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10 Creepy Mysteries Involving Abandoned Vehicles

Robin Warder


Whenever a person mysteriously disappears without explanation, the situation can be particularly baffling when they’re last seen driving a vehicle. In many cases, said vehicle is eventually found abandoned somewhere, but the person is nowhere in sight. In missing persons cases, abandoned vehicles often provide intriguing clues and open up a lot of possible scenarios. Was the victim abducted from their vehicle while it was stopped? Did someone else steal the vehicle and leave it somewhere? Or did the victim abandon the vehicle and disappear voluntarily? In the following mysteries, the real truth is still unknown.

10 The Disappearance Of Kristi Krebs

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On the evening of August 9, 1993, 22-year-old Kristi Krebs worked her shift at a pizza place in Fort Bragg, California. Kristi was supposed to drive home to her family’s residence but never arrived. The following day, her abandoned car was discovered stuck in some mud in a remote redwood forest area. Kristi’s folded-up work clothes were inside the vehicle, but the radio was missing. There were also traces of blood, along with some torn-up identification papers and photographs at the scene. A search of the area turned up no trace of Kristi, but this was not the first time she had found herself in a situation like this.

In April 1990, Kristi was driving down a country road when she got her car stuck in the mud, causing it to catch on fire. The following morning, a disoriented Kristi was found wandering down some nearby railroad tracks. Kristi had recently developed an unhealthy obsession with a married man and combined with the traumatic ordeal of her car bursting into flames, it became apparent she had suffered some sort of mental breakdown. Kristi had to be hospitalized for several months but eventually recovered and found herself working two steady jobs. However, Kristi ended up getting her vehicle stuck again under very similar circumstances, only 11 kilometers (7 mi) from where the original incident occurred. It was theorized that she suffered another psychotic break and wandered off. Over the course of the next year, two people reported picking up a young hitchhiker resembling Kristi and one of these sightings took place in Utah. At the time, Kristi’s family remained hopeful that she was still alive somewhere and had perhaps simply forgotten who she was, but she has not been seen for over 20 years.

9 The Suicide Of ‘Damon Hunter’

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On December 21, 1991, the partially decomposed body of a young man was found in a wooded area in DeKalb County, Alabama. The victim had seemingly committed suicide by climbing on top of some logs and hanging himself from a tree. It was estimated he had been hanging there approximately four months before he was discovered. The victim appeared to be between 18 and 25 years old and while he had $60 in his possession, he carried no identification. Police remembered that an abandoned 1982 Ford Escort had been found in the area in September and wondered if there might be a connection. They decided to check the vehicle and uncovered a number of intriguing clues.

A birth certificate bearing the name “Damon Hunter” was found, but it turned out to be forged. Investigators would discover that someone calling himself by that name had purchased the Escort in Fargo, North Dakota, and stayed at a hotel there in August. The vehicle contained a threatening note with instructions for handing over money, which seemed to indicate that the victim had staged a robbery somewhere. Investigators also found a phone number for the Benedictine abbey in the town of Cullman. It turned out an anonymous man had phoned there in August to claim he was suffering from financial problems and that the lives of himself and his parents were in danger. He implied that he might have to commit robbery in order to pay back some money he owed. While there’s a good possibility that “Damon Hunter” was the suicide victim, authorities have never been able to determine his true identity or the exact circumstances surrounding his death.

8 The Disappearance Of Gregory Keith Mann Jr.

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Photo credit: IFCAR

In 1997, 20-year-old Gregory Keith Mann Jr. was employed as a salesman at a Ford dealership in Wichita Falls, Texas. On May 10, Keith managed to sell two vehicles and was planning to deliver one of them to its buyer two days later. He then signed out one of the dealership’s demonstration vehicles, a 1996 Ford Mustang, which he was planning to use as his transportation over the weekend. Keith spent the evening with friends, but told them he needed to return to his apartment because he was planning to meet someone at 12:15 AM. Keith’s friends last saw him walking up the stairs toward his apartment, but he would not be seen again.

The following morning, Keith’s parents were surprised to discover the Mustang from the Ford dealership in the parking lot of a church located near their home. Even though the vehicle was locked, the trunk was open and one of the trunk’s side panels appeared to have been lowered. The car’s interior was also thoroughly cleaned. Since there was no indication he had spent the night inside his apartment and there didn’t appear to be anything missing from his residence, the most logical theory is that Keith’s disappearance was somehow connected to his midnight meeting. However, no one knows the circumstances of Keith’s meeting, so his disappearance remains unsolved.

