According to the FBI website, "during 2012, 661,593 missing person records were entered into NCIC", and despite the fact this was a "decrease of 2.5 % from the 678,860 records entered in 2011" that is still a lot of people.
Explanations for the disappearance of so many fall into several categories. Some are logical and some fantastical in the extreme. Strange things do happen but it is known that very ordinary people have simply walked away one day to never be seen again. Eliminating the non custodial parent kidnappings in most lists still leaves an impressive number of missing persons.
Missing persons might be missing due to -
- Intentional disappearance to begin a new life or escape an old one
- Death by gang or criminal activities in retaliation, turf war, or other rationale for violence
- Impression into the sex slavery traffic and trade
- Murder for reason of being in the wrong place at the wrong time
- Accidental death in a situation where their body might not be found for decades (hikers, travelers, etc.)
- Murder by serial killer, mass murderers, and loved ones
- Flawed data: it is apparent from records that missing reports are often issued but are not so carefully tracked to remove them if found. This could lead to double-counting or other flaws in the data or the interpretation of the data.
- Being sucked into alternate or parallel dimensions
- Death to supply food for alien reptilian overloads secretly gaining control of the planet (yes, there are some who believe this is a viable reason)
There are always groups of people who do not report people missing. Parents of children with a wild streak in frequent trouble with the law have been known to just assume they had bolted once more and shook their heads and just hoped they might come back. In one case from several decades ago, the girl had been in and out of trouble with local law and authorities before she left her teens. She was sent to a state "reformatory" and soon left there to disappear. Several years later, not yet 20 years old her body was found in a trash dump where someone had left her in sad commentary to the killers value of human life. She was unidentified for several years until finally, her parents, filed a missing person report and the unknown female victim was discovered as a possible match.
In the 1960, 1970's and 1980's there was a focus on the problem of "runaway" and it was often tied to the blooming drug culture in America and some seem to believe they were the only generation to have such home wanderers. Indeed, from the earliest years there have always been those children who either left home and found the big world so much more to their liking they never returned or once they left circumstances common to criminal served to make to forever lost to their families and friends. It is true that in the 1960's and 1970's there were many serial killers - often called chain killers in previous generations - that seemed to have all broken loose of the constraints of normalcy to operate openly. They often operated simultaneously as well: several of them plagued California in these decades preying on the hitchhiking 'run aways' traveling the highways.
Why do so many go missing? How can we solve this lasting mystery? How can we find answers to the long and sad question of unidentified bodies, "Who am I?"