Louisiana, 1912. 4-year-old Bobby Dunbar goes missing on a family vacation around Lake Swayze. Quickly, many devices are deployed to find the trace of the boy. His cap is discovered a few miles from Lake Swayze, but little Bobby Dunbar, he remains nowhere to be found. It was not until eight months later that the affair was unraveled. In Mississippi, investigators arrest William Cantwell Walters, a traveling handyman specializing in the repair of organs and pianos. The man has recently been traveling with a little boy whose description matches young Bobby. Hope is reborn for the Dunbars …

When questioned, William Walters explains that his young acolyte is a certain Charles Bruce Anderson, the son of an employee of the family. His mother, Julia Anderson, is said to have agreed to let little Bruce travel with the handyman for a few days. However, Walters’ version does not convince the authorities. The police announce that they have found little Bobby Dunbar and the child has returned to his family. The media gladly relay this happy news, explaining that seeing his mother again, little Bobby would have shouted “Mum!” before jumping into his arms. Yet Lessie and Percy doubt. At first, Bobby’s parents are not sure who the little boy is, but after a few days Lessie formally identifies him with a birthmark.

The clash of two mothers

As the little boy is raised as Bobby Dunbar, Julia Anderson, Bruce Anderson’s mother, comes out of the silence. She claims that the child returned to Dunbar is her son, Bruce. To find out, the police present the single mother with five children, including the one she believes to be Bruce. However, the little boy has no reaction when he sees his alleged mother and the police do not reconsider his decision. In addition, Julia Anderson is a single mother whose word does not match that of the Dunbars. So the little boy remains a Dunbar. William Walters is convicted of child abduction. He will be released two years later and will maintain his version until his death in 1944.

The little boy spent his entire life as Bobby Dunbar and died in 1966. In 2004, his son, Bobby Dunbar Jr, agreed to take a DNA test as part of an investigation by the Associated Press. This did not reveal any blood connection between him and his uncle, Alonzo Dunbar, proving that the child recovered by the Dunbars was indeed Charles Bruce Anderson. It is still unknown today what happened to the real Bobby Dunbar.

Bruce Anderson © DR

Lara T.
Lara T.

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