When a child goes missing, communities spring into action. Sometimes, the children are found unharmed. Sometimes they save themselves, like thirteen-year-old Jayme Closs, who escaped from her captor after three months.
All too often, the stories of missing children end in tragedy. But what of those stories that end in a question mark? These famous missing child cases were never solved. The children simply vanished without a trace.
In 2011, Timmothy Pitzen’s mother picked him up from school and announced a surprise for the six-year-old boy. She took him to a zoo and a water park.
And then investigators found Amy Fry-Pitzen’s body in a hotel room, about 75 miles from her hometown, dead of an apparent suicide. She left a note saying that her son was safe, ending with the chilling statement “You’ll never find him.”
In 2019, a man emerged who claimed to be the missing Timmothy. However, a DNA test quickly proved that he was an imposter. The hoax brought attention to the case, and his family expressed the hope that the real Timmothy might still be found.
You’d be forgiven if you mistook a photograph of Marjorie West for Shirley Temple. The four-year-old girl with red ringlets, dimpled cheeks, and a ribbon in hair looked a lot like the famous child actress. Tragically, she disappeared in May of 1938.
The little girl vanished while picking wildflowers at a family picnic. Hundreds of volunteers searched the woods near where she disappeared, but to no avail. The only lead was a sighting by a taxi driver, who claimed to have seen a girl matching Marjorie’s description in a car with an unknown man.
In 1985, eight-year-old Cherrie Mahan stepped off the school bus… and was never seen again. The little girl’s stepfather usually drove her to and from the bus stop, but on that fateful February day, the family decided to let her walk. Investigators determined that someone must have abducted her before she had a chance to walk home.
Witnesses report seeing a van with a mural of a skier on a mountain painted on the side. However, the clue ultimately did not lead to Cherrie’s whereabouts. The case remains unsolved.
The most famous missing child case in Europe is that of Madeline McCann. The three-year-old girl vanished from her family’s hotel room at a Portuguese resort in 2007.
Just last month, the first substantive break in the case arrived as authorities named a suspect. Tragically, it does not look likely that police will find Madeleine alive, but at least her family may at last have some closure.