In January 2002, the Gill family – a clan of six – vanished, never to be seen again. The disappearance took place in the Entre Rios Province of Argentina.
The disappearance has caused significant confusion for investigators and the wider public. Many believe that the family might still be alive, while others have pointed to certain circumstances that point towards something more sinister.
This article reviews this disappearance. There is a reader’s poll at the end of the article, which we would encourage you to vote on. This will present us all with knowledge on the overall consensus on what happened.
The Gill family were aged between 4 and 56. The family patriarch was Rubén Gill, who was aged 56. His wife, Margarita, was aged 26. They had four children: Maria, aged 12, Osvaldo, aged 9, Sofia, aged 6, and Carlos, aged 4.
They lived in a large plot of land – which was based on 2 square miles of land. Others lived on the plot too. The parents had numerous jobs in the local area. The plot of land was owned by a man named Alfonso Goette.
On January 12th, 2002, the Gill family went to the nearby town of Viale, where they met their friend Máximo Vega – and went round his house.
This was the last confirmed sighting of them. To Goette’s knowledge, he said that the family were embarking on a three-month holiday.
In April 2002, alarmed that the family hadn’t returned from their holiday, Goette contacted extended family members of the Gill family to inform them.
Ruben’s sister came forward to file a police report regarding the family’s disappearance. The family were soon declared missing.
The Police were already on the backfoot due to the fact that the family had technically been missing for three months. Still, they tried to piece together what had happened.
With the family not having their own method of transport, it seemed almost impossible for them to have suddenly left. The family appeared to have no motive to leave the area either.
The Police became aware of a phone call made on January 13th from the father Ruben to a mobile phone in the Argentine city of Rosario. Investigators were unable to trace the number. Nothing further came of this.
A neighbour of the Gill family, Quito Albornoz, who lived on the same plot of land as the Gill’s, came forward to claim that he had seen Ruben on horseback on January 14th – the day after the confirmed phone call. This sighting wasn’t able to be verified.
Despite searches around several cities, including Rosario, taking place, the Police were unable to find any leads on the family. It had seemed as if they had simply vanished.
Goette, the landowner, was questioned in the aftermath. He said that the family had left all of their possessions in the house. However, upon visiting, Gill’s family found that the belongings were gone.
Goette suggested that the family had left the area, potentially to search for work elsewhere in the country. Moreover, Goette also said that he had decided to burn the mattresses that the family had used, as they had become stained.
To the extended Gill family, this seemed a very bizarre act. They also pointed to how the Gill family had never been given three months off before. But in the absence of any evidence, Goette was never considered to be a concrete suspect.
As the years passed, there was never a sign from the family that they were still alive. Relatives were left confused, and the Police were also stumped.
Out of nowhere, in 2008, the Police carried out a raid on the plot of land where the family had lived. Floorboards were raised and wells were dug out.
Some traces of blood were found, but they did not feature the same genetic pattern as the Gill family. However, blood experts suggested that the blood samples had become contaminated. They were unable to see if this was manually done, or simply a product of time passing.
Investigators also noticed that there were flies near where the traces of blood had been found. This was interesting, as flies are typically attracted to human cadavers.
There was speculation that someone murdered the family before disposing of their bodies. But across the land, detailed analysis found that none of the land had been dug up in the area.
Searches in countryside areas around the land took place over the next few years. It is unknown as to whether or not the Police were tipped off about something, which led to the renewal of interest in the case.
The case went quiet for several years, before in 2015, it was re-opened. Satellite image analysis was conducted, further searches made, and more personnel added to the case.
The actions of the Police suggested that they were looking for disturbed earth which had been dug up by someone trying to dispose of potential bodies. Despite the renewed efforts in the case, there were still no developments.
The extended family of the Gill’s have requested that the Police investigate the basement of the house where the family were staying. They have suggested that Goette – the landowner – had intentionally covered the area.
In June 2016, Goette died at the age of 78, having been involved in a car crash. Many believe that Goette’s death means that the Gill family’s whereabouts will never be known. They remain missing.
This case is confusing, with very little in the way of evidence. But a few theories have been put forward, which may explain what happened.
We take a look at each theory below:
Theory One: Alfonso Goette murdered the family
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Goette was involved in their disappearance in some way. The Police have completed several searches in the area. The only reason that they would be doing this so often is if they had received some accurate information, such as a tip-off that the bodies had been buried.
The mattress-burning is also concerning, and blood was also found. The family also pointed out that Goette never gave the Gill’s much time off, let alone three months. They have also suggested that the basement of the Gill’s house may be a place of interest.
There have been some reports that there was an uneasy relationship between Ruben Gill and Goette. Any sort of conflict may have ended up in their death. There is no shortage of land, so Goette may well have buried them somewhere.
However, there has been no confirmed evidence against Goette yet. While he appeared to know more than he was willing to say, he wasn’t arrested for a reason. It is possible that Goette took secrets to the grave.
Theory Two: The Gill family moved away
Another theory is that the Gill family decided to move away in search of work elsewhere. They may have not been enjoying their lives, and sought to change.
This theory would explain why they have never been found. There is also seemingly motive to an extent – as South America is a big continent, with plenty of opportunities for those emigrating.
But it isn’t clear why the family would leave all their belongings, or not let their family know about this. There seems to be very little logic behind this theory.
Theory Three: Mass act of suicide
Another possibility is that the Gill family tragically died by suicide. This theory would explain why no trace of the family has ever been found.
While the Gill family appeared a close-knit unit, no one knows what it was truly like on the inside. It is possible that sadly, Gill decided to take his own life, as well as his family’s. Equally, the matriarch of the family – Margarita – could have done the same. A similar event appeared to happen in the Dupont de Ligonnes disappearance.
Some witnesses mentioned that in the days leading up to the disappearance, Ruben Gill appeared to be downcast. This was unusual for Ruben, who was generally seen as a very happy person.
However, as mentioned, the family appeared to be happy, and seemingly had plenty to live for. The extended family have staunchly said that suicide would have never been an option for Ruben or his family.
Now that we have gone through the above theories, please feel free to vote on the poll below. Once you have made a selection, the overall opinions will appear.
The disappearance of a family unit is very sad. From a humanitarian perspective, it is hopeful that the six members are all alive, and working elsewhere.
Searches appear to be continuing, but with Goette now dead, it is unknown if this case will ever see any major developments. The hope though is that one day, there will be answers.