Some tales are so fantastic, you would think there’s no way they could be true, like the story of Gabriel Nagy, the missing man found alive several years after disappearing and suffering severe amnesia, or the incredible events leading to Elizabeth Smart’s rescue and return to her family. Kidnapped people who escaped, missing people found off the grid, others living double lives, each story manages to shock one after the other. For the devotedly curious creep-seekers, here are several stories about real life missing people who were found alive, despite all reasonable doubt.
Rescuers Found A Boys’ Soccer Team Nine Days After They Were Trapped In A Cave
The team, 12 boys ranging from 11-16 years old, took shelter in a cave during a downpour. The boys and their coach became trapped by the flood and got lost in the meandering cave system. A rescue unt comprised of Thai Navy SEALS, technical experts from around the globe, and praying citizens all contributed to the effort. All 12 boys and the coach were found alive on July 2, 2018.
Elizabeth Smart Saved from Kidnapper by Her Little Sister
It wasn’t until then that Mary Katherine realized the man who had entered their bedroom was in fact “Emmanuel.” When police released a sketch of the handyman, which aired on Larry King Live and America’s Most Wanted, Mitchell’s family recognized his likeness and provided the police with additional photos. While walking on the street, disguised in a wig and veil, someone recognized Mitchell and his accomplice, Wanda Ileen Barzee. The police were notified and Smart finally reunited with her family. Today, Smart is involved with activism and journalism geared towards ending human trafficking.
Missing Cleveland Women Saved from Kidnapper by Neighbor
It wasn’t until 2013, when Castro’s neighbor Charles Ramsey heard Knight, Berry and DeJesus crying for help inside the house, that officials realized they were in fact NOT runaways. With the help of other neighbors, Ramsey broke down the cellar door and freed the women inside. Castro was sentenced to life in prison, but shortly thereafter committed suicide by hanging himself with his bedsheets.
Philip Sessagero Fakes His Own Death to Rebuild His Military Career
But in 2001, a BBC program revealed “Carew’s” identity. Seven years after this exposure, Sessagero was found dead in his garage. Although examiners determined the cause of the death to be suicide via carbon monoxide poisoning, his daughter believed he could have been murdered, as he “made enemies easily.”
Steven Stayner Escapes a Child Molester
Parnell renamed Stayner Dennis Parnell, and proceeded to enroll him in various schools. Stayner had the opportunity to come and go as he pleased, and many acquaintances had no clue that he was ever abducted by Parnell. When Stayner reached puberty, Parnell organized another kidnapping of a boy named Timothy White. Fearing White would fall to the same pattern of abuse he experienced, Stayner orchestrated their escape. After being taken into police custody, Stayner and White were reunited with their families. Stayner had been in captivity for eight years.
Stayner’s story was developed into a TV movie, I Know My First Name Is Steven.
Gabriel Nagy Loses His Memory and Disappears
When a police officer located Nagy’s name registered under Medicare, he sought him out. For the past twenty years, Nagy had been suffering severe amnesia working odd jobs. He had effectively started over from scratch. But after reuniting with his family, many of his memories came flooding back. Scarring on the back of his head correlated to the condition of his car accident, and medical examiners believe it caused a state of Dissociative Fugue, which can cause people to wander off.
Nguyen Thi Van Gets Locked out of Her House and Winds up in China
Van spent decades married to a Chinese farmer in Guangdo, but she eventually escaped by hitching a ride in a truck. After twenty-one years, Van finally made it home. Her parents were horrified that their petty punishment had gone so terribly awry.
Bowe Bergdahl Goes AWOL
He was eventually held as a prisoner of war by the Taliban, though his capture has become a point of contention, since Bergdahl initially claimed he fell behind on a patrol. The Taliban stated that they found him stumbling drunk, and U.S. forces reiterated that Bergdahl willingly left post. Missing and hidden for five years, Bergdahl was brought back to the U.S. in a trade deal made by the Obama administration. He is currently being tried on desertion charges.
Steve Carter Discovers He’s a Missing Person
After contacting investigators and law enforcement, Carter learned that his mother had run away with him when he was a baby. His father never located them because his mother changed their names. From there, his mother was checked into psychiatric care and Carter became a ward of the state. His mother eventually disappeared, yet again, but this time did not come back. Carter was adopted by new parents at age 4. After his discovery, Carter reached out to his biological family, ending a lifetime of mystery.
A Fake Nicholas Barclay Returns Home
Despite looking almost nothing like Barclay, as well as speaking with a French accent, many members of the family did not notice anything out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until a PI caught on that Bourdin made a full confession. The real Barclay was never found.
Brenda Heist Drops Everything and Takes off with Complete Strangers
However, when Heist showed up in 2010 to reunite with her family in Florida, she explained that shehad simply “snapped.” Heist’s family were more than reluctant to forgive and forget Heist’s abandonment. The reunion was and remains messy.
