5 People Who Vanished Mysteriously (And Appeared Awesomely)
Unless we're talking about Waldo, it's generally not all fun and games when a person goes missing. But sometimes the circumstances surrounding their discovery are so absurd that their loved ones must surely share a haughty laugh afterwards (right before they spear them with a GPS tag like a marine biologist tracking a whale). For example ...
A Missing Man Is Found by the TV News Crew Reporting on His Disappearance
When 73-year-old Robert McDonough went missing from his Maine home in 2013, his family was understandably concerned. Bob had dementia, so nobody knew where he may have wandered off to, least of all Bob. K9s were collared up, four-wheelers were fueled, and a massive, 14-hour-long search was launched. They even busted out a helicopter-mounted infrared camera because, shit, when the hell are backwoods Maine police going to get a chance to play with that thing again?
The following morning, Norm Karkos, a reporter with the local ABC affiliate, was outside McDonough's house, killing time until he went live to report on Bob's disappearance. Then ...
"Hang on, we can't go on yet. Some old guy just wandered into the shot."
Yes, the man wandering behind the reporter up there was none other than Robert McDonough himself. You can actually see Norm do the comedy classic "slow realization" take. Here's him smiling obliviously, immediately after the man passes him ...
"Hot enough for ... wait a minute."
Pause for laughter, and ...
"I'd recognize that ass anywhere!"
The authorities were alerted and McDonough was returned home, perfectly fine. Of course, Bob didn't remember where he went, or why, which is either due to the dementia or, far less likely, aliens.
A Scottish Man Gets Locked In a Bathroom for Four Days
David Leggat's ordeal began one wintery day at the Kittybrewster and Woodside Bowling Club, where locals gather to do whatever the hell bowling means in the UK. (Like ... there's no way it's actually bowling, right? Those freaks call everything something weird).
For example, they call this "Food."
Leggat ducked out to the loo (see?!), and after draining the ol' gentleman's sausage, he discovered that the inner door handle had jammed, instantly transforming the tiny bathroom into a cold, dark cell. With no cell phone and no doting wife at home to worry about his whereabouts, Leggat was in serious trouble. But the retired teacher knew that no Scotsman has ever been defeated by a bathroom, so for four long days he endured, surviving on intermittent sips of tap water. The bathroom -- lit only during the daylight hours by a skylight above his head -- became an isolation chamber, and Leggat fought off the chill by dipping his feet in a basin of hot water.
"I should've used the women's bathroom while no one was looking. At least they've got a couch."
Though the club's secretary paid a visit somewhere around day three, he had no idea that Leggat was trapped in the restroom, and it came down to pure luck that he was finally found when a housekeeper heard his cries. One quick phone call and a screwdriver twist later, Leggat was free. His only regret? "Not getting trapped behind the bar."
"Now could you all clear out? I'm not quite done in here ..."
A Woman Joins a Search Party (That's Searching for Her)
An unidentified woman was taking a sightseeing tour of Eldgja, a volcanic canyon in southeastern Iceland that features pristine views and the most uncomfortable segregation of vowels this side of Kyrgyzstan. After a quick stop to clean up and change her clothes, she returned to the bus to find that tragedy had struck: one of her tourmates -- described as female, about 5 feet 3 inches, dressed in dark clothing, Asian but fluent in English -- had gone missing.
Sit back down, single, Asian-obsessed, creepy white guys; this happened in 2012.
Overcome with concern, the woman joined the search. And she wasn't the only one: The concerted effort to find the missing tourist involved 50 people scouring the terrain on foot and in vehicles. A coast guard helicopter was called in, but was thwarted by foggy conditions and grounded. After 12 entire hours of fruitless searching, everyone assumed the worst, and tried to comfort themselves with the fact that the volcano probably appreciated the sacrifice, and thus would be dormant for another year.
Then a terrible thought occurred to the woman: "Wait a minute, I'm a female, about 5'3", Asian but fluent in English, and before I changed, I was wearing dark clothing ..."
Yes, she had inadvertently joined her own search party. The search was called off early the following morning after the woman was able to prove to the police that she was no longer missing, on account of her being there to prove it.
