5 Mysterious Unsolved Family Disappearances
Closure... This term is often used fluidly where grieving begins and ends. Where the bereaved can start to rebuild their lives. Never the same again, perhaps, but at least a softening of the pain to replace the unprecedented anguish they’ve endured. However, even this small ball of light is denied some. For them, closure did not happen and does not exist. The interminable wait continues and may even reach into perpetuity. Here are some stories reflecting that...
5The Fandel Children
The last sighting of Scott Fandel, 13 and his half-sister Amy, 8 (they had different biological fathers) was on the evening of 4 September 1978. Nearly four decades later and their disappearance remains one of America’s most baffling cold cases.
They had spent the evening at a restaurant called Good Time Charlies in Sterling, Alaska with their mother Margaret and their aunt, Margaret’s sister, Cathy Schonfelder – who was visiting them. The adults dropped the two children back at their home at approximately 10 pm and then returned to the restaurant/bar.
They lived in a cabin, set off the road, in a wooded area half a mile from Sterling Highway. At some point, Scott and Amy had played with the Lupton children, who were neighbours and attended the same school. A passing witness, a neighbour, reported to the police that the lights were on in the Fandels cabin at approximately 11.45 pm. Between 2 and 3 the next morning, Margaret and Cathy returned home.The lights were not on and should have been as both Scott and Amy were afraid of the dark. Also, a pan of water was simmering on the stove; Scott liked to eat just before he went to bed. Margaret and Cathy both assumed the two children were staying overnight at the Luptons.
The next day Margaret phoned Amy’s school and was told she had not arrived. Further inquiries also revealed Scott was not present that day. At this juncture, the police were notified. Amy’s father, Roger Fandel, had departed the marital home nine months previously and relocated to Arizona and was initially considered a suspect. He returned to Alaska and assisted in the search and police later cleared him of any involvement.
The investigation yielded nothing. Some years later a woman claiming to be Roger Fandel’s girlfriend in 1978 contacted the missing children’s uncle – Terry Schonfelder – and requested $5000 to reveal to him the children’s fates.
What actually happened remains a mystery, but law enforcement now believe that an unknown person or persons abducted the siblings.
4The Beaumont Children
One of the biggest police investigations in Australian history took place in Adelaide in 1966. Three siblings – Jane, 9, Arnna, 7 and Grant, 4, disappeared whilst playing on Glenelg Beach. They had travelled to the beach alone. None of their personal belongings were discovered. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, they have never been found.
A renowned psychic claimed the bodies were underneath a warehouse, but police failed to find any bodies or evidence. Letters were also sent to the family claiming knowledge of their whereabouts. These were later proven to be false.
Fifty years on the police received anonymous information about a possible suspect, and this is currently being investigated.
3The Springfield Three
Missing for over 24 years. That’s the fate of Sherill Levitt, 47, her daughter Suzanne ‘Suzie’ Streeter, 19 and her friend Stacy McCall, 18. They vanished in June 1992, the day before the two youngest women had graduated from Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Missouri.
Following a graduation party, they travelled to the home of Sherill Levitt and their plans for the following day included a trip to an amusement park. The police were called in the next day after Stacy’s mother visited the house and sensed something was not quite right. All the women’s belongings were discovered in the home – identification, bank cards, keys, but no sign of the three women.During the police investigation, an eyewitness reported seeing a van in the early hours of the morning with Suzie in it, apparently appearing distressed.
Over the years this case has generated over 27,000 documents and has even featured on TV programmes; America’s Most Wanted and 48 Hours. Stacy’s mother, Janis, is also the founder of the website 'One Missing Link' – which features and assists those searching for missing persons. Although the fate of her own child is still unknown.
2Louise And Charmian Faulkner
Louise Faulkner, 43 and her 2-year-old daughter Charmian were last seen leaving their home in St. Kilda, Melbourne, Australia on April 26th, 1980. Reports indicated they were in the company of an older man and travelling in a white van.
Louise had previously informed people she was going to spend time at her boyfriend’s – George Sutherland – potato farm. It was thought that he was the father of Charmian. He was in his late fifties in 1980 and has always denied being in any way responsible for their disappearance.
According to the Herald Sun, a Melbourne newspaper, in 2007 an anonymous letter was mailed to the police. The unknown author of the document claimed that George Sutherland had told them in 1980 that, ‘they wouldn’t be seen again’.
Louise’s other three children were raised by their father, Barry Clark. Melissiah Diabel, one of Louise’s children, has spent thousands of dollars in her pursuit of the truth and in 2008 produced a CD to publicise the case, despite a 2006 inquest, ruling that they were probably murdered by an unknown person or persons.
In 2010 the Victoria Police offered a staggering $100,000 reward for information about their disappearance.
1Marie-Jose Benitez And Allison Benitez
Marie-Jose Benitez, 53 and her daughter, Allison Benitez, 19, left the family home in Perpignan on July 14th, 2013 and according to husband and father, Francisco Benitez, who served with the French Foreign Legion, they were travelling to Toulouse.
Their phones had been switched off, and there was no activity on their bank accounts; also the women had left their passports behind. Various media outlets reported the last text message from Marie-Jose’s phone was to her husband saying she was leaving him.
Weeks later the police discovered traces of Allison’s blood in a freezer and washing machine belonging to Francisco Benitez at the barracks where he worked. However, apart from this forensic evidence, no trace of mother and daughter has ever been found.
Francisco Benitez was questioned by police, and no charges had been brought. But his family and friends say he could not cope with the burden of fielding accusations that he was culpable in their disappearance and in September 201 he hung himself.
In a chilling twist to this saga, a young woman called Simone Oliveira Alves, a Brazilian national, had mysteriously disappeared in 2004, aged 28. It was realised that she was the former girlfriend of Francisco Benitez, and it was suggested she might have been pregnant at the time of her disappearance and after discovering her lover was married, chose to break it off.