By Prashant M. Oswal
The baffling disappearance of LARS MITTANK.
He ran out of an airport terminal, terrified. CCTV recorded him. But he’s never been seen again—even though thousands of YouTubers and Redditors have attempted to crack the case.
On July 8, 2014, just after sunrise, 28-year-old Lars Mittank arrived at an airport in Bulgaria to catch his flight home to Germany. He stepped out of a taxi, picked up his bags and walked into the departures hall.
Then, in a flash, he ran out of the terminal, without his luggage, as if someone, or something, were chasing him. He looked frightened, paranoid and possessed. He stopped at the main entrance for a brief second before he ran across the parking lot, climbed over an 8-foot barbed-wire fence and disappeared into the woods and into the blank.
He was never seen again.
Twenty-Four Hours Earlier
It was the final moments of Mittank’s vacation, the first time he’d been abroad. Mittank and his friends, five former schoolmates, all in their late 20s, had spent the previous week in Varna, a beach resort that sprawls along Bulgaria’s Black sea coast (aka the Bulgarian Riviera).
But now, it was time to leave.
The group had booked a flight to Hamburg Germany, 1,200 miles northwest of Varna, for later that day. From there, it was a short train ride toin the north of Germany where they all grew up, lived and worked. “The week went by really fast,” . “We relaxed on the beach, swam in the pool, played football, went clubbing. He was relaxed. He was in a good mood.”
“I noticed he didn’t eat much,”, who was also on the trip. “He’d have a bowl of soup or a small plate of salad, and that was it.”
Nothing else, however, struck them as odd.
By all accounts, Mittank was just a regular guy. He was a football fan. He supported his local team,, the “Green-Whites.” He wore Adidas T-shirts and scruffy sneakers. He had plenty of friends, a girlfriend and a decent job at a local power plant. He always visited his parents. In fact, after his dad’s stroke, he’d help out around the house after work. Essentially, there was nothing unusual about him.
But after the group checked out of their hotel at noon, Mittank made an announcement — he’d changed his travel plans. He’d gone to the hospital earlier that morning. A couple of days before, he’d ruptured his eardrum during a night out. A change in cabin air pressure could’ve made it worse, so he had to stay put for a bit — doctor’s orders. It was no big deal, though, just a temporary setback. He’d been prescribed antibiotics (something called), and he could fly home the following day. He told his friends to go on without him.
He said he’d be alright.
Mittank, however, needed a place to crash in the meantime. The problem was it was high season, and nearly every room in nearly every hotel was occupied. Eventually, he did find one place with vacancies — Hotel Color. An added bonus: The rooms were cheap, and it was close to the airport.
It was around this time, though, that his behavior changed. He called his mom from his room. He was whispering, acting strangely. He told her to cancel his bank cards. He said he was being followed. He was looking for a place to hide. Then he hung up.
“I thought, God, my son is in danger,”. “I could hear his heart pounding over the phone. He said people were trying to rob him or kill him.”
Later that night, he texted her about his antibiotics, which doctors routinely prescribe for ear infections: “What is Cefuroxime 500?”
“Why did he text me about those tablets?” Sandra asked, again on German TV.
After Mittank disappeared, the police checked the hotel’s security cameras. They found him pacing up and down the foyer, looking out the window, hiding in the elevator. At 1 a.m., he left the hotel for an hour, before returning to his room. No one knows where he went.
When dawn broke, he called his mom again. He said the people who were chasing him were getting close. “In hindsight, I should have asked him more questions,” Sandra has said. “But his cell phone was running out of battery, so our final conversation didn’t last for long.”
Mittank waved down a taxi and rode to the airport. He texted his mom: “I just made it to the terminal…”
He’d soon be home. Still, he needed an okay from the airport doctor. He walked into Dr. Kosta Kostov’s office, dropped his bags on the floor and sat on a chair. He was still acting strange. “It was just a standard checkup,” Kostov tells me. “But he was really nervous and erratic.”
Kostov examined Mittank’s ear. Everything was fine. He could get on the plane. But the paranoia festered. “He didn’t trust the medication he’d been given for his ear pain,” Kostov says. “Looking back, the whole thing was bizarre.”
A construction worker entered the room. (The terminal was being refurbished.) Mittank started to tremble. He muttered something under his breath. Then he said: “I don’t want to die here. I have to get out of here.”
Suddenly, he leapt from his chair and exited the room, leaving his luggage behind. He started running — past the boarding gates, check-in desks and baggage drops, through the main entrance, across the parking lot and into the wooded area that surrounds the terminal, where the trees are thick and packed close together. The airport’s security cameras scanned him like a barcode reader. Later, the footage made the national news.
Mittank’s wallet, cell phone and passport were still in his backpack. All he had were the clothes on his body: a yellow T-shirt, jean shorts and white sneakers.
72 Hours Earlier
The fight took place in a McDonald’s, after a boozy all-nighter. It was between him and a group of other German tourists. It was over football. He was a Bremen fan; they supported rival team. He stood no chance. It was four against one, and his friends were back at the hotel.
He said someone punched him in the face. The thump ruptured his eardrum. He got out of there as quick as he could. “I heard about it the next morning,” his friend Paul has said. “I was surprised. He was a peaceful guy.”
Mittank told his friends he was fine. But he could have sustained a concussion, where symptoms don’t show up for a day or two. It might explain his confusion, his anxiety and his fear of being followed. “A forceful blow to the head can result in a concussion,” says Dr. Jeff Konin, who specializes in physical therapy and injury prevention at the University of Rhode Island. “However, odd behavior isn’t usually this extreme a few days after an incident. It takes years, or it happens after multiple hits to the head over time.”
“Perhaps that fight stressed him out, and it triggered something in him,” Sandra has theorized, while emphasizing that Mittank had no history of mental illness.
The medication seems blameless, too. “He didn’t take those antibiotics. He didn’t even fill out his prescription,” Kostov remembers. “So his behavior couldn’t have been a result of that. I can’t think of a single reason why he left my office in such a panic. I’m still confused.
Not to mention, Kostov wonders: “Why did he abandon all of his belongings?”
Three Weeks Later
A week passed, then another and another. Mittank had been missing for almost a month. Sandra hired a local private investigator, Andreas Gütig, who jumped on the case. He watched the airport video over and over again. (Perhaps the police missed something, but they hadn’t.) He contacted hospitals and homeless shelters. (Perhaps without identification, Mittank was simply a John Doe in some Bulgarian ER, but he wasn’t.) Gütig traveled to Varna and handed out missing-person flyers: Have you seen this man? Five-foot-9, 180 pounds, average build. No one, however, recognized his blonde hair, brown eyes or wide nose.
As of today his fate is unfortunately still unknown. Dark conspiracy theories circulate online about what became of Lars in Bulgaria – a country with high levels of human trafficking and organised crime.
Whatever it is, this super bizarre mystery has baffled the Internet since his disappearance in 2014 .
Here are a few of his final images at the airport.
You can also look at the actual cctv footage here.
Originally shared on Quora.