Updated: Feb 12, 2020
Each year in the United States alone, 600,000 people go missing. Most of these cases are resolved quickly, but others linger for months, years or even decades.
I’ve been wanting to do a video on missing persons cases for awhile now. But there are so many hundreds of thousands, both in the U.S. and around the world, that I couldn’t narrow it down to just five. So I’m narrowing it even further, by region. This week, I’m bringing you five unsolved missing persons cases from New England in the United States.
1. Patricia Santos
I don’t know much about what it’s like to live as a drug addict, or to have a loved one who has problems with drugs. But from what I do know, it can’t be an easy life. 36-year-old Massachusetts resident Patricia Santos dealt with drugs in the past, but had been clean for two years when she vanished. She hasn’t been seen or heard from in nearly a decade.
At the time of her disappearance on May 19, 2009, Santos had been staying with a friend but still had her own place. She left her friend’s house that morning to get ready for work, but never showed up for her shift.
Police looked for Santos in rehab centers in her hometown of Worcester but found no trace of her. A few days after her disappearance, they contacted her ex-boyfriend, 48-year-old Albert F. Carabba. Carabba said he saw Santos on the morning of the 20th, the day after her supposed disappearance. According to him, Santos had relapsed and travelled to Florida for rehab because she had family there. Police contacted her family in Florida but they hadn’t seen or heard from her. As if this wasn’t already suspicious, Santos had filed a restraining order against Carabba on May 11.
Then, a week after Santos vanished, police saw Carabba driving her car. They pursued him and tried to pull him over, but he kept driving. He eventually crashed the car and escaped into the nearby woods, but was caught and arrested. He insisted that Santos had given him the car (which he appeared to be living in) but police didn’t believe him. They suspect foul play in Santos's disappearance but, 10 years later, neither Carabba or anyone else has been arrested for it.
Patricia Santos is a biracial female, 4 ‘ 11 " and 120 to 130 pounds. Her nicknames are Patty and Chity. She has brown hair, several scars on her arms and legs, and a tattoo on her left breast that reads “Eddie.” I haven’t been able to find out who Eddie is, but I’m sure he, along with the other people in her life, would love to see her brought home.
2. Angelo Torres
When you’re young, you’ve got plenty to look forward to, and the possibilities for how your life could turn out are endless. 21-year-old college student Angelo Torres was in this exact situation in 1999. But in May of that year, he vanished and hasn’t been seen since.
Torres was last seen at a gas station in Biddeford, Maine in the early morning hours of
May 21. Torres, who also went by nicknames ’Tony’ and ‘Angel,’ travelled to the gas
station from Massachusetts, presumably to sell drugs. He went with his friend Jason Carney,
who appeared at another friend’s apartment several hours later, disheveled and upset. Torres
was nowhere to be found.
Torres was reported missing by his family on May 24. Because there was a three day difference between the last sighting and the report, I’m assuming his family was accustomed to not talking to him for several days. I know when I was in college, I sometimes went weeks without talking to my parents. But I do wonder if his classmates, school friends, or even his girlfriend — who he lived with — thought anything was suspicious in that three day period. Maybe there was communication between his friends and family, and the family were the ones who ultimately decided to file the report.
Police have been suspicious of Torres’s friend Jason Carney for awhile. They don’t believe he’s telling them everything that happened the night Torres disappeared. But at some point in the investigation, Carney died, taking whatever he might know with him. In 2016, police said they would talk to Carney’s family to see if he’d revealed anything to them before his death. I haven’t found any updates since then.
On Torres’s 38th birthday, April 1, 2016, a group of his childhood friends came together to raise money. Thanks to them, the reward for information in Torres’s case went from $5,000 to $10,000. Police believe Torres is no longer alive, and that his disappearance and presumed murder were drug related. Nobody has ever been arrested or charged in the case.
3. Bernard Ross Jr.
When researching this case, I initially ran into a bit of trouble. There’s another man by the name of Bernard Ross who went missing in 2017 and was later found alive. Sadly for the next person on our list, who shares the same name and is also missing, his family hasn’t gotten that happy ending.
Bernard Ross Jr., who also went by the nickname “Bunny,” was last seen on May 12, 1977 when he was just 18. He left the family home that morning and appeared distressed. After his departure, he took the family car and drove to his aunt’s house. His aunt lived in Presque Isle, Maine, but I had some trouble finding out Ross's hometown. Some sources listed it as Ashland, others as Fort Kent. These are both small towns in Maine, about an hour apart. So I’m not sure why this discrepancy occurred.
