19. Earhart died on Saipan as a prisoner of the Japanese
The theory of Earhart was captured in the Marshall Islands and held prisoner on Saipan offers several variations. In the version which emerged in the 1960s, Earhart ditched the airplane near a coral atoll, and the Japanese recovered the aircraft and its occupants. The Japanese continued to detain Earhart, and presumably Noonan, even as their ships joined in the massive search and rescue operation which ensued after her disappearance. Another version insists natives on Saipan saw the Electra land safely on the island, after which they were taken into custody, along with the aircraft.
Earhart’s execution by the Japanese for spying myth relies on the aircraft being captured, and its examination revealing evidence she and Noonan were involved in espionage. Another version of the myth surfaced in 2017, when a “lost” photograph was found presenting the aviatrix, with Noonan, at Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands, in Japanese custody. Later investigation proved the photo dates from 1935, and appeared in a Japanese travelogue that year. There is also no evidence the people identified in the photograph are Earhart and Noonan, the woman has her back to the camera and is sitting down. Despite all “evidence” supporting the claim Earhart and Noonan met their fates in Japanese hands provably false, the myth persists.