WHAT HAPPENED? (1)
When I think weird, bizarre, mysterious disappearances, the case of Lars Mittank is the first one that comes to mind. While I feel like there is some sort of reasonable explanation somewhere, this case is just so freaking strange.
On July 8, Lars Mittank, a German man who was vacationing in Bulgaria, went missing. Seems normal enough, right? No. Lars was last seen at the Varna Airport. He's walking through the airport with his bags in hand, looking very normal. Then, he drops his bags and sprints out of the airport. Security cameras capture him running away, climbing a fence into a meadow. He has never been seen again.
There are a couple additional layers to the story, and a whole lot of theories as to what could have happened to him. So strap in for a wild ride.
THE VACATION (1)
Lars Mittank arrived in Golden Sands, Bulgaria on June 30, 2014 with a group of friends. The area was a common vacation destination for young Europeans. They stayed at the HVD Viva hotel and planned to enjoy their vacation before heading back home to Germany on July 7th.
Not much is known about the first 5 days of their vacation, but things seemingly went off without a hitch. However, on July 6, Lars ended up in a fight with 4 men, allegedly over sports teams. During the fight, he was hit in the ear which resulted in a ruptured eardrum. Lars and his friends had planned to fly back home on July 7, but the local doctors recommended that he not fly due to his injury. He was prescribed antibiotics for the rupture.
His friends offered to stay with him as needed, but he insisted that they return home as planned, and he would be fine by himself. And so, on July 7, his friends flew back home while Lars rented a cheap room at a different hotel for the night.
That night, he called his mom and told her that he was being followed, and did not feel safe in the hotel he was at. He said 4 men were following him. He was panicking, wanting to cancel his credit cards and telling his mother that there was "something strange" about the hotel. His mother was worried and booked her son an airplane and bus ticket home for July 8, 2014. He hoped he could get cleared to fly from the doctor.
In the airport footage from July 8, he is walking with a red and black backpack, as well as a large duffle bag. He stops and talks to a woman. Their conversation can't be heard, but because he walks to Medical Services after speaking with her, it assumed that he asked for directions to their office. He arrived at Medical Services and spent about 45 minutes there.
And here is where it gets extremely bizarre. While he was in the Medical Services office, an unknown male walked in dressed as a construction worker. Lars sees the man and becomes anxious. And then, he leaves his luggage on the ground and sprints out of the airport. Once he gets outside, he slows from a full-on sprint to a light jog, goes across the parking lot and scales a fence. The camera loses him after that.
Lars had no history of mental illness.
In this case, at least we know that he ran away. What happened before is a mystery and what happens after his a mystery, but at least we know he wasn't abducted or (initially) murdered. What he was running from and what he ultimately ran to is a mystery, but we know he ran.
Because of that, you can at least narrow down the theories to why he ran away. There are 2 camps of thought for why he sprinted out of the airport: He was (or genuinely thought he was) in danger, or he had some sort of psychotic break as a result of his injury or medication.
The danger theory it probably the camp that I would pitch my tent in, but not very confidently. He told his mom that he was getting very concerned that that men were following him. Now, the only men he had any sort of altercation with was the fight that he got in over soccer teams. Does it seem plausible that a group of men who had gotten into a random bar fight with some German tourist would follow him and threaten his life? No. Initially, that's where this theory ended for me. For what purpose would those men have to continue to follow him?
But then I read another theory: he wasn't being followed by those men, but different men. And not because of a fight about soccer teams, but because Lars was a drug mule. However, this theory loses steam when Lars' suitcase was searched, but no drugs were found. Pretty lousy drug mule to not move any drugs. But this theory takes it a step further: Lars wasn't the one moving the drugs, his friends were.
Instead of Lars being the one running the drugs, it was his friends. They went back with the drugs, and he stayed back as "some sort of insurance," the user theorizes. The user believes that when Lars saw the official looking man walk into Medical Services (though one report said he looked like a construction worker...), he believed that his friends had been caught and he was going to be arrested for the operation, as well. And so, he left everything behind and ran.
The user also believes that his friends wouldn't leave their friend behind in a foreign country if he was acting strange or was sick if they didn't have a reason to. Now, I would have to see if there are any medical records that corroborate that the doctor told him not to fly, but this user thinks that rupturing an eardrum and then being told you can't leave the country seems far-fetched, as there is a surgery that could be performed. (As someone who has had a ruptured eardrum, they typically only surgically repair it if the hole doesn't heal itself with antibiotics. I can't imagine surgery in a foreign country would be the go-to treatment, though I do not know the regulations on flying with such an injury.)
I think the theory has some serious holes, for sure, because I think the injury actually happened and was a spontaneous turn of events. I don't think they just got lucky that someone needed to stay behind, and I also don't think it is strange that a group of 28-year-old men would leave their friend behind if he was injured and insisted he could catch another flight. However, I do think that the drug mule theory is absolutely a possibility. Perhaps they had all planned to go back together, but when Lars couldn't, they just went without him and left him behind to do something. It would make sense that when an authority figure walked in, he was associated with the operation and decided to run.
It isn't a perfect theory, but I think it makes more sense than the latter, that his actions were a result of improper antibiotic use or from the head injury itself. Again, I have had a ruptured eardrum and I did not start acting strange or becoming paranoid. It was just very painful. One Reddit user did some research into the antibiotic he was given, which he could have overdosed on. The antibiotic has side effects of irritability, restlessness and hyperactivity and taken in high doses, he may have hallucinated or had some sort of break. However, it doesn't seem plausible to me that he walked into the airport completely fine and sprinted away as soon as someone else walked into the room he was in. To me, that seems like he was afraid of someone. Would the effects of the antibiotic overdose have hit all at once, leading to such an abrupt exit?
