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The Perplexing Disappearance of Lars Mittank

Lars Mittank and a group of his friends enjoyed a vacation to Varna, Bulgaria, in the summer of 2014.

The German native intended to make the most of the nearby beach and the city’s plentiful bars, just like any other 28-year-old on a sun-soaked trip with friends. However, unlike his friends, Lars would never make it home.

Photo of Lars Mittank before he went missing at age 28.

The group was vacationing at Golden Sands resort, which was close to the Black Sea Coast. It’s a popular area for young people to party, causing some travelers to call it the “Ibiza of the Black Sea.”

The European getaway was the picture of fun, and the friends were intent on making it a memorable summer – which it would end up being, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

Born and raised in Marne, Germany, Lars had a stable life. He was in a long-term relationship, had a strong bond with his parents, and worked a job he enjoyed.

He showed no signs of wanting to escape the life he’d built for himself, nor did he have any mental health struggles.

However, while vacationing in Bulgaria, Lars went from a fun-loving, outgoing man to one ravaged by paranoia and fear. His sudden switch in persona preceded his abrupt vanishing.

The question of what happened to Lars Mittank has all the traits of a real-life mystery novel, but without the closure of an ending, just a slew of conspiracies and questions.

From Carefree To Uneasy

For most of their week-long trip, Lars and his friends made the most of the cheap alcohol, played football on the beachfront, and enjoyed the atmosphere.

It was the World Cup semi-finals, and Lars was a big football fan. So were many of the other tourists who’d made their way to the warmer climates of Bulgaria to watch the sport as it played on big-screen TVs in pubs and bars.

On day five of the holiday, the friends were partying on the beach before heading to watch the football and continue drinking.

Lars, a Werder Breman supporter, decided to have some fun with some Bayern Munich supporters by switching the team’s flags around on their tables.

Football fans can be passionate about the team they support, so some patrons didn’t take Lars’ joking too well. This, coupled with the large amounts of alcohol consumed by the fans, led to an altercation between Lars and the opposing fans.

Eventually, the group left the bar and headed to a restaurant for some food. Lars, however, took a rain check, telling his friends he wasn’t hungry.

Lars was staying at the Golden Sands resort in Varna.

He said he’d go back to the hotel and wait for his friends there. When the group finished their food and returned to the hotel, they were surprised to find that Lars wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

For hours, there was no sign of him.

His friends had no idea where Lars could have gone, believing he perhaps stopped off at another bar. However, when he did turn up the following morning, it was clear something was off with Lars.

He said that a group of men had attacked him and that they’d beat him so brutally he was struggling to hear. Lars also complained of a painful jaw.

When asked who beat him up and why, Lars said that the German tourists he’d had an altercation with in the bar had arranged for people to attack him.

The injury to Lars’ ear was so painful that he visited a doctor, who prescribed him 500 mg of Cefprozil, an antibiotic. The doctor felt Lars needed hospital treatment for his injuries and told his patient as much.

However, Lars refused to seek further medical treatment, choosing just to take the tablets he’d been given.

One piece of advice Lars did heed was to avoid flying while his ear was still so damaged. The changes in air pressure that occur during flying could possibly cause more permanent damage to Lars’ hearing.

As a result, he decided to hold off heading home for a few days to let his eardrum heal. While some of his friends offered to stay in Bulgaria with him, Lars insisted they take the original flight home on July 7.

Since the group had to be out of the Viva Club Hotel by midday that day, Lars had to find alternative accommodation for the rest of his solo stay in Bulgaria.

Eventually, he chose the Hotel Color. The pickings were slim for hotels due to the World Cup taking place, so unless Lars was willing to pay a premium, there were few places for him to stay.

The hotel was in an area unfamiliar to Lars, and the surroundings could be described as run-down, particularly in comparison to the area he’d stayed for the past week. Still, it was cheap, and it was near the airport.

Paranoia Sets In

Lars’ stay at the Hotel Color would see his erratic behavior begin. Instead of sleeping off his ear injury and recuperating, security cameras caught Lars acting strangely.

Hotel Calor in Varna, where Lars began to act strangely.

The CCTV captured him pacing the hotel hallways in an unsettled manner, quickly ducking into doorways, running into elevators as if he were hiding from someone, and peeking out of the windows as if he were trying to look for someone.

