amelia earhart saipan

Eighty years later, theories continue to abound about what really happened to Amelia Earhart, the enterprising pilot who disappeared without a trace while attempting to fly around the world in 1937. Everything under the sun has been posited about Earhart’s disappearance, from a crash in the middle of the ocean to being eaten alive by giant crabs on an uninhabited island. However, one man has added new fuel to the theory that Earhart was captured and held prisoner by the Japanese.

William “Bill” Sablan, a native of Guam, claims that his uncle, Tun Akin Tuho, saw Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, on Saipan in 1937. At the time, Tuho was working at a prison on the island, which was then controlled by Japan.

Sablan told the Guam Pacific Daily News that Tuho divulged the information to him in 1971 after he mentioned his dream of being a pilot:

His uncle described an American woman and man taken to a Saipan prison in the mid-1930s by ship. He said they were found with a plane on a southern Pacific Island under Japanese control.

Sablan said Earhart was brought to Saipan, for it was a hub for the Japanese.

His uncle said that he remembers the woman and man because Caucasian people were rare on Saipan. The prison was usually quiet, but the pair’s arrival caused a commotion.

“They had no reason to be there,” Sablan said.

Sablan also said that his uncle claimed the couple was executed within a few days. Sablan thinks it’s possible that the U.S. recovered and relocated the remains after World War II. “Where those bodies are now is somebody’s own question to answer,” he said.

It might seem crazy, but news files seem to corroborate Tuho’s story. In 1960, a CBS radio man named Fred Goerner spoke with at least a dozen reliable witnesses from Saipan who said that in 1937, two white people arrived on Saipan – described as “flyers” or “spies” – and were held prisoner. The witnesses said the flyers were tall, and one of them was a woman who had short hair and wore men’s clothing. Whether the flyers were Earhart and Noonan, however, remains a mystery.

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