Declared Dead, Carlos De Salazar Is Discovered on a Remote Beach
Nearly 20 years later, two mushroom pickers wandering a remote Tuscany coastal line stumbled upon De Salazar’s secret encampment inside a nature reserve. Startled by De Salazar’s appearance, the two men ran for help. When they arrived with a ranger hours later, Salazar explained that he had been on this coast since 1997. Despite De Salazar’s requests that he be left alone, Spanish officials contacted his family. But when they arrived in Italy to reunite with De Salazar, he had already packed up his things and disappeared again.
After Man Admits to Murder, Petra Pazsitka Is Discovered Alive and Well
But it turns out, Pazsitka wasn’t deadt. Secretly renting an apartment with money she had saved and taking on different identities, Pazsitka spent a long time planning her escape. Pazsitka was discovered when she called police to her apartment in Dusseldorf after her home was burgled. Since this revelation, Pazsitka has refused to share her reasons for wanting to disappear.
Danielle Cramer Found in Cabinet After Police Raid Home of Murder Suspect
At first unsure whether or not Cramer had joined the couple willingly or not, Cramer eventually clarified that she had been forced into performing for Internet sex shows. Gault and Murphy were later tried for the crimes.
Jaycee Dugard Gets Kidnapped and Brainwashed by Abuser
Almost 20 years later, Dugard was discovered after Garrido broke his sex offender regulations. According to police, Dugard had displayed intense symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. Garrido had spent the last 20 years convincing Dugard that she was his source of salvation from sexual deviancy. Although her reunion with her family proved difficult, Dugard spent years rehabilitating herself and defusing Garrido’s sick brainwashing.
Duggard wrote a memoir of her experiences titled A Stolen Life.
Timothy Carney Cuts Ties with His Family
In 2011, Carney was finally located, but he refused to disclose his whereabouts to his family. Why Carney decided to vanish and cut ties with everyone he knew remains a mystery. However, Carney’s friends and family have expressed theories that Carney is being heavily influenced by a religious organization called the Gospel Outreach. Carney was ultimately taken off the missing persons record, but some have asked the question whether he was ever really missing at all?
Robert McDonough Found on Live CameraRobert McDonough was suffering from dementia when he went missing. The elderly man didn’t return home one night, alarming his family. A massive search party was organized, and police scouted his hometown in Maine.
The next day, reporters from ABC showed up to run a story on McDonough’s sudden and dangerous disappearance. But as the crew filmed reporter Norm Karkos, McDonough appeared in the shot. When Karkos noticed McDonough walking by, he was both shocked and humored by the coincidence. McDonough was reunited with his family, although he is still unsure of where he went or what he did.
David Leggat Gets Locked in the BathroomWhen David Leggat snuck away to use the men’s room., he was surprised to find the hinges jammed, preventing him from opening the door from the inside. With no cell phone to call for help or any family members to realize he was missing at all, Leggat spent the next four days in the bathroom. Everyone having retired from the bowling club for the evening, Leggat was left to his own devices. Spending nearly 16 hours a day in darkness, Leggat struggled to keep his spirits up.
It wasn’t until a cleaner heard his cries for help that he was saved. Surviving only on tap water from the sink, Leggat was eager for a drink. Ever an optimist, Leggat’s main take away from the predicament: “At least there was a toilet to use. The only thing I regret is not getting trapped behind the bar.”
Unnamed Woman Accidentally Joins a Search Party Looking for HerWhen an unidentified woman left her tour of an Icelandic volcano to freshen up and change her clothes, she was reported missing. It appeared no one had a clear look at the woman, however, because when she returned, she actually joined the search party. The woman, described only as “Asian, but fluent in English, about 5’3, and wearing dark clothes,” helped her tour group feverishly scour the area.
It wasn’t until it clicked in the woman’s mind that she was also Asian, but fluent in English, about 5’3, and was previously wearing dark clothes that she made the connection. Following her groundbreaking revelation, the woman reported herself as the “missing person.”
12 Missing Children Found in House of HorrorsIn 2011, Philadelphia police discovered a child trafficking ring hidden in a dilapidated home. Twelve of the children found in captivity had previously been reported missing, and assumed dead. Conditions in the home were incredibly dire, dirty, and abusive. After uncovering the ring, police located up to fifty more victims elsewhere.
Four of the twelve inside were described as having disabilities. Police believe they were imprisoned so that the perpetrators could cash in their assistance checks. Four suspects were held responsible for the children’s capture and restraint.
Julian Hernandez Asks Reddit for HelpMissing for 13 years of his life, Julian Hernandez had no idea he was a victim of kidnapping until he tried filing his university paperwork. Wile applying for a scholarship, Hernandez’s name did not match his social security number. When a counselor tried to help him figure out the issue, they discovered his listing on a national missing person’s database. Hernandez was kidnapped by his own father when he was five years old.
Against court orders, Hernandez packed up his things, changed both his and his son’s social security numbers and names, and started over. Bobby Hernandez, the father, was taken into custody and is facing abduction charges. Meanwhile, Hernandez’s mother was overcome with joy and relief. Devastated by the revelation, Hernandez took to a Reddit subthread to express his frustrations. In the now-deleted post, Hernandez discusses his shock, but assures readers that he forgives his father.