Join Plus+ and get exclusive shows and extensions! Subscribe Today!

A Mysterious Vanishing in the Outback

Mysterious disappearances happen all over the world, and there is rarely any answer to what has happened. These people wake up, go about their business, and then disappear into thin air to leave questions and clues swirling about in their wake. One very strange such vanishing happened out in a forgotten corner of the world, at a speck of a town in Australia where only fewer than a dozen people reside, and which has become one of the most talked about vanishings the country has ever seen.

This particular story begins in just about the most remote place one can imagine, at a speck of an outpost in the moonscape of the Australian Outback called Larrimah, located around 500 kilometers south of the town of Darwin along the rugged and desolate Stuart Highway. It is a withered land of sun baked, desolate scrubland wilderness, where few dare to tread and the town itself reflects this, having only a population of 11 souls, all of which have an average age of 70. It is a dying town eking out an existence in the twilight of its years, in a place where even the native Aborigines mostly refuse to go because they believe it is a cursed, haunted place, and it is here where a curious mystery has reared its head, concerning a local man who one day just up and vanished off the face of the earth without explanation.

On December 16, 2017, one of the few residents of this seemingly forsaken town made his way down to the local watering hole called the Pink Panther, the only bar in this dusty, scrub choked corner of the world. His name was Paddy Moriarty, 70 years old, an ex-cattle station worker who had originally emigrated to Australia from Ireland when he was just 18. He had made his way to this remote corner of the earth and had been coming to this beaten down bar on the fringes of civilization for years, a regular customer who would come in to tell stories and down his customary 8 cans of XXXX Gold, often accompanied by his beloved dog, a kelpie called Kellie. On this evening there was nothing out of the ordinary at first, as Moriarty downed his ritual round of drinks before heading off with his dog into the evening at around 6:30 PM. He would apparently get back home, put a chicken into the oven, and then vanish off the face of the earth forever.

Larrimah, Australia

In a town of only 11 people it was quickly realized that Moriarty was not around, and neighbors coming over to see if he was OK turned up no sign of the man. When it was realized that there was possibly something awry, police were notified and a massive search was organized, searching high and low throughout the area, including the surrounding wilderness, the dam, and even the town’s dump, all for nothing. The search lasted for three days, utilizing tracker dogs and aircraft, but not a single trace of Moriarty or his dog were found, and it seemed as if they had just blinked out of existence. With no success in tracking down the missing man, police focused in on whatever clues that they could get, as well as the rather dysfunctional dynamics of the town in general.

It would come to light that this was a place full of all manner of feuds, disputes, and rivalries, and that Moriarty was not particularly well-like among the locals, telling people to stay away from his property and bad mouthing some of the other residents, and it was said that he had often clashed with locals and visitors alike. He was also accused of playing pranks in the town, such as leaving a dead kangaroo outside of a neighbor’s house as a joke, as well as having had many arguments and disputes with the other townsfolk, and antics such as these caused the authorities to suspect that perhaps foul play had been involved. Police began questioning every single one of the remaining local residents, all 10 of them, but every single one of them denied having any part of it, and there was no evidence to latch on to anyone in particular.

Police turned their eye onto the last person to have seen Moriarty alive, the bartender at the Pink Panther, a Mr. Barry Sharpe, 76. However, he gave the police the same story as everyone else, saying that Moriarty had come in for his drinks and then gone off to vanish forever without a trace. Out in Sharpe’s yard was a menagerie of exotic pets, including a massive saltwater crocodile named Sneeky Sam, and it was at one point thought that the missing man may have stumbled into its enclosure and been devoured, but there was no solid evidence of this. Another suspect was Moriarty’s neighbor, Fran Hodgetts, with whom he had had a decade long dispute, but this didn’t lead anywhere either. Considering the suspect7s age this might be correct, and Hodgetts herself has said, “I couldn’t do it anyway, I’m f**king riddled with arthritis, imagine me carrying the dog, come on. I’ve got osteoporosis, mate. If I did something violent like that it would break all my bones.”

Paddy Moriarty

It was even speculated that a local pie maker had ground them up to put into meat pies, but there was no evidence of this. As to the evidence left behind at Moriarty’s home there were few clues of note. A chicken had been placed in the oven, and a hat had been placed upon a cooler, the man’s glasses also left behind, but there was no sign of a struggle or any sort of foul play. A look into the man’s records was also pretty much futile, as the town has no wi-fi service, and the old man was pretty much a recluse, having barely ever made use of his own landline phone. His computer was seized and found to have contained a virus alert message, and that two outgoing calls had been made from the public phone box at 6.30pm and 6.31pm to the number provided in the message, but this was as far as this lead went. In the meantime, there was an anonymous letter that seemed to imply that the missing dog had been found, but nothing else has ever come of this.

The mysterious case of Paddy Moriarty’s vanishing has never been solved, and it has gone on to be featured far and wide in such respectable publications as The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Times of London, but no real answers have yet been found. What could have happened to this poor soul out living on the fringes of modern society? Did he just wander off into the Outback with his dog to ever be found again? Was there foul play involved, and if so who did it and why? Just what happened to Paddy Moriarty? The case has to this day remained stone cold, and no further answers have been forthcoming, leaving it just another of the many missing that the world has seemed to have just swallowed up.