Among all of the cases of mysteriously vanished people there are out there, some really seem to stand out as particularly odd. In some cases, the disappeared doesn't manage to stay that way, and reappears hours, days, or even months later, often with no clue as to what had happened or with some very strange tales to tell. This has happened particularly with children, who on many occasions have seemed to vanish into thin air, only to come back with tales that are just as phenomenally odd as they are unexplainable.

The oldest report we have here allegedly occurred back in August of 1897, when a 6-year-old girl named Lillian Carney went missing in the U.S. state of Maine as she was out with her parents picking blueberries. According to the parents, she had vanished right under their noses. A preliminary search of the area would quickly expand to over 200 hundred searchers scouring the area and calling the girl’s name, all to no avail. After an extensive search, Lillian was found in the woods in a dazed, trance-like state. When asked what had happened to her, the dazed girl replied that she had been in a place in the forest where the sun had shone the entire time she had been there. This was rather odd considering the weather at the time of her disappearance had been partly cloudy, she had been enveloped by a thick canopy of trees far from any town, and she had been missing overnight, for around 46 hours. What was this continuous “sunlight” she saw, and what significance does it have in Lillian’s disappearance? It remains unknown.

Another bizarre case happened in 1922, in the wilds near the small village of Orsta, near the south-west of Kolsva, in Sweden. Here 8-year old Östen Engström lived with his parents, and one day he was walking home from school as usual along with a classmate, with the two deciding they would go to the classmate’s house to play with some other kids. When they were done it was about 3:30 PM, and Östen began his walk home alone. It wasn’t too far to his place, and it was something he had done many times before. It should not have taken long to get home, but he never arrived, and when 7:30 PM came and went the family began extremely worried, sending Östen’s older brother Gustav to go find him. Gustav spoke with the classmate, who told him that the boy had left at 3:30 and should have long been home. Gustav would look around the entire route but see no sign of his brother, but when he returned home with the bad news, Östen was there with his parents, shivering and with a strange story to tell.

According to Östen he had been walking home when he took a detour through a wooded area and a bizarre series of events began to play out. The boy explained how the forest had suddenly come alive with myriad wildlife crawling from the trees and bushes to scurry about, and as this happened the day turned dark, as if there were passing storm clouds, but the sky was still clear. He then noticed a strange, acrid smell permeating the air, and when he looked up again, he saw something very weird, indeed. Östen would explain:

I looked up and noticed three gray objects hovering silently above me. They were so close I could have thrown a stone at them. The objects were pulsating as if they were breathing and I saw two dark lines on them. A bit further away, over the woods, another two objects were floating. They were bigger and darker than the ones above me.

He explained that the next thing he remembers he was lying on the road in the dark a short distance from his home, freezing cold and disoriented. In the sky a pulsing light was retreating into the night and everything around him had been deathly silent. He then walked to his house to tell his parents about what had happened, and they thought it was just his wild imagination. Oddly, Gustav said he had thoroughly searched the road his brother had claimed to have woken on but had not seen him anywhere. Of the intervening 4 hours from when he left his friend’s house to when he stumbled up to his home, he had no memory. The boy would in later years be interviewed by Swedish UFOlogists Clas Svahn and Andreas Ohlsson, and they would get a little more information out of Östen, who would explain to them:

Where was I during those hours? I estimate having been gone around four and a half hours. I didn´t arrive home until half past seven or eight o´clock in the evening. I almost got beaten because they believed I was lying. They sent me to bed and I was bedridden four days in fewer. Probably I had caught a cold lying on the road. It looked as if the objects were pulsating simultaneously all three of them. Just like octopus functioning. They take in water and move by blowing it out. It looked like the objects used the same technique. They moved in a very elegant way, changed direction and appeared to steer with this pulsating. Where was I? Gustav cycled this way while I was lying there, without seeing me. I have pondered on this so many times.

