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3 Famous People Who Mysteriously Vanished

Astrid graduated with a Bsc Hons in Criminology and Psychological Studies in 2017 and currently works as a professional ghostwriter.

It is often assumed that those who are most likely to be reported missing are in some way vulnerable or are facing difficulties. For example, in the UK, up to 8 out of 10 people reported missing suffer from some form of mental illness. It is also likely that people with a cognitive impairment are likely to disappear, such as those with dementia. In fact, 4 in 10 dementia sufferers in the UK go missing, although this may be unintentional.

Meanwhile, social difficulties can act as a catalyst that propels a person to go missing. For example, 3 out of 10 missing adults have recently experienced a breakdown in a relationship. Therefore, it can be puzzling when a wealthy or famous person goes missing. After all, they are the people that are watched the most. Here we take a look at three famous people who went missing under mysterious circumstances.

Former PM Harold Holt.

Former PM Harold Holt.

1. Harold Holt

I personally find this case extraordinary due to Holt being a head of state. As Australia's 17th Prime Minister, he was leader of the Liberal Party and also a keen swimmer. It was on one of his swims in his favorite spot that he simply vanished without a trace. To this day, there have been no sightings of him or the discovery of a body. This has led people to believe he was eaten by a shark or swept out to sea. A certainly believable theory considering the area was well known for its rip currents.

However, what I find peculiar in this case is that although a search party was gathered to search for the prime minister, no formal inquiry or investigation took place. Of course, this has only fuelled many conspiracy theories. One of which is that he was assassinated by the CIA because of his plan to pull Australian troops out of Vietnam. On the other hand, another theory suggests it was the Vietnamese who killed him after incapacitating him with a nerve agent.

Further theories include Holt faking his own death to defect to China. This would have involved him swimming out to sea to then be collected by a waiting troop of frogmen. There is also a fourth theory suggesting that he faked his own death so he could runaway with his secret lover. To this day, there has been no conclusive evidence as to what happened to the Prime Minister. But his case has spurned the saying, “To do a Harry Holt.” This means to run and disappear abruptly.

Sean Flynn, photojournalist and son of Errol Flynn.

Sean Flynn, photojournalist and son of Errol Flynn.

2. Sean Flynn

The son of famous actor Errol Flynn, Sean was a well-known and talented photojournalist. Said to have been even more handsome than his heartthrob father with the dashing good looks of a matinee idol, he had toyed with the idea of being an actor too, although he eventually realized his true calling was photojournalism.

With a natural fearless attitude, he prided himself on entering dangerous war torn locations. This often meant traveling with special forces units. It was on one of these adventures to Cambodia for Time Magazine in 1970 that he vanished after reportedly being kidnapped by communist guerrillas. Despite his parents paying vast amounts of money to discover the whereabouts of their son, nothing came of their investigations. In 1984, he was officially declared dead and no one has ever discovered what happened to the young man.

However, the mystery deepened when freelance Welsh photographer Paul Turner bought a vintage Nikon on eBay for just £51. Said to have been discovered at a flea market in France after being found in Indo-China, it appears to be from the same era as Sean Flynn. Yet what is also compelling is that it bears the scratched initials SF. Some detective work by Turner led him to discover it was built between November 1967 and January 1968. It was the same make and model that was often popular with Vietnam journalists.

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Furthermore, when Turner looked up the names of photojournalists who either died or went missing in Indo-China, the only name matching the initials was Sean Flynn. Does this mean it was his camera? At the moment, it's impossible to say. And even if it was, would it provide a clue as to what happened to him? What do you think? Have you heard an interesting theory about the young photographer?

Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers.

Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers.

3. Richey Edwards

There were many cases I wanted to include. However, the disappearance of Richey Edwards has haunted me for many years. As a kid involved in the alternative scene in the south of England at the turn of the millennium, it was difficult to not have listened to the Welsh band Manic Street Preachers at some point. They were a gloomy group and, as is often the case with such a band, they attracted a rather macabre, cult following. With a leftist slant to their music and lyrics focusing on isolation, despair and boredom, they released their first single, 'Suicide Alley', in 1988. It was after this release that Richey Edwards joined the band as lyricist and rhythm guitarist. He was a mysterious yet eloquent character with an androgynous style and a poetic talent that saw him being being crowned the lyricist of his generation.

However, on the morning of February 1st 1995, the same day he was due to fly to the US, he disappeared. In the upcoming two weeks to his flight, he withdrew £200 a day from his bank account, meaning on the day he was to travel, he would have had £2800 in cash. What he needed his money for, we will never know.

Subsequent sightings of him have complicated the case. For instance, on February 7th, he was seen at a Newport bus station by a fan who was unaware of his disappearance. On February 14th, his Vauxhall Cavalier was given a parking ticket near the Severn Bridge, and it was noted at the time that his car appeared lived in. The location of the car gave rise to the theory that he had committed suicide due to the Severn Bridge being a local suicide hotspot. However, after this, there were alleged sightings of him in Fuertaventura, Lanzarote, and even a market in Goa.

Over the years, even more enigmatic revelations have come to light. According to journalist and screenwriter Emma Forrest, the night before Richey's disappearance, he gifted a friend the book Novel with Cocaine after telling her to read the first chapter. The beginning of the book describes the author of the book being committed to an insane asylum before vanishing. Could this have given a clue as to what Edwards was planning?

He was also said to have packaged up a collection of books for someone named Jo, including the play Equus, on the day of his disappearance with a note saying "I love you" along with a drawing of Bugs Bunny. Last month signified the 24th anniversary of Edwards' disappearance, and his parents came to the decision to have him officially declared dead. However, until 2005, his bandmates still ensured he had an account to receive 25% of the band's royalties.

What do you think happened? Comment below with your theories.


This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2019 Astrid McClymont

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