Snapping a selfie has become so commonplace nowadays that we don’t even think about doing it. We just whip out our phone, snap a photo, and put it back in our pockets. But have you ever stopped to wonder what might happen if the photo you just took turned out to be your last? That was the case with these people, who were caught on camera right before vanishing.
An unknown potential victim of Michael Gargiulo
We don’t know who the woman in these photos is. We do, however, know who the man is. He’s Michael Gargiulo, who’d recently been convicted of taking the lives of three women, but may have gotten to as many as nine.
Ashton Kutcher testified against him in the trial, as one of Gargiulo’s victims was an ex-girlfriend of his. These photos were found when Gargiulo’s home and car were searched. They seem like a couple in love, but authorities still questioned whether there were more victims they weren’t aware of.
Lars Mittank was a German backpacker traveling in Bulgaria in July, 2014. While there, he supposedly took part in an altercation that resulted in a busted eardrum. He received medical attention, but family and friends were worried when they received cryptic texts from him saying he was being followed by four men.
At a local airport, he wanted to see a doctor to make sure it was safe for him to fly. This still is from security camera footage, which captured Lars sprinting out without his luggage, and then hopping a fence and going into the woods. He has not been seen since.
Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers
This perfect selfie shows Dutch tourists Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers, all smiles as they were hiking through a jungle paradise in panama in April, 2014. The two were supposed to be accompanied by a guide, but went into the dense woods a day earlier and simply vanished.
Weeks later, some of their belonging were recovered, including their cell phones and camera. The phones showed they tried calling emergency services for 11 days, while the camera had a series of 90 photos taken in near complete darkness. Eventually, some of their skeletal remains were found, but to this day no one knows what happened.
In 2001, Frenchman Marco Siffredi made history when he became the first man to snowboard down Mount Everest via the Norton Couloir, a gorge running down the mountain’s northern face. Amazing as that is, Siffredi wasn’t pleased – he wanted to snowboard down the Hornbein Couloir to the west of the summit, but there wasn’t enough snow.
Undeterred, he returned the following year. After more than 12 hours of climbing, Siffredi reached the summit but was exhausted and possibly disoriented from altitude sickness. This photo was snapped just before he took off down the mountain, and was never seen again.
Knowing the backstory behind this selfie makes it heartbreaking. The man who took it, American yoga instructor Haru Simran, sent it to his wife during a shared vacation in Mexico, along with the caption “Looking down on you.”
Wanting to go for a hike alone, he took it on a cliff overlooking their hotel. The photo would be his last. He later texted his wife again, saying he had walked too far, and disappeared. His body was found four days later after a large-scale rescue operation, and it was reported he likely fell from a high cliff.
This photo of a happy family relates to the “most heavily reported missing-person case in modern history.” How so? It’s the last known photo of 3-year-old Madeleine McCann (the girl on the right) briefly before her mysterious and much-publicized disappearance in May, 2007.
In a scenario that’s probably every parent’s worst nightmare, she was snatched from her bed in the middle of the night when the family was vacationing in Portugal. Authorities both there and in the U.K. pursued multiple leads and suspects, including looking into her parents, but no suspects were ever charged and she was never found.
This photograph is of Hannah Graham, a college student who was last seen walking down a hallway before going missing. Hannah went out partying one night; no one knew where she was until she texted some friends that she was lost and on her way to a party.
Witnesses also claimed to have seen her at a diner and possibly being forced into an older man’s car. Despite a thorough search, neither hide nor hair of her was found… until five weeks after her disappearance, when her remains were located. The aforementioned older man, who’d only met her that night, was convicted of taking her life.
Forewarning – this one’s terrifying. The young woman peering out of the elevator is 21-year-old Elisa Lam, a Canadian college student who was staying at the Cecil Hotel during a visit to Los Angeles.
The full footage shows Elisa entering and exiting the elevator repeatedly, and behaving erratically and fearfully, as if someone – or something – is after her. A model student, she went missing the same day this footage was taken, and found only three weeks later – inside one of the hotel’s water tanks. How she got inside the tank, or replaced its heavy lid, is anyone’s guess. Her passing remains unsolved.
