WILDWOOD, Mo. (AP) - To folks around Wildwood, it's downright freaky: an entire 9.3-hectare lake vanished in a matter of days, as if someone had pulled the plug on a bathtub.

Lake Chesterfield went down a sinkhole this week, leaving homeowners in this affluent St. Louis suburb wondering if their property values disappeared along with their lakeside views.

"It's real creepy," said Donna Ripp, who lives near what had been Lake Chesterfield. "That lake was 23 acres - no small lake. And to wake up one morning, drive by and it's gone?"

What once was an oasis for waterfowl and sailboats was nothing but a muddy, crackled pit outlined by rotting fish.

The sight had 74-year-old George English scratching his head.

"It's disheartening, getting out on your deck and seeing this," he said as he stood next to wife, Betty, and the lakeside condominium they bought in 1996 for its view. "One day it's a beautiful lake and now, bingo, it's gone."