Near the end of 1971, D.B. Cooper—probably not his real name—disappeared after hijacking a plane, extorting $200,000 in ransom cash and parachuting to freedom… or death. Four decades later, the FBI has yet to solve the case, and a fanciful new comic book series, The Secret History of D.B. Cooper, hits shelves in March. But this mystery man is hardly the only notable fellow to vanish with nary a trace. Witness this gaggle of gone guys, who just might be playing a funny on all of us.
Oscar Zeta Acosta: You know him as Dr. Gonzo (right) from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. He disappeared in Mexico in 1974 after telephoning to tell his son, “[I am] about to board a boat full of white snow.” His son surmises he was murdered for having a short temper around the wrong people.
Richey James Edwards: Lyricist for British rockers Manic Street Preachers, Edwards struggled with depression most of his life. Edwards disappeared in 1995, with unconfirmed sightings in India and remote Spanish islands. His family had him declared legally dead in 2008.
George Mallory: This is the rare case of a disappeared person actually being found. Obsessed with being the first to scale Mount Everest (famously “because it’s there”), Mallory disappeared on his third attempt in 1924. An expedition team located his body near the summit in 1999.
Glenn Miller: Big band jazz orchestra leader Miller is known for such hit songs as “In The Mood,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and “Pennsylvania 6-5000.” Like many men of his generation, when the military called, Glenn answered, joining the Army Air Force Band. His plane disappeared over the English Channel on December 15, 1944. He is still officially listed as missing in action.
Ambrose Bierce: A famed author, Civil War veteran and professional cynic, Bierce’s most famous work is the hilarious Devil’s Dictionary. On a tour of former Civil War battle sites in 1913, Bierce disappeared in Mexico, at that time in the middle of a revolutionary war.
Raj Kiran: This story is incredibly strange. Kiran, a popular Bollywood actor, disappeared roughly a decade ago. Last year, fellow actor Rishi Kapoor tracked him to an Atlanta mental asylum. However, his family denies that he is staying there.
Joseph Force Carter: Crater, a New York City judge, planned to go to a Broadway show after dinner on August 6, 1930. He was never seen or heard from again. Courts declared him dead on June 6, 1939. The phrase “pulling a Crater” meant “to disappear” for a couple of decades and still carries some currency among older New Yorkers.
Tank Man: “Tank Man” refers to the guy with cojones of steel who stared down a Chinese tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989. While it is often said that he got run over by the tank, he didn’t. No one knows his whereabouts. The Chinese will not confirm or deny his arrest, and stories abound saying that he made it to Taiwan or the States. We sure hope so.
Jimmy Hoffa: Hoffa’s disappearance might be one of the most fascinating mysteries in American history. A prominent union boss with alleged mob ties, Hoffa claimed he was meeting two mob bosses the night he disappeared in 1975. Both denied plans to rendezvous with Hoffa, and their alibis checked out. Excavations proved he’s not buried under Giants Stadium, as one rumor had it. So where is he?
D.B. Cooper: Cooper parachuted out of a hijacked plane, never to be heard from again. The FBI has struggled with the case for decades. It is the only unresolved skyjacking in United States history…