Regardless, once Ross arrived at his aunt’s house, he took a truck and drove off. It’s unclear exactly who the truck belonged to, or why he took it. The truck was later found on the side of a road in Ashland. Ross was last seen in a wooded area in Ashland. His whereabouts have been unknown ever since.
There’s not much out there in the way of theories, but some believe he simply ran off. At the time of his disappearance, Ross was taking Thorazine, an anti psychotic drug. The Thorazine, in combination with guilt and paranoia over taking two vehicles without permission, might have caused him to panic and run off into the woods, though it’s unclear where he could have gone afterwards. He might have eventually found his way back into town, but that wouldn’t explain why he never made his way home. If he succumbed to the elements in the woods, it’s unclear why his body has never been found.
In 2016, Ross’s parents received an unsigned letter at their home in Portland. The author said they knew about Ross's disappearance and referenced a newspaper article that mentioned the case. The letter hasn’t been released to the public, so we don’t know its exact contents or even if it has any important details. But it did renew interest in the case after nearly 40 years. Maine State Police Lieutenant Troy Gardner contacted newspapers referenced in the letter, encouraging them to publish a story about it and possibly persuade the author to contact police.
At the time of his disappearance, Bernard Ross Jr. was 18 years old, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was 6' 1" and weighed 160 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gold shirt, a green down vest, brown corduroy pants and sneakers. He has a scar on his abdomen and small chicken pox scars on his nose. He often goes by the nickname “Bunny” and may have a thin mustache. If alive today, he would be 60 years old.
4. Curtis Pishon
Have you ever wanted something really badly, or even had something in your life you’ve gotten used to, then suddenly lost it because of something out of your control? That’s just what happened to Curtis Pishon, and it may have led to his disappearance nearly twenty years ago.
Born in 1959, Pishon had wanted to be a police officer since he was a little boy. He served as a military police officer in Korea and joined local law enforcement in his hometown of Seabrook, New Hampshire after returning to the U.S. in 1983. Career wise, it seemed things were going perfectly for Pishon. Then the unexpected hit.
In 1994, Pishon was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, or MS. This disease of the central nervous system interrupts the flow of information between the brain and body. Symptoms can include pain, difficulty walking, vision problems, dizziness and many others. Pishon was forced to retire from law enforcement.
For awhile, Pishon seemed lost. He bounced from job to job for four years after his retirement. Then, in 1998, he was hired to work security at Venture Corporation, which manufactured plastic parts for cars. To his friends and family, he seemed to be happier after getting the job. But this wouldn’t last.
On July 5, 2000, Pishon was just weeks away from celebrating his 41st birthday. He was scheduled for an overnight shift at Venture Corp. and, due to the holiday the day before, was working with a skeleton crew. Earlier in the night, he'd expressed frustration because he had no backup if anything went wrong on his shift.
At 2 am, firefighters responded to a call from Venture Corp. Pishon’s car was on fire. He tried to put out the fire before firefighters eventually did so, but according to them, he seemed strangely calm. At 3:25, his boss checked on him at his post. Around 3:30, a witness saw two vehicles leaving the property, though it’s not known if this is related to what happened next. At 3:45, another co-worker said Pishon wasn’t at his post. He hasn’t been seen since.
But what happened to Curtis Pishon? One major theory is that he committed suicide. As someone who has suffered from chronic pain, I know how taxing it can be, both physically and mentally. I can’t imagine how devastating it must be to have to give up your dream job for it. So I understand why people believe he was depressed and might have been suicidal. However, I’m always skeptical when suicide comes up in a missing persons case. Pishon hasn’t been seen or heard from in nearly 20 years. There were no taxis in the area he could have ridden off in, and he couldn’t have walked very far due to his MS. If he committed suicide, why hasn’t his body been found? The only other piece of evidence I could find pointing to this theory is that he bought a gun shortly before his disappearance — but the gun was found in a room at the hotel he was living in at the time. If he bought a gun specifically for suicide, why did he leave it behind?
But the other theory, the one police now believe, is that Pishon was kidnapped or murdered, probably by his co-workers. Before his disappearance, he told his family that some of his co-workers had threatened him. During his last shift, several vending machines on the property were damaged, though the culprit or culprits were never caught. A 2015 article at Sea Coast Online says police now believe the fire, the vending machines and Pishon’s disappearance are all connected. They believe Pishon caught some of his co-workers trying to break into the vending machines. In order to prevent him telling anyone else, they set the fire as a diversion, then there was a struggle and Pishon was killed, either accidentally or intentionally. In 2008, one of Pishon's Venture Corp. co-workers was arrested for making threats against someone else. In that threat, the co-worker allegedly said he’d killed Pishon and buried the body. He’s never been charged in Pishon’s disappearance.
