You can see the notices on bulletin boards at grocery stores, at the post office or even on milk cartons.
The images depict people, sometimes even children, who have disappeared.
While we often hear the stories of the people left behind, we only hear the stories of the person who disappeared when the results are worthy of a headline or a movie of the week. But what about all those other people who went missing, but did not stay lost?
Reddit user The_Cool_Lamp asked:
Here are the most interesting accounts from people with firsthand experience being among the missing.
When I was a baby my parents had joint custody of me after the divorce. My mother took me for the weekend and just decided to not give me back. She got in her car with me (five months old), her boyfriend, and whatever she could fit in her car and just drove off. I was missing for three weeks before I was located several towns away, half starved to death and severely neglected. My dad got full custody after that.
I was 7-years-old and at a department store with my mom. I was in the toy section while she shopped when a man grabbed my arm and said "There you are Jessie! Time to go" , and started dragging me by my arm to the exit. I started crying and yelling him to let me go but he just kept saying "No toy today Jessie, let's go". Other shoppers must have thought I was just his bratty Kid, not wanting to leave without a toy. Luckily my mom ran up just as we were at the doors and yelled at him to leave me alone. He said something like "oh, I thought this was my daughter, they look so much alike" and strolled out the exit after letting my arm go.
My mom found an employee and the police were called (this was the mid-80's so no cell phones). They never found the guy.
Munchausen By Proxy
My mother used to lose me on purpose as often as she could. I can't tell you the number of times as a tiny toddler she would take me into a grocery store or somewhere and then send me to look at something so she could just rush off like some sick game. She loved it. She loved the attention she got from employees looking for her, "poor lost baby" she loved watching me cry in terror and then shaming me about it for "making a scene" when we left. I freakin hate that woman.
Rough Part of Academia
I missed the last train home. I told my parents exactly where I was, I was with friends, and I was sixteen years old. My phone ran out of battery, but it was fine because my friends were looking after me.
Crazy mother decided to have the police force comb the whole of Oxford searching for me because if I ever had to spend an hour with people she didn't know then obviously I might DIE.
Well, Oxford is a notoriously dangerous place.
Gangs of academics roam the streets, sniffing out Cambridge graduates.
Better make sure your references are formatted correctly.
You joke, but I once heard that someone was rudely shoved in downtown Oxford late one Saturday night.
Oh my god.... did they not cite their sources?
I hated summer daycare, so I hid behind a tree after my dad dropped me off and then walked home. It was only about a 20 minute walk. When they realized I was supposed to be there but had never showed up, they called campus security to report a missing kid. My dad said that I didn't know the way home, so he didn't go to check if I was there. I sat in my bedroom for hours worried about when I'd get busted.
When I was 8, I was at the mall with my mom, aunt and little sister. Me and my little sister needed to go the bathroom so my mom leaves our aunt in the store to take us both to the bathroom. Me being the smart ass little kid that I was claimed I knew where the bathroom was so I decided to run ahead.
I turned through the food court to where I could've sworn the bathroom was but there was nothing but lockers. So I double back and try to find my mom and admit defeat acknowledging that I don't know where the bathroom is. But I couldn't find her. I wandered around the food court looking for her and couldn't find her or my little sister.
So I decided to go back to the store my aunt was in and tell her I got lost, thing is I couldn't remember which store she was in. I entered the store I thought I remembered us leaving (which turns out it was the right store but my aunt was in the change room) couldn't find her and decided to go back up to the food court.
So I'm crying going up the escalator and this man sees me and asks me if I'm ok. I told him I lost my mom and he took me to a store and said they would help me find my mom. They called her over the intercom while the man took me to take the piss I had been holding in for a while. When I finally found my mom she was in tears crying say she called the cops thinking someone had kidnapped me.
Now that I think about it I got very lucky finding such a nice guy to help me.
Neither of my parents were able to come to my softball game so my teenaged sister was in charge of walking 8-year-old me home after the game. At some point she took our younger brother across the street to the playground for a bit. When she finally glanced over at the field, she realized the game was over and no one was there. She took our brother home, hoping I'd slipped past them and walked home. No luck.
After checking with my best friend down the block and sending my older brothers out to double check the route between the field and home, my sister called our mother at work and admitted she'd lost me.
Mom calmly replied, "If she's not at the field she's with your dad."
Good call, Mom. When the game ended and everyone else left, I knew I wasn't supposed to walk home alone, so I crossed the street on the other side of the field and headed to our church where I knew Dad was helping set up for a fundraiser. Dad had me sit out of the way until he finished setting up, took me home about an hour after my game had ended.
My sister was still in a panic when we strolled through the front door.