The woman pictured here looks so happy, and it’s heartbreaking to realize this is the last photo ever taken of her. She’s Geraldine Largay, who decided to hike along the Appalachian trail alone, and it was taken the morning she disappeared, in July, 2013.
She would remain missing for two years. Finally, her remains were discovered by an Animal Planet film crew shooting a documentary on a completely unrelated subject. Her journal was also found, showing she’d survived 26 days in the wilderness, and knew that she was about to perish. Tragically, she was only about 30 minutes away from civilization.
Lisa Au’s disappearance has been dubbed “Hawaii’s most mysterious unsolved mystery.” In 1982, Lisa, a 19-year-old hairdresser, left her boyfriend’s sister’s apartment after having dinner with them. It was the last time she would be seen… alive.
Hours later, her car was found on a highway, with the window rolled down despite the downpour. Ten days later, her badly decayed remains were found at a completely different location. Disturbingly, witnesses reported seeing a car with flashing blue lights tailing Lisa’s car. Could a cop, or somebody posing as one, had been involved? We don’t know, as the case was never solved.
We live in the age of constant surveillance, which has changed our lives in some imperceptible ways. Take Lauren Spierer, for instance. When this 20-year-old Indiana University student vanished in June, 2011, her last night was documented almost in its entirety by security cameras, which is where this still is taken from.
She was last seen leaving a friend’s apartment at 4:30am, walking on the road barefoot. Many theories were floated – including ones related to substance abuse – but nothing was ever proven and she remains missing to this day.
This photo shows Norwegian adventurers Rolf Bae and Cecilie Skog sharing a kiss, just before they’d make the ascent to the summit of K2, the second-highest mountain in the world. They were no amateurs – Cecilie was the first woman to stand at both poles AND the tallest peaks of every continent.
They loved nothing more than climbing together, but that passion would claim Rolf’s life. On their way down K2, Rolf ventured out under an ice cliff. The cliff collapsed, and took Rolf into the void with it. Cecilie then had to continue the descent without her husband.
In detective fiction, there’s a sub-genre called “locked-room mystery,” where it seems impossible for a criminal to have committed the crime in question without being detected. In real life, that’s exactly what (maybe) happened to Brian Shaffer.
In March, 2006, this 27-year-old med student from Ohio State University celebrated the first day of spring break by going on a bar crawl with friends. Their last stop was The Ugly Tuna Saloon in Columbus, Ohio. Security camera footage caught Brian as he was taking the escalator up to the bar. There is, however, no evidence of him leaving, and no trace of him was ever found.
An unknown hiker
This photo shows a stunning natural scene. It was taken opposite the famous granite dome known as Half Dome, on the eastern end of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California.
The photo was the very last one snapped by an unnamed man, who’d been missing for a month after hiking in the park. The photo came from his phone, which was found in his backpack at the top of a cliff. Tragically, the man’s remains were located at the bottom of that cliff, and it’s assumed he lost his footing and fell to his doom.
Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Wallick was no stranger to adversity, as he served four years in the Defense Department’s Strategic Command. His true passion, however, was hiking, which he loved doing through the mountains of Colorado.
He was supposed to meet up with a couple of his friends to continue the hike, but Wallick – an Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran – never made it. He had been lost for four days, when his remains were finally found at the bottom of a treacherous cliff from which he must have fallen. This is the 41-year-old Bronze Star winner’s last known photo.
This photo represents selfless heroism and the ultimate sacrifice. The firefighter is 35-year-old Gary Box, and he’s running towards the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001. He would never return, and his remains have not been found to this day, leaving his family completely without closure.
Then, nine years later, they finally got it, in the form of a photograph taken by a complete stranger. It showed a firefighter running through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel toward the Towers, while cars were stuck in traffic. It was taken by a Danish businessman, also stuck in the tunnel, who happened to snap Gary’s last photo.
