When people go missing
I have a pretty wide range of interests that span music, dance, reading, writing, bushwalking, art… I love reading novels, poetry, blogs, movie plot summaries (I don’t really like watching the movies themselves) and sometimes really dumb conversations on forums. But one of the things that intrigues me the most is reading about people who have gone missing – or missing persons, as the term goes.
It might sound very strange, but from a young age I was curious as to how people just went missing. When I first went to the Sydney Royal Easter Show with my family, I was about ten years old, probably younger. I was watching someone try to hit a target with a ball. By hitting the target, someone sitting on a seat above a large container of water would be released into the water. I was interested, and continued to watch this before I turned around and realised my parents were no longer behind me. They were not far off, but there were so many people around me that I panicked for about two minutes before I saw them at the next stall. During that two minutes, thoughts went through my mind of getting lost, my parents being unable to find me, and that I would be listed as a missing person.
It would have had to have been more complicated than that, though. My parents might have found me within an hour, if I went to that “lost and found” building and they thought of looking there. I might have found them quite easily if I just shouted “Mum!” over and over. But if I had been kidnapped… maybe not.
I sometimes go through missing persons registries and read about how people went missing. I ask so many questions to no one in particular. Why did this girl randomly go missing on a normal school day when things proceeded as normal? If this guy was last seen with his friend, does that mean his friend might be a suspect for murder? If the person ran away, how could they have done it without anyone noticing by now? Did the person somehow flee to another country and change their identity without anyone knowing? How could this person just go missing?
I remember reading a story about a woman who was last seen going for a walk in a tracksuit jumper and tracksuit pants at 1am. She was reported missing at 5am by her husband, and her wallet and keys were missing. She even left the front door open. The husband hadn’t been home, and the last anyone heard of her was a relative the night before. She and her belongings were never found. Someone saw a black car going through the street around the time she was last seen. There was no suspected murder. But was she in that black car? The person who saw it didn’t see enough to determine whether it was or not.
I read another story about a woman who was last seen by her ex boyfriend (and father of her son) when he dropped her off near a bush trail near the sea. They only maintained contact because of their son, and there was no conflict between them other than the fact that she was still in love with her ex. They met up regularly. She asked to be dropped off near the trail instead of further down the road where he usually dropped her off. She was reported missing the next day.
I remember reading into the coroner’s rather long report of this particular case. It was just so… interesting. I kept reading because it was interesting. It went into a complete history of the relationship between this woman and her ex, and how much she loved her son. It described how events unfolded the day she disappeared. It gave reasoning for everything that you could possibly give reason to. The woman was not suicidal, but she was stressed out. She had feelings for her ex, but she loved her son more than anything. Her ex had no reason to do anything to her, and his house and belongings were searched as he was initially suspected of murder. No one had seen the woman, or been in contact with her, so no one else was suspected. It was deduced that the woman would not run away to start a new life, or run away at all, or end her life, because she loved her son that much. She contacted none of her family. She left no clues, and there was no evidence of her footprints beyond the area she was dropped off.
She was pronounced dead, but they hadn’t even found her remains or any clues. I think at least two years had passed when the coroner’s report was released, and they said the only explanation was that she was dead. I feel like I’m watching some kind of movie. She died, but we don’t even know, and we’ll never know what went through her mind. And I guess a small part of me doubts that she is dead at all.
My mum thought I was silly for suggesting this, but I asked her, what if she went swimming out to sea? Sure they didn’t find any of her remains around the area when they searched for a possible case of drowning, but what if she somehow swam out far enough and just jumped on a boat and rowed away somewhere? I think my mum asked me how I thought she would even survive for very long if the boat was empty and she had no food or water. If the boat had people, the people back at home would probably eventually find out about her whereabouts.
In the case of the MH370, I brought up the ridiculous idea that at least one person landed in the water, survived, swam for ages, and found a dingy little boat of people and started to live on an island with them with enough food and water. I brought up the possibility of someone still being alive, and people just didn’t know because they had no way of contacting anyone and were too far out without enough resource to travel back to more populated land.
I don’t know, I’m pretty weird. I hate unanswered questions, and mysteries always baffle me. But I think I get so deep into missing persons stories because I dump myself in there and empathise. I just so damn intrigued by them and my mind likes to think of the possibility of the missing persons being found. Or maybe I just have way too much hope.