The cameras never picked up on anyone chasing Lars, nor did they capture anyone having a confrontational interaction with him. 

The same day, he would call his mother and ask her to cancel his credit cards. His explanation for this request was vague, but he mentioned that he didn’t feel safe in the hotel and was worried his credit card details had been stolen.

Concerned by her son’s panicked call, Lars’ mother booked him on a flight home for the following day.

After ending the call, Lars left the hotel. There’s no CCTV or witnesses to tell us where he went, but after an hour, he returned and made another anxious call to his mother.

The call was notably quiet, with Lars lowering his voice when talking, telling his mother that he had to whisper in case the four men chasing him heard what he was saying.

He said he was hiding from his pursuers, who were allegedly going to rob and kill him. It was clear that Lars was paranoid about his safety.

The mother and son would have multiple calls throughout the early hours, with Lars’ mistrust only seeming to get worse.

In one call, he asked her what was in Cefprozil, the tablets he’d been prescribed to help his ear.

It could have been that Lars was beginning to feel that these tablets may be causing paranoia (which is labeled as a rare side effect). This may have caused him to lean toward the belief that men were going to murder him.

Regardless, Lars’ state of mind was only going to get worse.

Vanishing From The Airport

His concerned mother advised her son to visit the airport doctor once he’d checked in, something he agreed to do.

In the taxi on the way to the airport, the woman he shared the lift with noticed Lars’ dilated pupils and described him as urgently wanting to get to the airport.

Once he arrived at Varna Airport, Lars called his mother once again. “I made it to the airport,” he said, seeming relieved and somewhat surprised to have made it there.

Since he’d gotten his mother to block his credit and debit cards, Lars had no access to money, so he asked his mother for €500 to be sent via Western Union.

The pair hung up the call so the funds could be transferred, although it’s unclear why Lars would need such a large sum just to travel home.

While he awaited the money, he visited the airport doctor, as his mother suggested. Lars was seen by Dr Kosta Kostow, who noticed the man was unsettled and fidgeting constantly, especially with his hands.

After taking a closer look at his ear, the doctor advised that Lars shouldn’t fly for another week or so. He also offered him pain relief to ease the aching, but Lars refused.

Lars’ session with the doctor lasted around 45 minutes until a construction worker abruptly entered the consultation room without knocking.

This startled Lars, who became even more unsettled than he was. Lars rose from his seat and, out of nowhere, stated, “I don’t want to die here.”

CCTV footage shows Lars bolting away from the airport.

Dr Kostow tried to calm him down, explaining to the spooked patient that the man who entered the room worked at the airport and posed no threat to him. However, this did nothing to calm Lars, and he fled the medical center.

When he raced out of the office, he left all his belongings: his phone, his ID, his wallet, and his credit cards. CCTV managed to capture Lars running as fast as he could through the airport, with fellow travelers stopping to look at the frantic man running away from something.

When vacationers tried to see what Lars was running from, confusion set in; there was nothing there.

Lars eventually made it to the airport exit and took a moment to stop, seemingly deciding what to do next.

After a few moments of contemplating where to go, Lars ran as fast as he could, hurriedly making his way through the airport car park and scaling the eight-foot fence surrounding it.

The drop on the other side of the fence was a field full of sunflowers, all of which were around two meters high and in full bloom. This meant that he was no longer visible on the CCTV once Lars landed among them.

Lars had no phone, money, wallet, or clothing aside from the shorts and t-shirt he wore.

Meanwhile, his mom was trying to call him to check if he got the cash she’d transferred. Her calls went unanswered, and the money remained untouched by Lars.

After a while, it became apparent something was wrong, and Lars’ mother reported him missing to the German Embassy.

The police were called, and the CCTV trail led officers to the sunflower field where Lars was last seen. A thorough search and cadaver dogs found nothing to suggest Lars had been there.

Lars’ mom headed to Bulgaria to aid in the search for her son, but there were no leads to follow. “It’s like the earth swallowed him up,” she said.

Conspiracies And Unanswered Questions

Since then, the case of Lars Mittank has been much discussed and hypothesized. Plenty of questions and theories have been bandied around over the years, and there have even been some reported sightings of the man.

