In June of 2014, 28-year-old Lars Mittank from Marne, Germany, and a group of his friends travelled to Varne, Bulgaria, for an all-inclusive vacation. Mittank’s friends would return home safe and well but Mittank would vanish under extremely peculiar and bizarre circumstances. Almost a decade later, the whereabouts of Mittank remains a perplexing mystery, one which has completely gripped the internet.
Mittank lived a regular life in Marne, Germany. He supported his local football team, Werder Breman, had a long-term girlfriend and was very close with his parents. Mittank also had a successful career at Wilhelmshaven, which is Germany’s only deep-water port and its largest naval base. Towards the end of June 2014, Mittank and four of his close friends travelled to Varne, Bulgaria, for a week-long vacation.
They booked into the Viva Club Hotel located on the Golden Sands resort, approximately around 17km north of downtown Varna. Golden Sands is said to be the Bulgarian equivalent of Ibiza – it’s increasingly popular among European tourists who are drawn to the area by the sun, sand and cheap alcohol. Over the course of the five days, they spent their days swimming in the pool, sunbathing on the beach, clubbing and playing football (Mel Magazine, 2021). It was the height of the summer season and the World Cup semi-finals were playing in every bar (Hinz & Kuntz, 2 July, 2020 – ‘Is the Missing Lars Homeless?’).
The first five days of the vacation were said to be largely uneventful, with one friend, Paul Rohmann, stating: ‘The week went by really fast,’(Mel Magazine, 2021) However, on the 5th of July, Mittank got into an altercation with other German tourists over football; Mittank was a Werder Breman supporter while the other tourists were said to be fans of Beyern Munich. Later that night, after several hours of drinking, Mittank’s friends went for a bite to eat at a local restaurant. Mittank informed them that he wasn’t hungry and was going to return to the hotel alone. However, when his friends returned to the hotel later that night, Mittank wasn’t there and wouldn’t show up until early the following morning.
Mittank informed his friends that he had been beaten up while walking back to the hotel alone. He said that the German tourists he had an earlier altercation with had paid people to beat him up. He complained to his friends that his ear was sore and he was struggling to hear. When Mittank was still suffering with earache two days later, he went to a doctor who diagnosed him with a ruptured eardrum as well as an injured jaw. He was informed by the doctor that he was in no condition to fly home like arranged later that day because the air pressure changes could have caused more damage to his ear. The doctor also prescribed Mittank the antibiotic, Cefprozil (500 mg), and advised him to go to hospital, which Mittank refused (The Berlin Spectator, 19 July, 2020 – ‘Germany: New Hope in Lost Son Case’).
One of Mittank’s friends offered to stay behind in Varna with him but Mittank rejected the offer and the rest of his friends boarded their flight back to Germany, leaving Mittank in Bulgaria alone. Since it was the high season, Mittank struggled to find a hotel in the same area he and his friends had been staying and instead, booked a cheap hotel named Hotel Color in an unfamiliar and more run-down area (Radio Woche, 7 October, 2020 – ‘The Lars Mittank Missing Person Case’) From here, Mittank called his mother, Sandra Mittank, and said that he wanted her to block his credit card because he feared it had been copied when he had checked in to the new hotel.
Several times throughout the night, Sandra spoke with her son on the phone and over text message. She said that he appeared to be extremely worried and paranoid and during one call, he told her that he was being followed by four men. Mittank also asked his mother about a specific ingredient which was in the antibiotics which he had been prescribed. During some of the phone calls, Mittank whispered as if he were afraid somebody would overhear him and said that the hotel was ‘strange’ and said that he did not feel safe in Bulgaria (Abendzeitung München, 3 June, 2015 – ‘He was Acting Strange: The Search for Lars’).
Surveillance footage from inside Hotel Color would capture Mittank pacing up and down the lobby. It also captured him constantly looking out of the windows and even hiding in the elevator. It was apparent that he was terrified of something or someone but the only suspicious person ever captured on the surveillance footage was Mittank. At around 1AM, he was captured leaving the hotel for around an hour before returning to his hotel room. It’s unknown where he was for this hour.
By the following morning, Mittank had become so paranoid that he decided he would try and fly home. Sandra had booked him a flight for that afternoon and also purchased him a bus ticket in case he was unable to fly. She also sent him €500, which he never withdrew. He caught a taxi to Varna airport where he was captured on surveillance footage entering the airport; he was carrying a backpack and a travel bag. From here, he went to the doctor’s office in the airport to find out if he was able to fly. Dr. Kosta Kostov later said that Mittank was acting ‘really nervous and erratic.’ He shared his fears with Dr. Kostov about the antibiotics that he had been prescribed.
Mittank’s ear was examined by the doctor and he was informed that it would be safe to travel that afternoon. However, a construction worker then entered the doctor’s office and Mittank became overwhelmingly terrified. He mumbled: ‘I don’t want to die here. I have to get out of here,’ before jumping out of his seat and fleeing from the doctor’s office. He was captured on surveillance footage again running through the airport and out the front door in a frantic state. He wasn’t carrying his backpack or his travel bag which contained his mobile phone; he had left it behind in the doctor’s office. Surveillance footage outside the airport captured Mittank jump a two-metre-high fence and then run into a meadow and disappear into a field of sunflowers, located beside the Bulgarian national highway A2. This was the last image ever captured of Mittank.
Since then, theories about what happened to Mittank have abounded. The leading theories are that Mittank had suffered a concussion or brain damage during the altercation, which left him feeling confused or that the antibiotics he was prescribed had side-effects which caused him to hallucinate. According to Mittank’s friends, however, he had refused to take the antibiotics because he was paranoid of the ingredients. Some speculate that Mittank had latent mental health issues but according to his family, there was no history of mental health issues within the family.
Others theorise that Mittank had taken illegal drugs and suffered from a bad trip but according to friends and family, Mittank did not take drugs.
Over the course of the past seven years, there have been numerous reported alleged sightings of Mittank from as far as Porto Velho, Brazil, but each one, tragically leads to a dead end. Mittank’s mother, Sandra, has never given up searching for her lost son. She strongly suspects that the injuries he sustained in Bulgaria caused him to lose his memory and ultimately resulted with him ending up homeless. She has been extremely pro-active in the search for her son. She hired a private investigator who searched for Mittank in Bulgaria and has appeared on television in both Germany and Bulgaria multiple times. She continues to post updates on the ‘Find Lars Mittank’ Facebook page and prints out thousands of missing person fliers.
While so much time has elapsed since Mittank vanished and there has not yet been a credible sighting of him, Sandra still holds out hope that one day, she will find out the truth about what happened to her son. ‘There’s a good chance he’ll come back,’ Sandra said. ‘He just needs my help.’