We’re going to break from this article’s norm, but only because this is like something out of a horror movie. Florida resident Jennifer Kesse was 24 when she disappeared in January, 2006. Jennifer went to work and then left at the normal end of the workday – it would be the last time she’s ever seen.
On the way home, she spoke to her parents, then her boyfriend. The following morning, she – and her car – vanished. The creepiest part? At around noon, someone was caught on camera parking her car near an apartment complex and walking away. Unbelievably, their face was obscured by the railing, and they were never identified.
Kenny Veach’s November, 2014, disappearance, which is straight out of The X-Files, can be traced back to an offhanded YouTube comment. Kenny commented that he was a long-distance hiker and mentioned an encounter with a capital M-shaped cave that unnerved him.
He said the aforementioned cave in the Nevada mountains gave him a strange feeling that spooked him so much that he left without recording its location. Then, a month later, he commented again on the same video, saying he was going to try and find it. This is the last anyone’s ever heard of him. Whether he found the cave or not, he simply vanished.
The young woman in the middle of this photo is Natalee Holloway, an 18-year-old college student who disappeared in May, 2005, during a high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba. She was last seen outside a restaurant/nightclub, in the company of three men – Joran van der Sloot and two others.
No charges were ever filed against them. Despite unprecedented search-and-rescue efforts, neither Holloway nor her remains were ever found. On May 30, 2010 – five years to the day since Holloway’s disappearance – van der Sloot took the life of another woman in Peru, and was convicted this time.
This photograph caught a man just before a historic, and catastrophic, occurrence – one which he was the first to witness. What do we mean? Well, this is United States Geological Survey volcanologist David Johnston, 13 hours before his passing as a result of the May, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state.
It was the most disastrous volcanic eruption to occur in the continental U.S. since 1915, and Johnston had a front row seat. “Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!” he transmitted, before a blast sent him flying. His remains were never found.
This is one of the last known photographs taken of beauty queen and high school history teacher Tara Grinstead. Then 30, Tara had been missing since October, 2005. One night before her disappearance, she visited a beauty pageant and attended a barbecue.
The following week, when she failed to show up for work, co-workers called the police. At her home, there were no signs of forced entry or a struggle. In 2017, 11 years later, a tip led to an arrest. The culprit was a former student of hers, who broke into her house and attacked her, later disposing of the body.
Natalia Molina Valenzuela
In the age of social media, the last photos of people may come from the people themselves. This photo is a case in point. It was posted to social media on September 2, 2016, by a Colombian woman named Natalia Molina Valenzuela, who was a crew member on the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship.
A mere six days later, when the ship was sailing through Funter Bay off the coast of Alaska, Molina jumped overboard. The U.S. Coast Guard searched for her for 42 hours, covering 340 square miles, but there was no sign of her. She was 24.
George Mallory and Sandy Irvine
If this one seems like it was taken on a hostile alien planet – it’s because it sort of was. It was taken June, 1924, at base camp of the world’s highest mountain – Mount Everest. English mountaineers George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine were part of a 1924 British expedition that tried to achieve the first ascent to the mountain’s summit.
The first two attempts were unsuccessful, and on the third Mallory and Irvine vanished. It was never conclusively proven whether they’d actually reached the top. Seventy-five years after disappearing, Mallory’s remains were found, showing signs of a fatal fall.
This is University of Massachusetts Amherst nursing student Maura Murray, who disappeared on February 9, 2004 – five days after Facebook launched. The 21-year-old told professors she’d be taking a week off due to a death in the family – which turned out to be a lie.
She then packed a bag, withdrew some money, and bought adult beverages. The black-and-white photo seen here is from the ATM’s camera. Murray got into her car and headed out of town, only to crash it on a snowbank. Police arrived on the scene 10 minutes later, but Maura was already gone – and hasn’t been seen since.
Amy Wroe Bechtel
This is one of the last publicly available photographs of 24-year-old Amy Wroe Bechtel, who went for a jog and never returned. Considering she vanished in July, 1997, there are shockingly few clues as to what might’ve happened.
