Vanished Forever: 10 Oldest, Unsolved Missing Persons Cases in America

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When people — adults or children — go missing, family and loved ones are left with wounds that never heal. They live their entire lives with but unanswered questions.

It’s a never ending waiting game.

They leave the lights on, they pray, they search endlessly.

There are millions of missing persons cases around the world that remain unsolved, forever filed away as open investigations. Today, there are estimated to be about 90,000 people currently missing in the United States, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

A staggering 2,300 Americans are reported missing every day, including both adults and children.

missing persons statistics

These 10 oldest, unsolved missing persons cases continue to baffle detectives. This list of missing persons cases still grab our attention years — and even decades — after they happened.

Ambrose Bierce
This journalist and author disappeared after venturing to Mexico in his 70s to observe Pancho Villa’s forces. His last words were in a letter to a friend dated December 26, 1913, which said, “I leave tomorrow for an unknown destination.” There are countless rumors about what happened to him, but no one knows for sure.

Frances Blanche Hayes Groves
She vanished without a trace in 1955, after having a picnic with her boyfriend Jim Phye. The case has been unsolved for more than 55 years, yet, investigators in Palm Springs are still looking for clues.

Hang Lee
There’s no proof of what happened to her. At 17, she walked out of her family home, never to be seen, again. Her brother remembers the final haunting words she said to him: “Koua, if I don’t come back, come and look for me.” Allegedly, she was last seen with a convicted sex offender, but no one has been arrested in her case. Police are still looking for answers.

Jean Spangler
This actress and model was only 26 when she disappeared in Los Angeles in route to rendezvous with her ex-husband. At the time of her disappearance, she was allegedly carrying a note addressed to an unknown man named “Kirk,” who many people believe was Kirk Douglas.

Joseph Halpern
In 1933, this 22-year-old astronomer never returned after leaving his parents’ campsite and going on a solo hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s been over 80 years since he went missing, but no trace has ever been found . The family continues to search for closure.

Marjorie West
Only four-years-old when she vanished  at a Mother’s Day picnic in 1938, little Marjorie is the oldest missing persons case in Pennsylvania. She was last seen picking flowers in a field.

Springfield’s Missing Girls
Stacy McCall and Suzanne Streeter disappeared after celebrating their high school graduation. They were supposed to sleepover at Suzanne’s house, but in the morning they were missing, along with Suzanne’s mother, Sherrill Levitt.

Joseph Force Crater
He was last seen catching a cab to a show in 1930. Due to his disappearance, the phrase “pulling a Crater” became synonymous with people vanishing. This cold case gained attention in 2005 after a women claimed she had information.

Marvin Clark
In 1926, Marvin Clark took a stage coach to visit his daughter in Portland, Oregon, but never made it. This is one of the oldest unsolved missing persons cases in U.S. history.

Alan and Terry Westerfield
The two Fayetteville, North Carolina, brothers disappeared in 1964. According to police reports, their stepfather dropped them off at a theater and they were never seen again. It is the oldest unsolved missing persons case in North Carolina.