24-year-old Manchester, New Hampshire resident Denise Bolser vanished without a trace on January 17, 1985. Her estranged husband’s abandoned truck was found a few days later at Logan International Airport, all of her identifying documents arranged on the front seat; said husband found a note reading “We’ve got your wife” in their home, but that was all. No instructions were given, and no ransom demand ever came. From these fishy circumstances, one might come to a conclusion that Denise had either been kidnapped and murdered, or that the husband had something to do with her disappearance; in actuality, neither of these things were true.
Police never believed the case to be a genuine kidnapping, and the husband was never a suspect, but they were puzzled as to why she would run, until the co-owner of the business for which she worked as a bookkeeper came under investigation for embezzlement. Denise was indicted in absentia in 1986 for allegedly ripping off around $12,000, but Denise herself would later tell authorities it was closer to $100,000.
Denise decided to run when her boss threatened her life. Authorities dropped the embezzlement case in 1993, and Denise’s ex-boss is long dead; Denise, who had started another life with a new family in Panama City, Florida, had no idea about any of this, until New Hampshire police detectives and the FBI showed up on her doorstep in 2002.
32 year-old Michele Whitaker stormed out after an argument with her mother in August of 2002, and was reported missing several days later. The missing persons case didn’t turn up much for weeks — and then one of Michele’s co-workers, 21 year-old Heather Sellars, went missing as well, and things started to get strange.
Sellars’ boyfriend, Jonothan Vick, had long been a suspect in an unsolved 1995 rape and murder. Police immediately began to look at him as a suspect in his girlfriend’s disappearance and, since Vick and Michele probably knew each other, Michele’s as well. Vick wouldn’t give up any information, but was convicted in 2006 of murder in the 1995 case — it seemed all but certain that he’d been responsible for murdering the other two women.
Then the case was featured on the TV show Forensic Files, and a viewer of the show recognized a picture of Michele Whitaker as her neighbor, a woman who was decidedly not dead, last time anyone checked. Incredibly, the entire situation with Jonothan Vick, the convicted murderer whose missing girlfriend worked with Michele, was a complete coincidence. Michele had simply decided to up and leave, the bizarre timing of the other missing girl caused everyone to assume foul play, and Michele kept her mouth shut for six years.
In 1979, Chicago commodities trader Arthur Jones rushed out the door, telling his wife he was on his way to a “business meeting.” He wasn’t dressed for business, however, and she would later tell police that he seemed rattled. They had been married over twenty years, and she knew something was wrong, especially when he didn’t return from the meeting. When his car and belongings were found at O’Hare airport, the worst was suspected.
Now, in April of that year, a fellow commodities trader had been shot and killed in his home by masked gunmen, so you’d be forgiven for thinking Arthur was simply the victim of a cursed profession. However, Arthur hadn’t been a victim of foul play, and he didn’t intend to become one, though he well could have. See, Jones was a gambler. His wife reported a $210,000 debt that he had been forced to sell his seat on the Board of Trade to pay off, and that he had once lost $30,000 on one basketball game.
His wife suspected ties to the mob. As it turned out, she was correct, and Arthur made stops in California and Florida before relocating permanently to Las Vegas, where he was found working as a sports bookie in a casino in 2011 – after more than 30 years on the run.
Arthur was charged with identity theft, as the result of using the Social Security number of a living person to obtain his fake identity, an identity he used to register to vote and pay taxes. The person whom the number belonged to noticed activity on their account that seemed off, and reported it to the Social Security Administration. Had they not done so, Arthur Jones might very well be on the run still.
Melvin Uphoff was a 30-year-old father to four children, and Jackie Rains-Kracman was an 18-year-old mother of two, when they disappeared about a month apart, in the fall of 1965. While the local Sheriff believed they ran away together, the families of the two believed that there was a different, more sinister explanation, and that the pair would never abandon their children, their jobs, and their friends.
As it turns out, they were wrong and the Sheriff was right; they HAD run away together. Unbelievably, it would take over 40 years to get an answer to that question.
Melvin managed the co-op where Jackie’s husband worked; Melvin’s wife reported that, about a month before his disappearance, Jackie had come by the house while Melvin was away, to break the news of their affair. Melvin denied it, but then began “acting differently;” not long thereafter he, his coin collection, and his car vanished into thin air. Jackie had told her family she’d be leaving “when her ship came in,” and disappeared after going off with some friends. Still, their families clung to the belief that the two had been murdered: “For her to just up and leave her children and not ever come back, that’s not my sister. I have a hard time believing she would do that,” Jackie’s brother Jim said in 2007.
That’s when investigators received a tip from an unidentified source that the couple was alive and well, and confirmed it by speaking with them by telephone. Since the couple requested privacy, state police were unable to divulge any further information, and the stunned families were understandably confused as to how they should feel. Said Melvin’s daughter Michelle: “I just want to know what happened to him that night. I’m a mom and I can’t imagine driving away from my boys and never ever seeing them again. I can’t imagine. It blows my mind.”
Lula Cora Hood was a single mother with some pretty serious mental health issues. When she disappeared from her Illinois home in 1970 after a family dispute, few eyebrows were raised. She had done this before, but had always come back. Not this time. For decades, her family had no answers as to what may possibly have happened to her; remains found in a brickyard in 1996 were identified as belonging to her, and her family buried those remains.
In 2009, a new and improved round of DNA testing, revealed that those remains were actually NOT a match. This caused police to reopen their investigation into Lula’s disappearance, and the results of that investigation stunned them. They became convinced that an 84-year-old woman, living in Florida with the same unusual first name, was Lula Cora Hood. When questioned, the woman was able to name members of her family, and a mystery of over 40 years was at least partially solved.
It’s unclear how Lula arrived at her current residence; her memory is very spotty, and she remembers some of her kids (though not others,) and the place she was born, but not other important places in her life. She has had a total of 14 children, and speaks with her surviving daughters from her “old life” regularly by phone. One of her daughters recalled the night her mother was told to leave and never come back, which was “exactly what she did,” until finally found, four decades later and a thousand miles away.