Her car was discovered parked on the side of the road in Shoshone National Forest, but provided no clues. An intensive 10-day search-and-rescue operation found virtually nothing else. At one point, Amy’s husband Steve (seen next to her) was suspected, but he had an alibi. A $25,000 reward went unclaimed for so long that the family converted it into two college scholarships in Amy’s name.
Sherry Lynn Marler
There’s no mistaking this photo – it’s from the 1980s. It’s also one of the last ones ever taken of 12-year-old Sherry Marler before her unsettling disappearance in June, 1984. She and her stepfather were in a bank, and he gave her a dollar to buy herself a soda.
She was last seen exiting the bank, and crossing the road to the gas station across from it. When her stepdad returned to his truck 15 minutes later, she was gone. By the end of 1984, there’d been three possible sightings of Sherry – all unconfirmed, all placing her with a strange man, all saying she looked completely out of it. She has not been found to this day.
There’s unsettling, and then there’s Rebecca Coriam. The 24-year-old was living her dream working on the Disney Wonder cruise ship when she disappeared in March, 2011. Had she gone overboard, as the cruise company claimed, had she taken her own life, or was there something more sinister at play?
CCTV captured her last images, at 4:45am the day she vanished. She paced the deck wearing baggy men’s clothes and tugging at her hair, looking distraught. The only trace of her remaining was a pair of flip-flops found near a swimming pool. But if she was truly gone, why had her bank accounts been accessed months later?
It seems like everyone knows what happened to Mary Badaracco – it’s just that nothing can be conclusively proven. What do we know? She was last heard from on August 19, 1984. Her personal effects were completely gone as well, but her car was parked outside her home, with the driver’s side windshield smashed inwards.
Her car keys and her wedding ring, meanwhile, were on the kitchen counter. Her husband, who allegedly had been unfaithful and possibly abusive, told police he paid her a large sum of money to go away, and admitted smashing the car’s windshield. Her daughters don’t believe Mary, a new grandmother, would do that, though.
Paula Jean Welden
If she were alive today, Paula Jean Welden would be 91 years old. When she vanished in 1946, however, she was only 18. A sophomore in Vermont’s Bennington College, she got off work and wanted to hike the state’s famous Long Trail.
Since no one wanted to tag along, she went alone. A group of other hikers met her on the trail, and she asked them some questions about it. They’d be the last to see her. Paula Jean wasn’t alone, though. Between 1920 and 1950, as many as ten people disappeared in that region, with some attributing the disappearances to either Bigfoot or UFOs.
Sometimes, paradise can turn into something quite different. This was the case for 22-year-old British backpacker Grace Millane, who disappeared in New Zealand while hiking there just a day before her birthday. Through CCTV footage, local police had been able to pinpoint Grace’s last sighting – the Sky City entertainment complex in Auckland, on the evening of December 1, 2018.
Tragically, her remains were discovered in a rural area a week later – a rarity for the tranquil island that led to a public outpouring of grief and comments from the prime minister. A man is currently on trial for allegedly ending her life, but has entered a not-guilty plea.
Don’t let the face this young woman is making fool you – 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was vivacious, sporty, and loved life and working with children. The still image is taken from a short, impromptu video recorded by her friend and co-worker Jarrett Rose that showed Mollie simply goofing off on July 17, 2018.
The following day, she went for a jog near her home in the small town of Brooklyn, Iowa, and was never seen alive again. More than a month later, a man was arrested by police and led them to her remains. He’s currently standing trial.
In August, 2002, it wasn’t just a woman who disappeared, but her car did as well. Audrey May Herron, a 31-year-old mother of three, finished her shift as a nurse in a healthcare facility in Catskill, New York. She then got into her car and started her drive home – about 12-15 miles.
She has not been seen again in the 17 years that have passed since, and neither has her car, both completely vanishing off the face of the Earth. Audrey had received a substantial pay raise the day she disappeared, and was said to be completely devoted to her kids, making a voluntary disappearance unlikely.
Considering her disappearance was so bizarre, it’s somehow fitting that the last known photo of Kristen Modafferi – snapped at a museum – was taken with her back to us, obscuring her face as her fate has been since she vanished in June, 1997.
