7 Unexplained Disappearances in the Alaska Triangle

The Alaska Triangle is bounded by the lines between Anchorage, Juneau, and Utqiagvik (the city formerly known as Barrow until 2016). The area encompasses tens of thousands of square miles of harsh terrain where bitterly cold temperatures and long periods of darkness in the winter are the norms. Since 1988, more than 16,000 people have gone missing, but the mysteries began long before then. What’s causing these mysterious disappearances?

Shanna Marie Oman (top left); Jael Tiara Hamblen (top center); Thomas Anthony Nuzzi (top right); Frank Minano (center); Leonard Lane Jr. (bottom left); U.S. Rep. Hale Boggs (bottom center); U.S. Rep. Nicholas Begich (bottom right)

Shanna Marie Oman (top left); Jael Tiara Hamblen (top center); Thomas Anthony Nuzzi (top right); Frank Minano (center); Leonard Lane Jr. (bottom left); U.S. Rep. Hale Boggs (bottom center); U.S. Rep. Nicholas Begich (bottom right)

Photo by: The Charley Project

The Charley Project

Shanna Marie Oman (top left); Jael Tiara Hamblen (top center); Thomas Anthony Nuzzi (top right); Frank Minano (center); Leonard Lane Jr. (bottom left); U.S. Rep. Hale Boggs (bottom center); U.S. Rep. Nicholas Begich (bottom right)

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U.S. Reps. Hale Boggs and Nick Begich

The disappearance of Boggs, the House Majority Leadermajority leader from Louisiana, and Begich, a freshman congressman from Alaska was one of the first cases to spark widespread interest in the Alaska Triangle. The representatives, as well as an aide, were flying on a small plane between Anchorage and Juneau on October 16, 1972, when the plane disappeared. A massive search and rescue effort was launched but was called off after 39 days. Neither the plane nor the men’s bodies were ever found. The disappearance was the subject of a 17-episode investigative podcast.

Thomas Anthony Nuzzi

Nuzzi was a nurse who traveled throughout the state and didn’t have a permanent address—instead he stayed in motels during his assignments. He’d been staying in Anchorage but was working in Bethel, a quick flight away. Nuzzi was reported missing on June 19, 2001, after he didn’t show up for work. Investigators discovered gas station surveillance footage of Nuzzi that was captured the night before he went missing. Nuzzi was in the station purchasing cigarettes and snacks accompanied by a woman. Later, housekeepers at the motel said they encountered a strange man and woman in Nuzzi’s room. Nuzzi’s bicycle was found at his nearby storage unit. His jeep was found 12 miles outside of Anchorage. Nuzzi, the woman or the other man were never found.

Forty-four people on board a U.S. Air Force plane

In 1950, a Douglas C-54 Skymaster left Anchorage bound for Minnesota with 44 people on board—eight crew members, three engineers, 34 service members, and two civilians. The plane was expected to make regular radio contact as it traveled, but all communication stopped shortly after take off, and the plane never arrived in Minnesota. More than 75 U.S. and Canadian aircraft participated in the search for the missing plane, but the aircraft and its passengers were never seen again.

Frank Minano

Frank Minano, 69, was reported missing from Nenana on August 17, 2020. Nanana, located about 60 miles west of Fairbanks, is in the heart of the Alaska Triangle. His family told authorities that they believe he became lost in the woods, but reporting from NBC 11 in Fairbanks described Minano as “a traditional educator and mentor on culture, hunting, subsistence living, and respecting the land.” Authorities believe Minano took shelter in a nearby cabin the first night he was missing, but after more than a year, there is still no sign of Minano.

Shanna Oman

Shanna Oman was visiting a friend in Fairbanks on June 3, 2019. Police were called six days later when Oman’s roommate said she had never returned home. Her destination was Eagle River, but her cell phone last pinged a tower on June 4. A police dog and helicopter were used to search for the woman, but she was never found.

Leonard Lane

The 73-year-old WWII veteran was enjoying the 4th of July parade in Fairbanks in 1995 when he vanished. He was noted to walk with a pronounced limp due to his war injuries. Police had no leads and no information on what may have happened to the man. Though he was declared legally dead in 1997, the case remains unsolved.

Jael Tiara Hamblen

The 20-year-old mom went out to dinner with her roommate on the night of October 11, 2014. The women returned home, but Jael decided to go out again on her own. The next morning, her roommate found Jael’s bed unmade and her car still in the driveway. Her purse was found buried in the snow five months later. Jael hasn’t been since the night she disappeared.

Watch experts and eyewitnesses try to unlock the mysteries of the Alaskan interior on The Alaska Triangle streaming on discovery+.

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