James Burne Worson was a shoemaker by trade living in Leamington, Warwickshire, England. His friends and family were often annoyed by Worson’s constant bragging about his advanced aptitude as a long-distance runner.
One day in early September of 1873, two of Worson’s friends decided to provide Worson with an opportunity to verify his claims.
Barham Wise and Hamerson Burns were respected citizens of Leamington. Wise was a dry goods merchant and Burns a photographer. They challenged Worson to run non-stop from Leamington to Coventry, a distance of forty miles. (All my sources for this story indicate this distance is forty miles, but my research shows it is actually closer to a mere ten miles.)
Worson immediately accepted the challenge, and jumped up to begin his mission. Wise and Burns followed a few yards behind in a horse-drawn cart, never allowing Worson to leave their sight.
Although Worson had consumed alcohol prior to the start of his journey, he seemed to be running along just fine. He was enjoying himself, even laughing and joking with his companions as he ran.
After several miles of this frolicsome behavior, suddenly in front of his friends’ eyes, Worson appeared to trip and fall forward in the middle of the road, giving out a frightened cry, and disappearing into thin air before he even hit the ground.
Wise and Burns were alarmed and confused as they found no trace of their friend. They immediately made their way back to Leamington as quickly as possible to report to the local constables what they had witnessed.
Initially arrested on charges of drunkenness, they were soon released as they were found to be sober. No motive was found for the two responsible citizens to have harmed their friend. A search was conducted of the area, but Worson was never seen again.
Did Worson disappear into another dimension? Was he picked up by an alien force? Was he from another time era and suddenly whisked back to his own time? Did he stumble into a fairy circle?
A theory of “void spots of universal ether” has also been offered as an explanation for unexplained disappearances by Dr. Maximilian Hern, a scientist and author. He believes these spots only lasted a few seconds, but “were capable of destroying any and all material elements that happened into them.”
References and additional reading:
Nash, Jay Robert. Among The Missing, An anecdotal history of missing persons from 1800 to present. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1978.