Kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart
Wikimedia Commons | KOMUnews

Missing People Who Were Fortunately Found Alive And Well

When a person goes missing, it's easy to fear the worst. After all, the news is full of stories of people who go missing and are either found dead or never found at all.

Anyone who's ever watched a cop show knows that the first 24 hours are critical when it comes to finding a missing person. This may be true, but there are also plenty of missing people who've been found, sometimes inexplicably, alive and well.

Julian Hernandez

Photos of kidnapping victim Julian Hernandez
youtube | ABC News

When 18-year-old Julian Hernandez started applying to colleges, he found that his name didn't match his social security number. This eventually led him to discover that he was kidnapped by his father at the age of five and had been living a fugitive existence ever since.

David Leggat

A public washroom
Unsplash | Buchen WANG

Leggat just wanted to use a public washroom one night but found himself locked in the room after the door hinges jammed. He didn't have his phone with him, and nobody responded to his cries for help. He spent an incredible four days trapped in the washroom, surviving on tap water, before he was found.

Robert McDonough

Missing man Robert McDonough walks into live news shot
youtube | VwilRokU

The elderly McDonough went missing one night, no doubt confused by his increasing dementia. As news cameras reported on the search for him, he walked right into the shot. He was quickly given medical attention and returned to his family.

Timothy Carney

Missing poster
Unsplash | Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

Carney is an example of a person who willingly disappeared. He called into work one day and never showed up. An extensive search failed to reveal any sign of him. Seven years later, he was found. There were rumors of ties to a religious cult, but nothing concrete.

Jaycee Dugard

Childhood photo of kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard
Wikimedia Commons | Unknown

Dugard endured a horrific existence after she was kidnapped by a husband and wife. She spent nearly two decades experiencing abuse and brainwashing before one of her captors was investigated for violating parole. Dugard wrote a memoir about her experience in captivity.

Danielle Cramer

A large cupboard
Unsplash | Erik Mclean

The case of the disappearance of 5-year-old Danielle Cramer had gone cold when she was unexpectedly discovered ten years later. After police raided the home where she was being held, the now-15-year-old was discovered hiding in a cabinet.

Petra Pazsitka

An unlocked door
Unsplash | Amanda Vick

It was assumed that the 24-year-old Pazsitka's disappearance was related to a convicted kidnapper and murderer in the area. But when Pazsitka was found 30 years later, alive and well, living alone, it turned out she wasn't kidnapped. She still hasn't revealed her reasons for disappearing.

Carlos De Salazar

View of Tuscany
Unsplash | Engjell Gjepali

It was assumed that the depressed Salazar had taken his own life when he disappeared in 1995. Years passed and he was declared dead in 2010. But a few years later, he was found living a hermit existence in a remote area of Spain. He quickly disappeared once more.

Brenda Heist

Missing woman Brenda Heist
youtube | ABC Action News

Heist was at a low point in life when she accepted the help of two strangers and got in their car. She made a clean break, spending 11 years working odd jobs and struggling with drug addiction. She finally decided to reunite with her family in 2010, saying she'd "snapped."

Steve Carter

Missing man Steve Carter
youtube | Absolutely Definite

Carter was 35 years old when he saw a childhood photo of himself on a show about missing people. After some investigation, he found that his mother kidnapped him and changed his name when he was an infant, later putting him up for adoption.

Bowe Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl
Wikimedia Commons | United States Army

As described in the Serial podcast, Bowe Bergdahl left his platoon in 2009 and was promptly captured by the Taliban. After five years, the Taliban released him to U.S. authorities in a prisoner exchange. His case is still under review.

Gabriel Nagy

Scene of a car accident
Unsplash | Matt C

Nagy was involved in a car accident that apparently wiped his memory clean. He wandered away from the scene and simply disappeared. For two decades, he worked odd jobs and suffered from memory problems. He was eventually tracked down and diagnosed with dissociative fugue disorder.

Steven Stayner

Kidnapping victim Steven Stayner
Wikipedia | Unknown

Stayner was just seven when he was abducted by a pair of kidnappers in Merced, California. His kidnappers held him captive for eight years, giving him a new identity. After they kidnapped a second boy, Stayner decided enough was enough and orchestrated their escape. Sadly, he died in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24.

Philip Sessarego

A soldier in a field
Unsplash | Eduard Delputte

Sessarego wanted to be a member of Britain's special military forces, so he started by faking his own death in a car bomb attack in 1993. From there, he took on a new identity — Tom Carew — and wrote a book about special forces. Later on, he was exposed and died by suicide.

Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry & Georgina DeJesus

Cleveland kidnapping victims
Wikipedia | Unknown

These three women were held captive in the Cleveland home of Ariel Castro for years on end, suffering indescribable abuses along the way. Finally, in 2013, a neighbor heard the women, helped them break down the door of their cellar prison, and helped them escape.

Elizabeth Smart

Kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart
Wikimedia Commons | KOMUnews

Smart was just 14 when she was abducted by Brian David Mitchell, a handyman who'd worked on her family's home in the past. Mitchell disguised Smart and held her captive for nine months before they were recognized and Smart was returned to her family.

Angela Hernandez

Coast of Big Sur, California
Unsplash | Thomas Ciszewski

Hernandez went missing on a road trip from Oregon to California in 2018. After her family notified authorities, search teams eventually found her vehicle crashed at the bottom of a cliff in Big Sur, California. Hernandez was nearby, having siphoned water from her car's radiator hose in order to survive.

Jan Broberg

A red camper van
Unsplash | Jayson Hinrichsen

If you've ever seen the true crime doc Abducted in Plain Sight or the docudrama A Friend of the Family, you already know this story well. Broberg was abducted by family friend Robert Berchtold not once, but twice. Berchtold was able to brainwash Broberg to make her believe he was doing her a favor. Fortunately, she's doing well today.

Jayme Closs

Crime scene tape
Unsplash | David von Diemar

13-year-old Jayme Closs endured a horrible ordeal: after her parents were murdered in their home, their murderer abducted Closs and kept her hidden for nearly three months. Eventually, Closs was able to get the attention of a nearby resident to call the police. Her abductor, and her parents' killer, pleaded guilty to two counts of international homicide and one count of kidnapping.

Amanda Eller

Missing poster for Amanda Eller
youtube | ABC News

Eller was on a hike in Hawaii's Makawao Forest Reserve when she was declared missing on May 8, 2019. After more than two weeks of wandering the remote area, Eller was found by a search and rescue helicopter on May 25.