When a young child goes missing, the entire country searches for him, and the family eventually recovers him, only to discover that he was not their child after all. While it may sound like something out of The Twilight Zone, the eerie case of Bobby Dunbar occurred in Louisiana beginning in 1912. Do you know What is the Strange Case of Bobby Dunbar?
Bobby Dunbar Disappeared in 1912 When He was 4-Years-Old. He Was Found Eight Months Later in Mississippi with a Couple Who Denied That It Was Him. Courts Ruled in the Dunbar’s Favor. 100 Years Later DNA Evidence Verified That The Boy Was Wrongly Identified.
Bobby Dunbar: Missing and Found
The Dunbars took a day trip to Swayze Lake in Louisiana on August 23, 1912. Bobby, who was only four years old, vanished as the family played in the water. Lessie and Percy Dunbar searched everywhere for their son but were forced to call the police after their efforts yielded no results.
Local police, and later state police, launched a statewide manhunt for the boy. They caught and dissected alligators and threw dynamite into the lake in the hope that it would eject the body. None of their efforts yielded a body.
The Dunbars then received good news eight months after Bobby’s disappearance: a boy matching Bobby’s description had been found in Mississippi.
He claimed that Julia had left the boy, whom he referred to as Bruce, in his care while she went to look for work. Despite the fact that many residents of the town supported Winter’s story, the police arrested him and took the boy into custody.
The initial reunion between the boy and the Dunbars is still debated today. According to one newspaper, it was joyful, and the boy immediately shouted “Mother” upon seeing Lessie. According to other accounts, both Lessie and Percy Dunbar were hesitant to confirm that the boy was Bobby.
Lessie Dunbar stated the next day, after taking the boy home for the night and bathing him, that she had positively identified moles and scars on his body that confirmed he was her son. The Dunbars were then allowed to return to their home by the police. (Source: All That’s Interesting)
Taking Little Bobby Home
However, Julia Anderson herself appeared a few days after the Dunbars had taken Bobby home, confirming Walters’ claims that the boy was her son. She claimed she had left him with Walters for a few days while she looked for work, and that those few days had turned into months when she couldn’t find any.
The Dunbars were then called back by the police, who asked Bobby to be part of a lineup to see if Julia could correctly identify him.
She couldn’t do it. She inquired as to whether he was the boy who had been discovered, but when she received no response, she admitted that she was unsure.
She returned the next day, however, claiming that she was certain that the boy identified as Bobby Dunbar was her son Bruce. However, word had already spread that she had been hesitant the day before, and that the boy was living happily with the Dunbars. The courts were hesitant to reopen the case.
Anderson returned to her home in North Carolina, unable to pay for a court battle in any case, leaving the boy with the Dunbars. (Source: All That’s Interesting)
Bobby Dunbar’s Life with New Family
The Dunbars were certain that the child was Bobby at this point. He’d returned home and settled in nicely, was playing with his brothers, and was showing signs of remembering things around the house.
As a result, Walters was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to two years in prison before his attorney filed an appeal. Because of the high cost of the first trial, the court declined to retry him and instead released him. He maintained his innocence in the case until the end of his life.
Everything appears to be in order by this point. Bobby had recently been reunited with his family and was doing well. He grew up and married, eventually having four children before dying in 1966.
Despite being told about the events of his childhood, family members said he always maintained that he knew who he was and that he was Bobby Dunbar.
Bobby Dunbar and The Dunbar Family
Then, in 2004, Bob Dunbar Jr., Bobby Dunbar’s son, agreed to a DNA test. Margaret Dunbar Cutright, his daughter, had been investigating the events and wanted to establish once and for all that her grandfather was Bobby Dunbar. The DNA from Bob Dunbar Jr was compared to the DNA from his cousin, the son of Bobby Dunbar’s younger brother.
The test was conclusive: Bob Dunbar Jr. was not blood-related to any of the Dunbar family.
The boy the Dunbars had claimed as Bobby Dunbar all those years ago, was, in fact, Bruce, son of Julia Anderson.
The fate of the real Bobby Dunbar is unknown. Margaret believes the child drowned or was eaten by an alligator after falling into the lake. Some journalists suspected Lessie and Percy Dunbar of torturing their son and covering it up with Bruce Anderson.
Authorities claim that they discovered footprints leading away from the lake and that locals reported seeing a suspicious-looking man carrying him away, but the rumors were never confirmed. (Source: All That’s Interesting)