7 The Disappearance Of Jeramy Burt

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Photo credit: Famartin

In 2007, 33-year-old Jeramy Burt lived in Boise, Idaho, with his ex-wife Kim, their young daughter, and Jeramy’s father. Even though they were divorced, Jeramy maintained a good relationship with Kim and the couple was even considering the possibility of getting back together. On the evening of February 11, Jeramy borrowed Kim’s Mercury Cougar to go visit a friend. Kim later received a series of strange text messages from Jeramy in which he stated he was planning to disappear and start a new life. Both Jeramy and the Mercury Cougar soon vanished without explanation. Jeramy’s family did not believe he would willingly abandon his daughter and doubted that he sent the texts himself.

Three months later, Kim’s missing Mercury Cougar was found abandoned in a remote area of the Owyhee Desert. The vehicle had been burned, but there was no sign of Jeramy. Suspicion turned toward Jeramy’s former attorney, Jeannie Braun, who had overseen his divorce and had become romantically involved with him. However, when Jeramy discovered that Jeannie was involved in illegal activity, he agreed to cooperate in the investigation against her by secretly recording some incriminating conversations. Jeramy then testified against Jeannie in front of a grand jury, even after she attempted to bribe him. Jeannie was convicted of several offenses, including forging a judge’s signature on documents. She would be disbarred and served one year in jail but still attempted to make contact with Jeramy after her release. Even though Jeannie is a person of interest in the disappearance, there is no evidence that she was responsible, and Jeramy Burt remains a missing person.

6 The Disappearance Of Sherri Holland

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On August 16, 1996, 34-year-old Sherri Holland departed her vacation home in Flagler Beach, Florida, to travel back to her residence in Atlanta. Sherri owned two dogs, who accompanied her on her trip. However, she never arrived in Atlanta and was eventually reported missing. Nine days later, Sherri’s BMW was found abandoned on Interstate 75 near Morrow, Georgia. One of the front tires was flat because it had a nail in it. While Sherri was missing, one of her dogs was eventually discovered in a field 3 kilometers (2 mi) away. Unfortunately, the other dog had been run over and killed.

There were a lot of potential theories surrounding Sherri’s disappearance. At the time, she was operating an escort service and her business partner claimed that Sherri had a habit of using hidden cameras to secretly record her clients and blackmail them, which could have easily made her a target for murder. Investigators also learned that Sherri had been carrying on an affair with a married man for years. Shortly before Sherri’s disappearance, they had reportedly gotten into an argument because he was reluctant to leave his wife and marry her. There was even speculation that Sherri had simply grown tired of her life and decided to stage her own disappearance to flee to Europe. In fact, police received an anonymous tip from a witness who claimed to see Sherri taking some luggage out of her abandoned BMW and loading it into a white pickup truck on the day of her disappearance. However, in spite of all these intriguing leads, no trace of Sherri Holland has ever been found.

5 The Mysterious Death Of Don Kemp

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In 1982, 35-year-old Don Kemp was working as an advertising executive in New York, but a serious traffic accident seemed to change his outlook. When he recovered, Don decided to sell most of his possessions and travel to Wyoming to start a new life. On November 16, Don’s Chevy Blazer was found abandoned by the side of the road on a Wyoming prairie. The engine was still running, the doors were left open, and Don’s clothes were all over the road. Don himself was missing, but a set of footprints seemed to indicate that he had wandered off onto the prairie. A search of the area turned up a duffel bag and some of Don’s socks were discovered in a barn 10 kilometers (6 mi) away. When a blizzard hit the area, the search for Don had to be called off.

It would be another four years before Don’s remains were finally found. They were discovered a few miles away from the location where he originally abandoned his vehicle. It was determined that he likely died of exposure during the blizzard. However, there were still some puzzling unanswered questions. Months after Don’s disappearance, one of his friends received a strange series of messages on her answering machine. She was certain it was Don’s voice, and the calls were traced to a trailer in Casper, Wyoming. The trailer was being rented by a man named Mark Dennis, who claimed to have no knowledge of the calls. After Dennis was questioned, police were satisfied that he was telling the truth, but curiously, there had also been a few unconfirmed sightings of Don in Casper in the months following his disappearance. Did Don Kemp actually die on the prairie during the blizzard or were there much more mysterious circumstances behind his death?

4 The Disappearance Of Thomas Nuzzi

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Photo credit: Frank K.

In 2001, 52-year-old Thomas Nuzzi worked as a registered nurse and frequently traveled to different job assignments. On June 19, Thomas failed to show up for work in Bethel, Alaska, and was reported missing. At the time, he was staying at a Super 8 motel in Anchorage. Thomas’s Jeep Cherokee was soon discovered abandoned with the keys inside at Chugach State Park 19 kilometers (12 mi) away. The last confirmed sighting of Thomas took place on the evening of June 18 when he showed up in a gas station surveillance video alongside an unidentified woman. Investigators pieced together a strange series of events which took place in the days preceding Thomas’s disappearance.

