Mar 07, 2023 I Brent Swancer

The Weird Vanishing and Death of Harjinder Takhar

The morning of Sunday the 2nd of October, 2022 started out completely normally for 58-year-old Harjinder “Harry” Takhar and his family. Harjinder got up, put on a navy blue Barbour jacket, navy blue shirt, black jeans and black trainers, and was in completely good spirits as he made his family some tea at their home in Telford, in the United Kingdom. After breakfast, Harjinder, his wife Ran, and two of his four children, his son, Callum, and daughter Pooja, all got into the family car to take a leisurely drive in the vicinity of a patch of scenic woodland and two ponds called Stirchley Pools. As they drove they chatted and laughed, and Harjinder was being his usual funny, jovial self, but things were about to veer very quickly into the strange, and he was about to become a strange unsolved mystery.

At some point during the drive, as they were heading in the direction of the park, Harjinder suddenly became unusually quiet, and at first no one really thought much of it, thinking he was just looking out at the scenery lost in his thoughts. However, it soon became apparent that something was very wrong, as Harjinder opened the window and told his family that he was feeling sick and claustrophobic and needed to get some air. At this point his face was looking gaunt and pale, and he told them he was having some difficulty breathing, so his wife slowed the car down and brought them to a stop. Harjinder then had what was described as an acute panic attack, and although he was in the front passenger seat, he turned all the way around and climbed over Callum into the back seat to get out of the rear door, before wildly careening off into the park without saying a word. 

Harjinder “Harry” Takhar

At first his family thought that he had just gone out to get some fresh air, perhaps to vomit in the bushes, but it was already odd in that Harjinder was a healthy man with no known medical conditions and who had never experienced car sickness or major panic attacks before, and no one could figure out why he had so weirdly climbed into the back seat to exit the vehicle. The family waited for some time but he never came back, and so his worried wife went out to see what was going on. The park on that day was full of joggers, fishermen, and people enjoying the leisurely clear day, but there was no sign of Harjinder anywhere, and calls out to him got no response. Unfortunately, he had not taken his mobile phone with him on that day, and so they could not call him. The family searched for Harry all over the park before returning home and reporting him missing shortly after. At the time it was all completely puzzling. Harjinder was described as an amiable, cheerful person and on that day he had been acting completely normally before his mysterious episode, which was claimed by his family to be totally out of character for him. His wife, Ran, would say:

This is totally out of character for him. He has never done anything like this before, so something has gone seriously wrong. Harry is a family man and we have four beautiful children. He is a very jolly character full of energy and life, very passionate, caring and kind hearted. He is a well-respected member of the community; you may have seen him around the park with his two black Labradors. He is normally a very confident motivational person full of advice and wisdom, usually the one lifting everyone else up. As such, his disappearance is completely out of character and extremely concerning for us.

Police began their own search, and they also urged anyone with information, footage from dashcams, CCTV or video doorbells, to get in touch with them, but there was very little to go on. Indeed, no one in the park that day even seemed to have remembered seeing him, and so it was as if he had simply evaporated into thin air. As the search continued with no sign of the missing man, various theories were thrown about as to what had happened to him. It would turn out that he had been suffering from some minor anxiety issues, and so it was thought that maybe this had blossomed into something more severe and he had suffered a major panic attack and mental breakdown, but he had never done that before and his anxiety was described as being mild. Even if he had had a massive panic attack, where had he gone? Another idea was that he might have run off to start a new life, but why do it then and so suddenly? His family denied that this could be the case, saying he was a doting father and family man, and he had been happy because his oldest son had recently gotten married. Another idea was that he had gotten lost somehow, but this made no sense because he walked his dogs at Stirchley Pools every day and was very familiar with the place. This left the specter of foul play, but Harjinder was a well-liked member of the community with no known enemies so who would have done such a thing and why would no one have seen anything suspicious when there had been so many people out for a sunny Sunday in the park? Also, this still didn’t explain his sudden freak out and why he had fled in the first place. Had he perhaps seen something or someone that had scared his and caused him to flee? Who knows?

In the meantime, the police scoured every inch of that park, sending divers into the ponds and dredging the bottom, but there was nothing. Police sniffer dogs also were unable to pick up a trail and it was increasingly believed that he was no longer in the park. The increasingly intense police campaign for information on what had happened to him also produced very few leads except for a smattering of alleged sightings that led nowhere, and the whole thing had reached a dead end. Desperate for answers, Harjinder’s family launched a Facebook group that quickly attracted over 8,000 members with messages of support flooding in from friends and strangers, but this also did not turn up any new clues or leads. Detective Inspector Jo Whitehead, who led the enquiries into the disappearance, would state:

Our team of detectives have been working tirelessly to try and find him and we have been assisted by search and rescue teams. Unfortunately, every lead we have had so far hasn’t come to any fruition. I would appeal for anyone who might have seen Harry – who was well known in the area – to get in touch as soon as they can. This has been a very unusual missing person case, as usually we would have had some sort of information or positive sightings since he was last seen. There are a lot of dog walkers in the area who have told us they are familiar with him but unfortunately there have been no sightings. We will continue to search the surrounding area and will if necessary be bringing in another dog team over the weekend but we hope he reappears before then.

As the days turned into weeks with no further clues, the trail was getting ice cold, and no one had a clue as to what had happened to this mild-mannered family man to panic like that and run off the face of the earth. It would not be until months later that there was a new development, but it is not the way anyone would have wanted the case to end. In January of 2023, police received an anonymous tip that a decomposing body had been found in a secluded patch of woodland near the Three Furnaces pub on Bridgnorth Road, Madeley, Telford, and tragically dental record showed that it was that of the missing Harjinder Takhar. It is not clear what the cause of death was or how he had ended up where the body was found, but police would say the death was not considered suspicious, with no further explanation and very little additional information to be found on it. 

In the end we are left to wonder on many points here. What caused this family man to just freak out and run off into the ether on an otherwise normal, happy family drive? Where did he go after that and why? Was this some sort of psychotic break, a desire to leave his life behind, foul play, or something else? Why did his body end up where it did and just how did he die? Why were authorities so quick to say that there was nothing suspicious about it? These seem to be questions we will likely never get the answers to, and it seems that only the victim will really ever really know for sure. 

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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