Not long after her eighteenth birthday, Kristen finished her shift at a San Francisco coffee shop and told co-workers she might go to a beach party. Forty-five minutes after her shift ended, she was seen with a blonde woman who has never been identified. Kristen was last seen withdrawing money from an ATM, and then she simply vanished into thin air. She remains missing today.
LaRece Simone Hawkins
Carefree, smiling… and missing since May, 2018. LaRece Hawkins was an aspiring actress, and at 24 she was starting to get traction in the L.A. theater scene. She seemed to have all the reasons to be optimistic about her future. This photo, taken from her Instagram account, is the last she’d ever post.
Chillingly, she captioned it, “Going places and Doing BIG things! You may not know me now, but one day you’ll want to!” LaRece was last seen aboard the Escape, a Norwegian cruise ship. She went missing while it was 80 nautical miles from Atlantic City, New Jersey, and was never heard from again.
Most of the time, people who disappear under suspicious circumstances are alone. For 65-year-old Patti Krieger, it was the exact opposite. In October, 2010, she was hiking the Sauk Mountain Trail in Washington along with six other people, including her fiance, and her 100-pound Rottweiler, Bear.
That hike is where this photo was taken. Patti and Bear separated from their group and went down the wrong trail. The others called out to her, but being hard of hearing, she kept going. So did they, assuming they’d link back to her later. They never did. Three weeks later, Bear was found on the mountain, alone. Patti has never been found.
In the age of social media, it may well be that the last photo a person leaves may be digital – and not include themselves at all. Such was the case for Matt Weaver, a 21-year-old who went hiking in California’s Topanga Lookout Trail and never returned. This photo is the last he’d post to social media.
Hours later, he texted a lady friend incoherently, telling her, “I just (want) to talk while I have the chance.” She texted him back, but received no reply. An investigative report revealed Weaver knew he would be confronted with potentially dangerous criminal activity – that may have cost him his life.
From the outset, it seemed like Diana Zacharias’ dream of visiting the Grand Canyon was doomed. This 22-year-old Northwestern State University of Louisiana student hitched a ride to the airport with her dad in April, 2016, only to learn her plane broke down.
He drove her to another airport, and she made another flight – and wouldn’t be seen alive again. She set this selfie as her Facebook profile picture the day she went missing. When her mom texted to ask if she’s on her way to the airport to go home, Diana replied, “No, I am not going.” Four months later, her remains were found.
Amy Lynn Bradley
Amy Lynn Bradley disappeared from a large cruise ship named Rhapsody of the Seas in March, 1998. She was traveling with her family on a weeklong cruise, and this photo is the last one ever taken of her, alongside her brother, just one day prior.
The 23-year-old was last seen by her dad in the early morning, but he found she was missing later in the day. The ship was on its way to Curacao at the time, and a thorough search upon arrival turned up nothing. Despite numerous potential sightings through the years, Amy remains missing – and may have fallen victim to human trafficking.
Emma Fillipoff, a 26-year-old Canadian woman, may have been disturbed, but that doesn’t explain her troubling November, 2012, disappearance. Even though she was said to have been paranoid, these images are haunting.
They’re taken from a 7-Eleven’s CCTV, where Emma bought a prepaid credit card and a cell phone, while repeatedly entering and exiting the store and behaving as if someone’s after her. The last known people to speak to her were policemen, who cut her loose. The next day, she was gone. Her car was found abandoned in a parking lot, with most of her possessions still inside.
Amelia Bambridge was taking a gap year after completing an apprenticeship, and decided to reward herself with a solo trip to the Cambodian island of Koh Rong in October, 2019. She was last seen at a beach party, a photo of which can be seen here, enjoying her time out with friends.
Later that night, Amelia would venture into the sea, and disappear. A massive search operation kicked into gear, including more than 100 divers, land-based teams, police drones, and volunteers. Eventually, that effort bore fruit – but not the kind anyone hoped. Amelia’s body was found at sea, 62 miles from where she was last seen.