Every year in elementary school we had a school carnival. Little games for the kids to win prizes, a cakewalk, etc. One year my mom brought me to the carnival but had to leave halfway through. No biggie-- my friend's mom was volunteering there and was going to watch over me and my dad was supposed to come pick me up. Mom leaves, friend and I go off exploring and playing carnival games. A while later my dad came by and I left with him. But I never told friend's mom goodbye, or that my dad was there to get me. I still think she overreacted because she knew my dad was coming to get me, but from her perspective I just disappeared.
Dad and I had a lovely afternoon. We went and got lunch and then bought a kite and then went to the park and flew it. When we got back to the house there were police cars everywhere and my mom was straight-up panicking. Friend's mom had found friend, but not me, and friend claimed she didn't know where I'd gone. Cue frantic searching through the carnival and school grounds, calls to police, searches in the nearby parks and neighborhoods...
Obviously I was fine. Mom was pissed.
I was 9 and back then it was normal for kids that age to roam around the neighborhood. I decided, for some reason, to walk to my sister's house, 3.2 miles away.
My mom realized I'd been gone a while and couldn't find me at my usual haunts, so she called the police and reported me missing. The last time she saw me I had no shirt on so the cops were looking for a little boy with no shirt, probably drove right past me because I had put a shirt on.
My mom was very relieved when my sister called to say "Guess who just showed up?"
All Sly Stallone's Fault
My mom had a Kmart (remember those) locked down because she thought someone kidnapped me.
I was about 10 years old and my mom and I went to a Kmart. I loved going to the electronics section because I could look at all the video games, movies, etc. They also usually had some kind of movie playing on all the TVs they had up on the wall. I could easily spend an hour or more there reading the backs of all the video game boxes (remember when PC games had big boxes), VHS boxes, etc.
My mom and I split up as she wanted to go look at shoes and naturally I preferred to look at video games. The departments were right next to each other so we weren't far from one another.
At the time, the film Judge Dredd had just come out on VHS and they had it playing on their display TVs. I loved those kinds of movies so I decided to just sit back and watch it, leaning up against one of the aisles.
I don't know how long I was there, it had to be at least an hour. Eventually a store employee came by and said, "Excuse me, do you know where your mom is?" and I was like, "Yeah, she's over in the shoe department". I had no idea anything was going on at this point. She looked at me weird and said, "I think you should come with me. She's looking for you." I was like okay, whatever.
This may set off red flags but she had on the Kmart attire and didn't feel threatening.
I followed her to the front of the store and find my mom there bawling her eyes out and she runs up and hugs me. I'm thinking like, what the hell is going on? So turns out my mom finished looking at shoes and came into the electronics department calling my name. But since I was so enthralled with the movie, I didn't hear her. So she figured I must have gone to a different area or maybe went looking for her, etc. But she obviously didn't find me so she started to panic, went to the front desk or whatever, and told them her son was missing.
So they locked the doors and started calling my name over the PA system and sending employees looking for me. But again I didn't hear it because I was too focused on the movie. They had employees look in the electronics department since that was where I told my mom I'd be, but they only looked down the aisles, no one actually went down the aisles and looked to see if there was someone on the other side of the aisle (remember I was leaning up against it, so looking down the aisle it appeared empty). Eventually someone did and that's when the woman found me.
Thanks Judge Dredd.
The Wrong Way To Teach
When I was like 6 I was playing with my friend on the playground at a crowded town event and her mom came over and introduced herself and asked if I wanted to come over their house to play. She said she already talked to my mom who said it was ok. Me and my friend were like, sure cool. Turns out the woman was a psycho and had kidnapped me to teach me a lesson about strangers. She called my panicking mom to come pick me up and she gave my mom a lecture. I thought my mom would be mad at me, but she wasn't. We both went home totally confused. Looking back, that woman should have been arrested.
I Told You So
As a teenager, my folks decreed I did not need a mobile phone.
I was working at a local theme park, got nauseated at work and threw up a few times, so my boss sent me home. By the time I was about halfway home I was feeling a lot better, so I stopped by a local mall, got my ears double-pierced, went to the big library downtown to get some stuff I needed for a report and then went to the gym and worked out for a few hours.
When I got home my parents were freaking out. Turns out they had called my work about 30 min. after I left. Somebody told them, "Oh, she got really sick, she went home." They'd been in solid freakout mode for more than 7 hours, the police were involved, etc.
Guess who got a phone for Christmas?
"Kidnapped" By The CIA
On 9/11 my husband and I were stuck in Italy for 4 days. I immediately called my mom to let her know we were OK & not on one of the planes. I did not call again and apparently that was mistake because she called the freakin' STATE DEPARTMENT 2 days later and told them that the CIA had kidnapped us because my husband is Middle Eastern and a pilot.
