What Happened To Lars Mittank, The German Tourist Who Vanished Near A Bulgarian Airport?

Published April 20, 2021

On July 8, 2014, 28-year-old Lars Mittank disappeared in a field near the Varna Airport in Bulgaria. Eerily, some of his last known moments were caught on video.

Lars Mittank By Lake

Twitter/EyerysLars Mittank disappeared in Bulgaria at age 28.

What began as a carefree Eastern European vacation ended in a family’s worst nightmare and a mystery that endures to this day. Lars Mittank, a 28-year-old from Berlin, Germany, joined his friends on a holiday to Bulgaria in 2014, but never made it back home.

Years later, he was dubbed “the most famous missing person on YouTube,” as an airport security video of his last known sighting spread across the internet. He has never been found, despite millions of people viewing the Lars Mittank video online.

Moments before boarding his flight back home, Mittank fled a busy airport in Varna. Suffering from a head injury he had sustained during a fight a few days back, he disappeared into the forest surrounding the airport, never to be seen again.

Lars Mittank has been missing for more than six years, and despite some compelling leads and his mother publicly pleading for information, the case appears no closer to being solved than it did the day he vanished.

Mittank’s Trip Was Darkened Early On By A Bar Fight

Golden Sands Varna

Svilen Enev/Wikimedia CommonsLars Mittank was staying at the Golden Sands resort in Varna, Bulgaria, before he disappeared.

Lars Joachim Mittank was born on Feb. 9, 1986, in Berlin. At age 28, he joined a handful of his school friends on a trip to Varna, Bulgaria. There, the group stayed at the Golden Sands resort on the Black Sea coast.

At one point during the trip, Lars Mittank found himself involved in a bar fight with four men about which soccer club was better: SV Werder Bremen or Bayern Munich. Mittank was a Werder supporter, while the other four supported Bayern. Mittank left the bar before his friends did, and they allegedly didn’t see him again until the next morning.

When Mittank finally turned up at the Golden Sands resort, he informed his friends that he had been beaten up. Different friends offered different accounts, which in turn featured different details.

Some told authorities that Mittank was beaten by the same group of men he clashed with inside the bar, while others claimed that the men had hired a local to do the job for them.

Regardless, Mittank walked away from the incident with an injured jaw and a ruptured eardrum. He eventually went to see a local doctor, who prescribed him 500 milligrams of the antibiotic Cefprozil to prevent his wounds from becoming infected. He was also told to stay behind while his friends headed home, because of his injury.

‘I Don’t Want To Die Here’

Lars Mittank Running

YouTube still/Missing People CCTV FootageCCTV footage from the Bulgarian airport where Lars Mittank disappeared in 2014.

Mittank’s friends offered to delay their return until he healed up, but he urged them not to and scheduled a later flight. He then checked into a hotel near the airport, where he began exhibiting strange, erratic behavior.

Hotel cameras captured Lars Mittank on video, hiding inside the elevator and leaving the building at midnight only to return hours later. He called his mother and whispered that people were trying to rob or kill him. He also texted her, asking about his medication and to block his credit cards.

On July 8, 2014, Mittank entered Varna Airport. He met with the airport physician to check up on his injuries. The doctor told Mittank he could fly, but Mittank remained anything but at ease. According to the physician, Mittank looked nervous and asked him questions about the medication he was taking.

The airport was undergoing refurbishment, and during Mittank’s consultation, a construction worker entered the office, Mel Magazine reported.

Mittank was overheard saying, “I don’t want to die here. I have to get out of here,” before getting up to leave. After dropping his belongings on the floor, he ran down the hall. Outside the airport, he climbed over a fence, and once on the other side, he disappeared into a nearby forest and was never seen again.

Why Mittank’s Fate Remains A Puzzle With Many Missing Pieces

Lars Mittank Flier

Facebook/Findet Lars MittankA flier seeking information on Mittank still circulates on social media.

According to Dr. Todd Grande, a certified mental health counselor who covered Mittank’s story on his YouTube channel, Mittank had no history of mental illness. A popular theory is that Mittank was looking for an excuse to run away and start a new life.

