All of America was captivated when Patty Hearst went missing in the mid-1970s, as Caitlin Flanagan recounted. "The reason that her fantastically sui generis story resonated so deeply within so many millions of ordinary American households," she wrote, "is that back then a lot of girls like her were disappearing."
Bryan Burrough covered the disappearance of Natalee Holloway on Aruba. "The Twitty family's obsessive quest has proved to be a national trauma for Aruba, a Dutch possession that has been repeatedly depicted in the U.S. media as overrun by drugs and crime," her reported. "Stung by criticism they view as unwarranted, many Arubans, including a number who were once the Twittys' closest allies, have turned on the family, depicting them as Ugly Americans."
Scott Carrier lived in Salt Lake City when Elizabeth Smart went missing. "Thousands of volunteers combed the neighborhood, looking in window wells, going through stacks of wood. They covered the foothills in broad lines, calling her name," he wrote. "I didn't volunteer because I didn't think I could handle that part, hearing her name called out."
And in her Byliner Fiction, novelist Jennifer Haigh told the story of Tim O'Connor, a Massachusetts teenager who disappeared one night during the Bicentennial celebration. "If you were fourteen in summertime in Grantham, Massachusetts," Haigh wrote, "where would you be?"