We were interviewed by the FBI once we finally got home.
Extremely Not Chill
A friend of mine left me at an apartment with some of her friends so she could go do laundry. I'd hung out with them in passing now and then, so i thought it would be chill.
Oh ho hooo, I was wrong.
I don't know how many of y'all have heard of datura, but it's a serious hallucinogenic herb from the belladonna family. As in, closely related to deadly nightshade. Allegedly, when it's concentrated into a tea, you're supposed to have a 1:1 of water to tea in a shot glass.
I asked for something to drink. At first, they offered a beer. I asked for something hydrating. "Okay, let me get you some tea!" You'd think someone would mention it wasn't uh. Not regular tea. A full glass, undiluted.
Suddenly, i was in different places every second. Speaking with people who weren't there, smoking phantom cigarettes, drinking phantom water, i made "rice and beans" with vanilla and salt.
This went on for three days.
I found out years later through an acquaintance who'd known us both that for those days, they'd keep giving me more while telling me it was kool-aid. (Spoiler: it was not kool-aid) He also mentioned they took a lot of videos. I have no idea what they recorded or what really happened to me while i was there. Frankly, i don't want to. Eventually the one woman of the group (they were all 10-20 years older than i was) let me sober up and brought me to the bus stop.
When i got home, my mom told me there was an Amber Alert. I told the police I was staying with a friend who had an abortion and didn't know what to do.
Communication Is Key
I was “kidnapped” when I was 5 years old. I was with my family 2 brothers, 5 sisters, and parents at the jersey shore. My mom asked my dad to take me in to the men’s room since she had too many girls to handle and I was the littlest and was already in my bathing suit.
Anyway this handover did not occur for my dad so I was left crying in front of the changing roooms. About 15-20 minutes later my mom and dad meet on the beach- sans me. My mom freaks out and runs to locate security or police- leaving the rest of my family on the beach.
Luckily she finds a police officer quickly. She tells him about me being missing. He cuts her off and says what was she wearing? My mom responds that I had a blue bathing suit with a big white star and probably still pink leggings.
The police officer turns and runs quickly away without saying a thing to my mom. My mom is thinking “shit- I have to find another police officer.” She goes to the pay phone to call the police- about 20ish minutes later the first police officer returns ands asks my mom to come with her. My mom is terrified. He explains that he saw a child matching my description eating ice cream with an older woman down the boardwalk and did not want to lose time explaining. By the time he got back to where I had been eating ice cream he couldn’t locate me. The police backup had arrived and blocked the parking lot and looked in each car as they were leaving.
They found me with the woman. She explained that she didn’t think parents deserved a kid that they would lose on the beach and so she was taking me home.
The police officer had left me with the other police officers and the woman in custody bc he wanted to convince my mom to press charges.
What surprises me about the story is that my mom felt sorry for the woman, explained that she had just had a band handoff with my dad and told her that she should never do this again bc she would have been devastated to lose me.
My siblings tease me to this day that I would go with any stranger if they just offer me ice cream.
Leaving A Bad Situation
Looks like I'm one of the few that's actually been a missing person. I had been given a ultimatum about leaving home or stopping certain activities I was involved in by my dad and my mum stayed silent thinking I would break. I left, my dad said I'd be back soon, surprise surprise I was able to become self sufficient within 4 days of sleeping on a close friends sofa.
About 2 weeks after I had left home my mum reported me missing and since I was under 18 the police were especially interested, the people I used to go to school with were questioned as to where I might have gone. It alienated a few old friends who couldn't understand why I wouldn't have unconditional love for my parents (the same friends who earlier on had seen my physical scars from my dad and one who had literally been smacked by my dad). Overall the missing report was annoying but I understand most underage people who leave home are at risk blah blah it's good to look for them. Just in my rare circumstance I didn't need help. Never was found either.
Her Name is Mom
I remember getting lost in a store once many years ago as well... I eventually found a very nice stranger who was very determined to reunite me with my mom. He took me to the customer service desk, and the employee there asked me what my mom's name was so he could make an announcement. "Her name is Mom," I said, thinking the guy was a complete idiot for not understanding this.
So the kind stranger suggested the employee doesn't need to know her name. After all, how many mothers in that store could be looking for a lost child at that moment? So the employee gets on the speaker system and asks any mothers in the store who are looking for a lost child to come to the service desk, that I would be waiting there for her.
The man stayed with me until mom came to get me, and she was very thankful towards him. After that incident, she also made sure I learned her and Dad's names, just in case something a bit more serious ever happened to me, and the police ended up needing to hunt them down to reunite us instead of it being as simple as that announcement in the store.