When Children Disappear

Caitlin Flanagan, Bryan Burrough, Jennifer Haigh and others on every parent's nightmare.
6 stories

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?"

From the Web

Girl, Interrupted

How Patty Hearst’s kidnapping reflected and ravaged American culture in the 1970s.
Sep 2008
From the Web

The Ongoing Mysteries of the Elizabeth Smart Case

The verdict is in. But questions—about polygamy, prophecy, and insanity—remain.
Dec 2010
From the Web

Missing White Female

A missing girl. A desperate family. A tropical island. The disappearance of beautiful, blonde teenager Natalee Holloway on Aruba last May has become America’s most tragic reality show. But behind the cable-ratings bonanza is a war of wills and cultures, as Natalee’s mother, Beth Twitty, alleging an official cover-up, has turned Aruba upside down to find out what happened to her daughter. Sorting fact from rumor, with new information from the police, the author cuts to the heart of the case.

Jan 2006

Meet the Parents: The Dark Side of Overseas Adoption

A Midwestern kid’s family believes his birth parents put him up for adoption. An Indian couple claim he was kidnapped from them and sold. Who’s right?

Mar 2009
From the Web

What Happened to Etan Patz

Thirty years ago, the 6-year-old boy disappeared from a Soho street. His father is now convinced he knows who killed Etan. But will the Patzes ever get a chance to learn the whole truth?

May 2009

The Boy Vanishes (Excerpt)

When fourteen-year-old Tim O’Connor went missing in Grantham, Massachusetts, everyone was implicated and no one was safe. An excerpt from the Byliner Original “The Boy Vanishes,” a 2013 National Magazine Awards Finalist for Fiction.

Jul 2012