What happened to this boy? Who knows? Moving up into the 1960s there is a very strange case I dug up on the Missing 411 Reddit forum, from a witness who claims this tale was told to him by his father. It supposedly happened in the 1960s in the country of Ethiopia, and revolves around his father when he was just 9 years old. One this day, the father was plating with a friend named Gabriel after school in the fenced off backyard of the father’s house. The poster says of what happened next:

My dad turns his back for a second then turns to look back at his friend and Gabriel is gone... It's important to note that my dad and Gabriel were from the top 1% of Ethiopia's ruling elite, my dad's father was Minister of interior of Ethiopia and Gabriel's father was a 4-star General of Ethiopia. The backyard Gabriel disappeared from had 10-foot bricked walls with armed guards patrolling on the outside.


A couple of hours pass, his parents, my dad's parents and guards are searching but no Gabriel. 48 hours pass, now theirs is a nationwide search for this important General's kid, it's on the News, police are searching door to door describing him and what he was wearing when he disappeared (he was wearing his private school uniform, white shirt, brown pants). Helicopters even searched the country side looking for him, still nothing. A month passes, then 2 then 4, people start losing hope that he would ever be found and think the worst.

That was that for months, and no further trace was uncovered until exactly 6 months later, when Gabriel was found in the same fenced off backyard wearing the same clothes he had been when he had vanished. The boy seemed dazed and confused, and appeared to only think that a couple hours had passed rather than a full half a year, and the poster explains:

This is where it starts to get weird, once they confirmed his was okay they starting asking where he had been. He said couple of nice men took him on a trip, he was in a white room that glowed and other children were there from different countries, he said he was surprised that the nice men who looked like white guys could speak Ethiopian and he could understand what the other children were saying even though they were not Ethiopian.


The white glowing room had no windows and the doors disappeared into the walls, there were buttons on the walls and if a kid pushed them a bed would come out of the wall. He said he was then all of a sudden in a city, that was glowing, clean, and cars were flying around him. He said there were people there but they looked strange, like us but different. One nice man was still with him and took him to a tall building, where he said he had to stay there for a while, but showed him a room that he could use for entertainment. Gabriel said, he could push a button and the room itself goes places, an open field, the beach, the room itself even flies. He said after a couple of hours he was taken back to Ethiopia and appeared in the backyard, he thought he was only gone a couple hours total. No one believed him, and Ethiopia being a super religious country, most adults around him thought he got possessed by the devil, Gabriel even was forced to see a priest to get the evil spirits out of him. My dad still kept in contact with him throughout their lives, Gabriel got a doctorate in Physics and I believe works Holland still.

Truly bizarre, to say the least. On the very same forum is another very unusual case from a poster called “Showmaker27,” who has a weird story to tell but is very vague on specifics. He only says he is from a Middle Eastern country and has a story to tell in which he does not want to use any real names or places. The incident supposedly happened in the 1980s, and the poster says of it:

Back in a country I will call 'Topia' there is this small village. The type of village on which everyone knows everyone. The type of village that everyone is familiar with everyone and everything. There was this boy who I will call X. He was around 12 when this happened. He comes from a typical middle-class family. His father is a nurse and his mother is a housewife. However, this boy was a genius. He was a prodigy. Top of his class every year. Teachers were baffled about how smart he was especially in science and math. I can't stress how smart he was, in everything really. He was one of a kind.


Since it's a small village. The school bus parks at specific points. It doesn't go house to house. This means that most kids would have to walk for at least 5 minutes so that they get to and from their house and the gathering point. One day, X never came back home from school. His family asked his friends and the bus driver, they l said that he was on the bus and he get off it at gathering point. Just like he did every day for the past 8 years or so. This means he went missing during the walk from the point to the house. Authorities were alerted, search parties started. But there was literally no trace of him.


