Real Name: Agatha Christie (nee Miller)
Case: Mysterious Legends
Date: December 4, 1926
Location: Newland's Corner, England
Details: Agatha Christie is one of the most well-known mystery authors of the Twentieth Century. She disappeared under mysterious circumstances and re-surfaced soon with unanswered questions about her disappearance. Agatha, born Agatha Miller, married Archibald Christie on Christmas Eve, 1914. Within a few days, he was sent off to fight in World War One. With her husband away, Agatha worked as a nurse and began a writing career. Her first book, "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" was published in 1920. As she wrote more books, she became more popular. Her fifth book, "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" brought her to fame.
In 1926, Agatha, Archie, and their daughter Rosalind moved into a mansion, which they named "Styles". Archie became an investment banker. The family seemed to be happy, but everything changed after Agatha's mother's death. She and Rosalind went to briefly stay at her mother's estate. Archie came to visit them for their daughter's birthday. While there, he asked for a divorce. He had become involved with a woman named Nancy Neil. In a last ditch effort to save the marriage, Agatha returned home with Rosalind.
On December 3, 1926, Archie left to go to a weekend house party. Agatha apparently suspected that he was going to stay with his mistress. Sometime between 9:30 and 11 pm, she left the house, taking just a small travelling case. She left behind two notes: one to her secretary, asking her to cancel her weekend appointments; another, of unknown content, was addressed to Archie. The next morning, her car was found at Newlands Corner, perched above a chalk quarry, with an expired driver's license and clothes.
Archie was contacted and soon arrived at the scene. When asked about his whereabouts for the previous night, he stated that he was with friends. Investigators questioned her secretary, daughter, and maids; however, no one could shed light on Agatha's whereabouts. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public. William Joynson-Hicks pressured the police and the newspaper offered a huge reward. Nearly 20,000 people volunteered to search for her. A pond near the crash scene was dragged twice by the police. Despite the extensive manhunt, it took days to find her.
Soon after Agatha's disappearance, many people pointed the finger at Archie and even suggested that he had killed her. The press noted that he had at least two reasons to kill her: to continue seeing his mistress and to no longer need a divorce from her. However, witnesses began coming forward, claiming to have seen Agatha after her disappearance. One witness was walking to work on December 4 when he passed her sitting next to her car. He believed that she was distraught and noticed that she was only wearing a thin dress, despite the cold weather. He helped her start her car, which she drove in the opposite direction of where it would later be found.
Two railroad porters also spoke with her sometime after her disappearance. She was apparently confused and was seen getting onto a train. Eleven days after her disappearance, a musician contacted authorities, believing that Agatha was a guest at a health spa in Harrogate. An investigator went to the spa with Archie. While in the lobby, Agatha walked past Archie, and he confronted her. For unknown reasons, she claimed that he was her brother, not her husband.
The couple refused to comment about Agatha's disappearance and re-discovery. Eventually, the press concluded that she was suffering from amnesia. This was supported by her doctors. It is suspected that her impending divorce caused her to lose her memory. However, some suspect that Agatha staged her own disappearance. They believe that she enjoyed the fact that Archie was suffering as a result of her disappearance. To this day, many wonder if Agatha had amnesia or if she staged her disappearance.
Agatha and Archie went their separate ways; she later married Max Mallowan, while he later married his mistress, Nancy Neil. By all accounts, both couples had long and happy marriages. In the years since her "disappearance", Agatha wrote many successful novels. She passed away in 1975, taking the truth behind her disappearance to her grave.
Suspects: Archibald Christie was considered the prime suspect in her disappearance. However, he was cleared when Agatha was found alive. Some speculate that she engineered her own disappearance.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the November 11, 1994 episode.
This case was parodied in the series "Drunk History" along with the D.B. Cooper and Circleville Writer cases; actress Kirsten Dunst played Agatha Christie.
Results: Unresolved. In 2006, a biographer came up with a possible explanation for Agatha's disappearance. He believes that the trauma of her divorce caused her to enter a "fugue state". This is a psychological disorder that causes people to flee from a traumatic event or a serious problem. However, with everyone involved now deceased, it is impossible to say if this is truly what happened to Agatha.
- Agatha Christie on Unsolved.com
- Agatha Christie on Wikipedia
- Christie's most famous mystery solved at last
- 11 missing days: Agatha Christie's greatest mystery