5 Mysterious Vacation Disappearances

  • Amanda Waller
  • Elisa Lam
  • John Halford
  • Bobby Dunbar
  • Natalee Holloway

There have been quite a few cases of people who disappeared on vacation, to the horror of vacationers and professionals in the hospitality industry alike. Some were eventually found but others were never heard from again. It’s important to be aware of these mysterious vacation disappearances and learn from them.

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1. Amanda Waller

Amanda Waller was a 28-year-old woman from Texas who went missing while on a trip to the island of Curacao. She and her husband had been out snorkeling with friends when she decided she was done and swam back towards shore alone. When her companions returned to shore roughly half an hour later, she was gone. One of the couple’s friends described the water as calm and the weather as sunny, and Waller herself was described as a strong swimmer. No one was certain whether Waller had made it back to shore and no trace of her was ever found.

2. Elisa Lam

Canadian student Elisa Lam had been reported missing for several weeks before her body was finally discovered drowned in a water tank at the hotel in Los Angeles where she was staying. She had been on vacation and in contact with her parents every day. What makes her case odd is the fact that security cameras captured footage of Lam behaving oddly in the elevator prior to her death, prompting considerable conspiracy theories and even claims of paranormal activity. In the video, Lam can be seen getting on and off the elevator, pressing multiple buttons, waving her arms in front of her and other disconcerting, erratic behaviors. She may have been having a psychotic episode due to her diagnosed bipolar disorder.

3. John Halford

John Halford was a 63-year-old British man who vanished from his cruise ship the night before it was due to dock. According to his wife and as reported by the BBC, he had been having marriage and money problems. The cruise, which had cost £6,000, was, therefore, something of a surprise to those close to him. However, his bags were packed, his phone, passport, and glasses were found in his room, and he had texted his wife to confirm his arrival at the airport the next day. Halford had consumed two cocktails from the bar on the ship and eaten dinner prior to his disappearance, although no one who interacted with him said he appeared drunk. The most likely theories are that Halford jumped or fell overboard.

4. Bobby Dunbar

The missing person case of Bobby Dunbar remains one of the strangest and most disturbing in history. Bobby was four years old in 1912 when he disappeared during a family fishing trip to Swayze Lake in Louisiana. A nationwide search was launched and continued for eight months until a boy identified as Bobby was found alive and well in the care of a repairman named William Cantwell Walters in Mississippi. Both Walters and a woman who worked for his family, Julia Anderson, claimed the boy was Anderson’s son, Charles Bruce Anderson. After a lengthy court battle custody of the boy was awarded to Bobby Dunbar’s parents and he lived the rest of his life as Bobby Dunbar. Conclusive DNA testing conducted in 2004 proved this boy had been Charles Bruce Anderson and not Bobby Dunbar, leaving the fate of the real Bobby Dunbar a mystery. He most likely drowned or was killed by an alligator.

5. Natalee Holloway

Among the most famous people who disappeared on vacation in recent memory, Natalee Holloway was an Alabama teenager who disappeared while on a vacation to the Caribbean island of Aruba to celebrate her high school graduation. She was last seen outside a restaurant/nightclub with three local men. The men were arrested multiple times over the course of the investigation but released each time due to lack of evidence. Despite the intense media attention, criticism of the Aruban authorities for their handling of the case and a massive search, the case remains unsolved.

Professionals in the hospitality industry need to be aware of what can go wrong as well as the policies and steps that can be taken to mitigate risks for guests. May everyone learn from these people who disappeared on vacation to prevent similar cases from happening in the future.