Some others believe that the ruptured eardrum wasn't the only injury, and he had a diagnosed head trauma that lead to paranoia and ultimately, his decision to run away. (Perhaps the man who walked into Medical Services couldn't have even been perceived as a real threat because he wasn't involved in anything illegal, but in his paranoid mind, he wrongfully believed someone was out to get him?) This makes more sense to me than a ruptured eardrum or antibiotics leading to his break from reality.
It could also be some combination of the 2, as well. Perhaps they weren't drug mules (or perhaps they were) but in some way, drugs were involved and things didn't go down smoothly. No one was actually following him, but in his paranoid, brain-damaged mind, they were, and he ran. That really has to be it, that there either was a threat, there wasn't a threat whatsoever and he had a break of some sort, or there could have been a threat which resulted in the break.
If there was a real threat, would he SPRINT out of an airport because he saw someone who maybe could have been after him? There were people around, so it isn't like they were going to kill him. And if they had been police who wanted to question him in relation to drug use/sale/etc., would someone in their right mind run away with all of their speed? Additionally, no one chased him so it doesn't appear that anyone was really after him. I can't imagine the soccer fight guys would have anything to gain from following him for 2 days, and I don't think anyone they had gotten into drug-related trouble would have confronted him with people around in an airport. So the only "threat" that would actually reasonably make someone run away would be the threat of law enforcement, meaning he would have had to believe the person was there to question/arrest him. And I still don't think running away, leaving everything behind, would be a reasonable person's response. So, this one doesn't make sense to me.
If there wasn't a real threat, that would mean that either from his ruptured eardrum/head trauma/antibiotics he had some sort of break from reality and ran away. The side effects of the antibiotic, even taken in large doses, doesn't seem like it would ever lead to this sort of result. A ruptured eardrum wouldn't lead to something like this, either. It would have to be an undiagnosed head injury that was worse than anyone suspected. But would a punch from a random fight 2 days before lead someone to go from completely normally walking through an airport to dropping everything, sprinting away and scaling a fence? Sure, he had been paranoid and "acting strangely" since it happened, but what head injury or medical reaction leads someone from acting a little bit on edge to running away over the course of 2 days? It doesn't really make sense to me.
Which leads to option 3, which seems most plausible, that there wasn't a real threat, but there was reason to believe there was one, and coupled with his brain injury, he ran. He did some sort of drug deal on vacation that went a little shady. He saw a man following him near his hotel. He thought the police may be after him from the fight or anything else. He believed the guys from the fight were still out for him. None of these are real reasons, but if he was already experiencing paranoia or irritability or something else from his head injury, he may have been able to convince himself they were real threats to his life. And so, he was a little bit off because of the medication and head injury and being alone in a foreign country, not knowing if he could leave. And then, someone walked in. And it looked like someone he bought drugs from or the random guy that was following him or a police officer who was after him or one of the guys from the fight. And all of a sudden, everything hit at once, and he had to run. He was not in danger, and he was not 100% delusional from the medicine, but believing he could be in danger coupled with the injuries lead to him taking off. That makes the most sense to me.
And that isn't even the only thing that needs to be decided! That was just why did he run. There are 100 things that could have happened after, which also falls into distinct camps. One being that he suffered a psychotic break and thus, amnesia and started a new life or is homeless somewhere. And the other is that he is dead. I'll more firmly pitch my tent into the latter.
Sure, he could still be alive. But I can't imagine someone with no history of mental illness having some sort of psychotic break and not remembering anything about his life before. He likely couldn't still be in the area, because he would be recognized. He could have hitchhiked, as the road was nearby to where he scaled the fence, but you would think someone would have remembered picking up a frantic, terrified person around that time on that day. And, while sprinting away seems pretty bananas, he started to slow down in the parking lot, perhaps calming down. I just can't believe, 6 years later, that if he were alive, he wouldn't have known or said anything.
Which, unfortunately, means he probably died. He ran into a field, but there was wilderness around the area. The woods are massive and searches are effective, but not anywhere near 100%. It is hard to find one 6-foot body in hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness. He may have died of exposure, which I think is possible. He also could have gotten a ride with someone and was ultimately met with foul play, but I don't believe so. I think he ran away, got lost and died in the woods or a field or somewhere his body would be extremely difficult to find.
This story is not filled with facts, because it couldn't be. It is so bizarre and crazy and the only facts we know are that he went to Bulgaria, he stayed later than his friends, and sprinted from an airport never to be seen again. Everything else is just theory. I hope you didn't mind reading all of mine. This case has fascinated me since I read it for the first time, and I hope that one day his body is found to at least provide some closure to his family and friends. To disappear in such a bizarre way is certainly not what anyone wants to be known for.
It has been 6 years, and while internet sleuths still talk about it all the time, there is not enough to go on to make a real, educated guess as to what happened or to even know where to start looking for him. While I'm sure searches have been conducted, where do you start/stop looking for someone who ran away under such suspicious circumstances?
6 years ago today sparked one of the most famous disappearances cases which has everything it needs to be fascinating: a strange story and an insane video. I just hope one day those 2 things are able to lead to the man featured in them.