Recently, the case of missing tot, Ben Needham, was reopened after he vanished in Kos. More than 25 years on, his family are still looking for answers. We look back at some of the most infamous missing person cases, some with happier endings than others….
1. Ben Needham – unsolved
On 24 July 1991, Ben Needham, then 21 months, was in the care of his grandparents, while his mum Kerry was out. The family was on holiday from Sheffield, England, to the Greek Island of Kos to visit Kerry’s parents, who’d emigrated there. Ben had been playing in and out of the house. But at around 2:30pm, his family realised he was missing. There have been over 300 reported sightings of Ben since his disappearance. Many believe he was kidnapped and is still alive, others believe he was killed in a tragic accident. But more than 25 years on, what happened to him still remains a mystery.
2. Jaycee Lee Dugard – solved
In June 1991, Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped in California, aged 11. She’d been walking to school when she was snatched by Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy. Her family appealed for her safe return, but she remained missing for more than 18 years. Then in 2009, the missing girl made headlines when she was found, alive. It later emerged Garrido and his wife had kept Jaycee prisoner in a concealed area in their back garden. His repeated sexual assaults resulted in Jaycee giving birth to two daughters, aged 11 and 15 at the time they were found.
3. Madeline McCann – unsolved
In May 2007, Madeline, then 3, went missing on holiday in Portugal, from the apartment where her family had been staying. She and her two younger siblings had been sleeping at the apartment, while their parents, Gerry and Kate, ate dinner with friends, 50 metres away. Her disappearance sparked a worldwide hunt. Despite numerous reported sightings across the globe, more than nine years on, Maddy, who’d be 13 now, still hasn’t been found.
4. Gabriel Nagy – solved
In January 1987, Australian, Gabriel Nagy, phoned his wife in the middle of the day to say he’d be home for lunch. But he never arrived. Two weeks after his disappearance, his bankcard was used. Then, nothing…. Missing for 23 years, nobody knew what’d happened to him. Turned out he’d suffered head injuries in a car crash and developed amnesia. Incredibly, in 2012 he remembered his name and applied for a medical card. By chance, a detective who never gave up looking for him, saw the medical record and found Gabriel, then 69. Eventually he was reunited with his family, and it emerged he’d been living in the wilderness for the past two decades, with no memories of his former life.
5. Etan Patz – unsolved
The disappearance of Etan Patz stunned New York City on 25 May, 1979, at a time when missing children had little political or media attention. The 6-year-old vanished on his way to catch the school bus in Manhattan. His kidnapping prompted the milk carton campaigns, and 25 May was declared National Missing Children’s Day in America. Etan has never been found.
6. Charlene Lunnon and Lisa Hoodless – solved
In January 1999 the two 10-year-old school girls vanished after leaving their homes in Sussex for school. They were kidnapped by paedophile Alan Hopkinson, and held captive over four days. Both girls were indecently assaulted and were only found after police went to Hopkinson’s flat to arrest him for separate charges. Eventually, in May 1999, he was jailed for life. The girls later wrote a book about their terrifying experience.