In 2004, Venture Corp. was closed among controversy and shady business dealings. Online sleuths have also claimed the company was under investigation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, though I can’t confirm this 100 %. Did Pishon witness or overhear something he wasn’t supposed to? Did this lead to his kidnapping and murder? And, if so, where is his body?
Pishon was declared legally dead in 2008. There is a memorial for him at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery. Although he’s presumed dead, there is a $10,000 reward in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his killer. His disappearance is the only unsolved case in his hometown of Seabrook.
5. Ayla Reynolds
Ayla Reynolds is not only the youngest person on this list, but also the only underage one. She went missing at the mere age of 20 months and, although her disappearance is the largest and most expensive police investigation in Maine history, it’s still unknown exactly what happened to her.
Ayla was reported missing on December 17, 2011. At the time, she was staying with her father, Justin DiPietro, in Waterville while her mother, Trista Reynolds, was in rehab. According to DiPietro, he put Ayla to bed at 8:00 the night before. When he went to wake her up the next morning, she was gone.
He called the police, telling them he believed Ayla had been kidnapped. The other adults in the house — his sister, Elisha, and girlfriend Courtney Roberts — backed up this claim. But police were skeptical. The house was small, with multiple people sleeping there that night. If there had been a break in, someone should have seen or heard something.
And there were more red flags pointing to DiPietro. According to Trista Reynolds — his ex and Ayla’s mother — Ayla often had injuries after coming home from his house. After one visit, she had bruises on her knees, which DiPietro claimed she got when another child kicked her in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese. But there was no ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese. At the time of her disappearance, Ayla’s arm was in a sling after being suspiciously broken a few days earlier. And Reynolds had officially filed for full custody two days before Ayla's disappearance.
A search of the basement of the house Ayla disappeared from uncovered blood that all turned out to be hers. Blood was also found on Ayla’s slippers, baby doll, and car seat. According to the Maine State Police, the amount of blood was "more than a small cut would produce.” Due to these discoveries, police believe Ayla is no longer alive, though Elisha DiPetro claims Ayla was vomiting blood due to “lactose issues.”
Two years after Ayla’s disappearance, DiPietro was in court on unrelated domestic battery charges. Reynolds confronted him about the disappearance in a heated confrontation that was caught on camera, but he ignored her. He has since moved to Los Angeles and still says he believes Ayla was kidnapped. Although police believe he and his housemates know more than they’re telling, nobody has ever been charged in connection with Ayla’s disappearance.
In July 2015, Ayla was ruled out as a match for the Deer Island Jane Doe. The unidentified body, also known as ‘Baby Doe,’ had been found on June 25 in Deer Island in Massachusetts. In September of that year, Baby Doe was identified as 5-year-old Bella Bond. (Some sources say she was two, but most say five.) Her mother and her mother’s boyfriend were arrested and later convicted for her murder.
Ayla was declared legally dead in 2017. In December 2018, Trista Reynolds filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Justin DiPietro. According to her lawyer, “Justice will be finding out where Ayla was killed, how she was killed and why she was killed.”At the time of the lawsuit, DiPietro’s whereabouts were “unknown."
Frankly, I'm stunned this case hasn't been solved yet. If police were able to search the basement of DiPietro's house, they probably had a warrant. And if they had a warrant, surely they searched the rest of the house as well. If someone in the house really did kill Ayla, where did they hide her body? Police searched nearby bodies of water as well and found nothing. Was Ayla really kidnapped like her father claims, and that's why she's never been found? Or did her killer live in the house and somehow manage to hide her body for all these years? Now that this civil lawsuit has been filed, hopefully we'll get some more answers soon. As with all the stories I cover, I'll try to keep you guys updated.
If you have any information about the cases on this list, contact information will be down
below. Let me know your thoughts on these cases in the comments.
Worcester Police Department, Special Crimes Division
Agency Case Number: 109-43580
Maine State Police, Major Crimes Unit-South
New Hampshire Cold Case Unit
New Hampshire State Police Major Crimes Unit
Seabrook Police Department
New Hampshire cold case unit tip form: https://business.nh.gov/ColdCaseTips/Tip.aspx
1 800 THE LOST (843-5678)
Sgt. Darrin Crane, Maine State Police
Agency Case Number: 0616F6
Maine State Police tip line
All photos in public domain or protected under Fair Use. (https://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/what-is-fair-use/)