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The miracle of salvation or substitution: the dramatic story of the disappearance of Bobby Dunbar


Source: Yandex Zen

The story of the disappearance of baby Bobby Dunbar, which happened at the beginning of the last century, aroused great interest and sympathy among his contemporaries. The beloved son of the spouses Dunbar disappeared under rather mysterious circumstances - in broad daylight, during a family vacation, almost in front of adults. Then (oh, miracle!) Suddenly little Bobby was found, but something was wrong with him. In 2004, the mysterious story was unexpectedly continued, says the author of the Kanalya blog on Yandex Zen.

Photo: Shutterstock

The circumstances of the disappearance

Bobby Dunbar, a four-year-old toddler, disappeared at the age of four during a family vacation at the lake. The child was from a fairly wealthy family - his father owned a successful real estate office. Actually, this moment - a decent security of the family - and contributed to the fact that Bobby's story received the widest publicity, while it developed in a rather unusual way.

The Dunbar family had two children: firstborn Bobby and youngest son Alonso. Parents raised their children in attention and care, the family often went out of town. One of these trips unexpectedly ended in tragedy.

In August 1912, the head of the family took his wife and children to Lake Swayze. They were accompanied by friends of the couple with their children. Fishing was planned.

The missing child was discovered by Bobby's mother, Leslie. Vacationers gathered for dinner, but little Robert was not at the table.

It turned out that Bobby had been chasing one of his father's friends, Paul. The child went to see how the man was fishing. Later, Paul said that on the way to the house, Bobby began to play around, cheer and laugh. And then he just disappeared. No one else saw Bobby.

A large-scale search for the child began.

The first versions of the police: Bobby drowned or became a victim of alligators living in the vicinity in large numbers.

About a hundred people went out in search of the child. Thoroughly combed the area. During the search, the volunteers killed alligators on the way - if a reptile attacked Bobby, then the remains could be found in the stomach. Also, people blew up dynamite in a reservoir so that the body, if it were in the water, could float.

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But neither the living nor the dead Bobby was then found.

But they found prints of children's feet, leading towards the railway station. This gave rise to the following version: the child was stolen. And Bobby's inconsolable parents fired up with hope: the son may be alive.

The Dunbar couple appointed a rather impressive monetary reward for that time to those who find their missing baby. It amounted to $ 5000. Local residents worried about Bobby's fate added another $ 1000 to the reward.

The child's disappearance was announced in all national newspapers.

In the media, the child was described as a four-year-old boy, a strong blond with blue eyes, wearing a blue overalls and a straw hat. The ad was accompanied by photos of Bobby from the family album.

Almost immediately, the Dunbars received a letter stating that a boy who looked like Bobby had been seen in the company of an artisan in Poplarville. A relative of the missing man's father immediately went to the city. He returned with disappointing news: the boy is not Bobby.

Eight months after the loss, the Dunbar couple received another letter in which it was written that their loss had been found in the city of Columbia.

It was there that the caring senders of the letter found a child who is very similar to Bobby. The boy, apparently, was not in the best position - he wandered with a wandering piano tuner. The name of the Adjuster was William Walters.

Bobby or ... Bruce?

It turned out that a local doctor discovered the boy's resemblance to the missing Bobby. As an honest citizen, he hastened to report this to the police.

William Walters, a potential kidnapper, was immediately taken into custody, and the Dunbar couple recognized their son Bobby in the found child.

But it wasn't that simple.

First, Walters vehemently denied the kidnapping charges. The kid, according to the man, had nothing to do with the Dunbar family. He was the son of his deceased brother and a woman named Julia Anderson. The child's name was Bruce. Anderson let her son and uncle go to meet relatives on the father's side.

William confidently declared that the Dunbars, having lost their own child, kidnapped a stranger, and he himself was not to blame. He dragged his nephew with him because Julia simply did not have the means to support Bruce, and people were more willing to let William into the house for the night and feed him when he was with the baby.

Secondly, at the first meeting, the child reacted to the mother with crying, he simply did not recognize her. The child called himself Bruce.

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Leslie herself, Bobby's mother, also did not immediately recognize her son in the boy. He, she said, had too small eyes.

But later, literally a couple of days later, when the newspaper people came to capture Bobby's meeting with his parents, everything changed. The kid happily reported that he was finally returned to his parents, and earlier he was stolen. And the Dunbar spouses shone with happiness: the son was found!

Allegedly, Leslie, bathing on the eve of the child, found moles and a burn on his leg, like a son's. This seemed to completely dispelled her doubts.


Soon Julia Anderson arrived, who claimed to be the blood mother of the found child. The woman said that the boy's name was Bruce, that he was her son, that she sent him with her uncle for just a couple of weeks, but their journey for some reason was delayed.

She could not hire a lawyer to defend herself - she was too poor. Unmarried, uneducated, poor.

She was given a confrontation - among five similar boys, Julia had to find a son. She found Bruce, though not immediately. The newspapermen immediately trumpeted that Anderson could not recognize her own child.

At the trial, it was also announced that Julia had several more children born out of wedlock. Her two children had already died at that time. And she is allegedly incapable of feeling maternal love.

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The Dunbars won the case and the found child remained with them as a son. William was given a life sentence. The country was jubilant - the missing child was found safe and sound, the family was reunited, the kidnapper was punished. In their hometown, the Dunbar family was greeted with an orchestra and bells ringing.

Two years later, William, however, was released, and Julia was busy with her personal life. She got married and gave birth to seven more children. Until her death, she talked about how the Dunbars had stolen her child.

Boy Bobby grew up under the name Robert Dunbar, received a good education. Later he inherited the capital of the family, married a woman of a noble family. In 1966 he died of a heart attack. About himself, he always said that he was the true Bobby Dunbar.

An end to delusion

Robert's granddaughter, Margaret, became interested in the story of her grandfather's abduction. The family, of course, discussed Bobby's story, kept a photo archive, notes from newspapers.

She decided to put an end to this matter scientifically. Margaret persuaded her great-uncle Alonso to conduct a DNA examination for kinship.

The result of the examination surprised everyone. The test showed that Robert had nothing to do with the Dunbar family!

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Then Margaret tracked down the descendants of Julia Anderson, invited them to take part in the examination. Examination has shown that the Andersons are closely related to the late “Bobby”.

The fate of the real boy Bobby remained a mystery. The most likely version is that Bobby drowned in the lake.

Although the journalists allowed a different development of events - Bobby's parents killed him (the motives are not clear) and, in order to hide their crime, recognized an outsider boy as their son.

The police had a different version - the child was kidnapped by a man who was seen on that day by the lake. Allegedly, there were even witnesses who saw how this man carried the boy with him in his arms. This information has not been confirmed.

Original column published on the blog. “Kanalya” on “Yandex Zen"

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