Twenty-four people vanished in Nome, Alaska between 1960 and 2004. None have ever been seen again. So what happened to them? No one, not even the FBI, knows to this day.
With a population of roughly 3,500 residents, Nome is by no means a large town. But it serves as a hub for a number of smaller tribal villages who go there to do their banking, shopping, and socializing. Nome boasts two airports and two radio stations along with a harbor and a lively business district, complete with bars.
When you look closely at it, 24 missing people over a period of 44 years does not sound like a large number. But the fact that none of them were ever found does raise some interesting questions.
Nome lies in the middle of one of the harshest environments in the world. It sits on the treacherous Bering Sea coast where sudden storms, packed ice and rough seas are common. Coupled with the fact that Nome is fairly tolerant of drinking by their Native American populations and visitors, many people have concluded that the missing people brought their Permanent Fund checks to town, got drunk, and simply vanished into the night, never to be seen again.
There are, of course, almost as many theories as there are missing people. For some, these unfortunate people fell victim to the region’s dangerous environment. Others suspect that least a few may have fallen victim to a serial killer. Some wonder if they might have been kidnapped by aliens.
Alaska has more reports of missing persons than any other state. In 2004 alone, more than 3,400 people were reported missing. The state is rugged, with a harsh and unforgiving climate, and lonely. It is easy to walk out on a nice day only to be enveloped by a sudden blizzard or ice storm. Falls from rocky hillsides and sudden spills into an icy river no doubt account for at least some of the disappearances. Others may fall victim to predators.
Since no bodies or other evidence has ever been recovered of the missing 24 people, it is not likely this mystery will ever be solved.