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Top 10 Missing People Who Were Eventually Found

VO: Joshua Karpati

Script written by Craig Butler

Miracles can happen - sometimes they’re just long in the making. From Michele Whitaker, to Denise Desruisseaux Bolser, to Brenda Heist, these victims may have disappeared, but resurfaced. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Missing People Who Were Eventually Found.

Special thanks to our user MikeMJPMUNCH for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Missing+People+Who+Were+Eventually+Found.

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Transcript
Script written by Craig Butler

Top 10 Missing People Who Were Eventually Found


Miracles can happen - sometimes they’re just long in the making. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 missing people who were eventually found.

For this list, we’re looking at people who disappeared for a lengthy period of time and then turned up again. They may have disappeared against their will or of their own accord.

#10: Michele Whitaker

In 2002, this then-Waffle House employee left her family home following an argument with her mother and didn’t come back. The police started looking into her case – redoubling their efforts when Heather Sellers, another worker at Waffle House, went missing a matter of weeks later. Police seemingly feared that Sellers’ boyfriend, a suspect in an earlier murder, may have killed both women. Six years later, the boyfriend’s story shows up on a true crime TV show – and a woman sees the picture of his suspected victim, Whitaker, and recognizes her as a neighbor. Whitaker had simply had enough of her old life and started anew somewhere else, but ultimately reunites with her family.

#9: Denise Desruisseaux Bolser

When a woman disappears and her husband finds a note saying “We’ve got your wife” - kidnapping is a logical conclusion. Either that, or the husband murdered her and is trying to cover it up. Such were the circumstances when this New Hampshire bookkeeper disappeared in 1985, but neither murder nor kidnapping were seriously entertained for very long. The next year, Bolser was charged with embezzling at the company where she worked. It turns out, having been threatened by her boss, she left town, eventually settling in Florida, where she started over. It wasn’t until 2002 that she was found, by which time the charges had been dropped.

#8: Brenda Heist

In 2002, this Pennsylvania mother of two was getting divorced and felt overwhelmed. Three strangers offered a sympathetic ear, and she disappeared with them – leaving behind her kids and an estranged husband who assumed the worst.Eventually, in 2010, the husband had her declared legally dead and remarried. But three years later, Heist showed up. Having essentially lived as a vagrant for 11 years, she turned herself in to officials in Florida and told them she was a missingperson. She was reunited with her family – but the scars she inflicted when she left her family appear to have been slow to heal.

#7: Gabriel Nagy

Despite its frequent use in movies and TV, severe amnesia is a pretty rare occurrence. But not rare enough for Australian Gabriel Nagy and his family. On January 21, 1987, the father of two disappeared, withdrawing money from his bank two weeks later. And then there were no clues as to his whereabouts for 23 years. All that’s known is that he suffered a severe blow to the back of the head that left him with total amnesia. Eventually, he recalled his real name and applied for a Medicare card – and that brought him to the attention of a constable who had never given up looking for him.

#6: Lula Cora Hood

Lula Cora Hood was a single mother of four in Illinois, who, reportedly suffering from mental illness, had her sister adopt her kids, but remained active in their lives. Then, in 1970, after a heated family argument, Hood disappeared. When she didn’t come back, her family grew worried. Unfortunately, there were no clues as to what could have happened to her - until 1996 when a skeleton was found in a neighborhood brickyard. It was assumed that these remains were Lula’s. Then in 2011, 84-year-old Lula was located in Jacksonville, Florida. The skeleton in the brickyard? That remains a mystery.

#5: Nguyen Thi Van

In 1992, Nguyen Thi Van was a 16-year-old Vietnamese girl, who, like many her age, just wanted to have some fun. When she stayed out past her curfew one night however, she found herself locked out of her house. She went to a late night karaoke bar, where she encountered a woman who acted friendly. The next thing she remembers is waking up in China. She had been kidnapped and was sold as a wife to a Chinese farmer who beat and chained her. During her time in captivity, she met a truck driver who helped her escape back to her family after 21 years.

#4: Steven Stayner

The sad story of Steven Stayner is well-known, largely due to a 1989 TV miniseries adaptation. When he was 7 years old, Stayner was abducted by Kenneth Parnell, a pedophile who abused him over the next seven years. Parnell also convinced Stayner that he had been given legal custody of the boy, claiming his family didn’t have enough money to keep him. When Stayner was 14, Parnell kidnapped a new child named Timothy. Afraid for Timothy, Stayner ran away with Timothy and was finally reunited with his family – although readjusting to normal life was reportedly very difficult. In 1989, after starting a family of his own, Stayner tragically died in a motorcycle accident.

#3: Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart’s terrifying story also was the basis for a TV adaptation. At the age of 14, the Salt Lake City youth was forcibly abducted from her bedroom by a man named Brian David Mitchell. She was held captive and abused over nine months by Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Ileen Barzee. Eventually, Smart’s younger sister who had witnessed the abduction, was able to identify Mitchell’s voice as one belonging to someone who had done odd jobs for the family. After the case was profiled on “America’s Most Wanted,” Mitchell was identified and Smart was saved. Her horrifying experience has made the now adult Smart a leading child safety advocate and champion in the fight against human trafficking.

#2: Jaycee Dugard

In 1991, 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped while waiting for the school bus. 18 years later, a parole officer discovered Jaycee when investigating her abductor, Phillip Garrido and his wife. Jaycee had been forced to bear two children for Garrido and had been kept for years in a series of tents and sheds in Garrido’s back yard. She had been trained not to talk about her real life, but to pretend that she and her daughters were all Nancy’s children instead. Dugard now concentrates on making up for lost time and raising her daughters.

#1: Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry & Gina DeJesus

A lowlife by the name of Ariel Castro kidnapped three young women between 2002 and 2004 – 21-year old Michelle Knight, 16-year-old Amanda Berry and 14-year-old Gina DeJesus. They were horribly beaten, starved and raped, with Berryeventually bearing a child. Locked away in Castro’s house in Cleveland, they dreamed of release. One day in 2013, when Castro was away, Berry was able to make contact with neighbors who kicked a hole in the door so she could escape. She phoned the police, who then rescued Knight and DeJesus. Castro was sentenced to life plus 1000 years, but took his own life just one month into his sentence.
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