2 weeks have passed and the local authorities gave up. It was a middle eastern rural village in the 80s so don't be surprised. This is where it gets scary and interesting. Nearly 3 weeks later after X gone missing, he comes back home. In the exact same time that he usually comes back from school. With the same outfit. Same backpack. Same everything the day he went missing. He's surprised about why is his family crying and hugging him because he doesn't have the slightest idea about the fact that he was missing for almost 3 weeks. When asked and questioned, he really doesn't remember a thing. In his mind it was still the same day 3 weeks ago. Like he hadn't gone missing at all. Needless to say, he was never the same again. His grades dropped massively. He had difficulties understanding everything. He's still alive up to this day, working as a garbage man. He's a decent man. Very well mannered. Loved and respected by everyone. But what happened to him remains a mystery.

What was going on here? Also in the 1980s is a firsthand account from a Reddit poster called “BlackCatMob,” who describes how he mysteriously vanished under strange circumstances in the summer of 1984 when he was just 4 years old in the northern Carpathian mountains country of Romania. At the time he was visiting a mountain village and resort area called Vatra Dornei. It was a pleasant day and he was out with his grandparents looking around the village, but things were about to get very odd indeed. He says:

A fairly pleasant day, birds chirped, the creek whispered, there was warm sweet scented wind rustling the lush green trees. It was nearly noon, when my grandparents and me were on our way to the into a boutique of sorts. For some unknown reason (I really don’t know why I got so weirded out by that shop), I didn’t want in. I told my grandparents, that I didn’t want to, but they tried to drag me along. I’m a dog now. Dogs aren’t allowed inside.“ I grabbed a light pole in front of the shop and hooked my arms around it. Like children tend to, I was serious about it, and demonstrated with stubbornly clinging to it, hiding my face from grandma and grandpa. I remembered my gran losing it, and just telling me: "Fine! Dogs stay where you leave them." I simply nodded, happy to have gotten my will. I barked, panted and looked around, scratched my ear with a pretended paw. Then it went fuzzy. Suddenly, I focused into consciousness (I don’t know how else to describe a slowly growing sense of re-cognition, like waking up, or wiping off your dirty glasses, and suddenly seeing properly? I hope that makes... sense?), walking down the side road, the bridge now in my back, the river to my right, the rocky slope to my left, with the woods looming over the street.


The shop was over 500 meters behind me. I was suddenly aware that there were no people. At all. I felt it: a hollow, empty feeling of loneliness. I was truly alone. Then I noticed, it was silent. There was no sound whatsoever. The river, the wind, the birds - all gone from the sound sphere. I couldn't even hear myself. I walked in absolute silence.I suspected that all movement around me had stopped. My mind was working miraculously effortless and crystal-clear. Even at that age, I marveled at that. Since then I never reached that level of clearness and concentrated logic, and that is a remarkable thing. I made several paces on the pavement, and I looked at my feet. I noted that I was throwing out six long shadows into every direction, I was the center of a shadowstar. I asked myself where the light was coming from. So many shadows weren’t normal, I knew that. I tilted my head to look up. In the sky, there was no sun, no moon, no light source whatsoever. It was strangely dim though.


I was in a most remarkable place. Nowadays I named that place either behind the curtains or hallway to reality. Right as I started to fully realize the strangeness of the situation, I focused again into holding the pole. I felt dazed. For me, this all situation took only five minutes. My grandpa grabbed me by the shoulders, frantically asking me, where I had been. Why did I wonder off? Confused I told him: "I was right here. I was a doggy. I waited for you to come out again.“ Then he scooped me up and yelled, that he has found me. About ten people, including people from the shop, from the hotel and the train station gathered around. Everybody was relieved, they talked to grandma and grandpa. As my grandpa told them what I told him, they shake their heads. Grandma’s eyes fogged up. Then I was told, that they formed a search party to find me. I was nowhere. Nobody saw me. Nobody found me, only when I was back from that place… I got really sick afterwards. Three days of fever and diarrhea, the doctors told my grandparents, that I had food poisoning. We all ate the same, but I was the only one getting ill. After that we left the resort and I never got back to that place. My parents weren’t told the story right away (only several months later), which I thought weird, but my grandparents probably had their reasons.

