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Kidnappings, Cults and North Korea: How people vanish. Listen to Dakota Spotlight, episode 15

When a person vanishes without a trace, it is natural to speculate what the explanation might be. The most common theories are those which make some sort of sense to us. But people go missing in all kinds of obscure ways.

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Mugshot in 2003 of David Berkowitz, aka Son of Sam, whose crimes shook New York City in the mid-1970s. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
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When Barbara Cotton vanished without a trace on April 11, 1981 some thought she had simply run away. They guessed. They speculated.

Sometimes that’s all we are left with when someone just disappears, speculations and theories. Our most common theories are those which make some sort of sense to us, things we’ve heard about or are familiar with: runaway, accident, abduction, assault. Murder! But what are some of the more obscure ways that people have gone missing in the past?

In episode 15 of "A Better Search for Barbara" host James Wolner explores some lesser-known explanations.

North Korea Kidnappings

Beginning in 1977, the North Korean government came up with a creative solution for fulfilling some of their needs for language teachers and other professions; they started kidnapping people from other countries. Most of these people were from Japan but there are accounts from around the world, including Italy, The Netherlands, France, Romania, Thailand and others.

From Son of Sam to Barbara Cotton?

Perhaps it's just a case of six degrees of separation . Perhaps it a coincidence. Whatever the explanation, there is now an alleged connection between convicted "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz and missing Barbara Cotton of Williston, N.D. In this episode host James Wolner discusses the recent Netflix documentary "Sons of Sam" with private investigator Carrie Abbey. The documentary explores theories of occult activity and its alleged role in the Son of Sam murders in 1976. The discussion takes us from New York to Minot, N.D. to Williston.

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Lili Trifilio, second from left, pictured with her band Beach Bunny, spoke with Dakota Spotlight Podcast about music, true crime and missing Barbara Cotton / Alexa Viscius

beach_bunny_alexa_viscius__62.JPG
Lili Trifilio, second from left, pictured with her band Beach Bunny, spoke with Dakota Spotlight Podcast about music, true crime and missing Barbara Cotton / Alexa Viscius

James Wolner is a Digital Content Producer at Forum Communications Company, Fargo North Dakota and the creator, producer and host of Dakota Spotlight, a true crime podcast. He has lived the Upper Midwest since 2013 and studied photojournalism at California State University at Fresno. He is fluent in English and Swedish.
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