Dr. Grande’s speculation on first break psychosis.

Grande doubts this, however, because Mittank was on good terms with his loved ones. His friends offered to reschedule their flight so he didn’t have to fly back alone, and he texted his mother throughout the trip. Mittank also didn’t take anything with him when he fled, leaving his passport, phone and wallet at the airport.

Another theory holds that Mittank was involved with some kind of criminal enterprise that neither his loved ones nor authorities knew about — drug trafficking, perhaps. While this theory would explain why Mittank was never found, there’s little evidence to support it.

Yet another possibility is that Mittank really was killed. While staying behind in Bulgaria, he told his mother that he was being followed. Many online sleuths suspect that the men he fought with at the bar were still after him. If they were in pursuit, it could explain why Mittank ran away. It also could explain why no one ever found his body.

Were The Pursuers All In His Head, As The Lars Mittank Video Suggests?

A fourth theory holds that Mittank could have been under the influence of drugs around the time of his disappearance. A lot of people believe the Cefprozil, the antibiotic which Mittank had been prescribed to treat his ruptured eardrum, possibly combined with another substance, might have led to him suffering a psychotic episode.

Strange as it sounds, it’s not impossible. Dizziness, restlessness and hyperactivity are listed as common side effects of the drug.

On top of that, studies suggest that acute psychosis could be a “potential adverse effect” of some antibiotics. This could explain how the behavior of someone with no history of mental illness could’ve changed so suddenly.

If Mittank was suffering from psychosis, the Cefprozil he was taking may have not even been its direct cause. In his video, Dr. Grande proposes Mittank may have experienced “first break psychosis” or the “onset of something like schizophrenia.” This, he argues, would explain his paranoia, delusions, and anxiety. It could also explain the bizarre behavior displayed in the Lars Mittank video on YouTube.

While Dr. Grande thinks that the psychosis theory is the most convincing of the bunch, he stresses that it does not explain why Mittank ran away or why his body was never found.

The Odds Are Against Mittank Being Found At This Point

Lars Mittank Mother

Twitter/Magazine79Lars Mittank’s mother continues to seek leads on her son’s disappearance to this day.

Despite years of investigation from the BKA, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office, Mittank remains missing to this day. Every now and again, an internet troll, amateur sleuth, or concerned citizen who watched the Lars Mittank video claims to have seen him somewhere in the world.

Every year, around 10.000 people go missing in Germany alone, and although 50 percent of all missing persons cases are resolved within less than a week, Less than 3 percent are actually found within a year. Lars Mittank has been missing for more than six.

In 2016, police in Porto Velho, Brazil, picked up a man with no identification and, apparently, no idea who he was. Once an image of the man recovering in a hospital circulated on social media, online sleuths noted that he had similar features to Mittank. The man was later identified as Anton Pilipa, of Toronto. He had been missing for five years.

In 2019, a truck driver claimed to have given Mittank a ride out of Dresden. The driver picked up a hitchhiker as he was leaving for the City of Brandenburg. On the way, he could not help but notice the passenger’s resemblance to Lars Mittank. The lead went nowhere.

His mother has appeared on countless television and radio shows over the years as well, promoting the Lars Mittank missing person case. Her pleas to find her son have been aired on both German and Bulgarian channels, but never produced any results.

Undaunted, she continues to posts messages on social media. A Facebook group 41,000 people strong called Find Lars Mittank also regularly posts and, apparently, design and post fliers in locations around Europe, all in an effort to find the world’s “most famous” missing tourist.


After reading about the strange missing persons case of Lars Mittank, learn about 12-year-old Johnny Gosch’s mysterious 1982 disappearance. Then, explore the bizarre, continuing mystery of the Dyatlov Pass incident, in which nine Russian hikers died mysteriously.

Tim Brinkhof
A Dutch journalist living in Atlanta, Tim Brinkhof graduated from New York University, where he studied modern history at the graduate level. He has since been writing for more than five years, developing his expertise in subjects like Soviet history as well as World War II, and his work has appeared in Esquire, Hyperallergic, Polygon, History Today, and The New York Observer.