It has been suggested that Lars may have found his way to a rural area of Bulgaria and set up a new life for himself. In certain areas of the country, particularly in 2014, things like cell phones were considered a luxury and not readily available.

This means it would be unlikely the people who lived here would see the press coverage of this missing person’s case.

There were also a lot of places he could have set up home here, such as old abandoned houses or stables, and plenty of substance for him to live off, such as wild berries.

This theory can perhaps be quashed when you consider Lars had a family he lived back home, a loving partner, and a career he enjoyed; he had no reason to start over.

However, with Lars’ frame of mind being in question at the time of his disappearance, it seems even the most far-fetched theories have to be considered.

There have also been suggestions that Lars may have, tragically, died of exposure. The Bulgarian weather in July can be unforgiving, especially when you’re not protected from the sun.

However, this theory raises the question: if the elements got to Lars, why hasn’t his body been found by now?

Another theory suggests a cover-up of what really happened with Lars in order to protect the Bulgarian tourism industry.

To avoid fear and trepidation about visiting the tourist destination, it’s been theorized that whatever sinister situation Lars found himself in was covered up.

There are a number of other dark theories, too. One of them proposes that Lars had been forced to be a drug mule. This theory goes back to the night Lars’ friends all went for food without him.

He disappeared for hours that night before turning up the next morning with an injured ear. It’s been hypothesized that Lars was forced to take drugs by a Bulgarian or possibly Russian gang, hoping he would transport the drugs internally to Germany.

This would explain Lars’ hesitancy to fly home.

Another of the more macabre theories is that Lars was bought for his organs. This theory speculates that for black-market trafficking rings, a fit, young, healthy man like Lars would be an ideal target.

In September 2014, three people came forward to say they’d seen Lars in Varna.

They identified him from the pictures circulating on the news and were confident the man they’d spotted was Lars. Subsequently, a reward of €40,000 was put up for information that led to the successful relocation of Lars.

Nothing came of the sightings.

Then, a year later, a truck driver said he thought he’d picked Lars up in the months after his disappearance. He described the young man as looking “disheveled” but was convinced it was him. 

With it being so long since he’d given the man a lift, he couldn’t remember where he’d dropped him off. This was another glimmer of hope for the Mittank that led nowhere.

Since then, multiple sightings have been reported, though the clues haven’t led to Lars. 

As such, the theories surrounding Lars being forced into transporting drugs have endured.

It’s been suggested that his erratic behavior and panic at the contract worker – whom he may have mistaken for a police officer – tie in with the idea that he’d been forced to be a drug mule.

This leads to the theory that if he was carrying drugs inside of him, a bag splitting would have been fatal for the man. But this doesn’t help answer the question as to why no body was found in the subsequent search. 

The calls Lars made to his mother have also been scrutinized. He never delved into why men were chasing him or trying to kill him, and he was vague about his panicked situation. All Sandra knew was that her son was in trouble, but she didn’t know why.

Lars Mittank’s mother holding a missing poster of her son.

Lars’ story to his friends about being beaten up has also been dissected.

Nobody saw the fight he said he was in, and no witnesses to this have come forward, leaving his friends to feel like Lars may have been covering up the real reason he didn’t make it back to the hotel that night.

Though Lars wasn’t known to be dishonest, his friends felt something was “off” about his story when he returned to the hotel the next morning.

The tablets Lars had been prescribed for his ear have also been a topic of debate in the case. One of the rarer side effects of the medication he took is hallucinations.

Could it be that the antibiotics he was given caused him to have a psychotic breakdown? It seems Lars may have asked himself this question when he asked his mother what was in his Cefprozil tablets.

Another theory is that Lars had been living with undiagnosed schizophrenia. However, prior to this, Lars was known to be happy, stable, and without any mental health problems. It seems unlikely the schizophrenic theory holds any weight.

However, if Lars had been punched in the head like he’d said, this can cause psychosis. One of the triggers for psychosis is a traumatic brain injury, and the symptoms include paranoia and delusions, two things Lars was seemingly suffering from before he vanished.

The story of Lars Mittank is filled with more questions and theories than it is facts, something his family knows all too well.

Still, his mother, Sandra, refuses to believe that Lars is dead, and as of writing, she still puts up missing person posters in the hope someone finds her son. As of 2024, he would be in his late 30s.


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