the car, and while my mom was distracted monologue-ing like the villain in a Disney movie, I just started screaming and beating on the window to get the cop’s attention. The cop ended up pulling my mom over. My mother got out of the car to talk to the cop away from me, and I just took the opportunity and ran out of her driver’s side door, across a 4 lane highway, into some woods, and kept fucking running. I don’t know why I didn’t go to the cop. I guess I was afraid that since my mom was a cop she would talk her way out of it again. I ended up running through the patch of trees along the side of the road until I saw a gas station. There I called my dad using their pay phone. He drove all the way out there to pick me up while I hid near by in the trees, because I refused to trust anyone.

She also pulled other crazy shit that year. She broke into my dad’s while I was inside the house, violating the restraining order I had on her. I ended up climbing onto the roof and calling the cops. She also gave a fake name and a fake license, and went to my new school, and claimed to be a massage therapist giving free massages to teachers. She found out who my teachers were, and coerced information about me from them to Try and snatch me again. I’m a grown ass woman now and I still deal with stalking, threats, and general insanity from a woman I haven’t talked to in almost a decade on a regular basis.

– Anonymous

18. My oldest daughter K went missing when she was 2, she’s 11 now. It was about 9 AM, I’m at work 2 hours drive away and I get a panicked call from her mother saying she can’t find her anywhere and the front door is open. She had been sleeping and didn’t hear K get up. I tell her to quit messing around and call 911.

I’m freaking out and leave work immediately and start calling everyone I know local to home, relatives, friends, anyone who can start looking for her.

20 minutes later a police officer pulls up front of our house with K in the front seat and her trike in the back.

Long story short, K woke up that morning missing me and decided to come find me. Went downstairs, managed to unlock the front door, went around back of the house, and hopped on her trike. She then proceeded to travel about a mile on the sidewalk on her trike, in a only a diaper before a good samaritan called 911 saying they saw a naked toddler by herself outside.

She had a few cuts and scrapes, but was otherwise ok. She was also mad that the police officer made her wear a seatbelt.


19. 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”. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


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