Moving into later years, in the summer of 2013, 2-year-old Amber Rose Smith vanished from right in front of her home in Newaygo County, Michigan. According to the father, he had been watching her play with the family’s two dogs when he stepped inside for a moment to relieve himself. When he had gone back outside she was no where to be seen and would not respond to her name being called. The dogs appeared not long after without Amber. An intensive search involving hundreds of volunteers and emergency workers was launched to no avail, and the next day she was found around 2 miles from her home, standing in the middle of a road that had already been searched and staring into space. She was unable to express what had happened her, but seemed to definitely be in a state of shock and disorientation. It was odd since this was a 2-year-old girl and she had somehow managed to navigate her way through thick wilderness in frigid temperatures that had gripped the area that night. One sheriff named Brian Boyd said of the weird incident:

It’s hard to imagine how a 2 1/2-year-old can survive that distance through the woods with that kind of temperature. There’s some that aren’t convinced she walked that entire distance. Maybe she was dropped off. Those are things we might have to determine in the future.

Very strange, indeed. In another more recent case of what seems to have been a trip into some pocket dimension we have poster “Winzron” and his childhood experience. At the time he lived with a foster family on a wooded property, with a clear trail that he and his foster brother often hiked together. They knew the area very well, and on this day they went for a walk along it on a bright summer’s day. Little did they know that they were headed for a trip to the land of the weird. He says of the trail and his unsettling experience:

To clarify a bit while walking on the trail you could clear as day see the lake and huge clearing/camping area where people would park their campers, I would say a mile away at the most. My brother and I frequented the trail alot because we liked catching bugs/frogs and the sort. There was one day it was bright sunny in middle of July; this is in the Midwest U.S so muggy and hot. Me and him are walking the trail and I hear what started out be a faint clicking sound. To this day I have yet to hear a sound like it. It progressively got louder to the point that you would have to be deaf to not hear it, the weird part was my brother did not hear a thing. It started to startle me on how loud it was. My brother decided to start carving into tree (which he did frequently), but I urged him that we should leave because I was scared.


Once he started something, he had to finish it, so I had to wait for him to finish so I stepped no more that 15-20 paces from him and my foot felt like it fell through something so I stumbled a bit looking down. When I looked up nothing looked familiar and it seemed like I was dropped in the middle of a forest with no end to it. It was really cold and absolutely no sound. My brother was nowhere to be found and I felt extremely terrified so I took off yelling a screaming. I ran for a good distance and I had the same sensation where I felt like I missed a step and stumbled forward. When I looked up everything was normal and could hear my family calling my name. When I approached them, they looked frantic and said they had been looking for me for a couple of hrs. No one ever believed me.

Oddly, the witness says that he had a smell of burning rubber that seemed to follow him around and could not be washed off for several days after this. How do we explain the strange details on these cases, such as the sudden silence, the missing time, and most obviously the completely altered landscapes these people often find themselves in? It almost seems as if they might be stepping through some veil between this reality and another, perhaps lingering in some limbo realm between the two, and it is enough to make one wonder what would have happened if they had stepped all the way through. Would they have vanished off the face of the earth or simply come back with an even weirder story to tell?

What happened to these people? Is there some force out there lurking in the wilderness that draws people in? How can we come to any answers when the details seem so murky? Are these cases of UFOs, portals to other dimensions, overactive imaginations, or something even weirder still? There are plenty of strange vanishings out there, such as those covered by researcher and author David Paulides in his Missing 411 series of books, and they always skirt the periphery of the odd, evading any real answers. It all remains a rather weird corner of the world of the weird, and it looks likely that we will be forced to merely speculate on it for the time being.

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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