Tillie Tooter, the 83-Year-Old Indestructible Missing Grandma
Tillie Tooter sounds like the stage name of a particularly vulgar vaudeville comic, but she was just your typical 83-year-old grandma. Back in 2000, Tooter was supposed to pick up her granddaughter from the airport, but the flight was delayed -- meaning Tillie had to venture out at 2:30 a.m., which is practically breakfast time for the elderly.
As Tooter traveled down Interstate 595 during the wee hours, she was rear-ended by a drunk driver and careened over the side of the elevated road. The car plunged 40 feet, landing in a thicket of mangrove trees. During the fall, Tooter's cell phone flew out the window. Just days earlier, her doctor had informed Tooter that she was diabetic. And did we mention that the area she landed in was snake-infested swampland?
Apparently "radioactive" and "mutant-controlled" were left out of the police report for space reasons.
Jesus. That's more elaborate overkill than a Final Destination movie. All you need to kill an old lady is a series of shocking swear words. Smacking her with diabetes, uppercutting her with a car crash, then suplexing her four stories into Snaketown is a pretty spiteful combo.
A massive search was launched, but Tooter wouldn't be found for a full 78 hours. She survived on nothing but a stick of gum, a cough drop, and whatever rainwater she was able to collect (by getting rained on). Tillie began to talk to a big brown fly that she would later insist that the insect was the spirit of her dead mother, watching over her. We are not going to speculate about what, exactly, her mother did in life to warrant reincarnation as a fly, but it can't have been good.
"She died as she lived: weirdly concerned whether people had left out food."
She was eventually found by 15-year-old Justin Vannelli as he was cleaning up the interstate with his father and spotted Tooter's leg sticking out of the car window far below. It took rescue workers about an hour to get her out of the car, but she survived. For his efforts, Justin presumably received one shiny quarter and three Werther's Originals.
A Bunch of Presumed John Wayne Gacy Victims Are Just Really, Really Bad at Keeping in Touch
Real-life Pennywise John Wayne Gacy lured so many young men to their deaths that the full list of his victims still hasn't been completed to this day. Back in 2011, investigators were using DNA testing to identify the remains of eight unnamed victims from Gacy's infamous crawlspace. Among them they expected to find Harold Wayne Lovell, a 19-year-old who never returned home back in the late '70s. Lovell had done yard work for Gacy, and several of his personal items were actually spotted inside Gacy's house. If your last known whereabouts were "with a serial killer," and your best known current whereabouts are "scattered in pieces around a serial killer's home," your survival prospects are pretty bleak.
Imagine his family's shock, then, when it turned out that Lovell was alive and well and living in Florida. He said he'd left due to a "family situation" and had no idea anyone was even looking for him. When asked about Gacy, Lovell said, "I did some yard work for him. A few times, he actually tried to get me into the house, but I wouldn't go. And thank God that I didn't."
No lemonade is so refreshing that you'd accept if from that face.
Astoundingly, Lovell was not an isolated case: Theodore Szal disappeared in 1977 and was presumed to be another notch on the belt that held the Killer Clown's comically oversized pants up. But Szal, too, had a familial spat and just kind of took off. He was eventually found in 2011, living in Beaverton, Oregon.
Presumably behind locked doors and well away from any circuses and/or children's birthdays.
And it happened yet again with Robert Hutton, who was reported missing in 1972 after he told his family he'd be traveling from New York to California. That means he was hitchhiking through Chicago at the very height of Gacy's strangling spree, and he fit the Gacy victim profile to a T. Investigators reopened his case in 2012, while trying to identify the remaining mystery victims. They found Hutton, alive and well, in Montana. Apparently he "just got caught up in the '70s lifestyle" and was too embarrassed to contact his family. The moral of the story? If you don't call your mom every once in a while, your loved ones will assume a clown raped you to death.
Kevin Phelan is an entertainment reporter in New York's Lower Hudson Valley. If enough people follow him on Twitter, he might actually start using the goddamn thing (he's verified and everything!). You can book his face right here.
For more people just being ridiculous, check out 6 People Who Faked Their Own Death (For Ridiculous Reasons) and The 7 Most Extreme Lies Ever Told to Get Out of Something.
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