On June 15, a security guard noticed a man and woman attempting to break into Thomas’s Jeep. This woman was identified as the same female seen with Thomas in the surveillance video. On June 18, witnesses saw this couple breaking into Thomas’s Jeep again, but this time, they were successful and drove away. The following day, a housekeeper came across a man in Thomas’s room at the Super 8 motel and forced him to leave. He is believed to be the same man who broke into the Jeep, but neither he nor his female companion have been seen since. After Thomas’s disappearance, his nephew tried calling the most recent numbers which showed up on Thomas’s cell phone. He was unable to reach a single person who would admit to knowing Thomas Nuzzi, adding yet another level of intrigue to this baffling mystery.

3 The Disappearance Of Paige Renkoski

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On May 24, 1990, 30-year-old Paige Renkoski borrowed her mother’s 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais to drop her off at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. After going to visit a friend in Canton, Paige started the drive back to her home in Okemos. Over the course of that afternoon, various witnesses on Interstate 96 remembered driving past Paige’s vehicle, which was parked on the shoulder of the road. At one point, Paige was seen outside the vehicle speaking with two unidentified African-American males, who were standing near a maroon minivan. There were reports that Paige looked agitated and that one of the men was grabbing her arm. After several hours, the vehicle was reported abandoned, but by then Paige had disappeared.

Police arrived at the scene and investigated the vehicle. The door was open, the engine was running, and the lights were still on. In fact, Paige’s purse and shoes were also left behind in the car. While there appeared to be some minor damage to the front end of the vehicle, there weren’t any other apparent problems, so it’s unclear why Paige would have pulled over to the side of the road to speak to the unidentified men. No one could be certain if these men were responsible for her disappearance, but years later, police announced they had identified two possible suspects in the case. One of them was serving time in prison for another crime, and the other flunked a polygraph test when questioned by police. However, no evidence has ever been found to connect either of these men with Paige’s disappearance, and she remains missing.

2 The Disappearance Of Lee Young

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In 1990, 56-year-old Lee Young was employed as a bank executive in Scottsdale, Arizona. He began to suspect that his bank was involved in a money-laundering ring with a Colombian drug cartel and contacted federal drug agents, agreeing to help them with their investigation. On May 4, Lee had lunch at a Scottsdale restaurant and left at approximately 12:30 PM. This would be the last time he would be seen alive. The following day, Lee’s abandoned Lincoln Town Car was found in a remote desert area in Pinal County, approximately 150 kilometers (100 mi) outside Phoenix. The car had been set on fire, destroying any potential evidence, but Lee himself was nowhere to be found.

There were a lot of strange clues surrounding Lee’s disappearance. Phone records would show that Lee’s car phone was used multiple times that afternoon. It made three calls and received one call, but no one knows if Lee was on the line for any of them. One of the outgoing calls went to a phone booth and the two others went to a woman who denied speaking with Lee. In his spare time, Lee ran a side business in which he bought and sold jewelry. Jewelry worth thousands of dollars was found in the trunk of Lee’s burnt-out car, which seemed to rule out the possibility of robbery being a motive. However, a briefcase containing Lee’s files was conspicuously missing from the vehicle. This led to speculation that Lee’s disappearance was caused by the investigation into the alleged money laundering ring at his bank, but there have been no tangible leads in this case for over 25 years.

1 The Disappearance Of Jim Sullivan

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Jim Sullivan was a singer-songwriter-guitarist from California who started making his name in the music industry during the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, even though he managed to record and release two albums, neither album was particularly successful. By 1975, the 34-year-old Sullivan hoped he could further his music career by traveling to Nashville. On March 4, he left Los Angeles in his Volkswagen Bug to embark on his trip. The following day, Sullivan was pulled over by the police in New Mexico because he was swerving around the road. A sobriety test showed that Sullivan was not intoxicated, just fatigued from his long drive. Police advised him to check into the La Mesa Hotel in Santa Rosa to get some rest. Sullivan would soon achieve the notoriety he desired by vanishing forever.

On March 6, Sullivan’s Volkswagen was found abandoned 42 kilometers (26 mi) away from the motel. The vehicle was locked, the engine was dead, and all of Sullivan’s personal possessions were left inside, including his wallet and guitar. A search of Sullivan’s motel room turned up his room key, but all indications were that he never slept there. The abandoned vehicle was found near a ranch belonging to a local family named the Genettis, who were rumored to have ties with the Mafia. There were unconfirmed reports that Sullivan was seen talking with members of the Genetti family shortly before he vanished. Due to the legend surrounding his disappearance, Jim Sullivan and his albums have developed a cult reputation over the years. In fact, since Sullivan’s first album was titled “U.F.O.” and the title track seems to contain some cryptic-sounding lyrics, one of the most popular theories is that he was abducted by aliens.

Robin Warder has just started a new true crime podcast called “The Trail Went Cold” in which he analyzes some of the unsolved mysteries he’s written about right here on Listverse.